Chile’s Best Whitewater Kayak Fleet Just Got BIGGER

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


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


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.


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

Dental +PLUS Whitewater Kayak Vacation?

Have you had your teeth knocked on the river? Or maybe you just want a checkup or a cavity filled at affordable rates. In Pucon we recommend our favorite local dentist / kayaker Anita Diaz for professional dental services.

It was the summer of 2003 when I knocked out two front teeth. Numbers 9 and 10 I would soon learn were worth more than a good used SUV at around $US12,000. Ouch! As a nomadic toothless kayaker that desired to have a full smile I soon began asking about international dental pricing. The discoveries were perspective changing. 

Here are a few international dental practices that many kayakers may not know.

  • IMPLANTS – are one of the worst to experience and expensive dental eprocedures you never want to have. I was more scared getting my second one than my first. 
  • “I’ve got dental insurance. I’m covered.” WRONG. I discovered, “Implants are a cosmetic surgery under the same category as a face lift, boob job, tummy tuck…” WHAT? I was toothless and not covered.
  • Practically, every country in the world has cheaper dental services than the US. But is the quality as good? Please. Don’t ask a Chilean that.My US dentist let me in on a little secret and shared some Chile dental websites.
  • Simple dental improvements and applications like whitening, crowns, and cavity services are a fraction of the cost of US services.
  • US implant services come with a menu of ways you can get your implant. Basically, you have 3 pain options ranging in menu of price points: laughing gas, local anesthetic, and “don’t be stupid… we’re drilling into your face.”
  • Chile does not offer laughing gas but does naturally include local anesthetic. Which is all you need. “Is this real life?” 

Dental Services Price Comparison – Chile v. USA

With 20 +PLUS years of leading international kayak trips just in Chile I’ve seen a few broken teeth get crown work, cavities filled, caps replaced, teeth whitening and a personal implant based on demand. I’ve personally been impressed with how quickly Chilean dentists will open their offices and complete work. Here are a few price comparisons based on my experience and according to

Service                        Chile                                                    USA

Fillings                        $50 – $75                                             $50 – $250

Implants                    Less than half US Rate                  My first implant was $6,000+

Whitening                 $100 – $250                                      $650*

*According to 

Take Away Points

  • Are you covered? Check to make certain big cost procedures like implants are not categorized as “cosmetic surgery.”
  • What health care procedures could you save your budget and put back into your kayaking trip?
  • Even if you are covered you may want to research purchasing a traveler’s insurance plan for your kayaking trips. 
  • In Pucon we recommend our local resident dentist kayaker Anita Diaz seen in photo. 

Blog written by David Hughes.
Owner Pucon Kayak Hostel
Director Patagonia Study Abroad
Instructor NOC Paddlesports 

Recommended Chile Kayaking Trips

Chile’s Teacups offer 70 +PLUS clean cascades in a 57 million year old polished basalt canyon.

Teacups +PLUS, For (IV & IV+) Kayakers / November Trips Available

Pucon Classics, For (II, III, III+ and IV) Kayakers / January to February

Vacation Certification +PLUS Kayaking (All Skills) AWFA, SRT 3, & ACA Kayak Instructor Certs +PLUS daily kayaking. 

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.


Standup Paddle Board SUP First Descent Seven Teacups- Rio Claro, Chile

Standup Paddle SUP Board First Descent of Chile’s Seven Teacups – Rio Claro, Chile

Link to – Pucon Chile SUP Boards for Rent and Trips 

The SUP board would be stuck for an hour long rescue next to a challenging to reach wall. Luckily, the river gladiator saw the danger with his keen eyes and jumped to safety. First Descent SUP - David Hughes.
The SUP board would be stuck for an hour long rescue next to a challenging to reach wall. Luckily, the river gladiator saw the danger with his keen eyes and jumped to safety. First Descent SUP – David Hughes.


Christmas eve and paddlers at Chile’s Pucon Kayak Hostel are stuffing kayaks and gear bags into a trailer instead of candy canes in stockings. A group of 8 paddlers are setting out on their dream kayak adventure to the Rio Claro’s waterfall wonderland. As a Dodge Durango and trailer pull out of the parking lot PKH owner David Hughes stops the SUV,

“Let’s grab a SUP board. I’ve been wanting to SUP the Teacups.” A kayaker asked, “Can you do that?” David, “Sure. You can swim them if you want. I’m pretty sure on SUP this would be a first descent.”

Above David dives too early off the sixth of the Seven Teacups and loses his legs. Standup Paddle Board First Descent Rio Claro, Chile.
Above David dives too early off the sixth of the Seven Teacups and loses his legs. Standup Paddle Board First Descent Rio Claro, Chile.

The group had three days on the Claro’s more than 80 clean cascades over the Christmas holidays. The water was low but runnable. David describes, “It’s the lowest I’d ran the Diablo (Throat of the Devil) section. I got tossed into the right wall and took a pretty good hit on my ribs, head and my neck is sore. The Twenty Two Saltos was the best section at the low levels. And the lower flow was idea for an easy SUP board paddle to lip and jump, dive, or flip style of SUP boarding. It’s rare to find such perfectly clean cascades where you can paddle a SUP board off and not have to worry about your landing.”


David Hughes goes for a flip when his Standup Paddle SUP Board drags a rock at the lip of the final and tallest of Chile's Seven Teacups. First Descent SUP.
David Hughes goes for a flip when his Standup Paddle SUP Board drags a rock at the lip of the final and tallest of Chile’s Seven Teacups. First Descent SUP.



That group of eight paddlers would enjoy paddling over 80 clean cascades for their Christmas holiday.

Pucon Chile SUP boarding may be the Standup Paddle Boarding’s best kept secret when it comes to spectacular destinations. The Pucon area is known as one of the world’s most scenic regions for rivers and lakes surrounded by the towering Andes and sprinkled with volcanos. Want to organize a SUP Pucon Chile trip? Or how about just renting SUP boards for the day. Email to learn more.

David Hughes is the owner of Pucon Kayak Hostel, director of Patagonia Study Abroad and founder of PSA’s predecessor New River Academy.

Photos Credits Jesse Metzger, Patagonia Study Abraod Tour de Stouts.

Pucon Kayak Hostel kayakers scout the "Throat of the Devil" just a kilometer upstream of the more famous Seven Teacups. Rio Claro, Chile.
Pucon Kayak Hostel kayakers scout the “Throat of the Devil” just a kilometer upstream of the more famous Seven Teacups. Rio Claro, Chile.



“First descenting the Teacups just goes to show how easy SUP boarding is. I don’t SUP much but have to say that was super fun. I even got a bit nervous before the first drop. But it went smoother than I expected. So, it was just fun after that.” First Descent SUP, David Hughes.
“First descenting the Teacups just goes to show how easy SUP boarding is. I don’t SUP much but have to say that was super fun. I even got a bit nervous before the first drop. But it went smoother than I expected. So, it was just fun after that.” First Descent SUP, David Hughes.

Proposalgate (part 2)

This is a continuation of my story, Kayaker Pulls Diamond From Pocket and Proposes on Green Narrows After Rescue. This part was written by Jessie, from her own perspective, in response to what we are now calling ‘Proposalgate.’

Jessie at the put-in of the Green

I was stranded in the middle of the river, freezing cold, humiliated and exhausted. My only solace came from the fact that we recovered the boat I had borrowed and it wasn’t completely destroyed by its solo mission down Gorilla. I was also incredibly relieved to see two other kayakers since we hadn’t set shuttle. But mostly I felt like an idiot and was tired and cold.  “Aren’t we too old and experienced to find ourselves in a situation like this,” I thought to myself. Which is silly, of course, you’re never too good or too smart to make a mistake.

As I was having a philosophical discussion with myself about the valuable lessons one learns during challenging times, David was busy acting erratically and exhibiting what I considered to be extreme thoughtlessness. At this particular moment our boats, bodies, and paddles were in various states of disarray while our fully extended throw ropes floated from one side of the river to the other, completely tangled. I was in no mental condition to question his logic at the time, but he kept insisting I stand up on a slippery rock above a river feature that looked to me like certain death. And he was really distracted. And seemed strangely happy. Little did I know what he had been planning for weeks.

I turned towards him calmly and looked him straight in the eye — the only way I knew I could communicate for real seriousness (something we had been working on). “David, I don’t understand what you want from me right now.” Which actually meant “David!! What on earth are you doing, why are you trying to get me killed, and most importantly, why the hell is some guy over there collecting evidence (taking pictures) of my swim!?!?”

David turned away while I was talking. I was super frustrated, but accepted the temporary defeat of our communication strategy and went into self-preservation mode. Now I was just going to do my best to ignore everything he did. What I didn’t realize is that he was nervously digging a diamond ring out of his pocket while simultaneously queuing our engagement photographer and trying to keep me in position. Without giving it all away.

I had both hands on one end of the rope, pulling the still-submerged kayak dangling from the other end closer, one hand after the other. I tried to focus. All I wanted to do was get back in the boat, paddle downstream, and get off the river as quickly as possible.

I honestly don’t remember what happened next very well. It kind of all blurred together. But at some point I looked down at David and he was on one knee looking up at me, smiling. I still didn’t realize what he was doing until he waved the ring in front of my face. Then I went into shock.

I think David had to ask me a few times whether I would marry him before I actually answered. I distinctly remember his final plea: “Jessie, please just put the ring on your finger, I REALLY don’t want to lose it.”

“Yes. Yes. Yes.”

I still didn’t know to what degree David had this whole thing planned. I remember asking him if the two kayakers were deliberately staged, and if so, what time the helicopter was supposed to show up with champagne and lobster and hooks to tow our boats. Surely he didn’t expect me to finish paddling the river with the most beautiful ring in the world on my finger, right?

A few of the longest and happiest minutes of my life passed. David and I laughed with our accidental witnesses and I was still shaking from a combination shock and starvation when I finally got back in my boat. And just like that our little group was paddling out, chasing the sun as dusk settled in.

As we approached each rapid, I prayed I wouldn’t swim again. Then I would just stare at my ring during the calm sections in between. Before this moment, I didn’t even think I liked diamonds. Oh how quickly I turned into “that girl!” And this diamond was my best friend. My BEST Friend.

The ring wasn’t on my finger long when I started to wonder if I could get away with whining and complaining now that David and I were engaged. Kidding! I’ll obviously wait until we’re married for that.

Anyway, this chapter of our story ends here. We made it off the river, back to our car, and eventually back to West Virginia. Where we celebrated. But the first thing I did was look at the pictures. The SD card on David’s camera was almost full, so his impromptu on-location photographer only captured a few – but every single one of them is priceless.

The sequence:

1. David proposing. I am not taking him seriously and I’m very annoyed.
2. David repeating his proposal. I think it’s starting to sink in now.
3. David waiting while I look away from the guy holding his camera because I am completely embarrassed.
4. Me laughing hysterically because he totally tricked me! I had no idea!! This guy is more clever than I thought.
5. Both of us laughing hysterically because this is the most insane and beautiful thing ever.

Read the original story from his perspective, “Kayaker pulls diamond from pocket and proposes on Green Narrows after Rescue.”