In Patagonia, flatwater and whitewater lovers alike can find the right place to live some of the best kayaking experiences.
The remotest region in the world hosts some of the most amazing rivers and a network of fjord routes that make it “a kayaker’s paradise of islands, channels, and utter wilderness,” in words of professional kayaker and coach Erin Bastian.
It comes as no surprise that professional and amateur kayakers alike believe that in Patagonia you really can't go wrong when picking a spot to paddle around.
Where to start?
Several kayaking forums recommend first timers or novice kayakers to start with the easy routes, given the changing weather and sneaky waters.
For those who want to look at beautiful landscapes and not to worry too much about swollen water, the right places for flatwater kayaking are:
- The Azul river. This tributary of the mighty Futaleufú River is an excellent starting point given several local kayak schools use it as a training ground.
- Puerto Natales and surrounding fjords. Many local outfitters offer their services in and out of this port-town strategically located close to the Seno Ultima Esperanza and Eberhard Fjord, from where you can see the Torres del Paine peaks and the Balmaceda Glacier.
- The Chiloé Archipelago. Here, kayakers start from the main island and hop on and off smaller islands and islets in the Gulf of Ancud.
- Pumalín Park. Kayakers can paddle along the coast of this beautiful reserve and through nearby fjords like the Quintupeu and Cahuelmo.
Are you in for more adventure?
If whitewater kayaking is your thing, the Futaleufú river is by far the most voted experience by kayakers from all over the world when it comes to go kayaking in Patagonia.
It is known as one of the best whitewater rivers in the world, due to its combination of rapids at various grades and isolation (and for being far from any human settlement).
Also, there’s a reason why one of its rapids classifies as a Class 4/5 Terminator section, through which even the most skilled kayakers in the world struggle to pass.
Here are a few tips to get the utmost from kayaking “el Futa,” as locals call it, from whitewater experts:
- Never go during off-season. The heavy weather and rapid waters make it a dangerous river during winter. It gets much easier during the high season, between December and March.
- Hire a local outfitter. Even the most experienced kayakers need the “local knowhow” when it comes to kayaking the Futa’s pushy waters.
- Start with the Entrada rapid. According to the Whitewater’s Guidebook, this Class 4+ rapid will provide a good sense of what the Futa is all about.