Why kayak or raft in in the Argentine Lake District?

  • Kayaking and whitewater rafting trips easily arranged from either Bariloche or San Martín de los Andes.
  • Short excursions on sheltered lakes for kayaking beginnners, no experience required
  • Longer lake excursions available for remote exploring in the national parks
  • Class 4 rapids for adrenaline enthusiasts, interspersed with calm stretches amid epic scenery.

Kayaking & rafting in the Argentine Lake District

Kayak day trips

Kayaking on Lake Machónico, Argentina

Kayaking on Lake Machónico

There are myriad opportunities for kayaking in the Argentine Lake District, and with Bariloche, San Martin des los Andes and Villa la Angostura all sitting lakes, it’s almost possible to jump in a kayak straight from the door of your accommodation.

Lake Nahuel Huapi is the most popular kayaking destination, and its many fingers offer plenty of different vistas. Brazo Tristesa is particular popular with kayakers. Since the main body of the lake can sometimes be windy, the tiny Lake Perito Moreno, cut off from the lake by the Llao Llao peninsula is a quiet place to explore by paddling. Both of these are best accessed from Bariloche.

From San Martín, its possible to kayak directly on Lake Lacar, but an option that takes you deeper into the alpine scenery is Lake Machonico, just off the Route of the Seven Lakes. Steep mountains surround the lake, calming its waters and producing the perfect environment for easy exploration, stopping off along its beaches and heading up a side river to the charmingly tiny Pichi Machonico lake.

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To see the lakes from both foot and the water, consider building a day's trekking and kayaking into your itinerary. From Bariloche, you might spend the morning kayaking in the hidden bays of Lake Nahuel Huapi or Lake Moreno, then after a relaxing lunch on the lake shore, swap your kayak for hiking boots and trek up to the panoramic viewpoint from the peak of Mount Tronador.

Whitewater rafting trips

Kayaking & rafting in the Argentine Lake District

Rafting near Peuma Hue

High volumes of rain- and snowfall means that Argentina’s Lake District is well served for fast-flowing rivers ideal for whitewater rafting, with long stretches of water running through idyllic landscapes with frothing rapids. Whether you base yourself in Bariloche or San Martín de los Andes, you’ll find a river near you where you can take to the water. The best time to raft is typically November to March, when meltwaters are typically at their peak. All the rivers offer ample opportunity for swimming as well as rapid runs.

The Manso River, which runs south east from Bariloche offers a range of Class 2 to 4 rapids running through verdant forest and squeezing through the Terciopelo ravine as it runs towards Chile. Its upper reaches are calmer, and offer good birdwatching between rapids.

From San Martín, there are two rafting options. The first is on the ridiculously pretty Hua Hum River on the Chilean border, with Class 2 to 3 rapids under cliffs and through the rainforest. Alternatively, the Chimehuin River near Junín de los Andes takes you along Class 2 to 3 rapids through open country under the imposing gaze of Lanín volcano.

Kayaking & Rafting in the Argentine Lake District FAQs

  • Who is it for?

    Kayaking is popular with visitors to the Argentine Lake District of all ages. Although no experience is needed, you must be in reasonably good physical condition and obviously being able to swim is essential! Most operators run kayaking trips of groups of up to 12 people: you should expect people of different ages, nationalities and fitness levels. Whitewater rafting operators usually specify a minimum age of 12 years.

  • Can I combine kayaking or rafting with other activities?

    It's easy to add on a kayaking or rafting option to your time in the Argentine Lake District. This can be anything from a kayaking on one of the many lakes to a day whitewater rafting near Bariloche or San Martín de los Andes . For those who like trying a bit of everything, multi-activity trips combine kayaking, hiking, mountain biking and even volcano climbing in one trip.

  • Do I need experience beforehand?

    Training will take place during the trip to ensure that everyone is capable of using their kayak. Guides provide a demonstration and a safety talk before you enter the water. Most of the shorter trips are suitable for beginners (especially on places like Lake Machonico), but more technical kayaking trips are available for the more experienced. If you do want to arrive feeling more prepared, consider taking a lesson or spending a day on the water before you leave for your trip. No experience is needed for whitewater rafting – the well-trained guides look after everything, so you just need to hold on!

  • Do I need any specialist kit?

    For shorter kayaking excursions all your kayaking and safety equipment will be provided, including specialist clothing. Most longer trips include all your kayaking and camping equipment, although some may require you to bring your own sleeping bag – we'll discuss any kit requirements when you book.

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