Feb 16th - arrive in Futalaufu, still unsure if we really want to do rafting.. We have a wonder around town and that seems to be the big theme. After a bit of convincing by a Colorado American passionate for rafting that has set up shop in the small town and married a local, we part with our cash and head for dinner in a very cute and modern restaurant full of art statues and paintings. Amazing find in a sleepy town. the food is equisite!
cosy littel hospeje with countryside-style stove and heating from chimney (v. cosy night for a change!)
Feb 17th - After giving up waiting for someone to show up at the ferry shop (so that we can book tickets on the ferry back to peurto montt) we head for our rafting adventure.. Me a little more nervious than fred now, we find we are with a chilean family from Val Pariso. Seeing other youngsters eases my mind and we have only agreed to do the first bridge to bridge at this point and not the devils throat descent!
What can I say.. a fantastic experience.. Grade 5 rapids are apparently the most severe you can raft and Futalaufu is actually famous for it´s rafting with people coming from around the world to descend them. We did actually have a safting cataraft and a kayak accompanying the raft in case of any problems, which was reassuring.. yet the question of why we did need them in the first place did come to mind...
There were two rafts going out that day and unfrotunately we get the crazy american who has no fear captaining us rather than the responsible chilean. You can already tell it´s going to be an experience with the american as we watch the other boat practicing their rows and dives to one side, while he instead just announces ´ok it´s this way down, just row into the wave and if you see a large wave coming over us, dive into that side of the raft´. And with that we were off..
The first few rapids are 3 and 4 and I get a good buzz from them, with heart raising as the wave approaches and we crash into it and nearby rocks. The raft is however pretty resistent and you start to realise that it´s more a question of staying in the raft rather than flipping over. Fred unfortunately chose the worst seat in the house (at the front) and took the brunt of things when we went into the magic carpet to try to surf the waves. He got pushed out of the boat and for a v. worrying moment I didnt´see him again as he was sucked under. To my relief the next time I looked in that direction I saw a big eyed fred appear near the kayak.. after a moment of calming we pulled him back in and continued on our way. After a few more hairy rapids we arrived at the next bridge. I felt a combination of relief and exhilaration. However it wasn´t finished as everyone wanted to go on to the next section ´devil´s throat´ which is a good grade 5+ rapid. Although reluctant I stayed in the boat and we went on. My nerves weren´t eased as we stopped a little upstream of the rapid for the guide ´to have a look at the rapid´ effectively deciding how we should descend the rapid depending onthe current of the river. With nerves and heart rushing we left and all I could think was, it gets easier after this! The crazy american took us straight down the middle in the worst of rapid, as the waves crashed over and paddled and tighted my feed behind the floats for good grip, we nearly lost the otehr american at the front and the isreali girl went flying over.. all we could see was her orange life-vest as it bobbed up and down on the water. The kayak caught her down the bottom a little scared and with a red lip (must have hit the oars when she feel out)... anyway it was over.. I can say it was the scariest thing Ive done in a long long time.. great experience but I think I might stick to grade 3-4 rapids next time. You just feel so weakless against the pressure and power of the water...
Glad to be out of the water we enjoyed a nice lunch at the hut while drying off..
Then left for the next part of our journey.... ripio road all the way to our destiination (Puyuyapi) and we picked up some isrealis hitchhikers in our small susuki car.,. if the car wasn´t low enough, it certainly was now but fun to meet some other backpackers and as we´d realise lots of isrealis travelling around the south argentina.