5 Best River Rafting Experiences in Chile
More and more travelers are discovering why Chile has become a premier holiday destination. This South American country is home to some of the world’s best, ever-dwindling areas of wild and unspoiled nature. While this is true all over Chile, it’s particularly apt in the south, in Patagonia. Rafters, in particular, are spoiled for choice, as this nation boasts some of the best (and most scenic) river rafting in the world. So grab a paddle and book a summer trip to Chile for an unforgettable whitewater adventure (and remember, summer in Chile is Dec-Feb).
There’s nothing like a world-class river-rafting experience amid the backdrop of a snow-capped volcano. That’s what’s on the agenda when you brave the Class III and IV rapids of the Petrohué River. Located within Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park in Chile’s Lake District, the Petrohué is fed by Lago Todos Santos, creating a beautiful fjord. It’s an easy one-hour drive from the hub of Puerto Varas to the put-in, which you'll embark on 8 miles (13 km) of whitewater fun with views of the Osorno, Calbuco, and Puntiagudo volcanoes.
In the heart of Chilean Patagonia is one of the top rivers in the world for high-intensity rapids. Don’t let the gorgeous montane scenery here fool you—Futaleufú’s intimidating reputation is well-earned. It draws rafting pros and adrenaline seekers the world over who come to conquer its Class V rapids. The good news is that there are multiple sections of this river, all accessible from the town of Futaleufú. While they all feature Class V sections, some (like Bridge to Bridge) are heavier on class III, and thus are ideal for intermediate riders. For those looking for the Ultimate adventure check out the Futaleufú River Multi Sport Rafting Adventure - 8 Days, a fully guided and outfitted trip on "the best whitewater river in the world."
Unlike the monster that is Futaleufú, this is a solid rafting option for the whole family. The river itself is easily accessible, as it’s located near the wine hub of Talca, an easy 2.5-hour drive from Santiago. The river runs through the lovely Siete Tazas National Reserve—the “siete tazas” (seven cups) in question being a series of terraced waterfalls along the Río Claro, which is fed by a glacier. While it’s not possible to raft over the falls, a fine alternative is this leisurely ride along intermediate rapids.
You’ll find some of the most unspoiled corners of Patagonia in Chile’s Aysén region. The area’s eponymous river is located near the picture-postcard town of Coyhaique, which sits in the shadow of dramatic mountain cliffs. The rafting experience here is a mostly tranquil, 5-mile (8-km) ride amid stunning Aysén scenery like evergreen forests, golden poplars, and waterfalls. The 1.5-hour trip kicks into higher gear with a section of Class III+ rapids.
The Baker is another highlight of the Aysén region. Its turquoise glacial waters comprise the largest river in Chile, and its surrounding virgin landscapes have become a popular eco-tourism destination in recent years. It also offers a fun rafting experience for all skill levels, as the rapids here range from Class II-III. Many tours leave from the village of Puerto Bertrand and rides typically last about three hours.
For a guided experience on these amazing rivers, reach out to our trip specialists here.