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Kayaking Pucon, Kayak Upper Trancura, Chile Whitewater

Chile Kayak Road Trip - Class III-IV

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A kayaking road trip from Santiago to Pucon and then further south down to the Futaleufu.

Chile is one of the most stable and safest countries in Latin America.  It is also one of the most diverse countries in the world.  The whole of the West coast is bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Andes forms a formidable eastern border with Argentina.  In the north is the Atacama Desert, the driest in the world and is also a gateway to the some extreme high altitude volcanos and the nearby salt plains of Bolivia.  Central Chile has rainforest, with around 50 volcanoes towering over some stunning lakes and rivers.  To the South there is Patagonia, a land of fjords, glaciers, lakes and some outstanding whitewater.

This is the ultimate Southern Hemisphere Kayaking Adventure!

For the first week we make our way from the capital Santiago down to Pucon.  Here will be looking at kayaking the Maipo close to Santiago, next is the Rio Teno with some great whitewater and big and bouncy rapids.  Then we head to one of the most photographed and well known rivers in the world - the Rio Claro or as most people know it The 7 Teacups.  We will be spending a few days here for sure learning and developing our techniques to run waterfalls and all set in a beautiful gorge!

From the 7 Teacups we continue our way South via the Rio Nuble and the stunning Rio Bio Bio with different sections that are dam released.

It is now that we arrive in Pucon - the adventure capital of Chile…..

Kayak Chile, Chile Whitewater, Pucon Kayaking

Pucon has built up a big reputation as one of the ultimate southern hemisphere kayaking destinations and rightly so.  The quality of whitewater around Pucon is fantastic, with different styles of rivers which are all set in some of the most stunning scenery.  With all sorts of accommodation options from camping, hostals, hotels or renting a cabaña you can find something within your price range.  There are plenty of restaurants, cafe’s and bars and of course the club is something to see when you are in South America, they know how to dance the night away!  If you are looking for somewhere to relax and recover then there are some really nice hot springs close bye.

With such a variety of whitewater around Pucon there is something for every kayaker.  The Upper Trancura has some nice class IV pool drop rapids and some dramatic backdrops of the Villarrica volcano.  The Upper Palguin is heaven just outside of town, the Rio Maichin is a sweet little river set in a beautiful and lush forest where you get the feeling of being in the Amazon and not in Chile.   The Rio Puesco is on the way to Argentina and is well worth the trip to paddle some continuous rapids.  The Lower Trancura is a nice to paddle mellow class III and with a trip to the hot springs later it is a the perfect day to maintain your focus but to let the body recuperate a little from the previous adventures!  These are by far not the only runs in and around Pucon but provide a great introduction to the area!

After spending a week kayaking and enjoying Pucon we make our way to Patagonia.  Depending on the route we take either via San Martin de Los Andes or Bariloche in Argentina or through the fjords of Chile we will find rivers such as the Fuy and Petrohue.  On route we will pass snow capped volcanos, huge lakes, hanging glaciers and estancias (ranches) that have carved and formed what is one of the true last wilderness’ on earth - Patagonia!!

Our final destination is the Rio Futaleufu.  There are many quotations and statements about rivers around the world but mention to anyone who has kayaked the Futaleufu it will certainly be in their top 10!  It is not just the emerald colour and the abundance of whitewater that makes the Futaleufu so beloved, the river is also a true life source to the local inhabitants and wildlife.  Spending time in Patagonia is something rather out of the ordinary, the locals have a distinct culture and are more than willing to share their tales of living in such a beautiful but wild area.

For us as kayakers we have various sections of river to paddle, such as the Lower Futaleufu which is a great introduction to the river, the standard Bridge to Bridge section which has plenty of action and is the most paddled and the big rapids of the Terminator section.  We spend our days kayaking Patagonia style - running great rapids, set in some outstanding scenery and finishing off the day cooking our dinner over an open fire, drinking red wine, beer or mate and of course talking about the days adventures!

Our last few days of the trip sees us heading back north with one day to kayak our favourite river on the way back to Santiago.

Food and Drink

Food can be a real highlight in Chile, markets are full of vegetables and fruit, there are some great restaurants serving Spanish and German influenced meals, not forgetting the Chilean Asado (a grill laden with various meat and sausages) and of course with Pacific Ocean within driving distance seafood is something very special.  Of course all of this can be washed down by a cold beer, fruit juices, spring water or the traditional mate tea that is more than just a drink it is a culture in its own right!  Of course Chile produces some quality red wine and there is more to Chile than just Gato Negro!!


Chile has everything from rustic camping, bed and breakfast, backpacker hostels, hotels to some quaint and natural wooden cabins.  Accommodation is not included the price of our road trip which gives you the opportunity to manage your funds accordingly.  Sometimes we will camp by the side of the river, we will also stay in camping grounds with choices of staying in your own tent or renting a cabin - the choice is yours!

Experience Required

You should have experience of kayaking Class III and IV whitewater and your roll should be solid!  You do not need any experience of running waterfalls as we can gain this on our way to Pucon.  We will be kayaking for around 4-6 hours a day so though you do not need to be an Olympic Athlete you should have a certain amount of paddle fitness and stamina!  

Group Composition

Our ratios are extremely low here at the Kayak School.  We will be kayaking with 1 guide/coach to 3 clients!  We will not take more than 4 clients on this trip which gives you plenty of whitewater action and the opportunity to improve your kayaking technique throughout the trip.  With such small group ratios you get the feeling of paddling in a safe environment thus leaving you to nail that line or style that drop!!

Your Guides

Steve has spent many years working, guiding and kayaking in Chile and South America.  A fluent Spanish speaker and a fully qualified British Canoeing coach Steve will not only show you some amazing rivers but you will get a distinct flavour of the region, its people, culture and customs.

David is originally from Belgium but has lived for the past 17 years in Chile.  He is married to a local girl and they have a beautiful family.  David speaks Chilean Spanish, knows the rivers extremely well and has a great character and sense of humour!  Steve first met David when they were guiding together in Peru in 2002 and they have been great friends ever since!

Chile Kayaking Road Trip, Kayak Pucon, Chile Whitewater

Dates:      25 Nov - 15 Dec 2016           2 spaces available

                 15 Dec 2016 - 4 Jan 2017     FULL!!

                  25 Nov - 16 Dec 2017

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