Reasons to go
- From whales to glaciers, fjords to lakes, kayaking gives you a far more intimate view of the scenery and wildlife of Patagonia
- No experience is necessary to take to the water, though more technical trips are available for seasoned kayakers
- As the region is peppered with lakes, rivers and streams, you can fit kayaking into your itinerary just about anywhere
- Spend a morning paddling, or take on a more adventurous multi-day trip
Where can I kayak?
Top 3 places to go kayaking
1. Lake Districts: Wild and adventurous kayaking. Kayakers from around the world come to the Futaleufu river in Chile, known for its strong currents and deep blue waters created by glacial sediment. Across the border, Argentina is lush and green and full of remote kayaking locations. Find out more.
2. Torres del Paine: The national parks in central Patagonia are fabulous for dramatic scenery and shorter kayaking trips. Here you'll be able to kayak amongst fjords, glaciers and icebergs, with mountains as your backdrop. Find out more.
3. Aysen: A region full of waterways, kayaking is one of the best ways to see its treasures. Try sea kayaking, visit the remarkable marble caves and cathedral, or pick one of the winding, remote rivers to explore. Find out more.
What our customers think
What a great way to end our trip. The kayaking was challenging enough and rewarding and better than expected.
Steve and Jenny Australia November 2017
Kayaking down the Rio Serrano was the highlight - I truly felt like we were in the wilderness because we didn't see any other people!
Mary South Dakota January 2017
The kayaking in Patagonia was tremendous. Continually beautiful. There is something about being on the water that I just absolutely love.
Anne December 2016
Kayaking the Baker River is something I would never go to Patagonia and miss doing. It's an incredible experience! The logistics were great, planned out and flawless. The food was beyond our dreams! We could not have had a greater time on our kayak portion of the trip.
Julie and Nic Hawaii, USA November 2016
Kayaking up close to a sea lion colony and walking amongst the burrows of thousands of magellanic penguins were absolute highlights.
Jo McGrouther Australia December 2017
The river canyon we paddled was challenging and beautiful, with plenty of excitement for an amateur paddler. Our guide was wonderful, and provided a perfect experience for what I was looking for.
Kevin Pennsylvania February 2017
Kayaking Serrano River was amazing. I've never been so close to a glacier while on the water.
Jan Reichelderfer United States Of America February 2018
Types of Kayaking Trips
You don't need any kayaking experience to jump in a kayak for a day and get a whole new perspective on the scenery. Whether you make it the most adventurous day of your trip, or just a day to rest your legs after some serious hiking, kayaking can take you places that you simply can't get to otherwise.
The best places to kayak for a day are in Torres del Paine, where you can kayak up to the towering wall of a glacier and reach out to the icebergs floating beside you, the lake districts where the lakes and rivers are pristine, or Ushuaia and Valdes where penguins and sealions await.
2-4 day river tours
Kayak by day and wild camp wild by night. Multi-day kayak trips are open to novices as well as more experienced kayakers; all your equipment and food will be provided so you can just focus on the scenery.
The beauty of these longer kayaking trips is getting well off the beaten track. Discover tiny hidden coves and islands, and drift through fjords completely hidden from the nearest road or walking trail. What these areas lack in people they more than make up for in wildlife - consider the Chilean Fjords for up close encounters with whales, and Peninsula Valdes to arrive at hidden beaches teeming with sealions and penguins.
Experienced sea kayakers will be looking for a more meaty challenge, and Patagonia will not disappoint. Audacious and infamous routes include kayaking to Cape Horn, a remote exploration of the Chilean fjords, kayaking deep into the Pumalin national park.
These trips tend to be longer days with even more remote routes, and strong winds can make for challenging conditions. The rewards are more than worth it to see untouched Patagonia.
Our favourite kayak trips
Multi-sport trips that include kayaking
Kayaking in Patagonia FAQs
Although no experience is needed, you must be in reasonably good physical condition and obviously being able to swim is essential! Most operators run trips of groups of up to 12 people: you should expect people of different ages, nationalities and fitness levels.
If you are an experienced kayaker then please let us know and we'll hook you up with some of the more advanced expeditions.
Accommodation varies from trip to trip depending on the remoteness of the area you're exploring. There are few hotels outside of the towns! Many trips make use of Refugios (mountain lodges where you'll often share a room with a few others), and there are lots of camping options from eco camps and formal campsites to good old wilderness camping by the side of the river. A couple of kayaking trips include nights sleeping on a boat.
It is easy to get to the main airports and towns which serve each of the areas. From there you will need to get a bus to the parks but this is something the operator can advise you on. Bear in mind that you may need to add a day at the beginning and end of your itinerary to factor in flights.
1. Lake District in the North
To reach the Bariloche Lake District fly from El Calafate or Santiago to Bariloche airport. From here take the 30-minute bus journey into town and then from there to the Lakes. You may have to factor in a day of travelling and stay for a night in Bariloche before your kayaking adventure begins.
In the Chilean Lake District, most trips start from the large town of Puerto Montt or the smaller town of Puerto Varas and continue on to the lakes and rivers via bus or coach. You can fly to Puerto Montt airport from Santiago or Buenos Aires.
2. Torres del Paine in the centre
To reach Torres del Paine National Park fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas. Buses run from Punta Arenas to the town of Puerto Natales with a journey time of 5 hours. From Puerto Natales take the bus either to Bernardo O'Higgins National Park or directly to Torres del Paine.
3. Tierra del Fuego in the south
The National Park of Tierra del Fuego is served by the town of Ushuaia (the last town in Argentinian Patagonia before Antarctica). There are regular flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia airport.
For more info see our guide to getting to Patagonia.
Most tour operators offer trips which combine kayaking with trekking. These trips usually take place in Patagonia's national parks and enable you to enjoy trekking through the forest and mountains whilst viewing breathtaking glaciers and kayaking on the pristine lakes and rivers.
The landscape of Patagonia is so diverse that some companies offer multisport trips which incorporate trekking, fishing, kayaking, horse riding and ice climbing all in one trip.
For example see multi activity trips in Torres del Paine.
Training will take place during the trip as it is in the interest of every guide that each traveller is well informed of the health and safety issues and is capable of using their kayak. Guides provide a demonstration and a safety talk before you enter the water with your kayak. There are plenty of schools to learn or brush up your kayaking skills before your trip eg. the British Canoe Union.
Where to go Kayaking in Patagonia
Kayaking in Torres del Paine
Venture onto Torres del Paine's waterways and you will drift through some of the quietest, wildest and most secluded areas of the national park. From beginners to experienced …
Kayaking in the Patagonian Lake District
See the Lake District like you should - from the water! Paddle on the region's pristine, blue lakes and see waterfalls, mountain sides covered in lenga forests and snow capped …
Kayaking in Aysen
Aysen's rivers are forces of nature; immense bodies of water that carry glacial melt from the ice cap to the ocean. Kayaking along these rivers gives you access to some wildly …
Tierra del Fuego
As you reach the end of the continent, the rugged landscape becomes wilder and wilder, finally crumbling into thousands of rocky islands. Tierra del Fuego is a region of …