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.

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.

Pucón Creeks and Rivers

For Intermediate to Expert Whitewater Kayakers – Dec 6 to 19

In the spirit of keeping things exciting the Pucon Creeks and Rivers Trip offers whitewater kayaking on Pucón’s best while exploring other areas of the region taking a road trip every third day. Whether you want to master your roll, run your first waterfall, or are ready to work on your boofs and stomps this trip offers it all. You’ll even experience an over night raft support camp trip on the Rio San Pedro. This is one of our most popular trips.

Video of Rio San Pedro Overnight Camp

https://vimeo.com/118317022
Above: Patagonia Study Abroad student Jesse Metzger composes this short edit of the overnight San Pedro trip. Paddle a day then camp under the southern hemisphere stars as you celebrate being in Chile. The river is playful and beautiful with Futa style clear water and giant waves. 

Similar Popular Trips

First time creekers can attempt their first 20 foot waterfall on the Upper Palguin and land in a safe pool.
First time creekers can attempt their first 20 foot waterfall on the Upper Palguin and land in a safe pool.

Skills Required: Intermediate to Expert Kayakers

Highlights: Palguin Fest, Nevados, Upper and Lower Trancura, San Pedro Overnighter, Coilaco, Maichin, Puesco, Fuy and Llancahue

Dates: December 6 to 19

Flight Arrivals:  Dec 7, Schedule Temuco (ZCO) Arrivals on the 10:50 am, 11:25 am or 4:55 pm

Flight Departures:  Dec 19, Schedule Temuco (ZCO) departures on the 11:50 am or 5:00 pm
Bus to/from Santiago: Email us for bussing directions and details.

Cost: $2,600 USD

Deposit:  $US600 (deducted from total cost) to reserve your space.

Includes: Kayak, 3 meals/day, lodging, transportation and coaches

Ask about Pucón Creeks and Rivers – CALL OR EMAIL, (USA) 304.640.1001 or david@puconkayakhostel.com.

Want to Extend Your Adventure?

Guests often want to experience more. You can extend your kayaking adventure at a rate of $US800/week. Email David@puconkayakhostel.com to learn more.

Pucónia Land of Volcanos and Rivers

Extreme race on Palguin River Pucon Chile
You can watch or compete with the pros at the annual Palguin Boatercross. Just another day in the Pucón sun.

The whitewater kayak world has known Pucón as a world class kayak destination for over 30 years. To Chileans Pucón is known as the “Rivers District” that sets world records for the most concentrated whitewater and volcanos. Precipitation and combined gradient of Andean and volcanic slopes mean that every other bend in the road offers a new drainage. Those drainages offer playgrounds of hiking, canyoning, rafting, fishing and kayaking. Pucón has become one of South America’s most visited destinations for good reason – stunning beauty. As kayakers we’ll spend much of our time driving the Patagon roads exploring the slopes and waterways.

The Pucón area offers year round kayaking and clean waterfalls. When it rains magically drainages rise into playgrounds of slides, cascades, ramps, boofs, waves and holes towered over by snow covered volcano peaks. Whether you are riding to the river or down a wave train the experience is remarkable.

How does the kayaking work? This trip attracts class III to Expert kayakers. So, we plan two kayak groups based on level: Team D for “Development” and Team S for “Stout.”

Team D – will move at a slower pace scouting and portaging rapids when needed and working on fundamentals of pushy ferries, catching eddies, boofing, and read and run kayaking. The Trancura provides 15 miles of class II to V development whitewater with over 20 boof spots and plenty of excellent eddy lines to work. You’ll take those progression skills to the Palguin and get your chance to “stick your boof” on a variety of waterfall types.
Team S – will progress at a faster pace jumping right to the Palguin and Upper Trancura sections where you’ll be challenged by the harder lines. Your progression will quickly advance you toward more challenging runs like the Puesco and Llancahue.

Who should attend?

The Upper Fuy offers a variety of cascades on turquoise warm water.
Guests often make a day trip to get their boof on Las Leonas.

Do you want to get on a lot of runs but skip the stresses of intense travel? Or maybe you want to kayak during the holidays but make it home in time for some Christmas gifts. Whether you are seeking to run your first clean twenty footer or want to race in the Palguin Boatercross “Pucón Creeks and Rivers Trip” has got you covered. This group will spend less time camping and traveling and more time relaxing and paddling. The PKH base has become world famous for accommodating kayaker’s and getting them on their dream rivers.

Itinerary

Day 1, Dec 6   Fly from your home airport! Passport check!

Day 2, Dec 7   Temuco Airport (ZCO) Arrivals Suggest the 10:50 am, 11:25 am, or    4:55 pm; Outfit boats and Lower Trancura

Day 3, Dec 8   Team D: AM – Slalom Gates / PM – Lower Trancura

Team S: AM – Upper Trancura / PM – Slalom Gates

Day 4, Dec 9   ALL – Rio Maichin Full Day

Day 5, Dec 10  ALL – Rio Fuy (Options are Upper, Middle and Lower)

Day 6, Dec 11 Team D – Upper Trancura / Slalom Gates

Team S – Slalom Gates / Upper Palguin

Day 7, Dec 12 Kayak Rest Day. Options: volcano trek, Cani hike, horse back riding, hotsprings, day in Pucon…

Day 8, Dec 13 Team D Slalom Gates / Upper Trancura

Team S Llancahue Full Day / Optional Late Night Pucón

Day 9, Dec 14 Sleep Late /

Day 10, Dec 15  All – Rio San Pedro Overnighter

Day 11, Dec 16  All – Rio San Pedro Overnighter

Day 12, Dec 17  Team D AM – Slalom Gates / PM – Upper Trancura

Team S AM – Upper Trancura / Coilaco or Nevados (pending levels)

Day 13, Dec 18  ALL – Upper Palguin Full Day

Day 14, Dec 19  Temuco Airport Shuttle

Ask about Pucón Creeks and Rivers – CALL OR EMAIL, (USA) 304.640.1001 or david@puconkayakhostel.com.

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.