El Limite – Class II, III & IV+
This Class II-IV section is most commonly utilized by fisherman and boaters looking for a more tranquil section of the Futa. When the river is extremely high, this might be one of the only portions available for the commercial rating companies operating in the valley. If you are rafting, the only reasonable takeout involves running a Class III-IV rapid at the end. Kayakers and other small vessels can elect to end the trip at the bridge, avoiding anything greater than Class III. Although it parallels the road, the river gives outstanding views of snow capped mountains and lush forests.
The El Limite put in to the Gelvez take out is 11.25km.
Moderate to Advanced.
Meters per Kilometer
El Limite put in to the take out drops 3 meters per kilometer.
El Limite to the Gelvez take out is 30 minutes round trip.
KM 0.00 – Argentina / Chile Border: The Futa crosses from Argentina and into Chile at this point. Just half a kilometer downriver is the El Limite Put-In.
KM 0.5 – El Limite Put-In: River Right. Public access point 500 meters from the Chilean/Argentinian Border.
KM 7.5 – Rio Chico Confluence: River Left. Rio Chico enters the Futa here.
KM 7.5 – Riffle/Wave Train: Class III. At the confluence with Rio Chico enjoy fun, splashy waves.
KM 10 – Bridge Rapid: Class III. Easy to scout from the right or from the road before boating the section. The line is right down the middle and is hardest at low water. Novice paddlers may elect to finish their trip just above this rapid on river right, or run the rapid and take out at the bridge on river left to avoid the more significant rapid in a kilometer, Gelvez.
KM 10.09 – West 919 Highway Bridge: 919 Highway crosses the Futa here at the finish of Bridge Rapid.
KM 11 – Gelvez Rapid: Class IV. High water class IV, low water Class III. If you want to scout this rapid, do it before getting on the river. There is a trail that leads to a nice overlook, here is the Google Map location of the scouting trailhead. Be aware everything is much bigger once you are on the water! This rapid feels big but is very straightforward by Futa standards. There are three major holes; top left, bottom left, and bottom right. Start right of center and drive left back towards the middle. If things go awry, the largest pool on the river is waiting for you at the bottom. The take out is at the bottom of this pool.
KM 11.25 – Take Out: River Left. Directly below Gelvez Rapid is a massive eddy, pool, and large sandy beach on the left. That is the takeout beach. If you encounter gates while driving to the takeout, be sure to leave them exactly how they were.
Infierno Canyon – Class IV & V
Infierno Canyon is the closest section to the town of Futaluefú. “Hell Canyon”, cuts deep into the Andes Mountains, constricting the river into a remarkable stretch of whitewater. While no single rapid in Infierno is in the top five most challenging, the consequences of swimming here makes it Class V. Extremely powerful boils, eddies, seams, and holes make it challenging for swimmers to stay on the surface. The steep walls also make it nearly impossible to climb out of the canyon if something goes wrong. The hardest flow for Infierno is the high end of medium when the holes are big and defined. At high water, Infierno is still hard, but a lot of features start to flush out. Rafting companies operate here infrequently, waiting for low water and stout clients. Features and rapids below can vary a great deal depending on water level so always use your best judgment in the moment. If you have the skills and the water levels are right, Inferno is an amazing section that should not be missed.
The put-in at Espolon to the take out at Hausmann Campground is 7.5KM.
Advanced to Expert.
Rafting: Low Water (2 tubes, >0 Chucao Gauge). Kayaking: All levels. Hardest at medium/high.
Espolon to the take out at Hausmann Campground is 30 minutes roundtrip.
Infierno Canyon Put-In, Espolon Bridge: River Left. The simplest access point for this section is the Espolon bridge in the town of Futaleufú. Rafts can make it the 4.5 Kilometers to the confluence with the Futaleufú at all but very low water. Kayaks can always make it. Click here for the Google Map shuttle directions.
KM 13 – Espolon & Futaleufú Confluence: River Right. Rio Espolon and the Futaleufu River meet here.
KM 14.4 – Gates of the Infierno: The dramatic entrance to Infierno Canyon. This will be the last calm pool for sometime so take a minute to enjoy the dramatic views! The scout for Entrada is directly ahead on the left.
KM 14.5 – Entrada: Class IV+. Scout left. The entrance has a green tongue leading into a hydraulic at the top. Below the hydraulic is a powerful wave train that drives into a cliff on river left. Enter right in the green tongue and work towards the center. Punch through the hydraulic in the middle with some power. Once through, work right – aiming to ferry just below a large hole on the right. Learn more about Entrada Rapid.
KM 14.8 – Wall Shot: Class V. Scout on the left well above the rapid and scramble along the river. Wall shot creates a very obvious V down the center with a wave train that eventually crashes into the river left wall. There are large, powerful eddies on both sides of the V, making swimming a dangerous option in this rapid. Learn more about Wall Shot Rapid.
KM 14.9 – Dance of Angels: Class IV. If you stay in the middle and keep an eye out for holes, this rapid will feel like a breeze compared to everything else on the section.
KM 16.4 – Dynamite: Class V. For rafters, the only scout is well above the rapid on the right, and involves a scramble. Kayakers can scout on the left closer to the entrance. If you are driving along the river left road towards the Las Escalas Sector, you can see the rapid from a pullout. The features are way bigger than they appear! Learn more about Dynamite Rapid.
KM 16.7 – Perfect Storm: Class V. At most flows, the hardest rapid in Infierno Canyon comes at the end. While success in the upstream rapids comes from straightforward power moves, Perfect Storm requires more precise maneuvers to avoid some really big features. With no easy scout, and very little time below Dynamite Rapid, you should rally into this one with some good beta. Learn more about Perfect Storm Rapid.
KM 18.5 – Haussmann Campground Take-Out: River Left. If you are taking out rafts, or have a vehicle that cannot handle steep dirt roads consider using the Hausmann campground on river left. This access point and campground is privately owned with a locked gate. The owners are a very nice family who lives in the farm across the street from the gate. Don’t hesitate to stop in and offer to pay for river access.
KM 19.5 – First Bridge Take-Out: River Right. There are several take-out options for this section. If you are kayaking, the fast and free option is on river right at the first bridge crossing. The road back to Futa requires a solid vehicle that can climb a remarkably steep dirt road. Getting there is rarely the issue, as the steep part is on the way back. If you do not have a solid vehicle consider taking out at Haussmann Campground. Here is a link to the First Bridge Google Maps pin.
Las Escalas – Class III, IV & V
Often overshadowed by Futa’s two hardest rapids, Zeta and Throne Room, the beauty of Las Escalas does not get the recognition it deserves. To many, Las Escalas is the prettiest section of Rio Futaluefú. The river is not gorged in, allowing boaters to appreciate the lush green forests and snow capped peaks. Due to the rain shadow further downstream the weather is typically better up here. From the put-in, enjoy several kilometers of fast moving clear water with few rapids to speak of. With plenty of stout whitewater on the back half, take your time and enjoy the remarkable beauty on the front.
Las Escalas technically ends at the confluence with Rio Azul, but given the lack of a good take-out option there, most boaters elect to ask for permission to take out on private land or run the Class V Terminator section downstream. This section is packed with tons of action and adds about 10 kilometers of adrenaline-packed, beautiful whitewater to your day.
The put-in at Haussman Campground to the take-out at Chucao Beach is 23KM.
Moderate to Expert.
Rafting: Low – High (4 tubes, -100 to 100 Chucao Gauge). Kayaking: Low – High
Haussmann Campground to the take-out at Chucao Beach is just under two hours roundtrip.
KM 18.5 – Haussmann Campground River Access: River Left. If you are putting in rafts, or have a vehicle that cannot handle steep dirt roads consider using the Hausmann campground on river left. This access and campground is privately owned with a locked gate. The owners are a very nice family who lives in the farm across the street from the gate. Don’t hesitate to stop in and offer to pay for river access.
KM 19.5 – First Bridge Access: River Right. There are several access options for this section. If you are kayaking, the fast and free option is on river right at the first bridge crossing. The road back to Futa requires a solid vehicle that can climb a remarkably steep dirt road. Getting there is rarely the issue, as the steep part is on the way back. If you do not have a solid vehicle consider taking out at Haussmann Campground. Here is a link to the First Bridge Google Maps pin.
KM 23 – False Zeta Rapid: Class IV. At high medium/high water, False Zeta has a very stout hole in the left side of the rapid. Use the large boulder in the right center of the rapid as a marker. The hole is in the left center of that left channel. Aim for the right of that boulder as the hole is to the left. If you do elect to go left, stay tight to the boulder or go way left around the outside. Learn more about False Zeta Rapid.
KM 25.5 – Zeta Rapid: Class V+. Recommended portage. There is an easy scout and portage on the right. Longer scout and portage on the left. Take your time approaching Zeta, keeping along the right shore. Water dependent, this is one of the stoutest and most dangerous rapids on the Futa. It is run by elite kayakers and is rarely rafted. We do not recommend that you run this rapid. Learn more about Zeta Rapid and portage here.
KM 27.5 – Throne Room: Class V. Easy portage on the left, much harder portage on the right. Throne Room deserves every ounce of its fame and notoriety, combining all the best characteristics of the Futa into one outstanding rapid. The name is derived from the massive rock in the center-right of the rapid, known locally as the Throne. The goal is to start right and get way left of the Throne. With no sneak lines, this is an intimidating rapid! Learn more about Throne Room here.
KM 29.0 – Tres Islas: Class IV. The start of the “Wild Mile” pay attention to the enormous ledge hole at the center top of the rapid. Learn more about Tres Islas here.
KM 30.5 – Chaos: Class IV. Appropriately named, Chaos Rapid packs a punch. This rapid can be scouted on river left. Learn more about Chaos Rapid here.
KM 30.6 – Below Chaos: Class IV. Scout right. If you catch the eddy on the right below the first Chaos rapid, you can walk out onto a rock outcrop to scout. Large boulder top, center left is a great marker. Twenty meters to the right of the boulder is a green tongue that bisects a very wide hydraulic. Carry momentum with you so even if you miss the tongue, you can punch through the hydraulic. Depending on water levels there are small holes and fun waves scattered below. There is a sneak line all the way right that works best at high water.
KM 31 – Wild Mile Continues: Class III-IV. From here to the Rio Azul Confluence, everything is big, fun, read and run waves with some easy to spot holes sprinkled into the mix. No section on the Futa will give you this many exciting, low consequence rapids. At high water, the continuous nature makes it solid Class IV.
KM 32 – Jump Rock: River right. As you approach a suspension bridge, you will see some cliffs on the right side. These offer great cliff jumping opportunities.
KM 32.3 – Bridge: Just upstream of the confluence of the Rio Azul with the Futalefuf, a bridge passes overhead.
KM 32.5 – Rio Azul Confluence: Confluence with the clear, glacial blue waters of Rio Azul. This marks the end of Las Escalas and the beginning of the Terminator Section. On a clear day, you can see Tres Monjas, a beautiful mountain range consisting of 3 spiraling peaks. For people who just want to run the Terminator section, there is a put-in located upstream on the Rio Azul.
Terminator – Class III, IV & V
Terminator Section has great scenery, lush forests, and enough challenging, big water lines to keep top boaters satisfied. It also features enough sneak lines to make this a manageable section for Class IV boaters. When combined with the two sections below; Bridge to Bridge and Mas o Menos, this is the best raftable section on the planet. Even with slightly more complicated logistics, make sure Terminator is high on your list when you visit the Futa.
The put-in up the Rio Azul to the take-out is 11.5 KM.
Advanced to Expert.
Rafting: Low-Medium (2-3 tubes, less than 30 Chucao Stick) Kayaking: Low – High
Rio Azul Put-In: River Right, Rio Azul. With private property lining the banks of the Futaleufú near the confluence of Rio Azul, this is the only put-in we can recommend. Turn off the main road here (Google Map link), drive along the Azul river and turn left the first chance you get. You should pass through a gate and an obvious pull-out, this is your put-in (Google Map link). Not a bad place to begin, the Azul’s glacial water is cold, clean, and beautiful. This put in will get you 1.5 kilometers from the confluence.
KM 32.5 – Futa / Rio Azul Confluence: If you used the Rio Azul Put-In, the river meets the Futa here and marks the beginning of the Terminator Section.
KM 32.55 – Tres Monjas: On a clear day, you can see three spiraling peaks above the river left side of the Futa. “The Three Nuns” are sometimes called the Torres Del Paine of Futaleufú.
KM 32.6 – School House Rapid: Class II. A fun series of boulders, waves, and eddies to play in.
KM 35.5 – Asleep at the Wheel: Class IV. The Terminator Section has a very mellow three kilometer start. Asleep at the Wheel is the first rapid to consider. A big wave train indicates you have arrived at the rapid. In the second half of the wave train, work from the left all the way to the right side of a massive hole hidden by the horizon line.
KM 39.25 – Terminator Wave: There is a high quality surf wave with eddy service on river left several hundred meters above Terminator Rapid. Look for the large rock outcrop on river left as the river turns to the right. The surf wave is just below that outcrop.
KM 39.25 – Terminator Rapid: Class V. This is a very complex and challenging section of whitewater. Read our in-depth rapid description to learn about the first portage option, entrance rapid, second portage option, and the main rapid itself, Terminator, Learn more about Terminator Rapid.
KM 40 – Son of Terminator (T2): Class IV. At low water, this is pretty slow moving with a few easy to recognize holes. At medium water, the pace quickens and more holes appear. At high water, the large boulders become massive pour overs. All these features are easy enough to avoid. The standard line is to work left and exit left center. Immediately start pushing right for Khyber Pass.
KM 40.3 – Khyber Pass: Class IV. There is a large pool above the entrance on river right. From here you can regroup, or find an accessible piece of shoreline to walk down and scout. There is always a sneak line down the right shore for kayaks. The raft line starts right center working towards the middle. Turn back to the right and stay center right. The largest hydraulic is left of center, halfway down.
KM 40.5 – Himalayas: Class IV. Towering, mountainous waves, little consequence, and a pool at the bottom; Himalayas are a universal highlight on the Futa. The center is the most fun at all water levels. If you do feel the need to sneak, options exist on both sides. Medium/High is best, with half a dozen crashing waves stacked on top of each other.
KM 42.5 – Chucao Beach Take-out: River Right. Known locally as Chucao Beach, this is a public access point on river right. Look for a medium sized sandy beach, the take-out is just upstream of that. This is also the location of the stick gauge. Park vehicles up closer to the main road, not on the roundabout.
Bridge to Bridge – Class III & IV+
Bridge to Bridge is the most commonly run section of the Futaleufú both commercially and privately. Super fun, continuous whitewater combined with an easy shuttle makes this a great place to spend a bulk of your time on the Futa. While Bridge to Bridge does not feature anything as challenging as Terminator, at high water the features are massive with very little break between rapids making it solid Class IV+. At medium and low water the pace slows down and the section feels more Class IV.
The put-in at Chucao Beach to the take-out at Second Bridge is 8 KM.
Rafting: Low-High (3-4 tubes, -100 to 100 on Chucao Stick) Kayaking: Low-Very High
Chucao Beach to the take-out at Second Bridge is 16 minutes roundtrip.
KM 42.5 – Chucao Beach Put-in: River Right. Known locally as Chucao Beach, this is a public access point on river right. Look for a medium sized sandy beach, the take-out is just upstream of that. This is also the location of the stick gauge. Park vehicles up closer to the main road, not on the roundabout.
KM 43.4 – Bridge: This footbridge marks the beginning of the Bridge to Bridge section. Walking across the bridge is worthwhile to scout Entrada or simply to enjoy the view.
KM 43.5 – Entrada: Class IV+. This rapid is the perfect introduction into the most popular section on the Futa. Wide, fast, and continuous, Entrada is a lot of fun. The continuous nature and consequences downstream mean that staying in your boat is important. For kayakers, there are heaps of waves, boofs, and surfing available as the scope of this rapid is massive and it all goes. For rafts, there are two main lines to consider; a sneak line on the left and the mainline in the center. Learn more about Entrada Rapid.
KM 44 – Toboggan: Class IV. At medium and high flows, Entrada and Toboggan feel like one glorious rapid that goes for over a kilometer. Toboggan is a straight channel with a healthy mix of boulders and holes. Enter and stay right of center as the largest holes are on the left and middle. The river constricts at the base, forming a nice wave that can be punched with momentum. Below Toboggan is another several hundred meters of awesome Class III waves on the approach to Pillow.
KM 45 – Pillow: Class IV. The river is divided by an island into two channels; the class II sneak line on the right, the main line on the left. A large boulder sits on the right side of the main line. Rafts avoid the boulder as both the pillow wave and seam cause flips. Kayaks can do the same, or even boof off the boulder if the water is high enough. Be aware the right side of the rock has a sieve that could pin a kayak. The rapid ends in a calm pool.
KM 45.75 – Magic Carpet: Class III. An S-Bend, with an incredibly strong eddy on the left. The wave train at the top meets a large boulder on the right and begins turning hard into the left eddy. Cut underneath this boulder and drive hard to the right or the left eddy will pull you in for another lap.
KM 46.5 – Cara del Indio Camp: River Right. Popular paid campsite on river right.
KM 46.5 – Cara del Indio Rock Formation: River Left. “Face of the Indian” The near-perfect profile of a face can be seen in a cliff on river left.
KM 46.75 – Cara Del Indio Rapid/Toro: Class IV. This rapid features a powerful crashing wave train in the left center. These waves are amazing in a kayak, but can flip a raft at most flows. Sneak it on the right if you don’t want to contend with the waves. More rafts would run the main line if Mundaca was not directly below.
KM 47.0 – Mundaca: Class IV+. Mundaca is the most famous rapid on Bridge to Bridge, and changes a great deal with water level. Whether its towering waves or a crisp boat eating hole, this is the hardest and most fun rapid on the section. Below Cara Del Indio, start heading to the eddies on river right to set up for Mundaca. Those who wish to scout or portage can find a place on the right to walk down. There are a number of lines available, including a sneak on the right, and plenty of fun right down the center. Learn more about Mundaca.
KM 47.5 – Dos Rocas Dos Hoyas (Pudú): Class III. Two Rocks, two holes. Start on the right and work your way to the left, avoiding the very obvious holes and rocks on the left and in the center. Finishing left sets you up nicely for the following rapid.
KM 47.75 – Puma: Class III. Stay left the whole way through this one. There is an enormous ledge hole in the center right.
KM 58. 25 – Last Wave is a Rock: Class III. At medium/high water this is one of the best wave trains on Bridge to Bridge. As the name indicates, the last wave is actually a huge boulder or a pourover. You can certainly stay in the wave train and avoid the boulder/hole on the left or right. Avoiding the rock at the last moment is much harder in a raft. All the way right avoids everything.
KM – 58.5 – Cazuela: Class IV. Spanish for stew, this rapid has a little bit of everything and is the final properly challenging rapid on Bridge to Bridge. The super-conservative kayak line is to stay all the way left. The most common line is to start right and quickly work your way back to the center, avoiding a couple of holes further down on the right. The rapid relaxes for a bit and then funnels into some dynamic crashing waves at the bottom. The top right entrance has an awesome surf wave with no eddy service.
KM 59.5 – Tiburon: Class IV. Tiburon is Spanish for shark. There is a perfect outline of a shark on the bottom left wall where the river turns hard to the right. The shark is easiest to see at low water and unfortunately marks an undercut. The top of this rapid has an awesome surf wave with no eddy service. The conservative line is to start right of center and drive to the right. Don’t worry, there is plenty of time to make this move in all boats. If you decide to explore, be aware of a feisty hole in the left of center close to the top. The eddy to the left of the shark is powerful. If you lost any gear upstream it is probably in this eddy.
KM 61.5 – Second Bridge Take-Out: River Left. Shortly after Tiburon Rapid, the river makes a hard right turn, bringing the second bridge into view. The clearly visible takeout is located on a large rock outcrop on river left upstream of the bridge. Aim high on the rock and walk up the steeper section. Further down the surging current makes exiting your boat more challenging. This is a commonly used takeout for rafting companies so please be aware of the space they need to carry up boats. If you choose to park at this takeout please do so past the obvious pull outs located past the bridge as the rafting companies need space to load boats and turn around. There are places to pull off a short distance down the road.
Casa – Class III, IV & V
This section has two outstanding rapids and is a notable step up from Bridge to Bridge. Portaging is not really an option, but the road remains close to the river along the left side if you need to walk out for any reason. Class V kayakers will feel very comfortable here. Class IV boaters paddling well with a good crew can also make it down. Rafting companies will start running this section at Medium water.
The put-in at Second Bridge to the take-out at El Macal is 4 KM.
Advanced to Expert.
Rafting: Low to Medium (1-3 tubes, less than 50 Chucao Stick). Kayaking: All Levels
Second Bridge to the take-out at El Macal is 10 minutes roundtrip.
KM 61.5 -Second Bridge Put-in: River Left. The put in is upstream of the bridge. These pull outs are used by rafting companies that need space to load boats and turn around. Unless you are dropping people off, please park slightly further down the road on the left or right.
KM 61.6 – Futaleufu Bridge: This section starts off by passing underneath the bridge.
KM 62.0 – Mas o Menos: Class IV+. The name Mas o Menos comes from the Spanish phrase, “more or less.” Meaning everything goes in this rapid, more or less. This rapid has a glorious amount of waves, and clearly the biggest on the Futa when the water is high. It encompasses everything you would expect from a high-volume river and typically ranks high with rafters and kayakers. With a near-infinite amount of lines for kayaks and plenty for rafts, you have some choices. Learn more about Mas o Menos.
KM 62.75 – Right Turn Rapid: Class III. The river makes a sharp right turn after Mas o Menos. Stay to the inside, river right, of the turn. The outside has some munchy holes.
KM 63.5 – Casa de Piedra: Class V. For those combining Bridge to Bridge and potentially Terminator to this section, Casa de Piedra is an incredible rapid to finish the day with. “House Rock” in Spanish features both creaky and high volume must make moves with plenty of holes, boils, and waves to keep you on your toes. Learn more about Casa de Piedra.
KM 65.5 – Take-Out: River Left. While driving, it is the first dirt road on the right less than 100 meters beyond the bridge. Stay left as the river comes into view and drive as far downstream as possible. From the river, you will see a very large beach on the left as the river makes a dramatic turn to the right. Catch the eddy on the left as the river turns right. This is the easiest place to unload boats. This take out is used by rafting companies with regularity. There is plenty of space, but please take care not to leave any vehicles in a place that might impede backing up or loading boats.
El Macal – Class III
Macal is a class III section that is often used by kayakers who are preparing themselves for the harder sections above. Everything is read-and-run.
The length of the El Macal section varies depending on where locals allow you to take-out
Meters per Kilometer
From the put-in at El Macal the river drops 2-3 meters per kilometer.
The shuttle time varies depending on your takeout location. Here’s a pin to the put-in:
KM 65.5 – Put-in: River Left. While driving, it is the first dirt road on the right, less than 100 meters past the bridge. This take out is used by rafting companies with regularity. There is plenty of space, but please take care not to leave any vehicles in a place that might impede backing up or loading boats.
Salida: Class III. Read-and-run rapid.
Z-Turn: Class III. Read-and-run rapid.
Avalanche: Class III. Read-and-run rapid.
El Macal: Class III. Read-and-run rapid.
Take-Out: Most of the property along the river left shore is private. Ask locals what takeout point is currently okay to be used.