Working… Dreaming of Kayaking in Some Place Warm

LINK to PUCON & CHILE KAYAKING TRIPS. 

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-chile-salto-blanco
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  😉

Friendships.

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. 

LINK to PUCON & CHILE KAYAKING TRIPS. 

 

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 David@PuconKayakHostel.com

Chile’s Best Whitewater Kayak Fleet Just Got BIGGER

PKH outfits World Class Kayak Academy with a historical 24 kayak rental.

CLICK for FULL CHILE WHITEWATER KAYAK RENTAL FLEET. 

Annually, Pucon Kayak Hostel upgrades demo kayaks with the kayak industry latest and greatest designs. We are proud to announce our shiny new plastic from brands Jackson Kayak, Pyranha Kayaks, Waka Kayaks, and Zet Kayaks. We believe a commitment to new kayaks is a commitment to our loyal kayaker guests. Plus, we love to paddle the new designs.

22 New Whitewater Kayaks 2018 – 2019 Pucon Chile Season

Want best in class, safe, and reliable equipment. PKH protocol keeps kayakers in new and maintained equipment.

Jackson Kayak 

Nirvanha M x 5
Nirvanha L x 2

Pyranha Kayaks

Machno S x2
Machno M x4
9R med x4

Waka Kayaks

Stouts x1
Tuna x1
OG x2

Zet Kayaks

Toro x1

MOST POPULAR PUCON CHILE WHITEWATER KAYAK TRIPS

Pucon Classics (II to III+), DEC – MAR. Now beginner to intermediate kayakers can explore over 15 class II to III+ sections of rivers.
Claro PLUS, (III+ to IV+), NOV. This advance kayak program takes kayakers to the world’s most iconic runnable waterfalls. Explore a 57,000,000 year old basalt waterfall wonderland.
Pucon Creek Week, III+ to IV+, NOV – DEC. Pucon Creek Weeks compliment our Claro trips allowing kayakers to explore Chile’s two best waterfall regions.
Road to Futa PLUS (III to IV+), FEB – MAR. Target the Futa’s optimum season for sunny days, glorious turquoise waves, and the road trip of a life time.

This is as good as kayaking gets.

CLICK for CHILE WHITEWATER KAYAK RENTAL FLEET. 

Your kayak trip is too valuable to trust less than the best equipment.

When is the best time to kayak Chile?

The best time to whitewater kayak Chile depends on two things: the type of kayaking you want to do and the Chilean season. First, Chile being south of the equator the seasons are opposite to North Americans and Europeans. As you travel north it is hotter and more arid. To the south is more water and the climate is colder. So, think about to kayak Pucon and north for October to December. Then as Chile rivers dry up think of kayaking Pucon and south from January to April. Pucón, which is located in the aptly named Araucanía (or ‘Rivers & Lakes’) district. And what about the world famous Futaleufu? 

Chile Kayak Trips Determined by Weather and Season

Kayak Chile’s Rio Claro +PLUS – NOVEMBER

kayaker Chile waterfall
Ready for the kayak ride of a lifetime. See you at the bottom. 

This is the Chile’s best kayaker destination for waterfalls. The past few years more canyons have been opened as kayakers explore away from the normal playgrounds and access roads are managed. We used to advertise more than 70 clean waterfalls. That number approaches 100 for expedition kayakers.

What to Avoid. Avoid December low-flows. Located in Chile’s arid central wine valleys the low volume is typically dry by early December. We’ve even seen a global warming shifting of water levels. 

Best Chile Kayak Deal. Make the most of your Chile kayaking trip with a week of kayaking in Pucon with the Kayak Pucon Creek Week.   

  • Best Time – Kayak early to mid November.
  • For whom? Class IV Kayakers with excellent rolls and fit conditioning. 

Kayak Chile’s Pucon Whitewater Epicenter 

Kayakers celebrating running Chile’s Las Leonas falls on Rio Fuy.

Pucon Chile is located on the flanks of the Andes within a temperate rainforest where rivers flow based on both rain and snowmelt to the nearby Pacific Ocean. Imagine placing a string of volcanos which multiply the number of drainages, canyons, rivers, and waterfalls. Volcanos, glaciers and tectonic events also formed numerous lakes. It’s a whitewater anomaly with whitewater recreation for all levels from family to expert, and fisherman to rafter.  

Know when is best for your kayak skills. 

Tinkerbell is a favorite feature to develop eddy piercing and peel outs. Fast-Safe-Fun features.

October to November Chile Kayaking. The late spring season Chile’s rivers are flowing with lots of waterfall and river options. 

December to March Chile Kayaking. These are the core summer months of the Chile kayak season offering everything including beginner, intermediate, and advanced kayaking adventures. The sun is shining, its warm with long days and the rivers are inviting kayakers. The northern rivers tend to dry up and kayakers migrate to Pucon for the many options and adventures. Pucon Kayak Retreat offers kayak trips based on skill levels. 

ROAD TO FUTA TRIPS

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? Most kayakers think the Futa is only for experts. And the river certainly keeps the best kayakers in the world happy. But it also has remarkable sections for beginners and intermediates. 
  • Tips – Bring your camera, good coffee, and winning attitude. Ask about adding a Pucon leg. 

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.

Chile 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 Chile whitewater kayaking. 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.

Pucon Chile’s 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.

Pucon Kayak 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 almost unbearable 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.

Chile Kayaking 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.

You are warmly invited to white water kayak with Pucon Kayak Retreat. Email David@puconkayakhostel.com to learn more. 

KEEP KAYAKING.  

Five Kayaker Gems in Pucon Chile

Four days into our 2016 Teacups +PLUS trip 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? NOC’s Jonathan Ortiz gets his boof on prior to taking out on our riverside property.

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.

Popular Trips 

Teacups +PLUS Maipo, Nov 19 – 25

Teacups +PLUS Nuble, Nov 26 – Dec 1

Pucon Classics Trips Jan – Feb 2018 

Vacation Certification Courses +PLUS Kayaking

Road to Futa 2018 Itinerary Coming Soon 

Keep Kayaking.