We went lake kayaking one day on the large Espolon Lake, which we had entirely to ourselves. We spent two days cruising down tributaries of the Futa, then after the water levels dropped, we were able to get back on the main river. Fantastic rafting. Both of us fell out once, Jill’s fall worse than mine, after which she got to hang onto the back of Santi’s kayak to get through the rest of the rapid.
I took a bunch of photos on my phone, but during our sea kayaking day my phone decided to take a little freshwater dip and was toast. Even though I have no cell service abroad, I’ve been using the phone as a camera and was sad to lose all of my photos. Luckily the ex-chile staff, including the chef, Luz, were very familiar with swimming cell phone remedies. And after leaving the phone in a bowl of rice all day while we rafted, then sticking it in the sauna until dinner – it was cured! So…here are a few photos from the first days in futa, pre-swim…
The head guide was a 27-year-old Chilean named Humberto, who was fantastic. The other guides, also all great people, were Derek (24, from Ireland), Tora (19, from Norway — a champion freestyle kayaker and Derek’s lovely girlfriend), Adam (20, from England), and Santi (24, from Chile). A fun group, and surprisingly mature for all being so young!
Ex Chile also has an AMAZING chef named Luz. She learned how to cook from her grandmother, who was the personal chef to the president of Panama before being poached by the Prez of Peru to be his chef. An energetic, warm, funny, loving woman who made us the best soup we’d ever had.
There is also Rosi, a great woman who helps run the camp. She is married to Chris Spelios, a former Olympic kayaker who pioneered white water kayaking down the Futa and founded Ex Chile. And there’s Rosi’s mom, often seen in the kitchen and around the camp, who everyone calls “Abuela” (grandma).
The food overall was spectacular — Luz knew dishes from all different parts of the world and never disappointed. Soup after a cold day on the river, homemade cinnamon hot chocolate in the morning, salads, fresh watermelon, arroz – we are missing Luz big time.
Ex Chile also had a private garden about a 20-minute walk/hike from the camp with fresh fruits and veggies. We hiked up to the garden with Derek and Thomas and picked carrots, herbs, raspberries and more. Jill was in heaven.
[Parents, please skip this part] Several creeks and streams feeding into the Futa are pure glacial water and safe to drink. Cold, fresh, pure delicious agua. But check back with us in a week to see if we have ghiardia.
Your faithful correspondents
Greetings friends! After six days off the grid, we’re back for a night. So coming up are a few posts from our incredible experience along the Futaleufu River…
It poured all night in Trevelin and continued the next day as we crossed the border into Chile. The border station is basically a small hut with two employees at the end of a long dirt road — if you want to sneak an army into Chile, I suggest you do it from here.
When we got to the town of Futaleufu we thought there was no way we’d go rafting that first day. But we went straight to the Ex Chile office, met our guides, were handed wet suits, and then hopped in the van to head to the river. It was game time.
We have few pics of the rafting (hard to bring a camera on a Class 5 river) but the first day was incredible despite the rain. The Futa is a beautiful river with stunning surrounding scenery and some of the best rapids in the world, but is still fairly lightly traveled given how remote it is.
After freezing our little tooshies off that first day on the river, we arrived at ExChile’s Camp Tres Monjas where we’d stay for the next five nights. No electricity, Internet, mirrors. All heat comes from wood-burning stoves and furnaces. So we were totally unplugged, which was liberating. And one huge perk: a wood burning sauna (we pretty much jumped straight in after the freezing first day).
More to come!