Sitting on the Río Futaleufú, near its confluence with the Rio Espolón, and surrounded by forested, snowy peaks, Futaleufú more than earns the grandiose slogan – “A landscape painted by God” – coined by its early inhabitants. With its big “explosion waves” and massive “rodeo holes”, the Río Futaleufú is regarded by many professional rafters and kayakers as one of the most challenging whitewater rivers in the world, with sections of the river known as “Hell” and “The Terminator”. A number of Chilean and US operators offer rafting trips down the river, a body of water which runs through a basalt gorge known as the Gates of Hell, and boasts over forty class IV–V rapids.

An attractive little town, Futaleufú serves as a popular summer base primarily for rafting, though there is still a shadow hanging over it in the form of the Spanish energy corporation ENDESA, which has plans to construct a dam and to build a hydroelectric plant on the river; the plan currently faces concerted opposition by locals, tour operators and environmentalists.

Most people come to Futaleufú for the whitewater rafting and kayaking, though you needn’t stop there: the area around Futa lends itself to a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, horse-trekking, mountain biking, fly-fishing, floating (drifting down a river on an inner tube) down the tamer Río Espolón, canyoning (abseiling down canyons) and canoeing. A number of experienced local outfits offer these activities.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Chile features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A journey along Chile's Route of Parks

A journey along Chile's Route of Parks

Chile has long lured the intrepid traveller but in 2018 things have stepped up a level. The newly created Route of Parks – a string of Patagonian national par…

12 Feb 2018 • Steph Dyson local_activity Special feature
Why you should visit Chile in 2018

Why you should visit Chile in 2018

A sliver of a country that somehow manages to encompass barren desert, knife-edge mountains and fertile river valleys, Chile has long attracted intrepid travell…

08 Jan 2018 • Steph Dyson insert_drive_file Article
Video: the 1 minute guide to Chile

Video: the 1 minute guide to Chile

Chile is an outdoor adventurer's paradise. From the parched peaks of the north's Atacama Desert to the storied wilderness of Patagonia in the south, the nature…

30 Nov 2017 • Colt St. George videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right