Paddling Andes to the Pacific Ocean / A True Epic Kayak Adventure

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Futaleufu River – Fjords of the Yelcho Lake – Yelcho River in Patagonia


– Cost of Trip CLP $ 570.000 per person
– All ground transportation, food and lodging according to Itinerary.

Best Time of the Year for this Trip: We offer trip trip in our calendar just once in February, since we offer other expeditions in the area in in other parts of Chile. However, the window from end of December to mid March is excelent for this adventure.

General Description:

This paddling trip “De los Andes al Pacífico” it the modern epic trip that the first settlers of Futaleufú Area did many years ago (see Guido Ratamal’s Colonol del Fu) in an attempt to join the small and young town of Futaleufu with Chaitén or atb least with the ocean. They did, but it took them some good 2 months.

Today – with kayaks, suport boat, and other safety gadgets plus the knowlege of the area – we do it in 5 to 6 days. As any adventure this kind there is always room for unexpected bad weather, or a more relaxed morning that could ad a day to the trip.

We put in just below the last rapid of the Futaleufú river and start this trip all the way to the Coast, by Chaitén Viejo (Old Chaitén)

Support & Safety:

Though today there are many farms along the rivers and lakes, we still prefer to have our own plan for safety and extra support in case we need it. Sometimes the strong winds make the crossing of the lake into a difficult task. Having a “mother boat” with us makes everybody more comfortable and relaxed.

There is phone coverage in some parts of the locations where we will be and locals are always ready to give adventurers a hand.Además, tendremos el apoyo logístico desde tierra con vehículo 4×4, con quien estaremos en contacto radial.

Our guides work in all the deatils through the trip, while expedition members deal with their paddling, their boats and personal gear, including the pitching of tents and packing loading and unloading.

Route & Weather. 

The trip starts right below the Macal Rapid, the last whitewater of the Fu.The river keeps a little bit odf current for few kmts and then it flatens. Paddling is easy even for those with less experience.

Later, we enter the Yelcho Lake which has the potential of showing its two faces. On one hand blue beautiful water like a mirror, where moving in our kayaks is like a drem come true in beauty. With bad weather or wind, it becomes a harded job to fight the head winds, but it is always negotiable.  There are ways around it sometimes like very early morning starts and often stops to hydrate, snacks and rest tired muscles.

But no matter what weather we have, the Yelcho Lake area is espectacular. There are cascades, beautiful fjords, glaciers and contrast between colors.
There is always a chance for rain in Patagonia, and 6 days in a kayak means rain at least one or two days. However, with the proper gear it should not be a problem.

Patagonia in summer might offer Caribbean like weather for a couple of days, but next morning it might turn all of us into real explorers and advetnurers with rain and wind. February, however, has a high probability for the best and warmer weather.

Cost & What is Included.

The cost of our trips in general are average, but if people read from our alumni, we aim for the best service, fun trips and safety.

The cost of this kayak trip covers from the moment you arrive in Patagonia till the moment people leave. The trip starts in Futaleufu, so people need to get to Futaleufu and leave from Chaitén. Since we understand how hard it is sometimes to move around these latitudes, we offer help with information on transportation available, local flights, and maybe private shuttles to help people get to trip starting point.

During the trip we cover all lodging and food according to itinerary (one night in Futaleufu before triop starts and one night in Chaitén after trip ends)
It also includes all kayak gear (kayak paddles spray skirt and life vest), and if needed we could offer other especific items. We also bring all cooking and eating gear in our “mother boat” so people carry only personal items in kayaks.

IMPORTANT: Grado Sur Expediciones covers one night in Futaleufu (with breakfast) and one night in Chaitén (with breakfast). However, we eat out and meals are not inlcuded.
Other activities suggested while in the area. While in Patagonia and Chaitén or Futaleufú area you might want to consider the arrival of one or two days earlier to Raft the Futaleufu, or visit Pumalín park and the Hot Pool El Amarillo in the middle of the rain forest of Patagonia.

Itinerary Day by Day:
Day 01: Day of Arrival. All potential expedition Members need to be in Futaleufú, by themselves or with our help one day before departure. This is day one of the trip. The idea is to have time on the same day to inspect gear, make adjustments and check kayaks and get what is missing for the trip. We understand that Futaleufu is difficult to reach, so we offer help, information and if needed shuttles from nearby locations. People can fly from Pto Montt and:
Option A: People flying into Santiago, then a direct flight to Puerto Montt and then a 45 minute local flight to Chaitén. From Chaitén local transportation to Futaleufu.

Option B: From Puerto Montt, people can also take the Bimodal Bus that leaves daily and takes the day through the fjords to get to Chaitén. This trip involves 4 hours in a boat through beautiful Patagonia North, Pumalin Park and Caleta Gonzalo.

Option C: Direct Bus from Puerto Montt or Osorno via Argentin to Futaleufu. This is also a comfortable – though long – way to get direct to Futaleufu. It is the international route through Argentina. The bus leaves from Puerto Montt but makes a stop in Osorno before heading East to Argentina. The trip takes about 7 hours plus customs time. A big experince over the Andes.
Opción C: From Puerto Montt direct local flight to Chaitén and later local transportation to Futaleufu.

Day 02: Final Adjunstments. First stretch of River, Lower Futaleufú to Yelcho Lake.
We wake up in the beautiful town of Futaleufú. After breakfast we start working on details, gear, packink of gear in kayaks and checking important items for the trip. Key is appropiate clothing, warm layers, wind-stopper, rain jacket and if needed wetsuits.

After an early lunch, we load everything and drive for about one hour to the river and start the first stretch of the river of our adventure: The lower part of the Futaleufu to the Yalcho Lake.

This is an important day because you will check kayaks, paddle technicques with your guide and tips on how to control kayaks better.
This day is easy and the river is open and easy to navegate. Even with rain or wind the trees and river side offers enough protection to keep nicely moving downstream.
Night at camp-ground Isla Monita.

Day 03: From Isla Monita Camp-Ground to La Puntilla Or Correntoso.
One of the things to always keep in mind about this trip is wind when crossing any stretch of the Lake. Wind makes the lake a bit choppy and make kayaks move slow. So, if weather is good it is important to make the best of it during the day.
The first destination with good weather is La Puntilla. But if weather is good, it is always make it for the second destination on the same day, the sandy beach of Correntoso River. If wind is against the expedition, we will stay at La Puntilla, and wish for better weather on the following day.
Remember that Patagonia’s beauty comes fro its weather. One day skies might be blue and water Turquoise, and next days grey clouds, rain and wind might check how tough we are.
With our support boat crossing the lake makes everybody feel great. The boat will be there is we need it or even give a paddler a hand if fighting the wind becomes tiring.
Lunch hald way through the day.
NIght at camp-ground (La Puntilla or Correntoso River Beach)

Día 04: From la Puntilla or Correntoso River to Puerto Cardenas
Again, our goal while in the lake is to cover as many miles as possible. If we are on schedule, we are supposed to move from Correntoso River camp-ground to Puerto Cardenas, the end of the lake. If we are late and we are just at La Puntilla, we need to paddle as much as possible. If weather allows it aim for the end of the lake of any other alternative camp-ground we use.
Note: It is ok to lose one or even 2 days in the crossing of this Lake. It is always possible to recover time down the Yelcho River. Actually, pushing it, we could cover the Yelcho River in one day if needed.
Lunch along the lake.
NIght at camp-ground

Day 05: From Cardenas To El Amarillo River.
Once group is in the Yelcho River, timing becomes in our favor regardless the weather. We move downstream with the help of current. Now we have time to stop by the side of the River wherever we need to or want to.
It is important to focuss on a difference in handling the kayaks because now there is current we need to always be paying attention on things coming in front of us to make the right movement and take our kayaks away from a rock or a log. The Yelcho is easy to navegate and fast. There is enough space to stear kayaks and stay away from small trouble.
There are many beach options so for our last night of the trip we can choose the best.
One of the beautiful corners of this area is a open camp-ground just around Amarillo river. Right above or just below.

Día 06: Arrival in Chaiten Viaje – End of Epic Paddling
As we mention before, the last day of trip is simple. If we are on schedule we can have a late start to enjoy Patagonia and the remoteness that being here means. If we are behind schedule we can start early and try to compensate. So it is hard to provide with a ONE AND ONE ONLY schedule. But experience has shown us that it is realistic to complete the trip in day 6.
Whatever the situation is, the destination for our last day of the trip is the rural pier of Chaitén Viejo. A shuttle should be there waiting for the expedition.
Dinner out
Night at Cabins Los Alerces

Día 07: Trip back home via Puerto Montt – Extended Stay with Optional Activities.
– Flight to Puerto Montt
– Bimodal Bus
– Others. for those who drove cars to Futaleufú, we can organize transportation back to Futaleufu.

What Gear to Bring on This Trip:
Depending on the weather, we have tried to make it clear that this trip can have two faces. So, the smart thing to do is always pack for both kind of situations, more so for bad weather, that is wind and rain and colded nights. As some clients have wisely said, there is not such thing as bad weather, JUST BAD EQUIPMENT.
– Ideally Drysuit if you have one
– Wet suit if you have one, or you can get one from us.
– Warm first Layers to keep body warm
– Wind stopper and rain jacket
– Good shoes to wear around camp ground that even without rain morning due gets grass wet
– River shoes confortable enough to walk with or sandals(Flip flops are not good)
– Camping gear. Tent for rain and wind. Small tarp to cover the floor. Matress and sleeping bag for 32 F
– Dry bags to keep clothes and sleeping bad dry through the trip
– If you bring camaras or any small electronic items, make sure you protect them well
– Beisball hat. Sun glasses and sun lotion
– For colder days a BUFF or a wool hat. Warmers to keep finders working
– Warm clothes for camp-ground time.
– Rain jacket maybe different from kayaks rain jacket. (Plastic Ponchos are the best)
– Mosquito repelent
– Head Lamp (make sure it is a HEAD LAMP in case you need to do things or move gear or kayaks at night. – – Extra batteries for headlamsp, cameras, GPs
– Toiletteries (toilet paper, towel, small wet towels)
– Favourite Snacks  (cerela bars, dry fruits, energy bars, etc)
– Water bottle. We suggest thermos so you carry cold water, or tea, coffee or just hot water on cold days.
– Personal pain killers, or medication you think you might need. Antihistamines if allergic to bites or food.