Intern Report: Huge Paddling in Chile
Editor’s note: Paddling Life’s illustrious intern, Matt Hill, is in his second semester with Huge Experiences in Chile. While the below sounds like he could work for the Chile tourism department, few can argue that it’s not a bad way to spend your senior semester in high school (Matt: does your dad know that you’re practicing that beer phrase?)
Chile is a paddler’s paradise. There is something for everyone. Huge drops, huge water, steep creeks, and great expeditions. It’s something every paddler should experience.
Getting there is easy as many major airlines fly into Santiago.
There are also airports in Chile that are serviced by LAN in places like Temuco and Puerto Montt. In-country travel is also relatively easy, be it by an extensive bus network, car rental or hiring a driver. Many bus systems can carry kayaks, but they do charge a small few usually around $10 US.
If you don’t bring your own gear, outfitters can help. Most are centered around Pucon, where there are two well-established kayak shops and rafting companies that can provide gear rental for the day. Renting gear can also be done in the Futaleufu area as it gets a high number of kayaker traffic.
Now to the actual paddling. If you come to Chile, head down south (after paddling around Santiago at areas like the Rio Maipo and Seven Teacups. As you go farther south your options grow exponentially. The area around Pucon (12 hours by bus, 1.5 by plane) has the highest concentration of whitewater in Chile. There are tons of great waterfalls for beginners to experts, ranging from just a few to over 100 feet tall. Most are cleaner than the Catholic church.
Traveling farther south you start to encounter great big water runs like the almighty Futa and epic Rio Baker.
And take your camera, as Chile has some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. Volcanoes pierce the sky with crystal clear river flowing off the sides. There are great forests and glaciers and diverse wildlife. There are also many other great activities to do besides paddling, like mountain biking, mountain climbing, rafting, hot springs, skiing and snowboarding and general exploring.
Whether you come to paddle or simply explore, Chile has tons to offer. It has Old World charm mixed with some New World comforts.
The people are happy and helpful and there are always things to do. All you really need to bring with you is a happy attitude, an open mind and a few helpful Spanish phrases. Mas cerveza por favor?