Futale-fail and Rio Claro Winning
So a plan was afoot to head down to the Rio Futalefeu in the south of Chile. We had done some research and it seemed there are two main ways to get there. Option one was to drive the 10-12 hour journey predominantly through Argentina where fuel is considerably cheaper than in Chile. To do this we need a hire car with special paperwork to drive in Argentina. Option two is to drive 5 hours south to the port town of Peurto Montte, then take an 11 hour ferry to a town close to the Futa, then drive the rest of the way. So either way we would need a car. After some internet research we (Erik shore CAN, Justin Kleberg USA and myself) had found a hire car company in a town two hours away that was reasonably priced and said we would be able to drive into Argentina.
We knew it would be colder as we ventured further south, so on our way back to the Hostal we stopped by the Pucon thrift store, and spent 1000 pesos (£1.50) on some vintage 80’s ski suits.
Upon arrival in Peurto Montte we eventually found our way to the ferry terminal. Justin and I use our limited spanish to discover there is no ferry today but there is one tomorrow evening, at 11pm. OK, not ideal but we head off to a national park on the edge of town and camp out. The following day we explore the town and then go to buy a ferry ticket. At this point we are told (after a long and difficult spanish conversation) that the ferry actually leaves from a place six hours drive south of here. We would have to buy a ticket from the office there and then and the ferry was departing in six and half hours. At this point we decided it was getting to risky, there was too much chance of getting lost and missing the ferry, thereby losing our money. Really we just wanted to go paddling, so we turned Black City Car around and headed back to Pucon.
After a day of paddling and licking our wounds another idea had percolated. The Rio Claro, a fair drive north of Pucon. Since I have always wanted to paddle this river I jumped at the chance. Our crew was now one bigger with the addition of Sara-Jane Daub (CAN). An extra person in our tiny car meant we would all have to travel light. A sleeping bag each and two tents fill the tiny boot of Black City Car. Our Paddling gear is tightly packed into our boats. I suggest we try and stay light weight, and so leaving almost all of my belongings locked at the hostal I pack only one change of underwear, my toothbrush and of course my ski suit.
The drive to the Rio Claro takes Black City Car around 11 hours and we arrive at nearly 3am. After hastily assembling our tents we hunker down for some sleep. When morning comes we negotiate a deal with the local hostal for a few nights stay and breakfast and dinner. Then we suit up and head to the river. The first section we head to is the 22 Teacups section. An hour of hiking gets us to the put on of one of the most (If not the most) beautiful rivers I have ever been to. Crystal clear blue water allows you to see all the way to the bottom and the river bends through a narrow, steep gorge with many fun drops and chutes. At the first bigger drop, no more than two minutes into the run, Sara breaks her paddle. With no way to climb out and no break down paddle, I give her my paddle and use her half paddle for the rest of the run. This definitely made the run more erm, sporty.
We spend our other days exploring the other sections of the river, and enjoying the sunny weather and daily blue skies. Paddling the Garganta el Diablo waterfall (The mouth of the Devil). A perfect 180 degree downward slide into 20ft of freefall. Kind of like getting violently flushed down a toilet. We explore the 7 teacups section further downstream and are lead to the wrong place to put on, which lead to an hour and a half of bush whacking, one sketchy abseil, one assisted climb back up, alot of lining boats up and down until we eventually made our way to the correct put on. All of the sections were a similar character, narrow steep gorge walls and crystal clear blue water, and clean fun waterfalls.
Now I am back in Pucon, where it is much colder and rainier. Ready for some more waterfalls.
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