Our December 2011 trip to the Futaleufú River in Patagonia was spectacular! Adjectives fail me as the trip was so superlative in every way that it felt almost magical. We have been fortunate to have travelled extensively, including have made numerous trips to South America, an area we cherish and admire. However, without question, this was our best vacation ever, and we would immediately return to the Futaleufú with Bío Bío Expeditions any time, any season.
This trip was the trip of a life-time, and Bío Bío filled our memory banks for years to come. We were the outliers among the clients, my husband and I were the oldest and our 18-year old son was the youngest, and we were each made to feel extraordinarily welcome and capable and integrated at all times.
Bio Bio’s river guiding staff, and the camp staff, were absolutely superb: fluent in both Spanish and English, extremely experienced, constantly attuned to safety and training, deeply knowledgeable about the area, the river, the country, and beyond all that warm and humorous and kind and helpful. We were very struck by the way that all the guides were particularly sensitive to each client's skill level and age group and that in a very natural, non-overt way they were able to entice our 18-year old to do things suited to his age quite successfully, while we were encouraged to do other things better suited to our capabilities. This was on-going and seamless. We were able to hold in-depth conversations with all these people about their lives in Chile and their years working and living on different rivers and countries, and we learned so much! Just speaking to them was a high-light of the trip.
We will never forget the unfailing courtesies - guides carrying gear for us, Stan bringing espresso to our tent every morning, Jorge making sure that Huayna was being sweet-tempered with all the guests, Sarita gently rousting up her massage customers for their world-class massage care following long days on the river, Terry patiently overseeing our bookkeeping needs and adding confidence to our rafting efforts, Rio's exceptionally kind way of dealing with the local children as they became accustomed to kayaks and duckies, and his patience in getting my son and me started on kayaks, and Santiago's absolutely gentlemanly support of my efforts in the double ducky with so many words of encouragement and laughter and guidance. He never let me be surprised by anything - every command was given in advance, every move was explained, and once when I fell out after promptly leaning hard left after he told me to lean hard right, he called out calm instructions until I was back in the boat, paddle in hand.
Diego was not a raft or kayak guide for us, but he was an unfailingly kind camp-mate always ready to talk, to explain, to serve, to help, and to laugh. Matt was an excellent companion to us and he deeply enlarged our understanding of the area by describing his connections to Chile and his wife's history in Argentina and the US. His stories and information made us think long and hard about Chile's history under the military dictatorship, and Argentina’s similar fate during the 1970’s, and we were very moved by Matt's stories. He also was a comforting source on the river as he kayaked along side us and continued giving smiles and encouragement while running safety for the group
Stan was our primary tent captain and guide as he not only captained our raft every day, but he also worked two days with my husband on fly-fishing - the zen of casting! His expertise in all things river, including safety, apparel, paddling techniques and ways to read the river was tremendous. He just exuded confidence, but also caution - a perfect balance. He was a great organizer and planner, and he provided detailed briefings each evening and morning to enable the entire camp to be underway, prepared and able. He always conveyed optimism even when training us to deal with frightening eventualities, and I would say he taught us a very healthy respect for the power of the river, yet offered enough tools to enable us to have the confidence to give it our best shot. My husband really enjoyed working with him on the fly-fishing, and said that Stan had provided wonderful information about river life, guiding life, Patagonia, and all things Futaleufú!
I cannot even imagine a stronger, more professional, kinder guiding staff, and the rapport they have with one another is very special. Bío Bío has assembled an A+ river cast and community!
Another delight for us in this trip was the group of clients. Most had lots of river experience including being river guides in other countries, but a few were novices like ourselves. It was really thrilling to meet people from Switzerland, Russia, France, Korea, England, and all over the US. What a wonderful opportunity to meet friendly, outgoing, and unique individuals who had amazing life and river stories to share!! Of our expedition group of 17 clients, we learned that 14 of them were newlyweds: seven newly minted couples inaugurating their lives together in the Earthly paradise - Patagonia’s version of the Honeymoon Hotel!
One part of this trip that I would really like to laud is the effort and staff support that Bío Bío puts into client safety. Not only did Bío Bío provide a flotilla of "rescue" personnel in kayaks and catarafts who preceded and followed us along the river every step of the way, it had exceptionally qualified guides steering the rafts and calling instructions continuously. At several junctures we saw Bío Bío people strategically waiting along the shore in kayaks as we passed by. And beyond the "on the river" support, the guides scouted every rapid and every contingency along the entire length of the river day after day. What a professional operation! It was really a joy to behold. We also appreciated the time you devoted to training and to practicing manoeuvers, and the way each day carefully built upon the prior one in terms of the increasing level of difficulty of the rapids and the (presumably) increasing teamwork among the rafting groups day after day. We moved through Class III riffles, to the famous rapids Más o Menos, Casa de Piedra, Terminator and Inferno Canyon (and the Throne Room for the kayakers). Your organization is a paragon of planning and execution!!
A separate joy for us in this trip was camp: simply being in camp at one of the most spectacular and glorious places on Planet Earth. The tranquility emanating from the flowing river, the serenity from the azure and sapphire rivers, the freedom of fresh air and pristine Andean views, and the fun of hot tubs beside the river and a well-stocked bar and the pagoda with musical instruments and chess, even hot showers in this very remote location! What a dream. It just did not seem real!! Too good to be true!! We love to eat, and the food was magnificent. Plentiful, delicious, local, fresh seasonings and produce from the garden, home-made pasta, fresh fish, enormous salads. There was plentiful food for every taste, and meals were relaxing and fun. We all had private tents on platforms right over the river. What we did not know until the last night was that while we immediately fell asleep each night in our tents lulled by the rush of the river and our very full bellies, the guides were furiously putting together a video of each days events with captions, music, and live inteviews. Unbelievable – do these people ever sleep?!
So, what can I say? This trip not only met our expectations it vastly exceeded them in every regard. We had fun, we learned, we met wonderful people, we found a geographic paradise on Earth, we rested, we were thrilled on the river (non-stop adrenaline rush!) and happy. Who could ask for more?! We will certainly plan to be back, perhaps with you in another country, and we will continue recommending you to everyone for exceptional, professional adventure travel. And one final point for Trip Advisor readers, go to the Bío Bío Expeditions web-site, and call up the “detailed itinerary” for this multi-sport trip and read it. What you see, and what you read, is what you get: the trip of a life-time! Becky, Julian, and Pedro
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Multi-sport trip in the heart of Patagonia! Activities include: whitewater rafting the Class IV-V Futaleufu River, hiking, horseback riding, flyfishing, daily yoga classes, and mountain biking! Stay at our deluxe riverside adventure camp with hot tub, sunset bar, massage, wine tasting, and more!Since 1992, Bio Bio Expeditions has offered active travelers exceptional rafting and trekking adventures in the world’s most spectacular settings. Join us as we travel the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, ascend to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, trek into Patagonia and Bhutan or raft on the great rivers of the world including the Zambezi, Zanskar, Tatshenshini, Pacuare, Apurimac or our favorite -- Multi Sport Rafting on the Futaleufu River in Chile - where we run our own exquisite base camp complete with private tented bungalows, indoor and outdoor yoga spaces, two river side hot tubs, sauna and massage studios.Those looking for a more luxurious adventure can explore our Galapagos sailing adventure or a custom safari in Africa. ... more less