It is one of the most popular sports in southern Chile, where rivers have rapids of excellent category, ideal to ride on a raft with a bit of adrenaline and the opportunity to enjoy nature and the landscapes around as well.
Rafting is practiced in groups of 4 to 8 people, instructor included. The guide goes on the back of the raft and he/she is the one in charge of sorting out any problem, teach the others how to practice the activity and organize the group depending on the river it has chosen to ride.
In Chile, the most visited river to practice this sport is Futaleufu, although Bio-Bio gets more adepts every year. Both rivers are in category V (out of a maximum of VI), so only experts travel to Patagonia to try the rapids in internationally re-known competitions. You can always travel anyway and be a spectator of one of those fun competitions.
To practice rafting you should know how to swim, in case of any accident. The equipment necessary includes a raft, helmet, lifesaver jacket, rows and neoprene suit.
The rivers where this sport is practices hold different categories or classes, which go from I (being calmer rivers) to VI. In Chile, most rivers are between categories III and V, so that means you can find Intermediate rivers (moderate waves that are hard to avoid), Advanced Rivers (intense rapids that require a fast control of the raft, there is risk of getting hurt) and Expert (long, violent rapids with deep falls. Swimming is dangerous and rescues are not easy.)
Now that we know the classes of the rivers in the country, you can practice rafting in the following places:
- Center Area
- Maipo, Guayacán, Teno, Maule and Claro. All in category III.
- South Area
- Bío-Bío, Futaleufú, Baker (V), Río Trancura, Petrohué and Espolón (III), Río Serrano (I).