About Us

About Earth River

Founded in 1989 by Eric Hertz, Earth River is a family-owned and operated business. Eric manages the office and his sons, Cade and Teal, are integral members of the company’s elite guide team.

For over three decades, Earth River has been at the forefront of the adventure travel industry, pioneering expeditions to some of the world's classic river destinations including; Patagonia Chile's Futaleufu, Quebec's Magpie and Peru’s Yavero.Our goal has always been to operate the highest quality trips, discover new wonderful destinations to share with our guests, a dedication to safety innovation and international river conservation.

Over the years, Earth River has volunteered our time and resources to coordinate dozens of conservation awareness trips to bring attention to threatened river and help protect these areas.

From luxury lodge to lodge vacations in Patagonia to wild camping expeditions on remote rivers in Canada and Peru, Earth River is dedicated to providing the highest quality adventure experience while making a positive impact on the local community.

Earth River History

EARTH RIVER HISTORY

Our 35 year history is the foundation of Earth River. The following company history includes; company initiated river conservation projects, relevent first descents and exploratories, new destinations discovered and pioneered, televison pieces and magazine features. We are especially proud of pioneering commercial rafting on the Futaleufu., turmning what was considered at the time to be an unraftable river, into one of the premier commercial rafting destinations in the world.

Futaleufu rafting history:

1986: First raft descent of Upper Futaleufu River  (12 major rapids):  Currey Expeditions. Steve Currey (trip leader)

1991: First raft descent of entire Futaleufu  River (Upper & lower Canyons - 24 major rapids): Earth River Expeditions.  Eric Hertz (trip leader)  

1992: First commercial Futaleufu rafting season by any company: Earth River Expeditions:   

1993: First rafting/multi-sport Expedition on ther Futaleufu:; Earth River Expeditions

Summary of the first complete raft descent:

"Intrepid kayakers who had ventured into southern Chile said the Futaleufu could not be rafted." (1) "It was rapids like Terminator that prevented a successful raft descent until 1991." (2) “In 1986 a rafting company attempted to run the river... and for the next five years the Futaleufu was deemed unraftable." (3)

"Driving through the remote mountains of Southern Chile, Eric Hertz saw what appeared to be a narrow tongue of the Caribbean Sea. Hertz, the owner of Earth River Expeditions, had paddled down wild rivers all over the world, but he'd never seen anything like it. In those days, virtually no one in the rafting business had even heard of the far-off blue river with the melodic name, pronounced Foo-ta-lay-oo-foo. "I knew in an instant that this was the most beautiful river I had ever seen." (4)

“Aimed with 20 years of rafting experience, Hertz and a small team of Earth River guides and intrepid clients spent the next couple of years, in the early 90’s, making exploratory runs of the Futaleufu. In the beginning Hertz only allowed experienced guests with class 5 experience to join them on those early commercial trips." (5) "Thanks to a new kind of raft, designed by Hertz and his invention of the safety cataraft that stays with the guest boats in case of a flip or a paddler is ejected, those early trips - and every Every Earth River descent since - were without incidence." (6) "Today most of Earth River's clients on the Futaleufu are beginners." (7)

Footnotes:

(1) New York Times, (2) American Way Magazine (American Airlines), (3) Robb Report, (4) Travels Along the Edge (40 Ultimate Adventures for the modern Nomad) by David Noland, (5) Robb Report, (6) American Airlines Magazine, (7) Robb Report.

Earth River History (time line):
  • Jan. 1988 - Earth River is founded by Eric Hertz .
  • Aug. 1988 - Earth River completes first raft descent of Quebec's class 4 Magpie River (Expedition leader, Eric Hertz).
  • Feb. 1989 -  Earth River completes first descent of Mexico's Lacanja River. (Expeditipon leader, Eric Hertz).
  • Aug. 1989 -  First commercial descent of Magpie River (Expedition leader, Eric Hertz).
  • May 1990 -  Eric Hertz scouted (by float plane) 6 major rivers in Quebec threatened by the James Bay Hydro project, looking for a river to run conservation awareness trips on. (James Bay hydro-electric project threatened 11 major rivers in Quebec, proposing to flood over 2,000 square miles) (see library).
  • Jan. 1991 -  First complete raft descent of the Futaleufu. ( Expedition leader Eric Hertz) 
  • Mar. 1991 - Eric Hertz and the Natural Resources Defense Council organized and ran conservation awarness expedition on the Bio Bio River in Chile (see library). 
  • Aug. 1991 - Aug. 1993 -  Earth River organizes and runs 8 conservation awareness trips on Great Whale River in Quebec to expose policy makers and media to the threats from the James Bay Hydro project. Participants included; The Natural resources Defense Council, The National Audubon Society, Members of the Cree First nation and Grand Chief, National Geographic Magazine, Conde Naste Traveler, Turner Broadcasting, Nickelodeon and politicians from New York and New England who were negotiating to purchase power from the James Bay project. (see library for articles).
  • Jan. 1992 - Earth River completes the first commercial rafting season on Futaleufu.
  • Oct. 1992 - Great Whale river conservation participants, Senator Franz Leichter and Assemblyman William Hoyt hold Legislative hearings in New York against James Bay Project. Assemblyman Hoyt proposes legislation in New York legislature to stop the project. New York Governor Mario Cuomo pulls out of the 13 billion dollar James Bay Hydro-electric contract dealing the project serious blow.
  • Jan. 1993 - Earth River, working with G.A.B.B. (Grupo Action Bio Bio) organized and ran a conservation awareness trip on Bio Bio River with Chilean actors, artists and media.
  • Feb. 1993 - Earth River runs the first multi-sport expeditions in the Futaleufu Valley.
  • Oct. 1993 - Men's Journal Magazine features Earth River on Futaleufu.
  • Jan. 1993 - Earth River pioneers the use of the  safety cataraft among other safety measures on the Futaleufu River (First time catarafts had been used this way on any river)
  • Dec. 1993 - Eric Hertz founded the Earth River Land Trust on Futaleufu River to help ensure the Futaleufu did not meet the same destructive fate as the Bio Bio River to the north.
  • May 1994 -  Earth River runs first commercial descent of Peru's class 5 Colca Canyon.
  • July 1995 - Earth River scouted two river systems in Labrador looking for a place to bring media to gain attention to the sonic booms from Nato jet fly overs that were destroying the bush culture of the Innu native culture.
  • Nov. 1995 -  Earth River began running commercial trips on China's Great Bend of the Yangtze.
  • June 1996 - Eric Hertz and Chinese partner Jiyue Zhang, organize first descent of Tibet's 8,000 foot deep class Shuiluo Canyon featured in  National Geographic (yellow) Magazine and National Geographic Explorer television (Expedition leader, Joe Dengler)
  • Feb. 1997 - ESPN/Men's Journal television special featuring Eric Hertz leading an expedition on the Futaleufu.
  • July 1997 - Earth River runs descent of the Yukon Territory's Primrose River (Expedition leader, Eric Hertz).
  • July 1998 - Sunday Boston Globe features Earth River on the Futaleufu (see Futaleufu library).
  • Sept.1999 - Earth River does first descent of "Yosemite like" valley, Headwall Canyon in British Columbia with tributary waterfalls as high as 1,800 feet. (Expedion leader, Eric Hertz).
  • May 2000 - Earth River run conservation awareness trip on New Foundland's Main River, threatened by the clearcutting of it's old growth forest.
  • July 2000 - Earth River organized a conservation awareness trip through Headwall Canyon threatened by clear cut logging. Expedition members include: National Geographic Explorer, the Natural Resources Defense Council 
  • Jan. 2001 - Discovery Channel special "Don't Forget Your Passport" aires, featuring Earth River on Futaleufu.
  • Feb. 2001 - American Airlines Magazine (American Way) features Earth River on Futaleufu River (see Futaleufu library).
  • Dec. 2002 - National Geographic Adventure Magazine features Earth River on first sea kayaking expedition into the remote Lakes of Patagonia, Chile (see library).
  • Oct. 2003 - Outside Magazine feature on Earth River's Futaleufu trip. (see Futaleufu library).
  • Aug. 2004 - Eric Hertz organized and led conservation awareness trip on Magpie River threatened by a series of dams. Participants included, Canadian environmental groups and National Geographic Adventure Magazine.(see library).
  • March 2005 - Earth River runs a conservation awareness trip on Futaleufu River with  Chilean Senator Antonio Horvath (head of the Chilean senate environmental commission).
  • May 2006 - The New York Times features Earth River's Futaleufu trip (see library).
  • May 2009 - Earth River completes first raft descent of Peru's class 4 Yavero River.
    Jan.  2014 - First descent of Patagonia's Rio Ventana (Expedition leader Eric Hertz)
    Jan.  2015 - Earth River runs first multi-lodge Expedition on the Futaleufu.

Conservation Timeline

The brief time line below outlines our hands on river conservation work. More in depth accounts of a number of these projects can be found on the web site library.

March 1990: Eric Hertz and Robert Kennedy organized and ran conservation awareness expedition on threatened Bio Bio River (Threatened by dams) in Chile with Natural Resources Defense Council. With 50 participants, including the chief of the native Puenche Indians, it was the largest, class 5, multi-day expedition ever run. READ NRDC Newsletter (Bio Bio trip).

Feb. 1991:  Eric Hertz organized and led conservation awareness expedition on Chile’s Bio Bio River with Chilean actors and artists. READ Catherine Bragg letter (Grupo de Accion por el Bio Bio).

May - June 1991: Eric Hertz scouted (by air) 7 major rivers in Quebec looking for a suitable stretch to run environmental awareness trips on to expose politicians and the media to the threat from the James Bay II project which if built would be the largest hydro-electric project in the world flooding over 2,000 square miles. After two weeks of flying over a thousand miles of threatened waterways a section of the Great Whale River was chosen to run conservation awareness trips on. READ Cree Chief Robby Dick letter, (Great Whale conservation trips).

Aug. 1991 - Aug. 1993:  Eric Hertz organized and led eight conservation awareness trips over three summers on the threatened Great Whale River in James Bay, Quebec. Participants included; The Natural Resources Defense Council, National Audubon society, members of the Cree First Nation including the Grand Cief, National Geographic Magazine (yellow), Conde Nast Traveler, Turner Broadcasting, Nicolodian Television and politicians from New York and New England which were negotiating to purchase James Bay power which would have dammed and dewatered 7 major rivers and flooded an area the size of France. Also, began training Cree youth, taking six of them on an expedition down the Magpie river, so they could start running their own expeditions. READ Luis Eguren, Coordinator Whapmagoostui Band of Cree First Nation, letter (Great Whale Conservation trips).

Oct. 1992: Earth River, Great Whale River conservation awareness participants, Senator Franz Leichter and Assemblyman William Hoyt hold Legislative hearings in New York against buying power from the James Bay Project. Assemblyman Hoyt proposes legislation in New York legislature to stop the project. Later that year New York withdraws from their 5 billion dollar contract to buy power sending a near fatal blow to the project. (Note: In 1994, The James Bay II Project is suspended indefinitely.) READ NY Senator Franz Lichter letter.

Nov. 1993 - Current:  Eric Hertz is instrumental in starting the Earth River Land Trust on Patagonia Chile’s Futaleufu to ensure the Futaleufu would not meet the same destructive fate as the Bio Bio River to the north which was dewatered and damed. Working with clients the trust has purchased and protected over 12 miles (22 parcels) of some of the most important and easily developed property along the Futaleufu. READ Ronald G. Dodson, President Audubon International, letter.

July 1995: Eric Hertz Scouted two river systems in Labrador by air and ran one expedition looking for place to bring media rafting to bring awareness to the Nato jet fly overs that were breaking the sound Barrier directly over Innu Native hunting camps and literally driving them from the bush and their cultural heritage. READ excerpt from Cultural Survival Magazine.

June 1997: Earth River scouted for a suitable river for the Ouj-Bougoumou Cree, an Indian community Northern Quebec that’s had many past hardships, to run eco-tourism trips for income.  READ Cree Chief Bosum, Ouj-Bougoumou Cree, letter

May 2000: Eric Hertz and Steve Mahan ran conservation awareness trips on Newfoundland’s Main River which was threatened with clear cut logging. READ excerpt from greatcanadianrivers.com.

July 2000: Eric Hertz and Robert Kennedy organized and ran conservation awareness trip through Headwall Canyon threatened by clear cut logging. Expedition invitees included; actor Richard Dean Anderson, Robert Kennedy Jr, NRDC, Kathy Francis, chief of the Klahoose First Nation and National Geographic Television. WATCH National Geographic Headwall Canyon trailer.

Aug. 2004: Eric Hertz organized and led conservation awareness trip on Magpie River threatened by a series of dams. Participants included Canadian Media and Canadian environmental groups including the Canada branch of the Sierra Club. READ Michele Gauthier, Director, Quebec Rivieres Fondation, letter.

March 2005: Earth River organized and ran conservation awareness trip on Futaleufu River (threatened by dams) with celebrities, members of the Chilean business community and Chilean Senator Antonio Horvath (Head of Senate environmental committee.)  (press conference with participants in Santiago after trip which was attented by major newspapers, magazines and Chilean television.

Founder, President

ERIC HERTZ

"Eric is one of the best in the business - Obsessed with safety."

National Geographic (yellow) Magazine

I met Eric in 1980, when he almost single-handedly stopped the James Bay II Hydro-electric Project, which would have destroyed eleven major rivers in northern Quebec. I worked with him to save Headwall Canyon in British Columbia and Quebec's Magpie.

Jacob Scher, Senior attornery Natural Resources Defense Council

Eric’s guiding began at 16 on a cross country bicycle trip where he met a guide who invited him to row a baggage boat on Oregon's Rogue River. Throughout his high school and college summers he guided on the Tuolumne River in California where he was one of the first to run a commercial paddle boat. After college, he spent his summers guiding on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon and was a playwright the rest of the year. His plays won a number of awards including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. His play “Between Rails” was produced off-broadway. (New York Times review). During this time he also co-founded the Rondout-Esopus Land Conservancy in the Catskill and Sharwangunk ("gunks") Mountains of the Hudson Valley in New York which has protected over 3,500 acres.

In the late nineteen eighties, Eric gave up playwriting to start Earth River. The company was founded on a number of core principles; exploring and finding the most amazing trips, running the finest, safest trips possible and fighting to preserve important river resources. Over the past 23 years, Eric has organized and led dozens of conservation awareness trips taking policy makers and media down threatened rivers. His efforts focussed on stopping the James Bay Hydro-electric Project in Quebec and dams on Chile’s Bio Bio and Futaleufu rivers and Quebec’s Magpie. Eric's other conservation efforts helped bring awareness to the preservation of watersheds like British Columbia’s, Yosemite like, Headwall Canyon and New Foundland’s Main River, which were both threatened by clear cut logging. Using his land trust experience, he co-founded the Earth River Land Trust on the Futaleufu which to date has protected many kilometers of the river’s most dramatic shoreline.

Eric has been a pioneer in river rafting safety. He introduced the industry to foot cups to keep paddlers in the rafts and was among the first to teach clients active "self rescue" swimming techniques rather than passively floating on their backs. He was the first outfitter to offer a raft training day before running class 5 and introduced the industry to the use of caterafts "safety cats" as a rescue craft on large volume rivers like the futaleufu. He was the among the first to introduce oar-paddle hybrid rafts and double guided boats on challenging rivers.

Eric has organized and led first descents around the world and has been featured in American Airlines Magazine, Outside, National Geographic (yellow), National Geographic Adventure, The New York Times, Conde Naste Traveler and Men's Journal and on National Geographic Television, P.B.S., ESPN, TBS and Nicolodian. He pioneered and opened commercial rafting and multi-sport trips on a number of spectacular destinations including; Patagonia Chile's Futaleufu, China's Great Bend of the Yangtze, Quebec's Magpie, Peru's Colca Canyon, Tibet's Upper Yangtze, British Columbia's Headwall Canyon and the Yukon Territory's Primrose. Eric was the trip leader and captained the lead boat on a number of notable first raft descents including; the Futaleufu, Magpie, Headwall Canyon and Tibet's Schulo Ho which was featured in National Geograpic (yellow) Magazine. He was inducted into the New York Explorers Club in 2015.  His two sons, Cade and Teal, guide for Earth River.

Guides

THE BACKBONE OF EARTH RIVER

"Earth River Expeditions is the premier river runner in the world. Their staff includes the finest guides to be found. They have guided descents down some of the toughest whitewater on Earth."

– ESPN Television

Not only have Earth River guides safely taken care of our guests for the last 3 plus decades but their contribution to our exploratory and conservation work has been immeasurable. It takes a special kind of person to deal with the unforeseen challenges associated with first descents, exploratories, conservation trips and commercial trips. It is imperative that the seasoned guests we take on exploratories, non paying media and policy makers that come on conservation expeditions and neophyte beginners on rivers like the Futaleufu and Magpie all feel secure. Our guides are hand picked, motivated and extremely accomplished beyond their guiding skills. As marvelous as the destinations we visit are, they will tell you that the highlight of their work is sharing those amazing places with our guests. They completely understand that trip safety is not predicated upon what they can safely run or even "swim" but what the particular guests in their raft can safely run or swim. 

Cade Hertz

Director of Operations

Cade has been guiding for 14 years (ten on the Futaleufu) and being part of expeditions since he was 6. He has worked as a guide on the Middle Fork of the Salmon, Tuolumne, Alsek, Rogue and a handful of other day trips across the US. Internationally he has guided expeditions in Patagonia, Peru, Tibet, and Quebec. At 9 he began paddling a kayak down the Magpie River in Quebec and recording videos to create advertising material as well as videos for the guests. The following year he was on the first exploration of the Lakes of Patagonia in Chile, featured in National Geographic Adventure Magazine. In 2003 he became active in the fight to stop multiple dams slated for the lower Magpie River in Quebec, testifying at government hearings and showing a video he took that contradicted the developers claims that the River’s most impressive and soon to be flooded rapid was not runnable. His Magpie footage of a conservation expedition was shown across Canada on CBC Television. In 2010 he shot video on the first raft and commercial descent of Peru’s Yavero River. In 2014, he coordinated the safety for a first descent on the Rio Ventana. His video work can be seen on the Earth River site and has also appeared in National Geographic.. Cade is an avid kayaker and has first descents in the United States and Chile. When Cades not guiding you can find him hanging with his dog Osito, often mountain biking or gardening.

Personal Reflections

Teal Hertz

Guide, Sales Manager

Teal was fortunate enough to grow up in the outfitting industry having done expeditions throughout the U.S. and internationally; in Patagonia, Fiji, Costa Rica, Belize, Ecuador, Yukon Territory, British Colombia, Quebec and Jamaica. His first multi-day rafting trip was at 3 years old down California's, Tuolumne River. Subsequently, twenty-one years later he would follow in Eric's footsteps and spend three seasons working there. In the US he started guiding in 2013 and has since guided rafting trips in Oregon, California, Arizona, New York, and West Virginia as well as organizing and leading multiple hiking trips in Yosemite National Park. Internationally Teal has guided in Patagonia, Canada, Mexico, and Peru, he started working for Earthriver on the Magpie in 2013 and on the Futaleufu in 2016. It was his first season in Futa that solidified his love for the beautiful valley the river flows through and jump-started his desire to hike into the alpine there. Having spent hundreds of hours exploring new places in Futa he has discovered 9 alpine lakes and gathered 7 first ascents of mountains surrounding the river. As a professional photographer he has documented his journey along the way, his photos can be seen on the EarthRiver website and on his Instagram https://www.instagram.com/teal_hertz/

 

Tyler Smith (Ty)

Guide, Musician

Ty is from Ontario, Canada and has been guiding for 14 years. He has managed a large rafting company on the Ottawa River and is been a guide instructor on the W.I.L.D guide school; where participants run rivers from Canada to Costa Rica over a three month period. For four years Ty has guided for Earth River on the Magpie and for three on the Futaleufu. Ty has a masters degree in Environmental Science and did his thesis on the disastrous impact a breach in a British Columbia mine's tailing pond would have on the down stream watershed.  Ironically, the following year, in Canada's worst environmental mining disaster, that very same British Columbian mine had a dam failure sending millions of metric tons of poisonous waste water into the downstream waterway. Ty has led a number of Inui First Nation trips down the Magpie River in Quebec, in order to build an awareness within the native community to what is at stake with the proposed dams. This awareness within the native community is paramount if the river is to be protected. Ty plays the mandolin and guitar and often sings around the campfire.

Personal Reflections

Humberto Reyes

Guide

Humberto was born and raised in the central Valley of Chile and has been a guide and kayak instructor since 2009. He attended Araucania University in Pucon, Chile where his love for rivers began and graduated with a major in guiding and tourism. Guiding has taken him to Peru, Ecuador and Canada and he has acted as an assistant rescue instructor for different international organizations. Humberto loves sharing the beauty, natural history and cultural importance of the Futaleufu while always respecting the environment so future generations, can enjoying this magical place. Humberto fell in love with the Futaleufu valley; the mountains, people and culture and moved to the valley where he lives with his son, Rio. He has guided for Earth River on the Futaleufu and Magpie rivers since 2017.

Tomas Prior

Guide, Musician

Thomas, grew up in the Maipo Valley outside of Santiago, Chile and began rafting at 14 on the Miapo river. Thomas has spent 8 seasons guiding on the Futaleufu river and spends the other half of the year as the head guide in Italy on the Noce river. Thomas has also worked on the Colorado on the Arkansas river. Thomas is fluent in 3 languages, a fantastic musician and an exceptionally talented kayaker. He has a passion for kayaking and if you cant get ahold of him he's provably paddling, some of the disciplines he participates in are whitewater kayak racing,  exploratory paddling, and the art of running waterfalls.  Besides his love for adventure and the outdoors Thomas cares deeply about the protection of natural resources and has participated in protests against the Alto Maipo project, which is a hydro project that dewatering his home river and area that he grew up in. Thomas is very social and loves to meet people and learn about new cultures. Thomas aims to continue rafting, kayaking and exploring new rivers around the world.

Jose Castillo (Momo)

Guide, Photographer

Jose has guided internationally in Chile, the United States, Peru, Ecuador, Slovenia, Switzerland and Norway. He has been a guide and safety kayaker on the Futaleufu for 16 years. Jose is a professional chef, photographer, carpenter and sponsored world class kayaker. He lives on a gorgeous property along the Futaleufu in a house he hand built.

JIYUE ZHANG

Chinese Partner/Guide

Jiyue is one of the grandfathers of adventure travel in China. Upon graduation from Sichuan Sports Institute in 1982, where he was a highly ranked 400 meter runner, Jiyue began working for China Mountaineering Association as a climbing guide and liaison working with international climbers. In 1985 the Chinese government sent him to the U.S. for whitewater training where he ran eight different rivers. The following year, he participated in the joint Sino-USA, first descent of the Yangtze River which completed 2000 kilometers of the previously unrun river. ABC's American Sportsman,featured the expedition in a two-part, 90-minute special titled, "Challenging China's Yangtze".

In 1993, under China's Open Door policy, Jiyue founded, Sichuan Earth Expeditions, one of the first private adventure companies in China. The company organized and led numerous first ascents throughout China and Tibet including the North Face of Gonga Mountain with one America's of America's most distinguished mountain climbers, Fred Becky. Sichuan Earth Expeditions also participated in the 2005 Chinese climb of the Mt. Everest and the 2008 World Olympic torch relay to the top of Everest.

As Earth River's China partner, Jiyue helped organize and run the first descent of the Shangri-la's Shuilo and Po Tsangpo Rivers in Tibet, as well as early commercial descents trips down the Great Bend and Upper Yangtze, He has been featured in Outside, National Geographic (yellow), National Geographic Adventure, Men's Journal and on National Geographic Television, China's Outdoor Exploration and Japanese Outdoor Magazine.

Personal Reflections