Santiago Chile- New Youth Kayak Program

Interested in Pucón Kayak Hostel’s Youth Beginner Kayak Camp? Click Here. 

Chilean students kayaking
Nido de Aguilas adventure program director Spencer Fowler helps a student put on a neoprene skirt. Skirts are designed to keep water out of the kayaks. This student can roll his kayak without a paddle and in his cast.

Pucón Kayak Hostel owner David Hughes, an education major and founder of Go Huge Kayaking’s successful youth programs, upon basing in Chile naturally saw a need for introducing Chile’s youth to kayaking. A rational route would be to follow familiar US school models. Hughes realized many successful youth kayak programs are those schools with resources for learning and supportive instructors willing to teach fundamentals. That school and professional instructors were found via Santiago’s Nido de Aguilas aka “Eagles Nest” junior high and high school. An introduction to Eagles Nest came via two Eagles’ students, Daniel and Lucas Miller, who for the past two years attended Pucon Chile’s Youth Beginner Kayak Camp.

Eagles Nest Instructors Promoting Kayaking

As important as a supportive school with proper facilities would be the school’s instructors and whether they are willing to promote whitewater kayaking. Spencer Fowler and Sergio Juarez are Eagles Nest outdoor adventure and pool directors whom were excited for the opportunity to promote kayaking to their students. The problem is that few if any schools in Chile actually have kayak equipment. Pucón Kayak Hostel realized that if PKH transported proper kayak gear to Eagles Nest that students would get excited about kayaking.

PKH Loans Jackson Kayaks for Youth Learning

Knowing students would need the best kayaks for learning Pucón Kayak Hostel lent Eagles Nest High School six sets of gear: paddles, skirts and kayaks for the winter pool sessions (April to October). Jackson Kayaks provided the perfect learning crafts for reasons of size and ease of rolling. Kayaks loaned were the Lil Heros and Villain S’s for both size and easy to roll logic.

Kayak Skirt- a neoprene skirt is worn by each kayaker tightly around the waste. The “kayak skirt” is attached to a “cockpit rim” that keeps water out of the kayak and allows the kayaker to get in and out of the kayak unattached. 

Planting the Seed for Kayaking

With six sets of gear in place Fowler began giving students during pool classes options for kayak rolling lessons. Progressions included wet exits to hand rolling. Students were excited to play in the kayaks learning wet exits, basic strokes, rolling, and then games with hand rolling.

Youth Learn Fast

Hughes returned to Eagles Nest last week to give a presentation to over 30 enthusiastic students ages 12 to 17. The presentation focused on “Why do people love kayaking?” Hughes related the adrenalin and group mission accomplishments of paint ballers as well as the psychological achievements of video gamers to what kayaking progressions and river missions provide for kayakers. Students interested by the sport asked questions. As well, students discovered why many consider Chile the world’s best destination for kayaking. A video of some of Chile’s spectacular runs was shared. 

When it comes to youth kayaks the brand Jackson Kayak has committed to building the best youth and children's kayaks. Jackson Kayaks makes proper fitting kayaks that are easy for kids to roll and manage.

The most surprising thing was when the youth group went to the pool excitedly they hopped into their boats and began rolling. Many students had remarkable rolls. The most advanced students demonstrated hand rolls. A couple of students would swim into their water filled kayaks, put on their skirts whilst upside down, and hand roll in one breath. Hughes smiled from ear to ear and Fowler exuded pride of his students’ rolling successes. It was obvious the energy invested in delivering and loaning gear was worth the effort.

Hughes had actually planned to pickup the six sets of gear for his upcoming PKH season. But seeing how much the youth were excited for and practicing kayaking there was no way he could take the loaned gear. Instead, he resolved to somehow figuring a way to later transport the gear back during Eagles’ Christmas break.

Santiago's Eagles Nest high school provides a warm pool where students can practice rolling kayaks loaned by Pucon Kayak Hostel. PKH is committed to the youth benefits of safe kayaking.

Youth Kayak Camp Based after the World’s Most Successful Kayak Camp Models

If you are going to research the world’s most successful kayak camps Ottawa Kayak School’s Keeners and go Huge Kayaking’s camps would have to top the list. Both of those programs have a list of world champions and Olympians that consistently promote youth development via passion for the river running. Pucón Kayak Hostel Youth Beginner Kayak Camps borrows from the structure of the Keeners “choose your sessions” plan and Hughes’ own go Huge Kayaking models. By allowing families to choose from several different week long sessions students can join a camp for one week, two weeks or three weeks. As camp director Hughes states, “The kids learn so fast that they need time in their kayaks rolling, running rivers, practicing strokes combined with a proven instructional program. The more experience students allow themselves at camp the better they get. This model has been proven by the best kayak camps in the world.”

Daniel and Lucas Miller surf a wave in front of Pucón's Volcan Villarrica.

Interested in Pucon Kayak Hostel’s Youth Beginner Kayak Camp? Click Here. 

What is your opinion on bringing a kayak to Chile?

“What is your opinion on bringing a kayak to Chile?”

Asked PKH guest Marshall McQuillen. The question is so important and asked so often that we decided to share it as a blog. Unfortunately, Marshall and his paddling partner got the worst we’ve seen of shipping a kayak from Denver, Colorado. Last season Marshall shipped two kayaks at about $US650. That’s a horrible price and there are better options. When Marshall arrived to the hostel his kayaks had not arrived to Chile yet. So, they were forced to rent kayaks as they waited. Days turned into a week and the kayaks arrived to Santiago. But they got stuck in customs. So, Marshall hired a customs agent. More days turned into another week. Now, the customs department said they had to pay storage for the kayaks until they were cleared. Realizing the kayaks were stuck the pair of kayakers paid for a bus to Santiago. Invested two days. Paid for the storage. Paid for the customs agent. And now were forced to ship their kayaks from Santiago to Pucon. What a nightmare. Totals costs were approximately $US1250 just to get their used kayaks. New kayak price in Pucon = $US1150 to $US1200.

This blog will describe your best options for securing that you arrive to Chile with a kayak either in hand or awaiting you. We’ll illustrate costs so that you can decide your best option.

Link to PKH Kayak Rental Fleet.

Rule #1- DO NOT SHIP your kayak. Super expensive.

Popular Trips

Fly. Buy. Or Rent a Kayak in Chile.

Flying with Your Kayak to Chile

PKH invests thousands in annual shipping offering kayakers a reliable selection of rentals.

This is your most economical option. The challenge is that most airlines blacklisted “Kayak” from their acceptable baggage list. This leaves nomadic kayakers gambling with flying their kayak. There are lots of tricks and methods to attempt to get your kayak on-board your flight that “may be” successful. And no one can know for sure if an airline will accept or send you to Chile without your kayak until you arrive to the gate.

The Gamble:  If you get denied then you’ll arrive to Chile often with the best kayaks already rented or sold. This leaves you scrambling to find a quality boat and losing kayak days.

Flying with Kayak Tip:  Bring a new kayak and you can count on reselling it used at the end of your trip.

Buying a New Kayak in Chile

Flying with your kayak may save you money. Is it worth the risk and hassle?

Ian Garcia the owner of Rivers, Lakes and Oceans ( sells new kayaks for around $US1200. And considering what he goes through to pass customs that price is impressive.

Reselling your Used Kayak:  Expect to sell a 1 to 2 month old kayak for $650 to $700. That’s the Pucon market value.

Buying a Used Kayak in Chile

Good Luck. Pucon Kayak Hostel sells more used kayaks than anyone in Chile and they go quick. The problem is to find a used kayak for sale. Most used kayaks get bought up quickly by the kayak schools and retailers for rentals. In Chile there is a high demand for used kayaks. In our opinion buying used is not a rational option unless you are arriving at the end of the season. March-ish.

Renting a Kayak in Chile

PKH rents kayaks for 10,000 pesos/day or approximately $US20. If you are a guest staying in Chile for longer than 3 weeks then we’ll be happy to offer you a discounted rate.

Let’s examine a cost analysis:

Trip Length:  20 days

Buying Kayak= $1200… resale vale= $700 = $500 expense and legwork to sell the kayak.

Renting 20 days = $US400

Above 21 days PKH offers discount rates.

Flight Tip-  “Fly direct to Temuco.”

If you are going direct to Pucon then we suggest you fly direct to Temuco. The Santiago bus station is a high high theft region. Why waste a day taking taxis, buses, and more buses when you could fly to Temuco for the same amount you’d spend on all those taxis and buses?

Link to PKH Kayak Rental Fleet.

Youth Kayaking is a Rolling Success in Chile

Directions to Pucon Chile.

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

Click to learn more about Kids Kayak Camps in Chile.


Kids can learn to kayak in the heart of Pucon Chile's volcano and river wonderland.

For the second year Pucon Kayak Hostel and Huge Experiences have combined to offer Chilean youth a North American style kayak camp. It’s a traditional camp in a gorgeous Chilean environment. The Pucon area offers a variety of rivers fantastic for safe learning. Plus, if the days are cold the kids practice their rolls in one of the local hot springs pools. Now that’s a cool, or should we say warm, way to learn to roll a kayak.


This year three students from Santiago’s high school Nido de Aguilas attended the five-day camp session. Daniel and Lucas Miller attended for their second year as they begin progressing from rolling in the lake to whitewater combat rolls.


Nico Andrade practices kayak strokes before trying one of Pucon Chile's rivers.

Nico Andrade is learning to kayak for his first time. While Nico was skeptical at first he’s learning that kayaking is super fun and a great way to be active and cool off during the hot summer months.


What do the whitewater kayak campers learn?

The goals of the camp are to have fun and introduce Chilean youth to the sport of kayaking in a safe environment. The program begins with safety protocol and introductions.

Students learn the basics of reading water, the sport of kayaking, how to use a throw rope, and boat repair. Students too have to plan their own breakfast menus and be part of revolving cook teams with one of their coaches. Academically, students get a brief history and geography lesson of Chilean whitewater and rivers. Students also write about what they experienced and learnt via their river crafts.

Is kayaking safe? Lucas Miller takes a fun break to swim in a Rio Turbio laguna? Kayakers learn how to read rivers and safety practices.

Safety Lessons

  • Wet exit teaches students how to safely exit their kayak.
  • Throw rope practice teaches students how kayakers can rescue each other win swimming.
  • Swimming rapids teaches students how to read and navigate the river and it’s currents.




Did you know you can surf waves in rivers. Above Daniel Miller surfs on the Lower Rio Maichin.


Hopefully, a seed is planted and these youth become excited to continue learning their rolls this year and soon progress to many of Chile’s great rivers.


If you or your child are interested to learn more about kayaking in Chile contact

More Photos of kids learning to whitewater kayak in Pucon Chile.

Lucas Miller jumps from a tree into the Rio Tolten. The Tolten overflows like a bath tub out of Lago Villarrica.
























Directions to Pucon Chile.

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

Click to learn more about Kids Kayak Camps in Chile.