The Carretera Austral - Futaleufú


The Río Futaleufú is considered one of the top rivers worldwide for rafting, and most visitors come here to dip their toes in the water.

Upon arrival it becomes pretty apparent what the main draw to ‘Futa’ is. There are as many kayaks as cars in the town, and every other business is somehow related to kayaking or rafting. The town is surrounded by mountains and retains a frontier feel to it, reminiscent of towns in Alaska. The inhabitants are generally pretty laidback and, when not in the water, the central plaza is a good place to relax and have a fruit juice. Fly-fishing and trekking are also possible, but the Río Futaleufú is considered one of the top rivers worldwide for rafting, and most visitors come here to dip their toes in the water.

Rafting Futaleufu Carretera Austral Chile by Zachary Collier© Zachary Collier

The main attraction in the region is world-class rafting and kayaking. Professionals from across the world visit this town specifically to raft the river, so if you have never rafted before but were always curious, this is possibly the finest place in Latin America to do so. Up to Class V rapids offer even the most experienced kayakers a serious challenge, and the Río Futaleufú is notably safe as the main white-water sections are invariably followed by more tranquil waters which makes rescue operations easier. Although tours can be booked in town, most use one of four operators located outside the town and situated along the river. For those listings in the US, for example, this has to be arranged in advance via phone or online. The Río Espolón has Class III rapids suitable for less experienced rafters, and offered by most of the operators listed. Usually held in late February, the annual FutaFest event brings competitors from across the world for a three-day extravaganza of extreme rafting and kayaking competitions.

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