Paddle Sports in the COVID-19 Era Pt. 6
We continue our journey through the paddle sports world this week with my friend David "Wawi" Alejandro Riquelme Vega from Futaleufu Chile. An international guide extraordinaire that has had his eyes on the COVID situation from Chile to Canada.
Tell me a little about yourself and your job both as a guide and campground owner.
River guide for the past 19 years guiding day trips on the Futaleufú River with Patagonia Elements. Most of our guests come from Europe, North America, and Chile and Argentina. We average around 150 trips a season with 6-30 people per trip.
I also started a campground, El Amigo Patagona Camping 4 years ago. Every year has gotten busier and busier. Most of the campers are from Chile, backpackers looking for places to stay while they travel their country. This season, we had to work at half capacity and take extra sanitary precautions.
We are at one year of COVID. Things got crazy at the end of your 2019 - 2020 summer season. Did your season end early? Did you have to make any changes to how things were done to finish off the season?
Yes, our season ended at the beginning of March, where it normally ends at the end of April. Instead of continuing trips, we just stopped the season. I was also supposed to go to Canada to work as a river guide for their summer but decided to stay in Futa for the winter. The season in Canada was really slow so it was a good decision.
How was the first part of the 2020 season? Did you get to work any trips? Did things changes as we entered 2021? Futaleufu is a small town, were there any tourist coming to visit? If so from where?
The beginning of the season, all the season actually, was really slow. Normally trips start in September or October and this year they started at the end of December. I only worked around 20-30 trips throughout the whole season. The season never got busier even as we entered 2021. Most of the tourists visiting Futa were from Chile. I think I only had 3 or 4 guests from other countries, 2 from Australia, 1 from the US, and 1 from Brazil
Things in the USA are looking really busy for the 2021 season, do you think the same will happen for the 2021/2022 rafting season on the Futaleufu?
I think the next season will be really busy because Chile is doing really well with getting people vaccinated. And, in Chile, I know people are tired of being stuck at home.
I really appreciate you taking some time to chat right before your Grand Canyon trip in a couple of days! Have a good one and see you when you return!