Breathtaking glaciers, waterfalls, and mountain ranges are what Patagonia is all about. But the icing on the cake? Getting right into the thick of this nature by rafting, kayaking, and hiking your way through it. This 9-day itinerary is non-stop action, yet also caters to all levels and is perfect for groups of friends or adventurous families. Just bring your daredevil spirit and prepare to be amazed.

Highlights

  • Raft a number of exciting rapids, including a Class 5
  • Kayak along serene stretches of river—great for all levels
  • Witness spectacular canyons, waterfalls, rivers, glaciers, and lakes
  • Stay in a tree house as well as other beautiful wilderness camps
  • Soak in riverside hot tubs at camp in the evenings

Overview

Enjoy an action-packed itinerary in Chilean Patagonia that caters to all levels! Ease into the week with a gentle hike, canyoneering, and rafting training that will prepare you for the adventure ahead. After this, you'll get straight into the action by tackling some enormous Class 5 rapids. Spend the following days enjoying a combination of rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking in the jaw-dropping nature of this gorgeous and wild part of South America. Each evening you'll get the chance to enjoy beautiful and unique camps in the middle of nature, replete with hot tubs and hearty, energizing food.

Brief Itinerary

Day 1 Arrival in Santiago de Chile
Day 2 Flight to Esquel - Welcome Dinner
Day 3 Esquel - Rafting Training - Terminator Camp
Day 4 Kayaking Espolón River - Rafting Inferno Canyon - Cave Camp
Day 5 Tyrolean - Trekking to Tree House - Condor Mountain
Day 6 Trekking - Zip Line - Climbing & Rappelling - Cave Camp
Day 7 Rafting - Kayaking El Azul River - The Nuns Camp
Day 8 Canyoneering - Rafting - The Nuns Camp
Day 9 Transfer to Esquel - Flight to Santiago - Departure

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Santiago de Chile

Hike or take a gondola up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal
Hike or take a gondola up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal

Welcome to Chile! Upon arrival at Santiago International Airport, a driver will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. You'll have the rest of the day to explore the city at your leisure. 

Suggested activities include:

  • Hike to the top of Cerro San Cristobal, where you can get your bearings by surveying the area from a high vantage point. Pathways lead 2,788 feet (850 m) up this central hill to a series of lookouts that offer wraparound views of Santiago. If you aren't the hiking type, not to worry: catch a scenic gondola instead.

  • Stroll the cobblestone streets of Barrio Bellavista. On the north side of Santiago, you'll find this trendy enclave, at once fashionable and bohemian. Stroll past colorful houses adorned with graffiti art and choose between an eclectic array of eateries and bars—great for people watching. 

  • Visit the Plaza de Armas, a stone plaza located in Santiago's historic center dating to 1541. There's also the impressive Catedral Metropolitana, a neoclassical church dating to 1748 whose towering twin bell towers dominate the north side of the plaza.

  • Snap pics in front of the Palacio de la Moneda. Chile's opulent Presidential Palace (known simply as "La Moneda") is a short stroll from the Plaza de Armas. It was here in 1973 that Chile's armed forces, backed by the U.S. government, overthrew President Salvador Allende, kicking off a brutal right-wing military dictatorship that would last for 17 years. Visitors are welcome.

For dinner be sure to get out of the hotel and enjoy a culinary adventure in the city. In recent years Santiago has emerged as a global foodie destination. Chilean chefs are reinventing traditional dishes like empanadas, cazuelas (stews), and seafood with ingredients harvested all the way from the northern deserts and southern Patagonian regions. You can find great restaurants and wine bars not only in the Bellavista neighborhood but also in the revitalized historic barrios of Yungay and Italia.

Day 2: Flight to Esquel - Welcome Dinner

Esquel in Argentina
Esquel in Argentina

After breakfast in Santiago, you'll transfer to the airport for a flight to Esquel in southern Argentina in the foothills of the Andes Mountains

During the day, explore Esquel's streets and get ready to begin a great adventure. In the evening, gather with your guide and fellow travelers for a welcome dinner.

Day 3: Esquel - Rafting Training - Terminator Camp

Rafting training
Rafting training

We'll start the day with a one-hour drive to the Chilean border. Once at Futaleufú, you will see how the landscape changes as you enter the heart of the Andes. The contrast between the snow-capped peaks, the green vegetation, and the crystalline water of the river is an impressive spectacle. Later, you'll take part in a rafting orientation. A very exciting section of the river will allow you to train and prepare for the challenges of the rest of the week. After all the action, head to the camp to relax and enjoy a good meal, as well as the hot tub overlooking the rapid known as "Terminator."

Day 4: Kayaking Espolón River - Rafting Inferno Canyon - Cave Camp

Kayaking on the Espolón River
Kayaking on the Espolón River

Start the day by paddling a kayak down the Espolón River, a perfect place for beginners. Paddle until reaching the lunch spot. Then, switch to the raft and enter one of the most challenging portions of the river, Inferno Canyon. This striking canyon has impressive Class 5 rapids - as exciting as they come! Spend the night at Cave Camp. After arrival, there will be time to explore and enjoy its many features, including a little blue lake, a sandy beach, wooden and stone hot tubs, and much more.

Day 5: Tyrolean - Trekking to Tree House - Condor Mountain

Tree House Camp
Tree House Camp

This morning, a stunning trek leads to the next camp: Tree Houses. On the way, cross the Futaleufu River on a pulley system suspended over the most dramatic rapid of the river. On the other side, start the hike to the camp, enjoying spectacular views along the way. Tonight's camp is a unique place with a series of tree houses interconnected by bridges. Have lunch here and take a swim, go kayaking, or relax at the hot tub right next to the lake. There's also the option of hiking up to Condor Hill, where condor sightings are very common. Condors are typical birds of Chile, with a wingspan of over 10 feet.

Day 6: Trekking - Zip Lining - Climbing & Rappelling - Cave Camp

Climbing and rappelling
Climbing and rappelling

After hiking back to the banks of the river, “zip” across through a pulley system that will see you flying through the air and sliding over the river. You can also jump into the river from different heights--as high as 40 feet high--for the exciting adrenaline-rush of a free fall.
In the afternoon, go climbing to reach the top of a rock formation, from which you can enjoy spectacular 360º views. Then, rappel off a 300-foot granite wall. The climb has been carefully designed to be suitable for people of all ages, and it has different levels of difficulty you can choose from. Finally, relax in the hot tub overlooking the river, and have a large dinner to recover your strength for the next adventure-packed day.

Day 7: Rafting - Kayaking El Azul River - The Nuns Camp

Rafting on the Futaleufu River
Rafting on the Futaleufu River

Make an early start for a full day of water activities. In the morning, raft an entertaining section of the river with Class 4 and 4+ rapids, until reaching the lunch spot. In the afternoon, after a short hike, use inflatable kayaks to go down the Rio Azul through a beautiful canyon until it meets the Futaleufu. From there, continue kayaking until reaching the next camp, called The Nuns. In camp, take time to relax and enjoy the cliffside hot tub overlooking the river and its landmark mountains, the Nuns.

Day 8: Canyoneering - Rafting - The Nuns Camp

White-water rafting
White-water rafting

After stocking up on energy with a good breakfast, you will go canyoneering in the Arroyo Blanco (White Creek). The creek runs through a spectacular canyon of white granite and turquoise water, which you will traverse on foot until reaching a waterfall. Then you will face the biggest whitewater day of the trip! Start by rafting one of the most famous rapids of the Fu': Terminator. Then, continue with a series of highly entertaining and challenging rapids, until reaching the lunch spot. After lunch, keep rafting until the rapids are finally over on this incredible river. It will be an action-packed experience full of excitement, adrenaline, and fun! After an intense day on the water, return to the Nuns camp to relax and enjoy a well-deserved Patagonian asado (lamb barbecue).

Day 9: Transfer to Esquel - Flight to Santiago - Departure

Enjoy the scenery as you make your way back to Santiago
Enjoy the scenery as you make your way back to Santiago

It's time to say goodbye to Patagonia! After breakfast at the Nuns Camp, drive to the Esquel Airport to catch your flight back to Santiago. Upon arrival in Santiago, transfer to the international terminal for check-in to your flight back home.