Top 8 Kayaking Tours in Patagonia

by  Leandro Zamprogno
Travel Specialist in Trips SouthAmerica

Unveiling the Best Kayaking Experiences

South America is full of places where one can admire the beauty of Nature paddling; here is our selection of the best experiences we suggest for kayaking in Patagonia, either Argentina or Chile.

For some years now active tourism is a non-stop growing way of enjoying vacations. This philosophy cares about the ecological and social aspects of the destination but also includes a pinch of thrill that every adventure traveller seeks on a trip.

Among the different categories or activities that we can find in this trend there’s one that is particularly demanded: kayaking. Kayaking is part of the amazing variety of adventure activities that can be done in South America.

This marvellous activity in which the tourist moves across water with the use of a kayak and paddles gives them at the same time adrenaline, freedom and a different perspective of a destination that might not be new to them but they are enjoying in a different way.

Here is our selection of the best experiences we suggest for kayaking in Patagonia, either Argentina or Chile:

1 – Kayaking with Whales

This activity takes place in the Valdes Peninsula, a place blessed with a fantastic biodiversity and sea wildlife.

Located along the Atlantic coast, in the north east of Chubut Province in Argentina, it is an important nature reserve which was listed as a Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.

The coastline is inhabited by marine mammals, like sea lions, elephant seals and fur seals. Southern right whales can be found in Nuevo and San José Gulfs, protected bodies of water located between the peninsula and the Patagonian mainland. These baleen whales (or great whales) come here between May and December, for mating and giving birth, because the water in the gulf is quieter and warmer than in the open sea. Orcas can be found off the coast, in the open sea off the peninsula, especially during February.

Recommended Months
June to December.
Distance
10 km.
Duration
6 hours.
Requirement
Medium

The kayak experience begins entering the waters of the San José Gulf and from a silent kayak we will have the possibility of observing the Southern Right Whale, a small colony of Sea Lions and Seabirds.
Then there will be a stop at a small bay to enjoy a varied lunch and trek to an area of cliffs surrounded by spectacular views of the San José Gulf before going back.

Includes: guide throughout the activity, snack, box lunch, a Kayak every 2 people and transfers to/from starting/finishing point.

2 – Discover the Marble Caves on a kayak

One of the most isolated natural treasures of the world are the Marble Caves (Capillas de Mármol), a series of sculpted caves in the General Carrera Lake in the heart of the Chilean Patagonia.

The Cathedral, the Chapel and the Cave are the three formations that make up this natural spectacle that will certainly leave every traveller breathless with its uniqueness and will prove to be the perfect spot for those looking for the perfect “instagrammable” moment.

Tourists usually go on motorboats to get closer to the Marble Caves, but the best way to visit them and in deep, especially if you are fond of some active tours, is with a kayak as this will allows going inside the caves  to admire the black and white columns reflected on the blue waters.

Recommended Months
October to March
Duration
3 hours approx.
Requirement
Low / Medium

Going kayaking is simply a unique experience, natural and in harmony with the environment. It is also recommended for all ages since it lasts for about 20 minutes to reach the Chapels and without demanding too much physical effort.

It is recommended to do this activity early in the morning or at the end of the afternoon, for the simple reason of making better use of the light reflected on the marble formations and lake.

Includes: Guide throughout the excursion, a Kayak every 2 people and transfers to/from starting/finishing point.

3 – Kayaking at the End of the World

Did you ever dream about kayaking in the End of the World? Then this is your chance.

The Beagle Channel is a strait in Tierra del Fuego Archipelago on the extreme southern tip of South America between Chile and Argentina.

The Beagle Channel, the Straits of Magellan located to its north, and the open-ocean Drake Passage to the south are the three navigable passages around South America between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. It is about 240 kilometres (130 nmi; 150 mi) long and is about 5 kilometres (3 nmi; 3 mi) wide at its narrowest point. The biggest settlement on the channel is Ushuaia in Argentina followed by Puerto Williams in Chile and they are two of the southernmost settlements of the world.

Recommended Months
October to March
Duration
6 hours approx.
Requirement
Medium / High
(3hs total paddling)

This activity in the Beagle Channel, expands the area of ​​discovery to the sea that humankind has been sailing for 7,000 years. There’s no need to be an athlete, anyone who wants to have fun, wants to try a new way of touring “the End of the World”, and has the necessary team spirit for this type of moderate physical activity, can enjoy watching seabirds and take home the memory of an approach to a way of life that has been lost in history: that of the nomads of the sea.

The Yámana, natives of this landscape, sailed with their fragile tree bark canoes. The women were the ones who rowed and dived to collect molluscs, the children took care of the fire in the canoes and the man, in front and with his harpoon, looked for the sea lion.

In double expedition kayaks, we will rediscover majestic beaches and corners. On the tour through the waters of the Beagle Channel, which unites two friendly nations, we will live the experience of rowing in a legendary site, with the best specialized guides who will accompany you with the appropriate equipment and the necessary safety conditions.

Includes: Guide throughout the excursion, Box Lunch, a Kayak every 2 people and transfers to/from starting/finishing point.

4 – Kayaking among woods and myths

Visiting Chiloé is like entering a magical world blessed in nature and culture. From the moment you first set foot on this extraordinary island, its singular identity will take you by surprise.

Very well-known for its quaint palafitos – colorful houses built on stilts above the water, Chiloe is a land of myths and legends, unique folklore and culinary traditions.

Recommended Months
October to March
Duration
2 hours approx.
Requirement
Low / Medium

When the English naturalist Charles Darwin visited the town of Cucao in 1835, he did so in a small boat (bongo), crossing Lake Cucao in its entire length. Nowadays kayaking has become one of the most pleasant outdoor activities. The objective of this experience is to be able to reach the mouth of this lake, the place where Darwin possibly made the landing and to be able to know how the inhabitants of this sector moved around before having accessible roads and bridges. On the way we will have panoramic views of hills, native forest and huge nalcas, this will be an off-the-beaten-path adventure that you will not forget.

Includes: Guide throughout the excursion, a Kayak every 2 people and transfers to/from starting/finishing point.

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5 – Family kayaking in the Argentinean Lakes Region

The city of Bariloche, located on the shores of The Nahuel Huapi Lake and surrounded by mountains and forests, is always showing a changing landscape that adapts to each season along the year.

In the surroundings, the Andes mountain range exhibits its greatness while at the same time, ancient and silent forests extend along the crystal clear lakes. Skiing, trekking, sailing or just relaxing, are all possible in Bariloche.

Recommended Months
September to April
Duration
Half a day or Full day
Requirement
Low (2hs total paddling)

This particular activity is perfect for families with children since where it takes place, the Gutierrez Lake, waters are calm. Here we will be paddling approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour until we reach a small beach. There we will be able to recover energies with a hot drink and a handmade local sweets such as the “alfajor”, while we enjoy the views to the forests. After this break, we will rowing back to the starting point.

Includes: Guide throughout the excursion, Box Lunch, a Kayak every 2 people and transfers to/from starting/finishing point.

6 – Kayaking among Icebergs

The Glaciers National Park covers a surface of about 600,000 hectares / 1,482,632 acres with 47 glaciers. The ice cap is the largest outside of Antarctica and Greenland and and in 1981 it was declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Kayaking on the Argentino will allow you to admire the imposing Perito Moreno glacier from a different perspective.

Recommended Months
October to March
Duration
2 hours approx.
Requirement
Medium

The tour begins with a thorough explanation of the expert tour guides on how to paddle through these amazing glacial waters; it’s no required a previous kayaking experience. Once ready we will go out in kayaks, paddling towards the front of the glacier watching some icebergs go by. We will approach this wall of ice until about 600m of distance, stopping on the way unique pictures of this unforgeable moment while learning more about this fascinating place.

Includes: Guide throughout the excursion, a Kayak every 2 people and transfers to/from starting/finishing point.

7 – Kayak for beginners and family in the Chilean Lakes District

With a great choice of open-air adventures, distinctive Chilean-German traditions, and a truly stunning natural setting, it is no wonder many visitors to Chile make a bee-line for the Lakes District.

About 15 km from Puerto Varas is Laguna La Poza. We will navigate about 5 km through a 25-meter-wide channel that gently turns into a narrow tunnel where we will pass under vegetation made up of weeping willows and other native species. This tunnel is accessible only by canoes or kayaks and will take us to the Escondida Lagoon.

Recommended Months
September to April
Duration
2 hours approx.
Requirement
Low

This location is ideal for bird watching, such as the Kingfisher, Chucao and various herons, very quiet and recommended to enjoy with the family or as a first experience. We will return through the same channel and then sail to the Llanquihue Lake before finishing the trip.

Includes: Guide throughout the excursion, a Kayak every 2 people and transfers to/from starting/finishing point.

I would recommend for you to meet our special Kayak Program in Puerto Varas.
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8 – Kayaking in Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine National Park is the main Chilean attraction and is surrounded by  mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers in the southern Patagonia.
The Cordillera del Paine is the centerpiece of the park and lies in a transition area between the Magellan subpolar forests and the Patagonian Steppes.

Recommended Months
October to March
Duration
3 hours approx.
Requirement
Medium / High

For this tour it’s advisable to be staying in one of the hotels within the National Park so as to avoid the time of the land transfer to / from the closest town, Puerto Natales.

Before going kayaking and upon arrival there will be a safety talk that lasts approximately 20 min. Once the kayaks are in the water, we will move along the current of the Pingo River to arrive at the Grey Lake peninsula. From there we will contemplate the imposing icebergs from the Grey Glacier. We will enjoy this special moment to later descend the Grey River for approximately 3 hours.

Includes: Guide throughout the excursion, a Kayak every 2 people, snacks and transfers to/from starting/finishing point.

I invite you to check out our Torres del Paine Glamping Program.

In case that you need more info or alternative activities, do not hesitate to contact us!

We look forward to receiving you in South America!!

Leandro Zamprogno 
Travel Specialist, Trips SouthAmerica.
lzamprogno@trips-southamerica.com

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Top 8 Kayaking Tours in Patagonia
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