Chile: The Andes to the… (trip)

Chile: The Andes to the Ocean

  • San Carlos de Bariloche or Esquel, Argentina
  • Active & Adventure
“"The trip was an amazing experience. We were impressed with the wonderful people in Chile, the culture and the unbelievable… ”
South America
,  Argentina
,  Chile
,  Santiago
,  Puerto Montt
,  Patagonia
,  Lake District
,  Chaiten
,  Fu
,  Futaleufu
,  Bariloche
,  Lago Yelcho
,  Rio Yelcho, Chile

from $2,895* per person9 DaysJanuary, February
Comfort accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: Boundless Journeys 16 people max

The route we traverse is what Magellan couldn't find, a liquid path across the Andes. This rugged and spectacular trip is for those looking for and accepting a real adventure. The newest route across Patagonia starts high in the Argentine Andes and follows the Futaleufœ River into Chile all the way to the Pacific Ocean. We start by trekking along the river, switching to rafts, before sea kayaking to the ocean for the final leg. The Andes to the Ocean is a demanding adventure, as conditions can change from strong sunshine and delightful breezes into a rugged physical challenge of paddling into strong wind, waves, rain and open water. But with the right attitude, the experience will be profound as we travel across Chile under our own power.

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Locations visited/nearby

South America , Argentina , Chile , Santiago , Puerto Montt , Patagonia , Lake District , Chaiten , Fu , Futaleufu , Bariloche , Lago Yelcho , Rio Yelcho, Chile

1 testimonial about this trip

  1. Reviewer: P. Sidner located in Athens, GA USA
    "The trip was an amazing experience. We were impressed with the wonderful people in Chile, the culture and the unbelievable landscapes. All the details of the trip were very well planned and executed. Sharon Nuske, our guide, made the trip extra special with her enthusiasm and delicious camp fire meals."

3 testimonials about the provider, Boundless Journeys:

  • Reviewer: S. Schantz located in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL USA
    "My praise for the experience I had on my Boundless Journeys adventure in the Canadian Rockies is¦well, boundless! The trip was meticulously planned and implemented with the utmost professionalism. The guides were truly superb and every facet of the trip was outstanding. I expect to be on another Boundless Journeys trip very soon!!"
  • Reviewer: M. Thompson located in El Paso, TX USA
    "One of the best managed and most enjoyable trips I've ever taken!"
  • Reviewer: G. Gehr located in Andover, MA USA
    "The trip was everything we hoped...beautifully planned and even better than your advertisements! Nicky herself is an absolute jewel! She is simply amazing in her knowledge of the natural world, as a tour leader and as a group leader. She is simply superb in every way! One of the most memorable human beings I have ever met."

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Transfer from San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina to Futaleufú, Chile (approximately 5 hours)

Morning flights from Buenos Aires arrive to San Carlos de Bariloche in time to meet our group, or you may have chosen to spend the pre-trip night in this beautiful Argentinean mountain town.

We travel five hours across Patagonia, traversing mountains, lakes, and desert to get to the Futaleufú valley. At the remote riverside town of Futaleufú, we find accommodations at our comfortable inn, and we unwind from our trip with a celebratory welcome dinner.

A blend of modern and traditional ways pervades this community. Farmland and forest share the land along the river. Farmers raise cattle, sheep, goats, wheat, oats, and other crops with the ages-old assistance of oxen and horses. Electricity was only introduced to the town in the late 1980's, and the main mode of transportation is still on horseback. The inhabitants are proud of this rugged and beautiful land that their ancestors settled, and this remarkable area is truly an ideal start to the adventure that waits.
Overnight Centro Aventura Lodge, Futaleufú

Town of Futaleufú to the Rio Azul and Tres Monjas Camp

Hike – 14 miles, moderate terrain.

We get an early start this morning for a challenging but dramatic hike that should take approximately nine hours. Our adventure from the Andes to the ocean begins in the mountains along the border of Argentina and Chile, and descends through the Futaleufú River valley along a dramatic trail cut in the side of the gorge. A riverside lunch, packed in on horseback, provides a nice break during our trek.

Trekking downstream along the Rio Futaleufú we see the powerful Class V “Throne Room” rapid. We continue along the river until we reach the confluence of the Rio Azul and Rio Futaleufú – also our home for the evening. We spend the night at this deluxe camp complete with kitchen, dining lodge, wood-fired sauna, and platform tents. All you can see for miles around is a sprinkling of farms, the river, and the mountains. Standing guard over the camp are the three clustered volcanic spires known as Las Tres Monjas (Three Nuns Peak).
Overnight Tres Monjas camp

Tres Monjas camp to Chacao camp

Hike – 11 miles, moderate terrain.

After breakfast, we depart on foot across a suspension bridge spanning the Rio Futaleufú. A challenging trek takes us through old growth Coihue forests to the Tres Monjas Peaks - the stone guardians of the valley. An early start is required for this challenging trek, but the effort is worth the spectacular views. From the peaks, we descend along the same path to where it meets our trail leading downriver to our next camp. This trail winds through grassy fields and farms along the river to the overlook of “Terminator” rapid. The power and beauty of this river is awe inspiring and will take your breath away. From here we continue downstream, passing the rapids “Himalaya” and “Kyber Pass” to where our rafts are waiting to transport us across the river to our camp site for the night.
Overnight Chacao camp

Chacao camp to Lago Yelcho camp

Raft – 14 miles, class III-IV (optional class V).

Sea Kayak – 2-3 hours.

Today we grab a paddle for an exciting raft trip on one of Chile's most exciting and beautiful rivers. A ride down this mostly Class III-IV section provides thrilling rapids, as well as opportunities to float through quiet sections while taking in the splendor of this magnificent river. The lower Futaleufú contains two separate whitewater rafting sections: the “Heart” translated to Spanish Corazon, sometimes referred to as the “Bridge to Bridge” section, is the first. Below the second bridge comes the Casa de Piedra whitewater section. This is a spectacular stretch of whitewater that is big and continuous with many exciting rapids. At the end of the “Heart” section we will take the opportunity that a stretch of quiet water presents to take a swim test. If everyone feels comfortable with upping the challenge we will continue on to enter the Casa de Piedra section. The Casa de Piedra section contains one of the “big five” Class V rapids on the Futaleufú. For those who do not feel comfortable rafting this rapid it is possible to walk around it and rejoin the rafts at the bottom.

After the whitewater of the Futaleufú, we trade our rafts for sea kayaks to paddle the lower, calm water section of the Futaleufú. We camp for the night on a beautiful sand beach where the river meets Lago Yelcho, and our camp crew is waiting with a nourishing meal after our activity filled day.
Overnight Lago Yelcho camp

DAYS 5, 6 & 7
Crossing of Lago Yelcho

Sea Kayak – 5-7 hours per day.

We continue our journey en route to the Pacific Ocean by packing our gear in two-person sea kayaks for a memorable trip through one of the most visually stunning sections of Patagonia. We are off into the winding emerald serenity of Lago Yelcho, with its world-class trout fishing, steep glacial peaks, native trees, and exotic birds. Numerous waterfalls tumble down the lush mountainsides as we silently kayak through this pristine wilderness.

We set up camps on the beaches and enjoy wonderful meals under the southern stars. Trekking, fishing, and swimming opportunities abound. Outside our tents, we are treated to views of La Silla de Diablo (The Devil's Seat) and El Molar - two giant glacier crowned peaks with ice extending to within 500' above sea level.

After crossing Lago Yelcho, we pass under the Puerto Cárdenas bridge and start our descent of the Rio Yelcho. The change in scenery and water character is dramatic. We still have huge mountains surrounding the waterway, but the banks of the river are densely covered with ferns, virgin temperate rainforest, and other impenetrable vegetation. For most of its length, the river is smooth and fast flowing; it is a Class I river with a few obstacles along the way. By the time we near our camp for the night, we have to pass through Tres Piedras - a Class II rapid with the impressive Volcán Michimahuida providing a glacial backdrop - truly an impressive mountain that feeds the Río Michimahuida. Our camp is located just downstream of the confluence with the Rio Yelcho. Here we begin to see signs of settlements, but we’re still well off the beaten path.
Overnight Lago Yelcho camps & Río Yelcho camp

Río Yelcho to the town of Chaitén

Sea Kayak – 5-7 hours.

After camping along the Rio Yelcho, we kayak between more mountains, covered to their tops with virgin temperate rainforest. Charles Darwin and the Spanish conquistadores agreed in their assessment of Patagonia and its forests: that in addition to being breathtakingly beautiful, they are impossible to penetrate. Today we prove them wrong – within a couple of hours, we are at the mouth of the Rio Yelcho and preparing to kayak the salt waters of the Pacific. Our route depends on the tides, the winds, and all the other factors that come with sea kayak travel. By the end of the day, we kayak directly to the beach in front of downtown Chaitén, a small seaside fishing village. Unbelievable! Our journey from the Andes to the ocean is complete. We have crossed Patagonian Chile, and now hot showers, cool drinks, a celebratory dinner, and comfortable beds await!
Overnight Hotel Mi Casa, Chaitén

Chaitén to Puerto Montt

After breakfast, we explore Chaitén for a few hours. A twenty minute shuttle takes us to the airport for our charter flight back to Puerto Montt, Chile where we can connect with flights home.


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