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Quick Update from Futaleufú, Chile

posted Oct 11, 2011, 3:16 PM by Paul Gareau
Well, I managed to get one short day of riding in since my last blog entry. Between Trevelin and here was probably the easiest Andes crossing of the trip, and since there was no one else around, the customs process was also a breeze. I planned on spending just one night in Futaleufú, and I actually did try to leave the following morning, but it started raining heavily and after only 30 minutes I turned around. Things cleared up enough that by around 5PM I was able to hike to the Mirador de la Bandera (viewpoint of the flag), where the amazing panoramic view convinced me that leaving this area without exploring it more would be a bad idea! 

Not wasting any time, the next day I caught a boat to a remote village on the far side of Lago Espolón, and hiked back to Futa that afternoon and the next day. Other than some soreness from my backpack and my soft feet, it was a pretty awesome trek. I took a "recovery" day after, then had a rain day yesterday, which was also a holiday here so I couldn't do any route-investigation. Today I finally was able to get more info about the other routes in the area (really so little that I shouldn't have bothered) and I did another short hike to Piedra del Aguila (Eagle Stone), where there was another mind blowing view. Tomorrow I'll head out to the Rio Azul valley, which I spotted in Google Earth and later learned is hikeable, where I'll base camp after a day of hiking and spend one or two days exploring two or three amazing looking lakes in the area - at least one of which has floating ice, and presumably a small glacier!

Futaleufú is famous for the great rafting in the area and during the summer people come from all over the world to experience the rapids. Since I'm a few months too early for the party I seem to be the only tourist in town, which is great because the hotel here gave me a special deal - if I don't sleep here, I don't pay! I can just leave all my stuff in the room and come and go as I please. It's really a shame that Futa isn't considered a hiking destination, since in my experience (over a year in the Andes!) it's a pretty unique place. It's right in the mountains, with valleys radiating in every direction, and a short walk or "hitch" will get you to any trailhead. The trails are also great, they're unsigned and generally not designed with trekking in mind, but instead are used by all the locals who live in remote places throughout the area - many of which are subsistence farmers. There are so many hiking possibilities I could spend weeks here.

During my rest and rain days I looked a little more into my plan for the remainder of my trip. The route I REALLY wanted to take back to Argentina requires taking a boat, then possibly a few horses (for my gear), then another boat - and the boats only start running in November. So I get to spend a little time here hiking, and then a little farther south I'll do another trek of about three days in a place called Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo, which is supposed to have some of the best self-guided hiking in Patagonia. After that I'll take the boat to El Chaltén, the "hiking capital of Argentina", where I'll hike through Los Glaciares National Park and around Fitz Roy. Not long after that I'll check out Perito Moreno Glacier and just a little farther on I'll arrive in Torres del Paine, where I think I'll have to do some more trekking. :)

Here's a Google Earth pic of where I'll be heading to tomorrow - wish me luck!