As the host of a whitewater dream adventure destination a top priority is to help travelers save funds on airfares. Sniffing out the inside secrets of international flight deals is something every nomadic kayaker should understand.
Advantages of Following These Tips
By following these tips you will be a well-informed consumer and know the best price when you see it.
If you learn just one new airfare purchasing gem you’ll save money.
You may find yourself buying a ticket to your dream kayak vacation.
Tips for Cheaper Chile Airfares White Water Kayakers Use
Browse incognito to avoid bait and switch pricing.
Airlines and booking agencies use a low fare magnet statistically knowing that everyone researches best price points. That’s how they get you… when you return to their site to buy that low cost ticket the price increased by hundreds in only minutes. Each time you search incognito you are in effect resetting your cookies and hence not allowing the sites track your site hits. For the moment you should be able to get the originally published lower fare.
Know the cheapest day to fly.
Use sites like Google Flights and Sky Scanner’s “Whole Month” feature to see cheapest flights by date. As a rule of thumb Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are cheaper than weekend flights. Google.com/Flights – We suggest beginning your research with Google Flights because you can easily see the cheapest days to fly. It’s cool to see the costs illustrated on each day of the calendar. SkyScanner.com – Maybe the best comprehensive booking site for finding low fares. The “Whole Month” feature allows you to compare prices by the day equaling hundreds of dollars in savings. Easy to use and fast.
Now that you know the cheapest days to fly use the data to search on other cheaper booking engines.
Use price alerts and price bidding.
Many booking sites have either price alerts or bidding. You can bid your price or by requesting alerts watch prices drop during the following weeks.
LowFares.com – searches Travelocity, Kayak, Expedia, One Travel, Cheap Flight Now, and Trip Advisor. CheapFlightNow.com and CheapOAir.com – Also searches multiple engines. SkyAuction.com – While, Priceline.com recently killed their name your own price option SkyAuction still offers a similar service. You have the option to pay the price they publish or why not try naming your price.
Our Most Popular Pucon and Chile White Water Kayaking Trips
As the leaders of NOC Paddlesports and Pucon Kayak Hostel we are avid promoters of kayaking Chile’s rivers. Funny enough we more often than not hear a series of objections why to not kayak Chile. We’ve decided to address the most popular objections to never kayak Chile.
#5 – “Why go to Chile to paddle with other Americans?”
Hahaha… Tip – You might want to refer to yourself as a North American when in Central or South America.
“It’s common to see 8 different countries represented having dinner together around the fire after a day on the river.” – Pro Kayaker Clay Wright observing dinner at PKH
Pucon Kayak Hostel attracts kayakers from around the globe including Japan, Russia, Germany, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Peru, Austria, Spain, France, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the list goes on. It’s a whitewater hub of excitement, logistics coordinating, story swapping, booty beer chugging, and international kayaker games and bonding. And yes, kayakers from the US come too.
#4- “I’m not good enough to kayak Chile’s rivers.”
Most kayakers realize Chile’s rivers and turquoise waterfalls attract pro kayakers like flies to a porch light. But beginner and intermediate kayakers may not know that Chile’s Lakes and Rivers District is congested with rivers full of excellent development features flowing from the Andean and volcanic peaks to the Pacific. We would even go far as to say that the rivers reliably guarantee year round flows and Pucon has the world’s best development rivers for beginners and intermediates. Heck. If it’s too cold we’ll just go do a roll session in the hot springs.
“We chose Chile over destinations like Ecuador and Costa Rica because of the number of remarkable development rivers. Our (NOC) kayakers are middle aged seeking great instruction on safe beautiful rivers. Chile has it all.” – Tosh Arwood, NOC Kayak Program Director
#3- “Chile cost more than Ecuador or Costa Rica.”
“If it weren’t for Pucon Kayak Hostel’s economical options I don’t think our program would be able to do Chile.” – Capo Rettig, Director World Class Academy
What if we get creative and give kayakers options that make Chile affordable? Here are a few options that make Chile trips affordable.
Regular trip guests can opt for a DISCOUNTED Trip Extension at 40% DISCOUNT.
Refer a friend and group organizer discounts make it so cheap that we’ve seen organizers earn a free trip.
Choose the camping option and save even more on any of our trips. Campers get all the trip benefits of 3 meals/day, daily kayak instruction, select kayak usage, transport to world’s best rivers, and access to the ambiance and community of PKH.
Email to discuss DISCOUNT options.
#2- “It’s not easy to find cheap Chile airfares.”
It’s true that Chile, for US kayakers, is twice the distance as destinations like Costa Rica and Ecuador. But we’ve learnt a few budget saving airfare tricks of interest. We’ve seen Chile tickets as low as $US700. Some budget saving tips:
Know the cheapest airports to get to Chile. US cheap ports include: Washington Dulles -Copa Airlines, JFK, Houston, Dallas, and Miami.
Try Air Canada. Shocking. Flying through Air Canada can be cheaper than US routes.
BEST TIP – Try our recommended travel agent. After researching online for hours, being frustrated by the airlines bait and switching prices we reluctantly went to our travel agent. She first locked in lowest airfares giving her time to research even more.
“Mary Jo got my ticket for $300 less than I found and I didn’t have to do a thing. +PLUS, she knows kayaker travel needs. So, I’ve got a lifeline if I need to change ticket or anything happens.” Email – firstname.lastname@example.org for travel agent referral.
#1- “We’re going to kayak Chile next year.”
Really? Why does it take some kayakers 2 to 3 years, if ever, to make the mental leap? Why not advance your passion for kayaking, desire to become a better paddler, and attraction to explore beautiful rivers with great people? Come on… this is your invite with everything setup for your kayaking vacation.
Could this be your new attitude? “I promised myself I’d become a better kayaker. I’m going to make Chile happen this January. Kayaking is my craft for exploration, adventure and meeting kayakers from around the world. I’m going to email my friends and rally…”
Is this the year to kayak Chile?
PKH offers several discount promotions for the 2017-2018 season. Email or call to learn more. David@puconkayakhostel.com or +1-828-788-5135.
Most Popular Pucon Chile Whitewater Kayak Trips
Teacups +PLUS (III+ to IV+), $US1200 Camping/$US1500 Lodging, November – This waterfall road trip for advanced kayakers explores the world’s most iconic waterfall destination.Rio Claro’s Seven Teacups National Park has 70 +PLUS clean waterfalls in a 57,000,000 year old polished basalt canyon. Make that five canyons +PLUS one of other river valley.
Pucon Classics (II to III) and (III to IV+), $US1950 Camping/$US2250 Lodging, January and February – This trip offers more rivers and private instruction. Kayakers really wanting to improve their skills and explore lots of rivers love this trip.
Week of Rivers Chile for Clubs (II to IV+), $US1950 Camping/$US2250 Lodging, January 13 to 23 – We took our most successful Pucon Classics model and tweaked it just for clubs and schools. Now, whitewater groups can bring every skill and receive members discounts.
Road to Futa, (III to IV+), $US1950 Camping/$US2250 Lodging, Feb 21 – Mar 1 – Maybe our guides favorite trip is to drive the Patagon roads to the world famous Futa Valley. Based right in the middle of the Bridge to Bridge section our daily tasks are to eat, drink, kayak, play games, sleep, repeat. We have 50 +PLUS miles of river to explore ranging from beginner to all-you-can-eat. While, some are scared of big water we time for the lowest time of year when the Futa is at playful levels. Still big and exciting making for the kayak road trip of a lifetime.
With so many remarkable clean runnable waterfalls in the world it’s hard to say which destination wins the world’s best waterfalls title. For our purposes, we’ll share a few factors why Chile’s Seven Teacups National Park has been attracting the best pro kayakers but also intermediate to advanced kayaker’s seeking to experience the magic of the Claro canyon for 40 +PLUS years.
World’s Best Kayaker Waterfall Destination Criteria
Iconic Waterfalls –
Rio Claro’s “Throat of the Devil” spirals into Lucifer’s basalt chasm giving kayaker’s the ride and celebration of a lifetime. Nowhere else does a waterfall so smoothly bank 180 degrees giving the perfect ride. For decades’ kayakers skipped past this section lying between the Seven Teacups and Twenty Falls sections believing nothing was within the canyon. Once opened the section attracted the world’s best kayakers seeking to “get the shot” and ride of a lifetime.
Four hours south of Santiago in Chile’s arid vineyard district you drive high into the Andes where the road ends at the Seven Teacups National Park. The roads are still the way we like them, rough and rugged, and the area is lacking phones, electricity and internet. Chileans live off the land here and the thousands of annual tourists visit to gaze at the waterfalls and hike to the melting snow peaks.
For kayakers, the namesake Seven Teacups National Park are amongst some of the easiest waterfalls on the planet to run. Heck, PKH owner David Hughes at low water has both swam and SUP boarded the section. Due to tourism, there is a boardwalk above the falls creating great photo angles. Yet, kayakers still feel remote down in the canyon.
What most kayakers did not realize was that there are another four +PLUS sections of clean waterfalls upstream including: Twenty-Two Falls Canyon (IV), the Between Falls (III with portages), Five Teacups (III), and Throat of the Devil Canyon (V). Actually, there are more waterfall sections yet to be opened, but we’ll leave that for the pros.
“It’s easy to get lost hiking into the canyon sections. If you are going to do proper safety in the canyons you should have ropes and vertical Evac training. I’d rather loan rope equipment to young chargers than to see them go in these canyons without the ability Evac.” – PKH owner David Hughes
You can feel the high-energy build as you approach the park passing vineyards, four-wheel drive steep inclined rugged roads, flocks of free range sheep and livestock, Chileans working the land on horseback with their fleece chaps, and of course the clear blue river.
Stoke Factor –
The 57 million-year-old basalt canyons have carved, milled and polished to perfection via draining super high flows from the annual Andean snow pack. Just looking down into the giant crack gets your adrenalin going. For added stoke we advise camping next to the drops under the wide open southern hemisphere celestial bodies. Hiking into the canyons is intense, hot, and tiring. You’ll need to know the hard to find access points and use ropes to both lower and extract kayaks on different sections. Once in the canyons there are two ways out: kayak drops or vertical Evac. The feeling of the desert heat is washed off by the cold clear water and the drops begin immediately. Every waterfall is a celebration that echo’s through the canyon with “whoops and hollars and hi fives.” This is a kayaker’s playground like no other. STOKE FACTOR. CHECK.
Is it Safe –
Nomadic kayakers could argue this point depending on section and more importantly levels. For our purposes, we want a destination that is within the reach of medical support and every river point being run is accessible for proper rescue. The first line of rescue is the actual team of kayakers within the canyon. Their biggest safety asset is their group experience both knowing the levels of the Teacups sections and their own whitewater rescue experience.
The sections can be dangerous if the levels are too high or too low. Too high and some of the walls that are normally just eddies make non-rescuable caves. The most famous is when pros opt to not run the Throat of the Devil section due to its high-water danger. But at perfect flows it may be the best rapid of your life. Twenty-Two Falls section also has some similar high-water dangers. But at high water the remaining three sections become more exciting offering kayaker’s new options. So there is always something thrilling to do with proper experience.
Two low and the normally fun waterfalls are akin to a seal launch into a green pool. We’ve heard of fractured spines on what would normally be a class III ten-foot cascade. Experience is key to good decision making.
Teacups Tip – Target the best time of year. Late December is going to be too low. Whereas, November is the optimal trip planning time to get those perfect soft landing flows.
Something for Every Kayaker Level –
By now most kayakers know about the pro-kayaker Throat of the Devil canyon with its kayak porn magazine cover shots and video releases. But class III kayakers have been coming to the Seven Teacups section for 40 +PLUS years. Nantahala Outdoor Center’s Jon Clark would annually pilgrimage kayak groups to experience the volcano formed anomaly twenty +PLUS years ago. Today, NOC continues the Jon Clark tradition giving kayakers the world’s best waterfall experience.
Adding to Jon’s “give ‘me the experience of a lifetime philosophy” NOC and PKH now spend more time at the Teacups park exploring more canyons and the +PLUS part… well that’s a whole other river valley and new blog.
Our guests often first choose to kayak Chile’s great rivers with the notion the decision will be a once in a lifetime trip investment. Later, after kayaking in other international destinations we often hear, “We went kayaking in ____ and the whitewater in Chile and instruction at PKH was superior…” Heck. That’s the reason PKH owner David Hughes chose Chile to build his kayaker dream destination. Whether you are a beginner just learning, an intermediate notching rapids and your first safe waterfall, or an expert seeking to charge the stouts kayaker’s are attracted to world’s best whitewater.
“If Chile was as economical as other kayak destinations.. I would return.”
We hear your number one concern and proactively have developed economical solutions for our valued returning PKH Guest.
Economical DISCOUNT Solutions –
15% DISCOUNT on PKH Trips to returning PKH Guests. DISCOUNT average $US225 to $US350.
PKH offers DISCOUNTED camping options making trips attainable to budget kayakers.
Our Bombproof Rolling Guarantee –
If you don’t feel you progressed your kayaking skills and enjoyed your Chile experience we’ll refund 50% of your trip cost!!! Now, that’s a bombproof rolling offer! See what we did there with the bombproof rolling wordplay…
Kayaker Concerns We Hear –
“Chile airfares are expensive.” – Good point. PKH owner David Hughes just purchased a Raleigh, NC to Santiago roundtrip for $US1025. Good fares are out there. Email David@puconkayakhostel.com for a list of tips how to find cheaper Chile airfares.
“We’ve done Chile and we’re going to ___ this year.” – We hear this one a lot as kayakers are nomadic creatures by nature. Often, kayakers go to other whitewater destinations and later they agree Chilean whitewater is the better.
Request a Custom Trip – If you are a group organizer then ask us to develop a custom trip for your group.
Our group did Ecuador last year and our company seemed like they were winging it. The kayaks were old, the food was not great, and the rivers were good but they weren’t like Chile rivers… -Tony Becker, UK Kayak Group Organizer After Pucon Classics Trip Returned for Teacups +PLUS Trip
Limited Time Offer – Request before September 30, 2017.
Due to spaces available returning guests must request this DISCOUNT by September 30, 2017.
Request a Space Hold with no financial obligation giving you time to decide.
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
This is the world’s best kayaker destination for waterfalls and rivers. Kayakers drop into the remote Teacups canyon to ride the cleanest waterfalls on the planet. 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 are located in the arid Central Valley you must get there during the November snow melts to catch the waterfall wonderland with proper flows.
For whom? Class IV Kayakers with excellent rolls 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. Most kayakers want to do the Teacups +PLUS Pucon. Ask about a discounted Trip Extension.
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.
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.
Pucon Rule of Thumb: When the rivers of Chile are too dry Pucon still has options. When everything is running in Chile, then Pucon has the most options. It always goes.
Best Time – Every month is great. But the core months are from November to April. And the peak sunny day months are January, February, and March.
For Whom? Whether you are an expert seeking clean waterfalls or a beginner hoping to learn and improve your roll Pucon is your best option.
Tips – Bring your camera, sleeping bag and tent, and be prepared to kayak, kayak, kayak. Want to kayak more for less? Reserve the Pucon Classics Trip with a discounted Trip Extension.
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).
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.
You are warmly invited to white water kayak with Pucon Kayak Hostel. Email David@puconkayakhostel.com to learn more.
Adult Lessons from Teaching Kids to White Water Kayak
This past week I was lucky enough to teach beginner white water kayaking with the NOC Paddlesports Kids Kayak Camp. With a goal to do a great job teaching it was soon learnt that I was learning more from the kids than the other way. Reflecting on the week here are a few lessons kids taught me.
Lesson 1 – Have plan for every kid.
The first lesson I learnt on the Cherokee’s Oconaluftee was that kid’s groups can be super diverse in skills. Trip Leaders Andrew Koch and Rachel Dean had divided the kids camp into two van groups based on skills. Even within our development group there was a big difference between gung ho 16-year-old Hugh and timid 11-year-old Reese. Rachel further individualized the instruction assigning instructors to work with the most timid kids, most aggressive, and a group right in the middle. This kept kids in mindsets of both confidence building and being challenged.
Lesson 2 – Are you having fun?
It seems obvious to have fun with kids but there are plenty of stressors related to leading kids down white water. And just keeping up with their 16 hours/day of nonstop energy can be a challenge. And short attention spans get bored. Games and having fun were the solution. Even just participating in a splash war kept the days exciting and gave breaks from strokes and lessons. Some of our favorites were splash wars, swimming rapids, rock skipping contests, paddle circle game, sharks and minnows, and kayak ultimate.
Lesson 3 – Recognition is King.
Teaching a group of kids ages 11 to 16 often has an attention limit. I noted that each time the instructors called the group together for kayak lessons we’d see them go out and try the new skills for a limited time. Skills like holding ferry angles, edging, strokes and turning were progressing. But higher levels of excitement were engaged when Eli pulled gummy worms from his jacket and offered rewards. Now, the kids were charging and competing for the penny value candy. Later, Rachel gave points for the kids whom helped load boats most. She even bought 15-year-old Daniel a burger and fries and the group ice cream. And at the banquet every kid was recognized with noted accomplishments and prizes.
Simple Recognitions: candy, create a point system for skills, define a skill then recognize it with a pat on the back and a verbal “good job,” publicly group recognize desired behaviors by individuals.
Lesson 4 – Are the kids prepared? And what about your own preparedness?
It’s no surprise that kids forget things. So, Rachel made certain to teach kids the 5 essentials. Taking from that lesson each day the instructors would have the kids go get their 5 essentials and carry them to the trailer as a ticket to get in the van. Just in case boss man Tosh Arwood asked, “Can you load an extra set of gear, somebody’s going to forget something.” That would be me forgetting my river shorts in the drier. Thanks Mark Taylor for the shorts.
Lesson 5 – Being Present
Are kids resisting activity based on a lifetime of couch and cyber surfing? I can’t quite place my finger on it but it appeared that some kids did not know how to be adventure active. Inviting inclusion of achievable skills, games, and recognition were the best solutions observed. Instructor Mark Taylor kept the most-timid kayaker in the group super engaged on the last two days by inviting Reese to paddle the Dynamic Duo. Reese went from being scared of rapids to surfing and spinning her paddle as Mark called out, “Paddle Twirl.”
Engaging Solutions: invitations to activities, recognitions and rewards, inclusive games, and keeping the event fun.
Thanks NOC Paddle Sports for the learning opportunity.