Would recommend in a heartbeat. These guides are the real thing. My husband, adult son and I had a private trip mid-December, 3 days, 3 nights. The guides were safety conscious, extraordinarily knowledgeable, fun, friendly and English-speaking. The logistics were considerable(!) but absolutely flawless. The gear was in great shape and extensive, accommodating all ranges of conditions and skill levels. The accommodations and food were beyond expectations. They freely shared their obvious love for their special environment, and their culture. Don’t pass up on the Rio Futaleufu, one of the premier whitewater rivers in the world; experience it with the professional, experienced, fun-loving Bochinche crew.
Our expedition was run locally: Piri (the boss) was 4th generation living in Futaleufu, with the local knowledge and concern for preservation to prove it. The team organized our local transportation in the Lakes Region of Patagonia: flight from Puerto Montt to Chaiten (pop. 3500), and van from Chaiten to Futaleufu (pop. 2000). Despite our flight (9 passenger plane) being delayed 2 hours due to weather, boss Piri and lead guide Jercho greeted us with a van and immediately took us to a locals’ restaurant for lunch--incredibly fresh tasty local fish. They shared their culture including the devastation from the Mt. Chaiten 2008 volcanic eruption, with 3’ of ash in Chaiten and 1.5’ of ash in Futaleufu, and the website which tracks Chile’s earthquakes (at least 10/day. Piri’s rambunctious sons are nicknamed Earthquake and Tsunami) . Next a 3hr van-ride over dirt and gravel roads to our 2-bdrm cabin in Futaleufu, complete with hot water, wood burning stove, kitchenette and front porch.
We walked across the street to Piri’s storage buildings to pick out our gear for the next day. In the morning, Jercho (top 10 Chilean kayak racer, lead guide) and Aaron (himself an ace kayaker, Jercho’s mentor, and an incredibly kind, attentive, skilled guide) came to our cabin and made us a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, bread, sliced cheese, sliced meat (similar to salami), manjar (a ubiquitous caramel-type jam), huge bowl of fruit salad, yogurt, tea, coffee, steamed milk, juice … (get the picture?).
Then, we loaded into the van and a pickup truck for the gear, and began the first of 3 days on the water. The early summer, glacial-melt water level was high (‘over 100’), exacerbated by recent rains. My two men are kayakers with combat rolls on both sides. I am the least skilled without a roll, but I like the water. That first morning our team assessed our skills on the Rio Espolon, a relatively calm and warm (not glacial) river. Each day, or even half day, they reassessed conditions and organized boating venues and gear accordingly. We paddled 3 rivers: Rio Espolon, Rio Azul & Rio Futaleufu. My men had various volume kayaks for the various conditions. We had 3 guides on the river with us (plus logistics support staff total 5-7 folk). They always kept it fun, challenging and safe. To that end, I paddled a duckie, 2-man kayak, 4-man paddle raft, and (passenger) oared cataraft.
The nature was truly amazing. The area of Patagonia is called “Una Pintura de Paisaje de Dios”, “A Landscape Painting by God”. The water was so clear you could see the bottom. Its turquoise color (Rio Azul means Blue River) is from glacier till. It is so clean the guides did not bring water bottles, they drank straight from the river (I tried it, and did not get sick). You could hear your heartbeat. One mid day we took a short hike to have our delicious picnic lunch on a hidden bluff with a breathtaking view of the valley and river below.
Piri knew all the locals. We drove across ranchers’ pastures for the best take-outs. He told me where to get hand-made knit sweaters of local wool (on the edge of town, on the street behind the hospital, a woman makes and sells them from her living room. Reds and oranges are dyed from onion-skins). Mentor guide Aaron walked me there before dinner. He was so personable, sharing his culture. We talked about education, shopping, transportation, even the Futaleufu postal service.
My family did not partake of Bochinche Expeditions' other offerings (day trip white-water rafting, river bug, horseback riding, mountain biking and trekking)--we were having too much fun paddling. It was tough saying goodbye to our new Bochinche friends and leaving the stunning 'God's landscape painting' of Futaleufu.