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Travel to Patagonia and discover the Futaleufu River! For sheer beauty and whitewater excitement, there are few rivers that rival Chile's pristine Futaleufu. This Patagonia tour is located in the heart of Patagonia, the Futaleufu River is renowned as one of the best whitewater opportunities in the world. This thrilling Patagonia trip combines Class III, IV and V rafting with classic Patagonia hiking, bicycling, yoga, kayaking, horseback riding and many other outdoor pursuits enhanced by plush, luxury camping. Enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the area, while top rafting guides navigate through the legendary rapids of the Futaleufu. Each night you'll return to the exotic treat of fully-equipped campsites featuring a hot tub, sauna, massage studio, and gourmet meals. This is a world-class, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Camp - 5 star camping on the Futaleufu

A note on weather:
One may experience many different weather patterns in the Futaleufú River valley including frequent storms off the Pacific. This also means that the river level can change dramatically if an unseasonable tormenta, or rain storm, passes through. We raft only on days when the river is at a safe level. The sunny months are usually December through March.



Your Patagonia tour starts with your arrival in Santiago for your connecting flight to Puerto Montt. Our representative will meet you at the Puerto Montt airport middy to escort you to the charming village of Puerto Varas on the shore of Lake Llanquihue. Your hotel is conveniently located near the town plaza within view of the magnificent Volcan Osorno. Spend a relaxing afternoon swimming in the lake, sightseeing in town or visiting the quaint fishing village of Angelmo known for its traditional woolen products and Chilean crafts. There will be a group welcome-dinner at one of our favorite restaurants featuring delicious regional cuisine. (D)


Your Patagonia tour continues with a transfer from Puerto Varas to the Puerto Montt airport for your forty-minute charter flight across the straits of Chiloe to the seaside village of Chaiten. Here van will meet the group to enjoy lunch in town. Next, we will travel south on the Carretera Austral towards Coyhaique before switching to a scenic one-lane dirt road along the Yelcho River toward Lago Yelcho with views between mountain peaks of waterfalls, creeks and hanging glaciers that feed the lush temperate rainforest valley below. The Futaleufú River flows into Lago Yelcho, a world-class trout fishing lake. It is also home to Coho salmon that swim unimpeded up the Futaleufú to the Argentine headwaters or downstream to the Pacific at Chaiten. On the way to camp, you'll pass a few farms that are carved into the ancient rainforest offering a glimpse of Chileno style frontier living. Arrive at the Futaleufu base camp where your private tent platform, complete with river view and comfortable bed, will be waiting for you. After a short hike or a swim, you may wish to soak in the riverside hot tub or enjoy a hot shower before gathering in the sunset bar for the first welcome Happy Hour on your Chile tour. You'll be introduced to the entire Fu crew and go over the week's itinerary before enjoying a hearty dinner. (B,L,D)


Awaken to the warmth of the sun on the banks of the Fu and enjoy your first morning in camp where breakfast is served around 9 AM. A pre-breakfast yoga class is available on our customized yoga platform with river views. After a thorough safety briefing, the rafts will be launched from base camp, stopping at a safe 'eddy' a short distance downstream, to practice rescue drills and prepare to raft as a team. Your raft is headed by a highly-trained and instinctive river guide with ace kayaking safety skills, who guides the boat from a stern-mounted oar frame. Guiding with oars does not detract from the paddling experience and provides greater control in pointing the bow straight through bus-size holes and fifteen-foot high 'haystack' wave trains. In addition, the rafts are supported by safety kayakers and a cataraft to ensure a safe experience. This style is consistent with any high-volume river that has strong currents where rapids graded IV to V+ rage on. Welcome to the Futaleufú! The first section from camp down to Puente Futaleufú (the Futaleufú Bridge) is only six miles but offers more rapids per kilometer than anywhere else on the river. This non-stop fun is the perfect warm-up run. The rapids of note are El Cojín, the Cushion, and Mundaca, a local family name. A vehicle will be waiting at take-out for the twenty-minute ride back to camp. Those who would prefer a lower body workout to complement their paddling are welcome to run or mountain bike back to camp. At the base, go fly-fishing, try out a kayak, do yoga, nap in a hammock, enjoy the sauna, have a massage, go for a hike, play a game of chess or cards, or soak in the hot tub. A hot shower, either indoors or out, is a luxurious treat while camping in the remote wilderness of northern Patagonia. Of course, for the hardy, the river provides a refreshing dip for another memorable experience on your Chile tour. Try the (short) cliff jumping, too! Every late afternoon is Happy Hour with an open, hot tub side bar stocked with beer, wine, cocktails, soda and juice. Candlelight dinners featuring fresh locally-grown produce and delicious breads baked fresh daily by the neighbors are served in the open-air kitchen and dining area. After dinner, enjoy the campfire and the stars before retiring to your cozy tent on your private platform where the sound of the river will lull you to sleep. (B,L,D)  
**Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from!**


After breakfast and optional early morning yoga, you will launch your raft from camp following the same exciting route as yesterday to master your rhythm. You’ll break to have lunch on the river. This second day of your Chile rafting tour we’ll pass the Puente Futaleufú (yesterday’s take-out) and meet a big stomping continuous cascade of waves known as Mas o Menos, "More or Less". This is a good stepping stone towards the first true technical Class V rapid, Casa de Piedra (House of Rock) waiting around the next corner, which you'll have an opportunity to scout beforehand. It forms a series of water wheels that channel all of their fury into a final churning pit with a dragon's back highway through it; that is, if you hit it on line. The remaining rapids on today's trip are Class III and IV. If you have the energy and desire, you may again mountain bike back to camp. For everyone else, a vehicle will be waiting. Enjoy the rest of the day and get ready for yet another fabulous dinner and peaceful night riverside. (B,L,D)
**Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from!**


After two days of mastering the raft together, today you learn how to navigate your own inflatable kayaks (or “rubber duckies” as they are endearingly known). Even for the river veteran, these inflatables are surprisingly fun and often a trip highlight. Lago Espolon, the source of the clear Rio Espolon Class II/III rapids offers the perfect learning opportunity to master your kayak with the help of your river guide and several safety kayakers. For those interested in trying out a hard shell, whitewater kayak this is the perfect place. Rio Espolon is a major tributary to the Futaleufu, where it meets right above the Inferno Canyon, your afternoon take-out. Return to base camp for another relaxing late afternoon filled with your choice of activities or a relaxing massage. (B,L,D)  
**Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from!**


Today's horseback adventure travels deeper into the heart of Patagonia to the Rio Azul valley, where you’ll be surrounded by snowcapped peaks along an eight-mile trail paralleling the turquoise waters of the Rio Azul, with a stop for lunch along the way. Patagonia horses are quite the different variety--well-mannered but incredibly powerful work horses that are as mellow or as exciting as you would like to push. The local expert equestrians and our horse-ready river guide will lead you on an adventurous, three-hour ride. You stop for lunch and try paddling on the challenging Class III/IV Rio Azul for the afternoon. From the Rio Espolon, this is a sizeable step up in difficulty. Return to camp for Happy Hour at the sunset bar and the much deserved hot tub. (B,L,D) 
**Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from!**


After an early breakfast in camp, travel twenty-two miles up the road to visit the town of Futaleufú. You will have about an hour to stroll around this sleepy mountain town and its central plaza filled with fragrant rose bushes and cedar trees. This morning’s drop in is the Rio Espolon, a crystal-clear river that meanders for two miles before it flows into the Rio Futaleufú, one mile above the Inferno canyon. The upper canyon, where aggressive Class V paddling is required, is the most difficult section of whitewater on the river so we offer tamer river options for those who prefer a little less excitement. Five impressive rapids form a tight winding river passage creating an intense flow and the rushing adrenaline you dreamed of when you chose this Patagonia tour. Coming out of "Exit," the last of these rapids, you enter into a long calm of many miles, though the current remains swift. After a relaxing float, things pick back up at the ferocious Zeta rapid, where portage (walk around) is mandatory. There the crew will "ghost" boat the rafts through this treacherous rapid while you enjoy lunch on the rocks and the view of the crushing intensity of the rapid. The afternoon begins with "Throne Room," a Class V+ rapid for kayakers, a ghost boat rapid for rafts. Walking around this rapid notice an almost 'river wide' hole that could destroy a raft. Back on board, a continuous Class IV corridor of rapids doesn't let up until take-out at the Rio Azul footbridge. Here the rafts are left for the night, tethered onshore. Early evening is spent in camp getting ready for the evening festivities, a journey to the neighboring farm of Miguel Toro who at seventy years young is one of the most colorful and charming residents of the valley. At his Casa de Ti, his daughter, Blanca, and her partner, Umberto, will prepare a very special treat, a delicious Curanto dinner, the cuisine typical of the south of Chile and the island of Chiloe. (B,L,D)  
**Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from!**


Today is the trip's peak on what is considered the best day of whitewater in the world, an unforgettable highlight of your Chile tour. After a wholesome breakfast, you head up river back to re-launch the crafts. Shortly downstream, the Rio Azul merges into the Fu and the river opens up offering breathtaking views of snowcapped peaks and the jagged ridges of the mountain called Las Tres Monjas ("The Three Nuns"). A four-mile stretch of warm-up rapids leads to "The Terminator," the longest and toughest of the rapids of the trip. After scouting and studying your line, you'll take the plunge and drop in to three miles of non-stop, exhilarating rapids. After this aerobic workout, the “Himalayas,” a mammoth haystack wave train, await. River calm returns, offering a gentle float into lunch served at base camp. The afternoon is yours to decide. For the river addicts, return to the rafts to complete the last challenge of the day: tackling as much whitewater as possible from camp to below Casa de Piedra. At take-out, cold beers and tea are waiting our triumphant day of exploration on the Fu. For the evening's festivities, our neighbors, Rolando and Nelli, will prepare a typical Chilean asado of lamb roasted over a bed of coals, salad, potatoes and fresh-baked bread. Under a starry sky, the group, guides and crew spend one last night together on the banks of the majestic Futaleufu. (B,L,D) 
**Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from!**


In the morning, our van will take you to Chaiten for your mid-day flight back to the real world of Puerto Montt and your connecting flight to Santiago. Your evening arrival in Santiago provides ample time to transfer to the international departure lounge, pass through customs and shop for duty-free wines to commemorate your thrilling Patagonia tour. (B) 

**Please note that this is a suggested itinerary that can be adjusted based on river flows and traveler interests. There are ample activities from base camp to choose from including horseback riding, inflatable kayaking, fly-fishing, mountain biking, or repeating one of the more relaxing, less intense rafting days. We can also arrange special instruction for those interested in trying their hand at whitewater kayaking.**


When to Visit
  • jan
  • feb
  • mar
  • apr
  • may
  • jun
  • jul
  • aug
  • sep
  • oct
  • nov
  • dec

Santiago & Surrounding Vineyards - The fertile heartland, this midland area of Chile enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with maximum temperatures averaging 82°F (28°C) in January and 50°F (10°C) in July. The rainy season lasts from May to August. Evenings and nights can be cool, even during the summer.

General Patagonia - The area south of Puerto Montt and Chiloé covers about 30% of the total land area of Chile. It is a rugged, mountainous region of tremendous beauty. Westerly winds and storms often drop enormous amounts of snow and rain on the seaward slopes. In the Magellanes and Tierra del Fuego areas, temperatures in summer average 52°F (11°C). Dampness and wind chill can make it feel cooler so layered clothing and good waterproof gear are musts. The weather year-round is highly unpredictable, and in summer be prepared for incessant winds that lessen in the winter. In the shoulder season months, November and March, winds are not likely to be as strong as during the peak of summer.

Torres Del Paine - The weather is famously unpredictable in this area and it is possible to experience four seasons in the course of a few hours. Average daily temperatures vary but in summer one can expect temperatures ranging between 50° F (10° C) and 70° F (20 ° C) with the occasional hot day of 78° F (25° C). Temperatures can drop to zero at night, and high winds are common in this area. Travelers should be prepared (both mentally and physically) for unpredictable and sometimes challenging weather conditions and pack accordingly. Good head-to-toe, breathable waterproof clothing is essential.


Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN 54-85 0.0
FEB 54-84 0.1
MAR 52-80 0.2
APR 47-72 0.5
MAY 40-64 2.3
JUN 40-58 3.1
JUL 37-57 3.0
AUG 38-61 2.1
SEP 40-65 1.1
OCT 45-71 0.5
NOV 47-77 0.2
DEC 51-82 0.2

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches



Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN 48-66 3.6
FEB 47-67 3.7
MAR 47-64 3.9
APR 43-60 5.6
MAY 42-56 9.2
JUN 39-51 8.8
JUL 37-50 9.0
AUG 38-52 8.2
SEP 38-52 5.7
OCT 38-52 4.8
NOV 43-60 0.5
DEC 46-63 4.1

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches



Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN 43-57 1.4
FEB 44-57 1.1
MAR 51-54 1.6
APR 39-49 1.6
MAY 35-44 1.7
JUN 31-39 1.3
JUL 29-38 1.3
AUG 31-41 1.3
SEP 32-46 1.1
OCT 36-50 0.9
NOV 40-53 1.1
DEC 42-56 1.2

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches



Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN 50-76 0.9
FEB 50-75 0.2
MAR 48-73 0.1
APR 44-70 0.1
MAY 38-66 0.0
JUN 33-61 0.0
JUL 33-61 0.0
AUG 35-64 0.0
SEP 40-69 0.1
OCT 43-72 0.1
NOV 46-74 0.1
DEC 48-75 0.1

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches



Min-Max Air Temp

Avg Rainfall

JAN 68-81 2.8
FEB 68-81 3.3
MAR 68-80 3.8
APR 66-77 4.8
MAY 64-74 6.0
JUN 62-72 4.2
JUL 60-70 4.1
AUG 60-70 3.7
SEP 60-71 3.4
OCT 61-73 2.7
NOV 63-75 2.9
DEC 65-78 3.4

*Year Round Temperatures in °F, Rainfall in Inches



Futaleufu MultiSport

Per Person

Domestic Airfare:
$300       Airfare (Santiago/Puerto Montt/Santiago) – subject to change

Contact us for single supplement.
A single supplement is the additional cost of a single traveler not sharing a room in double occupancy.

Included in tour cost
  • Mountain biking gear
  • Rafting equipment
  • Yoga mat
  • All airport/hotel transfers
  • All hotel accommodations
  • All listed activities
  • English-speaking certified guides
  • Entrance fees for all scheduled tours, national parks & archaeological sites
  • Meals as indicated
  • Southern Explorations pre-departure services
Excluded from tour cost
  • Airport taxes, international and local
  • Domestic airfare within South America
  • International airfare to and from Central & South America
  • Tips and gratuities
  • Medical & travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Hiking boots and other necessary sports gear
  • Reciprocity fee

Futaleufu MultiSport

Trip Dates
Can’t find a date that works for you in the list below? Southern Explorations can arrange a private departure on any date that works with your schedule. Custom tours are also available. Contact us for details.
Friday, December 9, 2016 to Saturday, December 17, 2016
Sunday, December 18, 2016 to Monday, December 26, 2016
Tuesday, December 27, 2016 to Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Friday, January 6, 2017 to Saturday, January 14, 2017
Sunday, January 15, 2017 to Monday, January 23, 2017
Thursday, January 26, 2017 to Friday, February 3, 2017
Friday, February 3, 2017 to Saturday, February 11, 2017
Sunday, February 12, 2017 to Monday, February 20, 2017
Tuesday, February 21, 2017 to Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Friday, March 3, 2017 to Saturday, March 11, 2017
Sunday, March 12, 2017 to Monday, March 20, 2017
Wednesday, March 22, 2017 to Thursday, March 30, 2017
Puerto Varas
Hotel upgrades are available, please contact us to discuss your options.

One Day


Southern Explorations enabled me to go on the trip of a lifetime, without having to worry about the trickier aspects of planning. It was well worth the cost to not have to coordinate reservations, tickets, and itineraries with people and companies that exist on the other side of the globe. The locals who work with Southern Explorations were fantastic, and I won't hesitate to recommend Southern Explorations to my friends. I will certainly consider booking with them for future trips! - Mary Vanatta (W Multi Sport)

I just wanted to let you know what an incredible time Jerry and I had on your Patagonia ‘W’ Multisport tour. Our group was amazing. The people that you connected us with were great and we bonded quite strongly with them. In fact, we have plans to visit them in Tokyo in April. The guide, Cristian Sanchez, and the chef, Miguel Chacana, made a perfect pair. Cristian was an AMAZING guide. He was entertaining, engaging, funny, serious, informative and a true leader. He was able to bring the group together and hold it together with ease. He was also very willing to spend every moment introducing us to his local friends and encouraging us to engage in the local customs like sharing tea from a “mate.” Cristian kept us on schedule at all times and made the activities flow with effortless ease. He is also one of two guides to have been born and raised in Puerto Natales and this made a huge difference in his spiritual connection with Patagonia - he was truly one with the mountains and everyone in the group could sense it. Great tour overall and I will happily recommend your company to others. Our guide was very impressed with your tour operation and he prefers to work with you since you are one of the best operating in that area. This goes a long way in giving me comfort in my recommendation of your firm. Thanks again and we will be in touch when we are ready for another great experience. - Bill Coleman and Jerry Boening, New York (Patagonia)

Sadly, I am back from my AMAZING trip to S. America. I just wanted to thank you for everything. Your professionalism, responsiveness, & knowledge of S. America were incredible. I truly had the trip of a lifetime thanks to Southern Explorations. You guys left no stone unturned from the Galapagos, to Peru, to Chile, to expectations were exceeded 10-fold. I already recommended you guys to the gentleman on the plane next to me. It was really nice to get to meet Justin in Patagonia. It is obvious how hard he has worked to establish such strong contacts, guides, etc. I could tell that our guides were a step above the rest. I just wanted to thank you for making my dream come true. My mom & I will never forget this the rest of our lives. - Ami Jampolis (Galapagos Island Cruise, Peru, Chile & Patagonia)

We had a tremendous experience. Patagonia is truly heaven on earth and Southern Explorations enabled us to safely and efficiently spend 2 weeks in this paradise. Eri was a superb guide and traveling companion. Knowledgeable, smart, humorous and patient. He has a wonderful laid back style. We developed a genuine bond with Eri and we hope to see him again. He was superb with my 9 yr. old son. The estancia Tercera Baranca was wonderful, we could have stayed there indefinitely. I can't make enough positive statements to describe our experience. - Will, Beth and Max Mondzac (Patagonia)

Southern Explorations planned and arranged the perfect 2 week Chile trip for me and my husband. Jonathan Borgida at SE talked to me about our interests and tailored his recommendations around them. He designed the itinerary so we could visit the Colchagua Valley wine country, Easter Island, the Atacama Desert, and the Lake District, in a sequence that wasn’t too hectic. He arranged for local tour guides, all of whom were exceptional and enabled us to have a deeper experience of the people and country, and to see things we wouldn’t have been aware of regardless of the amount of research we did on our own. Because we had an evening flight home, Jonathan also arranged for us to have a guide and driver takes us to Valparaiso for our last day. All flight, hotel, and other travel arrangements were flawless, too. - Gloria Kavanah (Chile Custom Trip)

Vira Vira was awesome - it was the perfect start to the perfect trip. Michael and his family are totally hands on and committed to creating a top notch experience for their guests.  The property, the food, the excursions, the attention to detail - we could not find a single fault with anything. It literally felt like we were their personal guests. Everyone else staying there seemed very satisfied as well. Two thumbs up! Dimple (Honk Kong) (Custom Chile)
It was a wonderful trip and Southern Explorations really did a marvelous job of putting everything together for us. Thank You. We have had nothing but fantastic memories and have spoken to many people about Southern explorations and what a nice job you guys did putting everything together. Peru and other South America ventures will happen. I will be in touch. - Steve Andryk (Wisconsin) (Luxury Patagonia)

The Southern Explorations team did a fantastic job helping us plan our Galapagos adventure in 2011 and our Torres del Paine/Australis Magellan Straits cruise 2015. They were extremely helpful in planning our trips and quickly responded to each of our questions. We will definitely seek their services to assist in any future travels.   - Sharon McRae (Torres del Paine/Galapagos Islands)

Our experience from our first exploratory call to the Seattle office was excellent. Prompt and courteous responses and they accommodated our specific needs for a combined Patagonia and Galapagos trip. I cannot think of anything that was not satisfactory. I recommend Southern Explorations highly.   -Lyn Arscott (Patagonia & Galapagos Island Cruise)

Basically the trip was perfect. Our wishes about big things were totally fulfilled, like exploring Rio Brian, going up Valle del Silencio, etc. Our wishes for small things (low sugar, low gluten, good photo opps) were exceeded. It was a totally excellent trip. Your ability to deal with the unexpected was amazing .. weather, my injuries, our changing our minds. It was an amazing trip! And SE agent gave us all kinds of good advice before we left.   -Brian & Lynne Collins, USA (Chile)

Our words to describe our trip are Spectacular, Exciting, and Remote! We got to see basically everything we had hoped for, and more! - Ann Huston, California (Patagonia)

Thank you for a wonderful introduction to South America and excellent vacation. We will be returning to other SA venues in the coming years and will be sure to contact Southern Explorations for assistance.   -Gordon McPhee, South Carolina (Chile & Argentina)

This was a trip of a lifetime. The highlight was the Explora Lodge with unbelievable hikes and horseback riding. Also, the Perito Moreno Glacier was fantastic. I wouldn't change a thing. - Kyle Craig, Colorado (Patagonia)

All in all a thoroughly enjoyable, informative and relaxing trip. Well done! - Brian Parnega, Canada (Chile)

“The Southern Explorations team did a fantastic job helping us plan our Galapagos adventure in 2011 and our Torres del Paine/Australis Magellan Straits cruise 2015.  They were extremely helpful in planning our trips and quickly responded to each of our questions. We will definitely seek their services to assist in any future travels.” - Sharon McRae (Cruceros Australis + Hotel Las Torres)

Our experience planning a trip to Patagonia in South America with Southern Explorations exceeded my highest expectations!  Everything was incredibly well organized, the hotels they booked for us were very nice, the guides and people who transported us all spoke our language (English).  When my husband got very sick and we had to alter our plans,  they were on top of rebooking flights and canceling excursions, and handled all of the logistics for us.  I would highly recommend the services provided by Southern Explorations, and will certainly use them for all future travel planning that we do!! - Kristi Holland, Alabama (Patagonia))
Our two sons, ages 19 & 22, said it was the best trip they'd ever been on. (And we've been to southern Africa game camps, New Zealand, Galapagos, numerous SCUBA diving vacations all over the globe, not to mention dozens of other less dazzling spots around the world and the US). (Patagonia) is really gorgeous. Jorge (Guide) was exceptional--just perfect for us! The tents are fantastic--lots of room to put huge backpacks inside along with lots of other gear--kudos on the tents. La Tercera (estancia) was marvelous and charming--we're so glad you planned two nights for us there. The food by Carmen was the best we ate on our entire trip to Chile--really extraordinary both nights!


Chile - Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How safe is Chile?
A: Chile, especially in the Patagonian region is one of the safest countries to visit in Latin America. As long as there is poverty, theft will be a reality of life for citizens and visitors in South America. Travelers should take the same precautions that they would while traveling elsewhere. Listen to the advice of your guide and hotel reception staff and take common sense precautions such as not going into unfamiliar areas alone, especially at night. Use the safety deposit box at your hotel for your passport and extra money (carry only as much as you might spend) and leave jewelry and expensive watches at home.
Q: When will I receive the airline tickets (or vouchers) included in the trip?
A: Airline tickets will either be given to you at the airport or the hotel the morning of your departure, or in the case of e-tickets, will be provided when you present your passport at check-in.
Q: What are the guides’ qualifications?
A: Our exceptional guides have been carefully selected for their knowledge, professionalism, experience and ability to effectively manage groups with finesse. We hire only guides who are native to the destination and are licensed and/or certified in accordance with the government regulations of their country. All of our Chile guides are fluent in Spanish and English, and some also speak indigenous languages. Most have advanced degrees in tourism, biology, native culture or another related field. Our congenial guides offer priceless insights into the true nature of their homelands, adding immeasurably to the enjoyment of the trip.
Q: What are the meals like?
A: Chile is famous for its seafood, prepared simply or in hearty soups and stews, and its premium red and white wines. Beef and chicken are staples, and vegetarian alternatives may have to be requested in restaurants. Among its national dishes are choclo, a beef and chicken pie topped with a basil-seasoned corn mixture and baked in a clay pot, parotos, a bean vegetable dish, and cazuela, a stew of chicken or beef. Empanadas (fried or baked dough filled with meat or fruit) and humitas (a version of the tamale made of corn dough often mixed with onion) are popular as snack foods. Patagonia’s estancias are well known for their quality restaurants where both Chilean and international dishes are found on the menu. Wine and beer are available at a reasonable cost throughout the trip. The restaurants in Patagonia’s refugios (shelters) offer a lively atmosphere and wholesome Chilean and international cuisine including vegetarian fare. Breakfast includes toast, coffee, cereal, ham, cheese, bread, rolls, juice and occasionally eggs.
Q: How do we get from one tour destination to another?
A: In Chile, we use a mix of private and public transportation to get travelers to their destinations safely and efficiently. This includes local air carriers, private vans and cars, comfortable tourist buses, boats, etc.
Q: Can I extend my stay?
A: We offer exciting half-day and full-day Santiago extension tours to add on to either end of your Chile trip. We also offer extensions in the wine country, Patagonia, San Pedro de Atacama, Lake District and the mysterious Easter Island.
Q: Are meals included?
A: We try to balance flexibility and convenience regarding meals. Meals are included on tour days spent off the beaten path where restaurant choices are limited. In the major towns with a wide variety of restaurants, meals are generally not included to allow our travelers to make their own dining choices. On these days, your hotel will provide a light continental breakfast. Your local guide will be a wealth of information about great restaurant options and is usually available to accompany groups that wish to eat together.
Q: How much should I budget for tips?
A: Tipping is a personal matter, and passengers are encouraged to tip what they feel is appropriate. Please refer to our tipping section.
Q: Who travels on your group trips?
A: While travelers of varying ages from all over the world take our trips, most are Americans between ages 20 and 60. The more rigorous itineraries tend to attract slightly younger travelers than our other trips.
Q: What is the average group size on the scheduled trips?
A: We operate our scheduled group trips with a minimum of two and a maximum of eight to twelve passengers, depending on the itinerary. This policy minimizes our environmental impact, allows us to travel to areas less visited and makes the sightseeing experience more personal. It gives our guides sufficient time to attend to the individual needs of each visitor. Traveling in small groups also increases the likelihood of encountering wildlife in some areas.
Q: How much driving is involved?
A: Patagonia is a vast area, and some long travel days of 5-6 hours can be expected. This is especially true on trips that visit both Chile and Argentina. Short drives of around 1 hour or so to enter a park or to visit a highlight of the trip are more common.
Q: If I need to bring extra luggage with me to South America, where can it be stored?
A: On all of our Patagonia trips, we store your extra luggage and place it in a van for your final transfer out. Excess luggage may be stored in the hotel where your trip begins or at our operator’s offices. Luggage may not be stored at the airport.
Q: Do I need a converter/ adaptor for the electricity?
A: Electricity in Chile is 220 volts, 50 cycles. For American-made electrical appliances, it will be necessary to use a voltage converter but no adapter since electrical outlets are like those in the U.S. For video cameras, we suggest packing an extra set of charged batteries. Please note, some hotels have hair dryers for guest use, but most do not.
Q: How will I do laundry during the trip?
A: Patagonian hotels charge very affordable rates for doing a guest’s laundry. You will also have access to laundry facilities on most days in major cities. Some of the Patagonian experiences will be true ‘wilderness’ style camping with only a river or lake as a water supply. Some locations have washing facilities where guests may do laundry. Bring biodegradable soap if you wish to do your own laundry. Please refer to the full itinerary or contact us for details.
Q: Will I be able to use my cell phone?
A: Each company is different. Check with your cell phone provider for the most up-to-date information. Cell phone coverage in Patagonia is very limited. The estancias have radios for emergencies, and some are equipped with satellite phones. Unless you make arrangements in advance, you will likely find telephone and texting charges are high. In remote areas, cell phone coverage may be limited.
Q: I’ve heard Patagonia is very remote. What if I have a medical emergency on the trip?
A: Some of our trips take passengers into some primitive wilderness areas. Our guides are trained in wilderness first-aid. To ensure the safety of our travelers, our guides are linked with outside services 24 hours a day in all locations to provide assistance when necessary. Though our guides carry extensive first aid equipment for minor ailments, injuries and accidents, they cannot handle serious medical conditions, and passengers are advised to obtain health or travel insurance that covers medical evacuation. There are small hospitals in the Patagonia region, some with 24-hour medical assistance that can deal with minor injuries and illnesses. In the rare event of an accident or broken bone, passengers would be evacuated from the wilderness area (probably by horse) and continue on the long drive out. Helicopters are available for emergencies but cannot fly during high winds. Any passengers with a medical condition or using medication should discuss this with us prior to travel.
Q: What is the best way to get money on the trip?
A: The Peso (CHP) is the official currency of Chile. Major credit cards are widely accepted at hotels and restaurants in major cities and in some smaller towns throughout Chile. Traveler’s Checks, for exchange purposes, are accepted at only a few locations, and not worth the hassle. ATM machines, with instructions in English, are widely available in all major cities and large towns though not 24-hours a day. Nonetheless, ATM machines are the most convenient and economical way to obtain pesos using a Plus VISA or Cirrus MasterCard without having to carry around excess cash. Hotels exchange money, and most offer safe-keeping for valuables. On trips of two weeks or less, we suggest carrying only US cash. Cash is easier and more convenient to exchange, and the rate of exchange is generally better than Traveler's Checks. As in other Latin American countries, getting change from large-denomination bills is often problematic. Store US$20 bills in a money belt to exchange as needed. When not in transit, keep the money belt in a locked compartment in luggage, duffel or backpack at the hotel.