White water is Futaleufú ’s major attraction, but hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding are also grabbing attention. Several U.S. rafting/kayaking operators maintain summer camps in the vicinity October–April. Click here  for details on Organized Tours .
The Class III Espolón is a good starter river, and even parts of the Fu are suitable for those with limited experience, but rapids like the Class V Terminator can be a challenge even for professionals.
According to former U.S. Olympic kayaker Chris Spelius, who runs a camp here, “Big water can be forgiving to a certain extent, but this river’s so big that it can take a normal human being with a life jacket and hold him under water longer than he can hold his breath.”
Even on commercially rafted Class IV stretches there are “Death Spots” that need a professional guide to be avoided. According to Lawrence Alvarez, another U.S. operator, about 10 percent of Fu rafters become “swimmers” at some point.
A leisurely float or a Class III raft descent on the Espolón costs about US$45 per person. For a half-day Class IV descent on the Fu, figure about US$75 per person; a full-day Class IV–V experience costs about US$90. The former involves descent of the river “between the bridges,” a nonstop succession of Class III–IV rapids; novices get out before tackling the Class V Casa de Piedra rapid.
For hikers, one of the area’s best trails follows the Fu’s south bank, starting on an undulating oxcart road opposite the Expediciones Chile camp about 10 kilometers west of town; ask for directions at Expediciones Chile (Gabriela Mistral 296, tel. 065/721386). The trail continues past peasant homesteads above rapids like the Terminator before continuing through southern beech forest so dense that in midafternoon on a sunny day, it’s as dark as dusk. It eventually emerges onto a terrace with new trophy houses; a nearby bridge recrosses the river to the Ruta 231.
For river rafting and other activities, drop-in visitors can try local operators and offices including Austral Excursiones (Hermanos Carrera 500, tel. 065/721239), which specializes in floats and rafting on the Espolón; Cara del Indio (Arturo Prat s/n, tel. 1712/1964239, www.caradelindio.cl ), which has a camp and cabañas on the Fu 35 kilometers west of town; Futaleufú  Explore (O’Higgins 772, tel. 065/721265, www.futaleufuexplore.com ), which concentrates on the Río Futaleufú ; and Expediciones Chile (Gabriela Mistral 296, tel. 065/721386, www.exchile.com ), which does both rivers.
For horseback riding, contact Rancho las Ruedas (Piloto Carmona 337, tel. 065/721294), in the woods at the north end of Arturo Prat.