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.
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 – email@example.com 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.
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.
Before we discuss how to get more river time let’s identify some factors that prohibit river time.
You’re working too much. Or maybe you could balance work with kayaking better.
Is your significant other prohibitive of river time? Your relationship could range from an understanding of your paddling to a person whom resents your paddling time.
You are fixated on your couch.
Great river and features are too far away.
Lack of folks to go kayaking with you.
#5 Plan Your Work Time More Efficiently with River Time –
Twenty +PLUS years ago I received the best advice to progress my pro kayaking. Pro Wave Sport kayaker Billy Craig shockingly said, “You’ve got to quit that job.” Most people won’t quit their job. And it’s likely you shouldn’t unless you realize it’s a dead end. But I had a burning desire to kayak all the time. Work Oof to River Boof Tips:
Use accumulated sick or leave days for boof days. Save your off work days for sunny days or better yet rainy high water days for kayaking. And for goodness sake go to work when you are sick.
Pre-plan your long weekends and take an extra day off for extended +PLUS paddling weekends. Or how about taking a mini kayaking vacation over holidays?
Can you squeeze in kayaking before or after work? Heck. If you are like most of us then you are likely wasting time on Facebook when you could be getting in flat water drills or 20+ boofs on your local run.
What about making your job river related? That’s what I did. For 20+ years rivers have been my passion and today I own a world class kayakers hostel on the Rio Trancura. Winning.
#4 Relationship Time Balanced with River Time –
This may be your most challenging time frame to convert. In an ideal world, you would patiently illustrate to your significant other the benefits of your passion for the river. But we’ve seen some pretty dysfunctional relationships. Funny thing is it seems to us the more troubled the relationship the more river time can help. Let’s see what our creative minds can develop.
Admit that you have some sort of addictive personality disorder. Luckily, your addiction can be remedied with hiking in the woods for hours with a kayak on your shoulder and plopping your way down rivers. Of course, you need help from a support group. That’d be your kayaker friends honking in your drive way and loading your 9R. You could debate that your relationship benefits via improving quality relationship time and presence. Good luck. If you come up with a winner hit us with a Facebook message.
Include your significant other in cool river trips, festivals, and camping – Rivers should be awesome for everyone as we all enjoy the natural therapeutic benefits of rivers. If your significant other enjoys the outdoors with you then “Boof on.” If they don’t enjoy river life with you then you may need to call Dr. Phil. Or at least get creative with your communication to balance your relationship with your river time.
Great Family River Time Example – At Pucon Kayak Hostel we watched pro kayakers Ron Fischer and Marianne Saether take runs watching their new baby while the other got to run Nevados and Trancura laps. Now, that’s a cool river family and we imagine in short time they’ll all be paddling together.
#3 Your River Time is Affected Because You Can’t Get Off the Couch –
Major oof. It happens and surprisingly it’s not always easy to get out of that couch rut. Here are a few tips to help you motivate to get more river time.
Identify your preferred group medium to go kayaking. Do you like paddling with a specific group of friends? Or do you need your local club to plan trips? Maybe you feel most comfortable with professional instruction. Make contact with your kayak people and that may be the catalyst to get you off the couch. Get proactive.
Make a commitment to self that you are going to accept river invitations. Or you will organize river trips for your paddling friends.
#2 Rivers and Features Are Too Far Away –
Another oof. The distance hurdle is a tough one that lends itself to planning.
What nearby lakes and pools do you have to help you develop fundamental skills? Whether you are developing your combat roll or class V flat water development progressions can help core strength and confidence. This will help build your confidence for when you are on the river. For example, if you master your roll in the pool then you’ll be able to spend more time carving, catching eddies, and boofing.
Make a point to plan weekend river trips. Better yet plan a river vacation.
#1 Lack of Kayaking Friends –
Kayaking friendships and bonding for many is the best reason they go kayaking. Think about it. How many people do you know that prefer to kayak solo? And with today’s resources you have many options for cultivating those relationships.
Kayak Schools and Instruction – The majority of kayakers get into kayaking via a kayak school or camp. Your instructors and the school are a resource broader than just instructional skills. As you develop you’ll progress from student to developing river bonds to peer being invited on river trips.
Whitewater Clubs and Schools – Whitewater clubs and schools are excellent for developing pool sessions and river trips. Get proactive and show up for the river and all it has to offer.
Kayaking Friends and Groups – Okay. Your kayaking has progressed to the point that you are good enough to go on private river trips. Watch the flows and make the calls to your group for your river time.
Now when the river flows peak your river time priorities are ready to skip work, tell your significant other you’ll be home late, and boof the day away.
River trips and kayak schools, we endorse.
NOC Paddlesports – This is the world’s largest whitewater kayak school and for good reason. Located in the heart of Western North Carolina’s whitewater mecca the rivers are as great as the instruction. The rivers attract beginners and intermediates seeking instruction, world class freestylers and slalom racers, and boaters charging stouts and spouts. No matter your skill folks love to drop in at NOC for a lap or a beer by the river.