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.
“Every year, the editorial team combs the world to find the most
authentic, most innovative, most immersive, best-guided, and most
sustainable tours,” notes senior editor Norie Quintos. “This year, we
wanted to make sure that the trips we picked were also a great value,
given the economic climate. What we found is that there is no better
time to go on a guided tour than now as the traditional savings offered
by an outfitter being able to negotiate better rates on a trip’s
components is magnified by cheaper airfares, a strengthened dollar, and
more discounts, freebies, and extras.”
Raft the Zambezi Jen
Eastwood vividly recalls the exhilaration she felt on this trip after
rafting the mighty Zambezi with its Class IV and V rapids stacked up at
almost one per mile. "We were rounding the bend and started hearing this
music. The people who live on the hill above where our camp was that
night had come down and were singing and dancing in our honor. We pulled
the boats up onto the rocks and joined them." The outfitter has long
had a stake in Zimbabwe and its people—to the extent of helping local
river guides launch a kayak rental business. Bio Bio Expeditions:
"Zambezi Explorer, Zimbabwe," 13 days; $3,700.
Laurence and Ken, age 70, reached the summit of Aconcagua, (at 22,841
feet, the highest peak in the Americas) on Feb. 19th at 3:15 pm.
Laurence reports that it was a great challenge, but good weather
prevailed and made the summit attainable. Other members of the climbing
party reached their own personal summits - whether reaching the highest
camp, Berlin, or just challenging themselves in a whole new element.
Trekking to Aconcagua is a tremendous accomplishment - kudos to Laurence
for trip leading such an amazing journey!
The Aconcagua trek is
a far cry from the creature comforts of the Bio Bio Futaleufu camp.
Laurence was eager and ready to get back to his home-away-from-home
along the banks of the azure Futa. Laurence has been in Chile since
late November and has been at the helm of our Futaleufu operation
throughout the South American summer. He has been loving watching his
daughters, Sabine and Saskia, grow and learn in the clean air and
beautiful sunshine. Sabine (age 3 1/2) has been learning to ride horses
with her very own saddle while Saskia is going to be a very
sure-footed young lady perfecting her walking skills on the hills and in
the pastures of Patagonia.
For those of you interested in how the Chaiten Volcano eruption (in May,
2008) has affected fishing on the Futaleufu, read on for the
perspective of our guide Alex Obregon who was in Futa in February.......
Ahhh Futa, so much fun. The river is running low, great fishing flow!
I didn’t have all that much time but managed to fish a good deal, my
heart is content. You were right, the fishing is great! Fish in
front of camp (good), on the Island (good, small), Puerto Ramirez (fun),
magic carpet rapid (abundant, hit them like a sniper!), Inferno Canyon
(the challenge), El Limite (the border - clear water, lots of fish), El
Rio Azul (not rated) and the Seno Muerto Lake (beautiful). Some spots better than others but man...so fun.
There is an abundant and healthy bug population, caddis, mayflies,
stoneflies, dragon flies, damsel flies...the list goes on...basically
all good signs of the good health of the water’s ecosystem.
The visibility of the water is not quite the same as before, but the
color is just as dramatic - it picks up hues of turquoise more like the
Azul. The fish are not as easy to spot, but with good polarized aid
and a bit of “know where to” look, you will find them.
The section of El Limite (the border) is still crystal clear water,
there are lots of fish up there. Some say that the fish from the
Espolon got out and headed upstream, concentrating on that short
section. Dry fly fun everywhere. The take out not so easy, right at
the eddy above that “mini zeta” rapid under the Puente Robert...long
haul with the gear to the road.
In front of camp you can go out and catch an early morning Trucha
(rainbow trout) just before breakfast, while the Yogis stretch their
muscles...or... At the end of the day a happy hour hunt down by the
Island and come back just in time for dinner. Heading downstream to Magic Carpet rapid for a little kayak surf...and fish...
This is more laid back fishing (that is after negotiating the
whitewater that guards the pool). After a couple of magic carpet rides
(hopefully without getting whirlpooled) I sat on a warm rock
overlooking the eddy, while in it, the food spins around and
around...and with it comes the target...rainbows that feed carelessly
unaware, like riding on a carousel. Much like a sniper, pick your
target and put your fly out there...all is left are a few seconds of
suspense and zaz! Set your hook! Play your fish, loading the synergy of
the rod until your fish jumps out of the water to throw some aerial
moves...we could make a fish rodeo...what you think about that..!
Puerto Ramirez is a really beautiful section of water. I especially
like that turn behind the Island in front of the beach we once camped
at. The water here is almost still and also holds the clear color. So
calm you can spot any action breaking the surface from one corner of the
Island to the other...peaceful!
I think that my favorite venture was into the Seno Muerto Lake, that
little one next to Lake Lonconao. Dude, it is amazing the color of the
water. It has a shallow section about 3-4 feet deep that extends from
the shoreline like a white rim some 20-30 feet, and then drops
dramatically into the deep blue, disappearing underneath you in between
logs and old trees that have fallen down through time and now serve as
shelter for rainbows and browns...the latter more conservative,
shy...perhaps smarter...bigger...I only caught the not so smart ones...
When you look down into the water it feels as if one is diving under,
trying to find the bottom of the lake with the fish...like an aquarium.
I wanted to share my fishing with you, I know its long and boring, more
boring than fishing itself you might think...but when and if someone
asks you about the fishing on the Fu, post volcano eruption, you will
have more to tell them... I
am very happy I went and I am even happier we are going back, the place
is great! I wouldn’t say that there is no ash, but after you are in
the town of Futa, you come back to the Bio Bio camp in the sector Azul
and it feels like the oasis it has always been, now more so. I uploaded some pictures of the fishing adventure under “Fish Report”, check them out. ...Alex...
Marc and Damara are proud to introduce the newest member of the Bio Bio
Team! Lilian Paz Goddard was born on December 22nd, 2008. She weighed 7
pounds, 2 ounces. The expanded family is doing great and Quinn loves
being a big brother! Although this kept us from Chile this year, we
have had a great winter here in Truckee and are looking forward to next
season on the Futaleufu.