Kayaking through Patagonia

This winter was my third in a row I managed to travel with my kayak through one of the most beautiful countries in the world - Chile. I only had a window of four weeks this time but nevertheless I still got to see new rivers and got some of the best classics done.

Having little trouble getting our rental car our little group of four Germans with "Los tres hermanos” Motz and me made it out of Santiago late on the first evening and headed straight to the Teno valley. Coming from cold and nasty Europe we got Chile at its best with beautiful sunshine and a warm summer temperature. So we started our paddling trip with one of the brown coloured classics, the Teno, before we headed further south. Skipping the well-known and beautiful but this season way to dry Rio Claro we continued to the Laja valley where we met with two other friends. Having up to then only four boats for six people we were laping the only two kilometre long run for a while before we continued our journey down south to the kayak El Dorado Pucon. Due to the heavy and sustained rain in the week before our arrival we got very lucky with the water levels in the region. So after getting our missing boats we picked the classics in that area, like the Palguin, the Trancura, the Nevados and the Maichin before we left to continue our road trip further down south

Next stop was the Rio Fuy. The river was way too high for the upper part, what we first realized when we already found ourselves running quite big water. So later on the lower part of the river was way more fun and it gave us a little foretaste of our next main destination - the Futaleufu. But first we had to spent New Years Eve somewhere. As this trip came out as a typical road trip we spent it somewhere on the road, camping at one of the beautiful lakesides at Lago Panguipulli. Our next two days we took two ferries and drove all the way down to Chaiten and a little further to the Rio Michimahuida. In my opinion the Michimahuida is one of the most worthwhile rivers in Chile. It offers a full day on the river packed with big boulder garden style rapids in deep remote canyons and wilderness as well as an incredible view on the volcano Michimahuida right at the put in. There are hundreds of waterfalls coming in from the sides. After more than 30 kilometers of finest whitewater the river opens up for some open riverbed paddling before it meets the road again at the take out. After that great day on the river we finally made our way down to the Futaleufu. Coming back to this beautiful river after one year felt like coming home. We stayed there for a couple days paddling alternating the Puente to El Macal section and the whole 44 kilometre long complete run. After three days, there was some rain coming, which didn’t seem to stop for a while. The river came up really high and its colour turned from blue to brown. As we wanted to go further south anyways we decided that it was time for us to leave.

One and a half days and 700 kilometres later we arrived at the Rio Baker. For me it was the third year down at the giant river. Teaming up with another group we spend three days paddling through the big volume canyons of the Baker. Good to see this powerful giant still flowing free through Chileans Patagonia. Little sad to leave that gorgeous place we started our trip back north. And yes - its possible to make it from the Baker to the Futa in one day... ;)

We had a few days left to enjoy Futaleufus crystal blue first class whitewater and later on the Pucon kayaking lifestyle and holiday gift shopping before we finally made our way back to Santiago.

Photos by Stefan Motz, Thomas Motz, Nini Bondhus and Anne Huebner