Working… Dreaming of Kayaking in Some Place Warm


About this time in 2017 I was bored by homework and found myself dreaming of warmer days kayaking waterfalls and rivers in some place for the winter. After some impulse decisions and soul searching my friend and I began comparing international kayak trips. We were looking at Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Chile. We didn’t want just a paddling vacation possibly beatering. We wanted to learn new skills, progress our kayaking, and kayak lots of rivers. I put in the time comparing guided trips and do-it-yourself destinations, and now I’m sharing why I chose Chile and Pucon Kayak Retreat over other options!

Our Criteria for International Kayak Trips? 

Bonds for a Lifetime… Tara Blair, Kesha Thompson, MB Galyean, and Melissa Huckson loving Chile life. (c) Casey
Kayak dreams do come true in Chile – Tara Blair. Salto Blanco Christmas. (c) Casey Jones Jones

Do-it-yourself or Instructional Kayak Trip?

Getting to see new rivers with development features to challenge our skills safely was huge. Pucon seemed to align with our goals to paddle lots of rivers, be challenged safely, get world class instruction, and come back to the same warm bed each night.

Trusting Relationship with NOC.

One of the biggest factors in my decision was the strong partnership between NOC and PKR. If you are a Southeastern paddler you are definitely familiar with the NOC Paddlesports and their reputation. This partnership gave me confidence in not only the high level skill and professionalism of the guides, but also reassured me that the trip I booked would be staffed and not cancelled at the last minute due to limited resources.The NOC guides were all super excited describing different rivers and waterfalls I could run. I already trusted and knew the instructors so that helped too.

Bang for Your Buck.

Most people think you need weeks to enjoy Chile. While I definitely think you should try to maximize your time in the country, a 1-2 week trip still gives you plenty of time for paddling and exploring. My first trip consisted of just over one week at PKR, but it felt like I was there for three. In my opinion it actually makes more sense to book a trip with PKR if you are limited on time. By booking a trip you ensure that the logistics are taken care of, and Dave (owner) and his team work to fit as much as possible into every day. How often do you paddle two or more rivers a day 7 days in a row at home? If you want to do multiple river runs every day that option is always there. If you want to hike up the volcano, do a tandem paraglide, or explore Pucon they make that happen. Or, if you just want to relax in the Quincho, taste some local wines, and make lifelong connections with other guests/staff that occurs every night!

Riverside Location. Location. Location. 

If you’re reading this you’ve most likely already seen some of the beautiful Chilean landscapes and the amazing whitewater, but if you can believe it, I’ll tell you the pictures don’t do it justice. Volcanoes, rugged landscaped, untouched areas, pristine waters, glaciers, 15 hours of sunlight a day – it really doesn’t get any better. Some of the most stunning features are the basalt canyons like the Rio Palguin, watching smoke pour out of Volcan Villarrica at sunset, and the clear blue waters you’ll see on the Rio San Pedro. Literally, every turn offers another amazing vista.

Chile’s a Little Harder to Kayak on Your Own. 

We thought we could invest to gain skills in Chile with the provided transportation, kayaks, meals, lodging, access and instruction because it seemed harder to do than Costa Rica and Ecuador. Now, that we’ve had some solid international travel experience and our kayaking is upped I feel confident to do other destinations on my own. The truth is Chile’s not cheap to do on your own. We feel good about what we paid as that was an investment in kayaking assurance and our own confidence. 

Why I Returned to Work a Chile Season with Pucon Kayak Retreat

Confidence Boost.

Even though my first trip only lasted a week, the improvements I saw in my paddling and especially my confidence were tremendous. The skills I learned and confidence I gained carried over to my local runs once I was back home, and I correctly guessed that returning for a full season would take my paddling to the next level. 

Take-Home Skills.

The learning didn’t stop in Chile. When I got home I continued to refine many of the skills I learned with PKR guides. I’d tell you more about them, but maybe you should go to Chile yourself to find out  😉


The people I met and travelled with are what really made my time spent in Chile so special. There’s nothing like quality whitewater, beautiful landscapes, and fun-filled adventures to bring people closer together and make lasting memories. 

Riverside Location. Location. Location.

I could go on for days about how much I’ve enjoyed traveling and exploring Chile. There’s something about it that just draws people back year after year. Did I mention there’s no poison ivy, ticks, mosquitos, or venomous snakes?

About Tara Blair. Tara is a former John Hopkins Uni student that we at Pucon Kayak Retreat were lucky enough to have return to work, play, guide, and just hangout with. Now, Tara’s off inventing medical engineering tools to save lives. We miss you Tara… come back to your southern home soon. 



Am I good enough to kayak Chile’s class II to III whitewater?

LINK to Pucon Classics (II to III) Chile Kayaking Trips. 

Reasons We Hear Kayakers Are Timid About Kayaking in Pucon Chile

For good reason intermediate kayakers have safety check-boxes they need answered before allowing themselves to paddle down the unknown. The fear of developing your kayak skills with professional instructors on Chile’s lesser known safe-fun class II to III rivers reminds us of the classic horse before the cart conundrum.

Pucon Kayak Retreat employs NOC’s best instructors to ensure highest quality instruction standards.

Assumption #1 – “I’m not good enough to paddle Chile rivers.”

This misconception makes sense because for decades kayakers have been promoting media of themselves hucking bigger and bigger Chilean waterfalls. Kayak schools and universities have been leading class II to III Chilean rivers for years, but those programs aren’t as effective promoting class II to III trips. 

Pucon Chile kayaking rio liucura
Tinkerbell is our favorite feature to develop eddy piercing and peel outs. Proper features with NOC instruction makes all the difference.

Did you know Pucon area has 15+PLUS development whitewater sections (II to III+)? 

Lower Trancura (II to III+), Middle Liucura (II), Lower Liucura to Trancura Beach (II to III), Trancura Delta (II to II+), Lower Maichin (II to III), Tolten (II to III), Upper Liucura (II to IV), Lower-Lower Palguin (II to III), Lower-Lower Fuy (II to III), San Pedro (II to III+), Liucura Wave (III), Sollipulli (II to III), Lower Truful Truful (II to III+), Cautin (II to III), Allipen (II to III).

Assumption #2- “I need to get better at kayaking.” (Before I can participate in a program that helps me get better).

Roll practice on cold days in the hotsprings. Nothing eskimo about hotsprings rolling. 

This horse before the cart is a mindset preventing kayakers from ever getting better. A Chile kayaking trip is about having fun, progressing your skills at your pace, bonding with guides and friends, having access to world class instruction and river features, and just exploring the magnificent volcano and river laden geography. Kayakers are amazed at how good they get with just one week of instruction at Pucon Kayak Retreat. 

Are you good enough to kayak Chile’s class II to III?

You’re invited to learn, progress, and experience Chile rivers the fun-safe way. Kayakers celebrate at the bottom Rio San Pedro’s biggest rapid. 

We will make sure you are, and align you with the proper features, and fun – safe sections.

Want to get better and experience Chile’s best II to III whitewater kayaking rivers? 

LINK to Pucon Classics (II to III) Chile Kayaking Trips. 

Call +1-828-788-5135 or email