Why kayak or raft in the Chilean Lake District?

  • Kayaking and whitewater rafting trips easily arranged from either Puerto Varas or Pucón.
  • Short excursions on sheltered lakes for kayaking beginners, no experience required.
  • Wild camping with sea kayaks in the Chilean fjords for remote adventure.
  • Class 4 rapids for adrenaline enthusiasts, interspersed with calm stretches amid epic scenery.

Kayaking & rafting in the Chilean Lake District

Kayak day trips

Pumalin kayaking

Kaying in Pumalín Douglas Tompkins National Park

The crystal waters of Lake Todos los Santos in Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park are perfect for exploration by kayakers of all abilities. The ability to get out on to the water offers the chance to explore parts of the park that are inaccessible by road or hiking trails. The views from the lake of Osorno and Puntaguido Volcanoes are never less than awe-inspiring. 

Those with a little kayaking experience already can take to the waves to explore the waters around Reloncavi Fjord by sea kayak, at the gateway to Pumalín National Park, looking for dolphins and sea lions and paddling to waterfalls that tumble straight into the sea from sheer mountain walls. 

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A kayaking excursion is easily built into a multi-activity trip. You might spend the morning on the waters of Lake Todos los Santos looking up at Osorno Volcano, then in the afternoon lace up your hiking boots to explore the views from its slopes.

Multi-day kayak trips

Pumalín waterfall, Pumalín Park, Chile

Pumalín waterfall

The best way to get away from everything on the water is on a multi-day sea kayak expedition in the Chilean fjords. This is a great adventure for those who already have a little kayaking experience, as you explore the coastline along Pumalín Douglas Tompkins National Park. You start at the mouth of the Reloncavi Fjord, then paddle the waves before snowcapped Yates and Hornopirén volcanoes. Exploring by sea kayak is a great way to spot wildlife, and there is a rich variety of birds ranging from pelicans to cormorants and even penguins. You also stand a good chance of kayaking alongside sea lions and dolphins. At the end of each day you camp on the beach, and at one point have the opportunity to hike into the forest to soak in remote thermal pools.

Whitewater rafting trips

Rafting on Rio Petrohue

Rafting the Petrohue River, Puerto Varas

A combination of a rainy climate and seasonal glacier meltwater makes the Chilean Lake District a great destination for whitewater rafting, not least because you’re generally rafting against a stunning backdrop of one or more volcanoes. In general, the rivers run faster here than in the Argentine Lake District – the rivers we list here all have Class 3 to 4 rapids. Conditions are at their best for rafting from December to March.

For those staying near Puerto Varas, the Petrohué River in Vicente Pérez National Park offers excellent rafting below the Saltos de Petrohué falls and under the constant gaze of snowy Osorno Volcano.

From Pucón, the most accessible rafting is to be found on the Trancura River as it drains into Lake Villarrica. Its lowest reaches are the quietest, but the whole river can be closed in the winter due to high and unpredictable water.

For connoisseurs willing to travel a couple of hours from Pucón, possibly the best rafting in the Chilean Lake District is to be found on the River Fuy near Panguipilli on the Seven Lakes Circuit.There are three distinct runs here through thick temperate rainforest, each broken up by sheer waterfalls as the river descends to Lake Pirihueco.

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What our customers think of Kayaking & rafting in the Chilean Lake District

Our guide was amazing. She was comfortable and confident. She also was a great person to be around. We had a great time together. Read the full review

Travelled: February 2023

Kelsey Freeman - USA


Kayaking & Rafting in the Chilean Lake District FAQs

  • Who is it for?

    Kayaking is popular with visitors to the Chilean 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 a kayaking or rafting option to your time in the Chilean Lake District. This can be anything from a kayaking in a national park to a day whitewater rafting near Puerto Varas or Pucón. 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 the lakes), but some experience is preferred for sea kayaking on the more open waters of the Chilean fjords. 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 can just 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.

Kayaking trips in the Chilean Lake District

Kayak Pumalín Park

This multi-day wilderness kayaking adventure explores the fjords of Pumalín Douglas Tompkins Park in the Chilean Lake District. Top guides will show you the wonders of this magical place from the water and help you navigate the intricate coast as…

  • 4 Days
  • $1,065

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