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Why Bio Bio Expeditions?

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Bio Bio Expeditions was created by Marc Goddard and Laurence Alvarez-Roos, both from California, as a way to bring people to their favorite rivers in the world. They have been international guides since 1988 and were both members of World Champion rafting Team California. It is their passion to lead people to some of the world’s most wild and beautiful places. They accomplish this safely and with the input from and respect for the local cultures. They introduce different parts of the world to their guests and impart a love of adventure, travel, culture, and the environment. Marc or Laurence is on every trip because this is what they love to do.

Bio Bio’s signature trip is in Chile on the Futaleufu river. The Patagonia region of southern Chile is like the Montana of the 1920’s. The Futaleufu River valley is in the heart of this rugged setting where the families live a traditional ranching lifestyle. Bio Bio Expeditions has created their own retreat in this inspiring setting with the goal of bringing the adventure traveler to the heart of Patagonia. The base camp created, with the assistance of our Chilean neighbors, is a place where the active traveler can get their fill of adrenaline sports and relaxation. The Futaleufu River is world renowned as one of the best whitewater rivers in the world and was the site of the 2000 International Whitewater Championships. The guests spend their summer day rafting spectacular, big whitewater and evenings in the outdoor hot tub watching the river drift by or sipping Chilean wine in the sunset bar. They can enjoy Yerba Mate tea with a Patagonian family after a morning of fly-fishing and mountain biking and have our massage therapist soothe their sore muscles after a hot, relaxing sauna. This is paradise for the adventure traveler who loves to enjoy many different sports in a remote and pristine wilderness setting, but you do not have to compromise on comforts or amenities.

Besides Chile, Bio Bio Expeditions runs trips on the Zambezi River in Africa, the Katun in Siberia, Cal Salmon in northern California, and the Apurimac and Cotahuasi Rivers in Peru. Furthermore, they have expanded to a limited number of trekking trips including Kilimanjaro and the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. For more information, contact Marc Goddard at marc@bbxrafting.com

Sourcing locally

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Challenging to get to and even harder to leave, our
beloved Futaleufu River Valley is a paradise of self-sustaining natural bounty.
 We’ve made it an essential part of our
lifestyle here at Bio-Bio Expeditions;
to tap into the local abundance while re-using the goods we bring in from afar.

Here’s what we’re doing to use less, re-use more, and source as much as we can
from, as close as possible:

– The brainchild of our ever-resourceful South African river legend Stan
Ricketts, Stan makes yogurt daily with milk from cows just up the road.  Even more impressive, Stan’s first batch of
yogurt started with just one little single-serving yogurt cup (to get the biotic process of turning
milk into yogurt going) and local milk.  For each successive batch, Stan
uses a small portion of the previous day’s batch as a starter and then adds the
fresh, local milk.   At the end of the
season, even though we’ll have made and eaten gallons of yogurt, Stan will have
only used that one little plastic cup of yogurt to make a season’s worth of his
creamy goodness.  That’s a lot of plastic
yogurt cups and bags saved from going into our nearby landfill.  Stan’s delicious yogurt, along with our
homemade granola and fresh fruit, is an indispensable part of our daily
breakfast of champions.


– Diego Valsecchi, our Argentinian-Italian wine maker and class V guru,
recently procured half a cow from a ranch a mere 10 minute walk away from camp,
and butchered it himself.  Along with our
end-of-the trip traditional Patagonian asado that features all-day cooked
cordero and chancho (lamb and pig) from other nearby ranches, we’re proud and thankful
that more and more of our meat feeds on Futaleufu Valley grass and roams free
in our valley right before we get to enjoy it.

– Nelly and Ximena, the lovely ladies at the top of the hill who Lorenzo and
Marc bought the land from to build our camp on nearly 20 years ago, still bake
our bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – fresh every day.  Whether a whole grain breakfast loaf,
light-as-air lunch rolls, or their famous cinnamon buns, Nelly and Ximena’s
breads keep us fueled up for the day.

– All of our buildings in camp feature wood and stone from the plentiful
forests, river, and creeks that surround our camp.  With the Futaleufu River as our choice wood
sculptor, we’re keen driftwood collectors and the river’s finest pieces have
homes all over camp in furniture, fences, and buildings.

– If it’s green and we eat it here in Futa, you can bet that it either came
from our on-site garden or a thriving greenhouse belonging to one of our
fabulous kitchen staff.  It’s hard to
find a home in the Futaleufu Valley without a vegetable garden, and we’d be
silly not to use the nutritious and delicious herbs and lettuces grown right
here in the rich Futaleufu Valley soil, by default organic!

– Why sit on a cold wooden bench when you could lounge on a thick, cloud-like
sheepskin made from the hide and wool of local sheep?  When you pull up a bench by the fire or for
dinner, that’s the kind of luxury your derriere receives.  It’s also a rare day in Futa when you can’t
find a Bio Bio guide sporting wool clothing made by a local artisan who, with
hand-spun wool from their own sheep, sew beautiful hats, socks, vests,
sweaters, ponchos, and much more.

– We’re succeeding in turning all of our food waste back into food!  Our food waste is either composted into soil
to grow vegetables and herbs in our garden, or fed to our pigs housed in our
adjoining chacra (pigpen).  We’re trying not to get too
attached to our pigs as we’re looking forward to making homemade sausage and
bacon in the upcoming months.


– Lorenzo has tried for years to have our used bottles and cans taken to a
responsible recycling center but has yet to find a willing recycler who will
travel from Futaleufu to mainland Chile, where recycling does happen!  Instead of sending our bottles and cans to the
local landfill, we’ve built the walls of our onsite brewery out of beer cans
(the more you drink the faster we build!).  And, we recently purchased a glasscutter and
are churning out candle and flower vases as well as cocktail and water glasses
from our used beer and wine bottles as fast as we can.

– If it seems as if it can’t get any better, we’re brewing the soon-to-be
world-famous FuBrew right here out of our brand new brewery with local
ingredients.  In the time it takes to
down an ice-cold mug of FuBrew in the hot Patagonian summer, we can deliver a
freshly brewed keg from our brewery to the tap at our riverside bar…that’s as good
as it gets!

We’re quite proud of what we’re doing to support local farmers, ranchers, and
craftsmen and women as well as our own creative efforts to make and re-use
everything we can.  Come see and taste it
all for yourself this summer (winter, in the Northern Hemisphere) at our luxurious
riverside camp on the one-and-only Futaleufu River in the heart of Patagonia!

-Cooper Freeman

Update on HidroAysen

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Update on HidroAysen –

  

We were only 3 short weeks into 2014 when Chilean
environmentalists received some of what will likely be the best news of the year
and river lovers around the world and all of us here at BBX let out a deep sigh
of relief.  

HidroAysen, the controversial hydroelectric project
that proposes to construct five mega dams in Chilean Patagonia, has been put on
hold yet again… and this time it may be permanent.  Now Endesa Chile (who owns
51% of HidroAysen) claims that legal challenges and uncertainty
surrounding the dams’ transmission lines are why the project has been moved from
short to medium term priority in Endesa’s most recent investment holders
report.

The hydroelectric project has faced heavy opposition
from the start as it would threaten two of the far South’s most wild and scenic
rivers, the Baker and the Pascua, and forever alter the surrounding wild lands
and local communities. Also, many claim the project to be too high risk.  So, it
is no surprise that many Chileans are opposed.  

The project appears to be steadily losing support
over the years.  In 2012, Colbún (Chile’s third largest private electric company
that owns 49% of HidroAysen) halted work on their side of the dam citing lack of
funding and public and political support of the project and now Endesa is
putting the project on an indefinite hold.

Which is great! But it’s not a done deal. The hope
now is that renewable energy sources will become more available and better
developed over the next few years while there is a government in office that
opposes of the project so that  when HidroAysen rears it’s ugly head again, it
will been viewed as irrelevant and passé.

So today, we celebrate this milestone and embrace
Endesa’s announcement to put HidroAysen on the shelf.  Let’s cross our fingers
that wind from the south and/or solar from the north can find its way into
Chile’s power equation for the future and that the wild beauty and cultural
heritage of Chilean Patagonia will be preserved.

Alex Nicks and high water Zambezi

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Long time Bio Bio guide Alex Nicks talks about running the Zambezi at record high water, solo! 

Most people will have seen footage of the Zambezi and it’s
famous huge volume pool drop rapids. 
Of the many facets that makes the river so special a significant one is
its variation in flow. Victoria Falls is Approximately mid way through the
2500km course of the Zambezi and with natural flows rising during the rainy
season or ebbing during the dry season. This means that over 12 months the
White Water section below the Falls is always either rising or falling with a
vertical cycle of over 8 metres in some places in the gorge.

The result is that the world famous run occurs at the low
ebb of this cycle but as rains bring it up the upper section (rapids 1-10)
become commercially un-runnable. There are two reasons for this. Mainly because
the pools disappear and the raging, thunderous volume of water causes huge
boils and whirlpools that would swallow rafts and paying clients. Specifically
because the level means that the one portage (rapid no 9) can now no longer be
portaged. Putting in at rapid 1 commits you to a class 5+(++) rapid.

It can however be run by a kayak. And after finding myself
in the Zimbabwe for a shoot it’s too hard to pass up a run on this upper
section. Unfortunately I can’t find any one to go with me. Most of the river
staff are working in other countries as the commercial rafting is closed due to
the level and the locals are perhaps just too wise.

It’s always a dilemma deciding to solo. But sometimes
opportunities like being next to the Zambezi are just too good to pass up,
curiosity outweighs wisdom and I know this section too. So on the 18th
July I put in at rapid one on my own. The Porters who carried my boat in wish
me luck and wander off squabbling over the fist full of Kwatcha notes I’ve
given them.  I know their look,
they can’t quite work out if I’m mad but they’ve seen me here before so are
expectant that they’ll at least earn some more money carrying my boat out of
the gorge at the take out.

These huge flows mean I can’t even see the falls as I push
away from the boiling pot as spray 350ft high drifts though from the cascade to
the head of rapid one. It’s a quick hop across the cushion wave at rapid one
and I’m on my way, buoyed in confidence by the feel of the warm water across my
face and the rainbow formed by the mist from the falls. There are major hurdles
along this run, rapids 5, 7, the narrows at 7and a half, but at every stage of
this run Rapid 9, the commercial portage is at the back of my mind. If getting
there is a challenge, then certainly rapid 9 is the gauntlet.

It’s clichéd, but life is nothing without taking risks and
finding challenges. And none are more valuable than calculated risks based on
years of skill, experience and the odd arse kicking. Today I run Solo but I’m
with everything I ever leaned, I’m carrying all the confidence from years of
paddling with a huge array of paddlers on diverse runs around the world. Today
we’ll find out if that’s worth anything.

To see how it went …watch the footage from my head cam on
the short film ‘Solo’ at

http://www.kayaksession.com/best-short-film-awards-2012.php

First Raft Descent of the Drangme Chuu River in Bhutan is a big success!

By in The Himalaya Comments Off on First Raft Descent of the Drangme Chuu River in Bhutan is a big success!

On November 14th Bio Bio Expeditions joined forces with Ultimate Descents, to run the first raft descent of the Drangme Chuu river in Eastern Bhutan.

Dave Allardice of Ultimate Descents writes ” Let’s not mince words here: Bhutan is the cutest little kingdom on earth. A gigantic staircase rising from the Indian border to the high Himalayas of Tibet, the soaring peaks of Bhutan are an untapped treasure house of whitewater. The rivers are powerful and challenging. The mountains are magnificent. The people are delightful. The architecture and art is superb. All together, this is a world-class odyssey in a magical land. Far from being a static, restricted environment, Bhutan is a dynamic country whose development is focused on meeting the practical, spiritual and aesthetic needs of its people. Compared with the countries that surround it, Bhutan is succeeding remarkably well.”

 

Bhutan is only 130 miles wide but still takes 4 full days of driving to cross the country and arrive at our put-in. Along the way we visited Dzongs (large fortresses), monastaries, and enjoyed an amazing 20 k raft descent of the class IV Mangde Chuu river. We arrived to the far eastern reaches of the country near Trashigang, Bhutan and got our first glimpses of the Drangme Chuu river. The river was running clear with an estimated 4000 CFS. We spent the next 7 days rafting and kayaking 120 K from Trashigang to the Indian Border. We were thrilled to find one of the finest rafting experiences in Asia. We found big fun class 4 + whitewater, with an occasional class 5 rapid, big beaches, wildlife, very few bugs, and plenty of interaction with local Bhutanese people. Simply put, the river canyon is a gem and we were all excited to have the opportunity to experience it still in its pristine state.

 

The people of Bhutan are some of the most gracious people we have ever met, warm and welcoming, and the country has left us with an indelible image of what is possible in an otherwise chaotic world. Hope for our planet is very evident in Bhutan.

We look forward to running the Drangme Chuu river again in 2010.

Click here for a short video preview – Final video coming in January.