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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
#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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Teacups + Pucon (3 to IV+) – https://puconkayakhostel.com/kayak-tour-de-stouts-chile This is a link to the Teacups to Pucon Trips page.
Rio Claro Video – pro edit, https://vimeo.com/82059874 This is a high quality pro edit video of the Rio Claro. Spectacular shots and quality interviews.
2015 Teacups to Pucon Video – Norway guest edit Kristoffer Vansvikk, https://www.youtube.com/watch v=gX5IZifnGfQ&feature=youtu.be Last year Norwegian Kris Vansvikk made this edit of his trip. Needless to say he loved kayaking with us in Chile.
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.