Seemingly suspended above the river, the boats and their paddlers engage in a race with the current while avoiding small and large rocks.
Rafting is no longer a water sport for the few; it has become a popular family tourist activity. When the Chimehuin River is the host, it is all fun.
Be it from San Martín de los Andes or neighboring Junín de los Andes, the pleasure begins the moment you set off with your guides. We turned off the paved route into a gravel road leading to Lake Huechulafquen in the Patagonian steppe, home of the magnificent Lanin Volcano, towering over the surrounding mountains.
When we reached the shelter we were welcomed by Mario Bianchi, the heart and soul of the group. After the introductions he described the circuit and we proceeded to put on wet suits, wind jammers, helmets and life vests. Not all the gear is compulsory, though.
The magnificent Lanín Volcano
Seemingly suspended above the Chimehuin river
‘Never let the paddle leave your hand’
Rugged Patagonian nature
An amazing place
A large rock by the river
The slogan is enjoying
We then boarded a minibus to head for the coast. Mariano had a surprise in store for us: an amazing view of Lake Huechulafquen and the mouth of the Chimehuin River, known world wide for fly fishing, from an outstanding vantage point.
We made our way down to the river where we were given a tech talk. It was clear we had to paddle and paddle and paddle as we were the motors propelling the boats forward. ‘Never let the paddle leave your hand’, was one of the main instructions. Other surprises were lying in wait: a daring plunge into the water from a rock and a swim across a stretch of fast flowing water.
From the beginning the group in our boat did their very best. When we heard ‘All forward’ or ‘All back’ we added our own voices to keep up our enthusiasm.
When we reached the rapids and huge rocks we had to paddle really hard. The boat rocked and rolled but the crew came through with flying colors and peals of laughter. The most difficult stretch was at the end of the 8 kilometer circuit.
We left the boats to climb a large rock by the river from which most of us jumped into a deep pool, surfaced and made our way as best we could to the coast. A little farther upriver we dived into the freezing water from the boats and swam to the opposite coast, with the help of our life jackets. Two moments of adrenaline rush and the joy of being in touch with our inner child once again.
Just like in sports, it was time for the ‘third half’: warm drinks, typical tortas fritas as well as homemade bread and jam in a lovely shed.
When we feel safe during an activity, it brings out the best in us and we can fully enjoy it. It is all about having a great time and lots of laughs.
Mónica Pons Eduardo Epifanio
Contact of the excursion or tour
Ax3 - Deportes de Montaña
Tte. Cnel. Pérez 830 - Local 4 (8370) San Martín de los Andes, Neuquén, ArgentinaTel: +54 294-412782
Lodging at Mount Chapelco
Lodging at Mount Chapelco
Cabins at Mount Chapelco
Private Houses for temporary rental (National Urban Leasing Law Nbr. 23,091)
San Martín de los Andes