Five Kayaker Gems in Pucon Chile

Four days into our Teacups + Pucon first of three trips we’re reminded why we first chose to come to Pucon to kayak. It’s the little things that few speak about that we cherish daily in our kayaking lives. Here are a few we identified this week. 

#5 – Putting in and taking out at your riverside base.

Where else can you boof with a volcano as your backdrop? Just 30 minutes upstream of your hot shower, dinner and copa de vino tinto.
Where else can you boof with a volcano as your backdrop? Just 30 minutes upstream of your hot shower, dinner and copa de vino tinto.

For kayakers it’s a special feeling to put in just steps away from your bed. Maybe the only thing better is a class IV+ run on the same river taking out at your base to be followed by having a hot tree house shower and a cold beer. Pucon Kayak Hostel’s base is located at the takeout for the Upper Trancura and putin for the Lower (III) section right in the heart of all the local runs. 

#4 – Upper Palguin Putin.

Few talk about the Upper Palguin putin, but they should. After driving past vistas of Volcan Quetrupillan you’ll next hike into the Palguin Canyon. At the base of the 85’ boof Salto Palguin is a land bridge seal launch. Slide in and the cascades await on South America’s most popular whitewater creek. 

One of coolest putins you'll experience is the Upper Palguin land bridge. Tip - stomping the seal launch is easier than you think.
One of coolest putins you’ll experience is the Upper Palguin land bridge. Tip – stomping the seal launch is easier than you think.

 

#3 – Canyon runs on the Rio Maichin.

Driving east from Pucon toward Argentina is a pristine class III-IV gem known as the Rio Maichin Canyon. Some parts are reminiscent of the Upper Yough with slots and boofs galore. The run does have three runnable V’s with option for sneaks and portages. This river gives you that deep canyon feel… because it’s a deep canyon.

#2 – Shuttles.

Shuttle bunnies on the Upper Palguin near Pucon Kayak Hostel. Come see what all the fun is about.
Shuttle bunnies on the Upper Palguin near Pucon Kayak Hostel. Come see what all the fun is about.

With three volcanoes surrounding Pucon, farmers working the land with ox and cart, and a region known as the rivers and lakes district it’s no wonder Pucon Kayak Hostel maintains a fleet of 4 por 4 trucks for kayakers. Every kayaker knows the anticipation to new river runs and cascades. Your shuttles are grounds for making lifetime friendships.

#1 – Paddling the Rivers.

Pucon Chile has been attracting kayakers to it’s clean river playgrounds for over four decades and for good reason. Kayakers seeking a great winter destination enjoy Pucon’s multitude of cascades and rivers including from class II beginner sections, class III rolling waves and eddies under towering volcanoes, class IV big water and cascades, and even the pros come to test their skills.

Upcoming Trips with Space Available. 

Teacups + Pucon, Dec 11 – 23 

Road to Futa, Feb 18 – Mar 3

Keep Kayaking. 

Group Organizer Promotional Tips & Videos

Are you a group organizer interested in discounts and promotional tips? If yes, then you’ll be interested in our Group Organizer Tips, Videos, and Promotional Materials. WATCH VIDEO – PKH owner David Hughes relates Purpose of Meaning to kayaking. Organizers can use our videos and tips to help promote your group to kayak Chile. Videos and tips below. 

Link to Promotional and Group Organizer Discounts.

Whitewater Kayak Group Organizer Promotional Tips & Videos

Organizing a group of kayakers can be like herding cats. Kayakers are just all over the place. PKH has found a couple of tools that make it easier than you might have imagined. Step 1, Research which trip is right for your group. Step 2, Promote and Organize Your Group – Facebook offers a “Create a Facebook Event” feature that is easy and perfect for organizing, promoting and communicating with your group. Plus, David can help you by sharing photos, videos and also proactively answering questions. Directions to Create a Facebook Private Event – Ask David for a photo for your event.

  • You may ask David@PuconKayakHostel.com to create the event for you.
  • Click the “Create a Event” button on your Facebook page.
  • Event Name – something like “Sarah Beth Kayak Friends Going to Chile January 2 – 10.” Invite every kayaker you know.
  • Location – Pucon Kayak Hostel
  • Date/Time – Use the dates from the actual trip.
  • Description – Make this a fun invitation to kayak Chile. Include links to the PuconKayakHostel.com trip description page. State whom to contact to sign up. Give deadlines for signups.
  • Promoting Your Event/Trip
    • Invite Friends.
    • Encourage everyone going to share and promote the event.
    • Periodically share past photos and videos of trips.
    • Organize a group Skype conference with David Hughes. It’s fun to talk about the rivers and travel in Chile.

Step 3, Email David@PuconKayakHostel.com your group list – in order that David may begin securing group deposits. Once you’ve paid your deposit Pucon Kayak Hostel will do the rest. You’ll receive packing lists and trip details to help make your adventure even better. Step 4, Continually share posts on your Facebook Event – Ask targeted questions and encourage friends to be active. Share Trip Links and Videos on Your Event and Personal Page

Other Suggestions to Promote Your Trip – Phone calls, word of mouth, group emails… We believe the Facebook Create a Event platform is the easiest and strongest way to promote your trip. Email or call David Hughes to help organize your group. David@puconkayakhostel.com or 304-640-2595. Keep Kayaking.

When is the best time to kayak Chile?

The best time FOR YOU to kayak in Chile depends on two things: the type of kayaking you want to do and the Chilean climate. Chile’s diverse, four-season climate has defining impacts on when to kayak depending on location. It’s important to remember Chile is as long as the United States is wide, so you’ll experience a range of weather around the country at any given time. Where the U.S. is divided up into states, Chile is separated by region. In the extreme north, you’ll find dry, desert-like conditions (and the Atacama desert). As you move south towards the central valley and the capital of Santiago, the climate remains warm and arid, but includes a rainy season that has eroded some of the country’s basalt river beds into picturesque canyons as water makes it’s way from the Andes Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Then there’s Pucón, which is located in the aptly named Araucanía (or ‘Rivers & Lakes’) district. And what about the world famous Futaleufu? 

Three Chile Kayak Trips Determined by Weather and Season

TEACUPS TO PUCON:

This is the world’s best kayaker destination for waterfalls and rivers. Kayakers drop into the remote Teacups canyon to ride the cleanest waterfalls in the world. Combine this road trip with Pucon’s best cascade and creek season and you are guaranteed a remarkable whitewater experience.

  • Best Time – Because the Teacups is located in arid Central Valley you must get there during the November snow melts to catch the waterfall wonderland with proper flows.
  • For whom? Kayakers with excellent rows and fit conditioning.
  • Tips – Kayakers get the most out of this trip by coming with both experience and physically fit to hike your kayak into and out of canyons. Bring your camera.

ROAD TO FUTA

Anyone whom has ever dreamt to whitewater kayak the Rio Futaleufu will enjoy the Road to Futa road trip of a life time. Road to Futa not only embraces the challenge of just getting to Patagonia’s world famous Futaleufu River we highlight every kayaker’s mission to get to the remote Futa Valley. PKH arranges logistics via Chile’s famous Carretera Austral, Southern Highway, taking kayakers along a series of ferries, fjords, volcanoes, glaciers, and Patagonia magnificent en route to the Futa. Once there kayakers fall in love with one of the world’s most magical rivers. Ultimately, kayaking the Futaleufu is every kayaker’s dream come true.

  • Best Time – With rugged Patagonia weather we recommend late January to mid March for best levels and sunny days. Pre-season the Futa is often dangerously high and flushed out and kayakers are smattered by heavy weather.
  • For Whom? The Futa has something for beginners, intermediates and expert kayakers. And PKH has coaches for all.
  • Tips – Bring your camera, good coffee, and winning attitude.

PUCON: CLASSIC RIVERS + FUY + SAN PEDRO OVERNIGHTER

As the rivers to the north of Chile’s whitewater epicenter dry the rivers to the south warm and come in a perfect levels. PKH perfectly combines the best of Pucon with a remarkable road trip to the magical turquoise waters of the Rio Fuy. Add an overnight raft support trip on the San Pedro and you have yet another epic Chile kayak experience.

  • Best Time – January to February is when these rivers are at peak flows and the sun is shining bright.
  • For Whom? Any level kayaker is invited to experience the multitude of whitewater Chile’s Rivers District offers.
  • Tips – Bring your camera, sleeping bag and tent, and be prepared to kayak, kayak, kayak.

Know Chilean Geography 

As you travel north to south you go from the warmer arid regions to the cooler temperate rainforest regions. Keeping these facts in mind, the ideal kayak adventure can be planned allowing you to hit rivers at their optimum flows with optimum weather conditions. And in Chile, water levels make all the difference. Basically, you’ll be moving from north to south OR from south to north — depending on what time of year you plan to travel (more on that in a second).

Central Valley

Santiago lies at the northern end of Chile’s central valley and wine district. There is notable whitewater to the west of Santiago, in the Maipo Valley, but 99% of Chile’s whitewater remains to the south. The Andes spine has annual snowmelt flowing west to the Pacific. Traveling south from Santiago looking east to the Andes it’s hard not to imagine what rapids lie hidden upstream.  As you travel south, the weather cools and moisture increases, meaning the snow pack lasts longer into the season. Pucón has one of the longest whitewater seasons in Chile, with quality rivers running year-round.

Kayaker Tip: Pre-December you’ll find the rivers in Pucón and anywhere to the north offer warmer climates and plenty of water in smaller creeks and classic, larger volume rivers. River flow becomes less and less reliable throughout December, with many tributaries running dry by new year. Guides from the Futaleufu and surrounding area travel north to Pucón, and even the central valley, during this time of year. We recommend the Maipo, Seven Teacups National Park, Nuble, and Achibueno Valleys.

Pucón Whitewater Kayak Epicenter 

Geographically, Pucón is the epicenter of Chilean whitewater. It lies to the south of Santiago and just north of the famous Rio Futaleufu. The summer vacation destination was originally established as a military trading route to Argentina, making it extremely accessible. Pucón is close to the Pan American highway (Ruta 5) and near a major Argentinian border. During early development the town — surrounded by lakes, rivers, and volcanoes — developed as an elite head-of-state fishermen’s destination. The perfect location with breathtaking beauty makes Pucón one of Chile’s top summer vacation destinations – for locals and foreigners.

Kayaker Heaven on Earth

For kayaker’s, Pucón is Heaven on Earth. Tourism, infrastructure,  highways, and roads to river put-ins and take-outs provide something many other countries simply cannot deliver — access. The high annual precipitation and gradient between the Andes and the Pacific make this region one of the most congested whitewater locations on the planet. Now, imagine the Andes slopes speckled with volcanoes, each with their own glacial drainage. Chile’s volcanoes were formed separate from the mountain range, during different geological events — and they exponentially multiply the number of waterfalls and runnable rivers. In Pucón, for example, the Rios Turbio, Palguin, Truful Truful, and Llancahue are all volcano drainages. Surrounded by more rivers than you can possibly paddle in an area that also offers convenience, night-life, grocery stores, infrastructure, medical facilities, restaurants & cafes, and the opportunity to socialize with other travelers or just as easily seclude yourself far off the grid — it’s easy to see why Pucón has become one of the top kayak destinations in the world.

Kayaker Tip – Pucón has one of the longest kayak seasons in Chile. October and November are rainier periods great for notching lots of class IV+ and big drops. Everything is running. December may be the most popular month due to the holidays. The peak months of summer, from January thru March, see many of Chile’s rivers dry up, but Pucón continues to hold flows and attract kayakers. The sun is shining and the rivers are running.

Weather is King!

North is hotter. South is cooler. The weather gets almostunbearable near Santiago from January to March. Chile even takes a month-long national summer break to beat the heat. Chileans flock south to the cooler weather and any sources of water in forms of creeks, rivers, lakes, and lagunas. This is one reason why you see so many tourists in the south of Chile during February. As the weather gets hotter the rivers get lower.

The opposite is true of the south. Even Futaleufu guides avoid the Futa during October to December months due to dangerous high flows and extreme cold weather. But as the rivers of the north get low during summer months the Futaleufu Valley offers the perfect summer climate and an unlimited number of river cooling spots. During these months the river is at perfect flow, attracting kayakers from around the globe.

Kayaker Tip – Go with the flow of Chile’s river levels and enjoy the Patagonia summer weather. Plan your Futa trip for the months of January to March. Since many rivers are dry by this time, many kayakers arrive to Pucón seeking to get on reliable runs like the Palguin, Liucura’s play wave, Trancura, San Pedro or Truful Truful.

We warmly invite you to join us this winter at Pucón Kayak Hostel. Want to learn more? Email us.

Camping in Pucon – Take a Treehouse Shower

“Best shower I ever had,” commented the United Kingdom’s Sharon O’Sullivan.

Three years ago Pucon Kayak Hostel had a problem. Guests staying in camping, the Gypsy Wagons, dormitories and the glamping style domes were getting less than adequate hot showers. After a few complaints PKH owner David Hughes decided to take a shower in the bathhouse to see for himself. “Mainly, the shower curtains touched your body and it was too tight in there.” The problem is typical of many Chilean campgrounds but the proud owner wanted to switch the biggest complaint of the sustainable hostel to an experience worth complimenting. While, walking along the river banks through the forest it struck the owner to build a treehouse shower. “Hmm. I’ve never seen a shower in a tree. I bet people would love the open air and view from above while they enjoy the hot water.” 

The hostel first built a treehouse shower just off the deck of the second floor treehouse dormitories. Instantly, the showers were a favorite. One guest best summarized it, “Down deep everyone wants to be naked outside.” When you think about it the statement is funny and true. The treehouse shower was so popular it was soon realized they’d need more.

Soon the owner was looking at the hostel’s large Coigue trees for a spot to take showers. But could he build a shower environmentally friendly? The deck of the shower is actually built around and not touching the two Coigues. And the shower nozzles are attached to the deck. Below the deck was built a green multi-stage water filtration system of bedding, sand, gravel and larger gravel.

“I know it’s not realistic for guests to come to the hostel just for a shower. But it’s a nice experience and even nicer to hear people compliment the showers. Now, our hosteria guests that have showers in rooms go to the outdoor showers just for the experience.” Originally, the shower plans were to build shower stalls between two large trees. But the owner took one shower in the large open area and said, “That area is too nice. After taking a shower there was no way I could divide that area. Guest can figure it out if they want to share showers or not.

Campers, domes and Gypsy Wagons now have the best showers on the property. As well, everyone has the luxuries of the shared communal areas, the sounds of the rushing river currents, and a one of a kind cooking area that brings multiple nationalities together under one roof.

You are invited to the warm hospitality of Pucon Kayak Hostel.

 

Standup Paddle Board SUP First Descent Seven Teacups- Rio Claro, Chile

Standup Paddle SUP Board First Descent of Chile’s Seven Teacups – Rio Claro, Chile

Link to – Pucon Chile SUP Boards for Rent and Trips 

The SUP board would be stuck for an hour long rescue next to a challenging to reach wall. Luckily, the river gladiator saw the danger with his keen eyes and jumped to safety. First Descent SUP - David Hughes.
The SUP board would be stuck for an hour long rescue next to a challenging to reach wall. Luckily, the river gladiator saw the danger with his keen eyes and jumped to safety. First Descent SUP – David Hughes.

 

Christmas eve and paddlers at Chile’s Pucon Kayak Hostel are stuffing kayaks and gear bags into a trailer instead of candy canes in stockings. A group of 8 paddlers are setting out on their dream kayak adventure to the Rio Claro’s waterfall wonderland. As a Dodge Durango and trailer pull out of the parking lot PKH owner David Hughes stops the SUV,

“Let’s grab a SUP board. I’ve been wanting to SUP the Teacups.” A kayaker asked, “Can you do that?” David, “Sure. You can swim them if you want. I’m pretty sure on SUP this would be a first descent.”

Above David dives too early off the sixth of the Seven Teacups and loses his legs. Standup Paddle Board First Descent Rio Claro, Chile.
Above David dives too early off the sixth of the Seven Teacups and loses his legs. Standup Paddle Board First Descent Rio Claro, Chile.

The group had three days on the Claro’s more than 80 clean cascades over the Christmas holidays. The water was low but runnable. David describes, “It’s the lowest I’d ran the Diablo (Throat of the Devil) section. I got tossed into the right wall and took a pretty good hit on my ribs, head and my neck is sore. The Twenty Two Saltos was the best section at the low levels. And the lower flow was idea for an easy SUP board paddle to lip and jump, dive, or flip style of SUP boarding. It’s rare to find such perfectly clean cascades where you can paddle a SUP board off and not have to worry about your landing.”

 

David Hughes goes for a flip when his Standup Paddle SUP Board drags a rock at the lip of the final and tallest of Chile's Seven Teacups. First Descent SUP.
David Hughes goes for a flip when his Standup Paddle SUP Board drags a rock at the lip of the final and tallest of Chile’s Seven Teacups. First Descent SUP.

 

 

That group of eight paddlers would enjoy paddling over 80 clean cascades for their Christmas holiday.

Pucon Chile SUP boarding may be the Standup Paddle Boarding’s best kept secret when it comes to spectacular destinations. The Pucon area is known as one of the world’s most scenic regions for rivers and lakes surrounded by the towering Andes and sprinkled with volcanos. Want to organize a SUP Pucon Chile trip? Or how about just renting SUP boards for the day. Email David@PuconKayakHostel.com to learn more.

David Hughes is the owner of Pucon Kayak Hostel, director of Patagonia Study Abroad and founder of PSA’s predecessor New River Academy.

Photos Credits Jesse Metzger, Patagonia Study Abraod Tour de Stouts.

Pucon Kayak Hostel kayakers scout the "Throat of the Devil" just a kilometer upstream of the more famous Seven Teacups. Rio Claro, Chile.
Pucon Kayak Hostel kayakers scout the “Throat of the Devil” just a kilometer upstream of the more famous Seven Teacups. Rio Claro, Chile.

 

 

“First descenting the Teacups just goes to show how easy SUP boarding is. I don’t SUP much but have to say that was super fun. I even got a bit nervous before the first drop. But it went smoother than I expected. So, it was just fun after that.” First Descent SUP, David Hughes.
“First descenting the Teacups just goes to show how easy SUP boarding is. I don’t SUP much but have to say that was super fun. I even got a bit nervous before the first drop. But it went smoother than I expected. So, it was just fun after that.” First Descent SUP, David Hughes.