Futaleufu, Chile

Christmas paradise.

Activities ahoy to be had this issue, all begining in Bariloche, Argentina. As you may have started to work out, we are doing a lot of border crossings between Chile and Argentina, so many in fact that I have genuinely lost count. Bariloche is a little ski village in the Andes and it is quite stunning, not that you really appreciate it until you get out and about and have some adventures which I was determined to do regardless of the weather. It’s a good job I had that attitude otherwise I wouldn’t have done anything as it rained for three days straight. Luckily some of the other guys were in the same frame of mind.

Our first day was spent on mountain bikes. There was a 60km loop that I fancied doing or a slighty smaller circuit of 30km which we ended up doing much to my relief. We hired bikes first thing in the morning for a cheeky bargain of US$20 and headed off up to our first stop of the day which was a lookout point. Most of the group had driven up to the bottom of the lookout point and took the five minute chair lift to the top but we, being in the mood to knacker ourselves out decided to do the thirty minute very steep climb to the top. We were greeted at the top by wind and rain (pretty much the same as the bottom!) but luckily the clouds lifted just a little so we could at least appreciate what the view would look like on a bright sunny day! The photos don’t really paint the picture but basically the views were of snow capped mountains, lakes and forests. We then decided to run down the hill because that was more different than walking, jumped on the bikes and began the bike circuit. It was all on paved road but the road got quieter as we went on and we had some awesome views as we made our way through the forest and along the lakes. The rain was very wet most of the time but luckily not too cold which was a consolation. Because of the weather we decided to plough on and get the circuit done as opposed to sitting down in a cafe, drying out and getting wet again. In the event we didn’t get back to the camp untill 3pm so by the time we had a shower and lunch the day was done and just in time for a trip to a micro brewery for some awesome happy hour beer before dinner. Incidentally the circuit was quite up and down in nature leaving me sufficiently knackered yet satisfied.

The next day we went horse riding which turned out to be an awesome day regardless of the bloody rain. We got picked up at 8.30am and headed off on a two hour drive into the mountains were we ended up on a ranch. We spent the next few hours hacking around the ranch plodding through rivers, fields and woods. My horse was jolly nice and I was rather pleased with my driving for saying I havn’t driven a horse for four years. We stopped for lunch and was treated to the usual Argentine meat feast of BBQ’d cow plus beer which was jolly lovely. We then headed off for another two hour hack around the surrounding forest. We didn’t do too much running around or galloping but the location and the places we hacked were more than enough to keep us happy. The bright yellow waterproofs were a bit of a let down but hey ho I stayed dry at least.

Before we knew it we were crossing the border back into Chile and to our Christmas day destination of Futelefu, a very small town up in the Andes. We parked up at a little camp several kmś out of town tucked away up in the remote hills right next to the river we would be rafting. Much to our suprise, delight and, relief, tour leader Mel had arranged log cabins for us as opposed to camping. These cabins were awesome with little wood burners and made the whole rain situation more bearable. Christmas eve was spent opening our secret santa presents as that’s what they do here in South America as well as swilling back mulled wine which is apparently something unknown to our Australian friends. Christmas day was great starting with pancakes before heading out rafting. This river is supposed to be home to some of the best white water rafting in the world, one of the top three destinations and the top in South America however, the consequence of a lot of rain in the mountains means increased water levels which meant no grade five rapids, increased safety and only being able to raft 8km of the river as opposed to the usual 40km. It was fantastic fun especially for Christmas day but at the same time it was gutting rafting by the huge rapids instead of through them. The water was mental though with whirl pools and under currents everywhere. There´s nothing that can be done about the weather so I just had to suck it up. After, we were treated to an awesome Christmas dinner again thanks to Mel and Franco. Basically we had two lambs that had been roasted over a fire for six hours, it was delicious. The rest of the day was spent chilling in front of the log burners and drinking. So overall a fantastic Christmas!


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