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.

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.

Santiago Chile- New Youth Kayak Program

Interested in Pucón Kayak Hostel’s Youth Beginner Kayak Camp? Click Here. 

Chilean students kayaking
Nido de Aguilas adventure program director Spencer Fowler helps a student put on a neoprene skirt. Skirts are designed to keep water out of the kayaks. This student can roll his kayak without a paddle and in his cast.

Pucón Kayak Hostel owner David Hughes, an education major and founder of Go Huge Kayaking’s successful youth programs, upon basing in Chile naturally saw a need for introducing Chile’s youth to kayaking. A rational route would be to follow familiar US school models. Hughes realized many successful youth kayak programs are those schools with resources for learning and supportive instructors willing to teach fundamentals. That school and professional instructors were found via Santiago’s Nido de Aguilas aka “Eagles Nest” junior high and high school. An introduction to Eagles Nest came via two Eagles’ students, Daniel and Lucas Miller, who for the past two years attended Pucon Chile’s Youth Beginner Kayak Camp.

Eagles Nest Instructors Promoting Kayaking

As important as a supportive school with proper facilities would be the school’s instructors and whether they are willing to promote whitewater kayaking. Spencer Fowler and Sergio Juarez are Eagles Nest outdoor adventure and pool directors whom were excited for the opportunity to promote kayaking to their students. The problem is that few if any schools in Chile actually have kayak equipment. Pucón Kayak Hostel realized that if PKH transported proper kayak gear to Eagles Nest that students would get excited about kayaking.

PKH Loans Jackson Kayaks for Youth Learning

Knowing students would need the best kayaks for learning Pucón Kayak Hostel lent Eagles Nest High School six sets of gear: paddles, skirts and kayaks for the winter pool sessions (April to October). Jackson Kayaks provided the perfect learning crafts for reasons of size and ease of rolling. Kayaks loaned were the Lil Heros and Villain S’s for both size and easy to roll logic.

Kayak Skirt- a neoprene skirt is worn by each kayaker tightly around the waste. The “kayak skirt” is attached to a “cockpit rim” that keeps water out of the kayak and allows the kayaker to get in and out of the kayak unattached. 

Planting the Seed for Kayaking

With six sets of gear in place Fowler began giving students during pool classes options for kayak rolling lessons. Progressions included wet exits to hand rolling. Students were excited to play in the kayaks learning wet exits, basic strokes, rolling, and then games with hand rolling.

Youth Learn Fast

Hughes returned to Eagles Nest last week to give a presentation to over 30 enthusiastic students ages 12 to 17. The presentation focused on “Why do people love kayaking?” Hughes related the adrenalin and group mission accomplishments of paint ballers as well as the psychological achievements of video gamers to what kayaking progressions and river missions provide for kayakers. Students interested by the sport asked questions. As well, students discovered why many consider Chile the world’s best destination for kayaking. A video of some of Chile’s spectacular runs was shared. 

When it comes to youth kayaks the brand Jackson Kayak has committed to building the best youth and children's kayaks. Jackson Kayaks makes proper fitting kayaks that are easy for kids to roll and manage.

The most surprising thing was when the youth group went to the pool excitedly they hopped into their boats and began rolling. Many students had remarkable rolls. The most advanced students demonstrated hand rolls. A couple of students would swim into their water filled kayaks, put on their skirts whilst upside down, and hand roll in one breath. Hughes smiled from ear to ear and Fowler exuded pride of his students’ rolling successes. It was obvious the energy invested in delivering and loaning gear was worth the effort.

Hughes had actually planned to pickup the six sets of gear for his upcoming PKH season. But seeing how much the youth were excited for and practicing kayaking there was no way he could take the loaned gear. Instead, he resolved to somehow figuring a way to later transport the gear back during Eagles’ Christmas break.

Santiago's Eagles Nest high school provides a warm pool where students can practice rolling kayaks loaned by Pucon Kayak Hostel. PKH is committed to the youth benefits of safe kayaking.

Youth Kayak Camp Based after the World’s Most Successful Kayak Camp Models

If you are going to research the world’s most successful kayak camps Ottawa Kayak School’s Keeners and go Huge Kayaking’s camps would have to top the list. Both of those programs have a list of world champions and Olympians that consistently promote youth development via passion for the river running. Pucón Kayak Hostel Youth Beginner Kayak Camps borrows from the structure of the Keeners “choose your sessions” plan and Hughes’ own go Huge Kayaking models. By allowing families to choose from several different week long sessions students can join a camp for one week, two weeks or three weeks. As camp director Hughes states, “The kids learn so fast that they need time in their kayaks rolling, running rivers, practicing strokes combined with a proven instructional program. The more experience students allow themselves at camp the better they get. This model has been proven by the best kayak camps in the world.”

Daniel and Lucas Miller surf a wave in front of Pucón's Volcan Villarrica.

Interested in Pucon Kayak Hostel’s Youth Beginner Kayak Camp? Click Here. 

What is your opinion on bringing a kayak to Chile?

“What is your opinion on bringing a kayak to Chile?”

Asked PKH guest Marshall McQuillen. The question is so important and asked so often that we decided to share it as a blog. Unfortunately, Marshall and his paddling partner got the worst we’ve seen of shipping a kayak from Denver, Colorado. Last season Marshall shipped two kayaks at about $US650. That’s a horrible price and there are better options. When Marshall arrived to the hostel his kayaks had not arrived to Chile yet. So, they were forced to rent kayaks as they waited. Days turned into a week and the kayaks arrived to Santiago. But they got stuck in customs. So, Marshall hired a customs agent. More days turned into another week. Now, the customs department said they had to pay storage for the kayaks until they were cleared. Realizing the kayaks were stuck the pair of kayakers paid for a bus to Santiago. Invested two days. Paid for the storage. Paid for the customs agent. And now were forced to ship their kayaks from Santiago to Pucon. What a nightmare. Totals costs were approximately $US1250 just to get their used kayaks. New kayak price in Pucon = $US1150 to $US1200.

This blog will describe your best options for securing that you arrive to Chile with a kayak either in hand or awaiting you. We’ll illustrate costs so that you can decide your best option.

Link to PKH Kayak Rental Fleet.

Rule #1- DO NOT SHIP your kayak. Super expensive.

Popular Trips

Fly. Buy. Or Rent a Kayak in Chile.

Flying with Your Kayak to Chile

PKH invests thousands in annual shipping offering kayakers a reliable selection of rentals.

This is your most economical option. The challenge is that most airlines blacklisted “Kayak” from their acceptable baggage list. This leaves nomadic kayakers gambling with flying their kayak. There are lots of tricks and methods to attempt to get your kayak on-board your flight that “may be” successful. And no one can know for sure if an airline will accept or send you to Chile without your kayak until you arrive to the gate.

The Gamble:  If you get denied then you’ll arrive to Chile often with the best kayaks already rented or sold. This leaves you scrambling to find a quality boat and losing kayak days.

Flying with Kayak Tip:  Bring a new kayak and you can count on reselling it used at the end of your trip.

Buying a New Kayak in Chile

Flying with your kayak may save you money. Is it worth the risk and hassle?

Ian Garcia the owner of Rivers, Lakes and Oceans ( sells new kayaks for around $US1200. And considering what he goes through to pass customs that price is impressive.

Reselling your Used Kayak:  Expect to sell a 1 to 2 month old kayak for $650 to $700. That’s the Pucon market value.

Buying a Used Kayak in Chile

Good Luck. Pucon Kayak Hostel sells more used kayaks than anyone in Chile and they go quick. The problem is to find a used kayak for sale. Most used kayaks get bought up quickly by the kayak schools and retailers for rentals. In Chile there is a high demand for used kayaks. In our opinion buying used is not a rational option unless you are arriving at the end of the season. March-ish.

Renting a Kayak in Chile

PKH rents kayaks for 10,000 pesos/day or approximately $US20. If you are a guest staying in Chile for longer than 3 weeks then we’ll be happy to offer you a discounted rate.

Let’s examine a cost analysis:

Trip Length:  20 days

Buying Kayak= $1200… resale vale= $700 = $500 expense and legwork to sell the kayak.

Renting 20 days = $US400

Above 21 days PKH offers discount rates.

Flight Tip-  “Fly direct to Temuco.”

If you are going direct to Pucon then we suggest you fly direct to Temuco. The Santiago bus station is a high high theft region. Why waste a day taking taxis, buses, and more buses when you could fly to Temuco for the same amount you’d spend on all those taxis and buses?

Link to PKH Kayak Rental Fleet.