Although many people associate kayaking with the speed and adrenaline
rush of the "white waters", it can also be practiced in
calmer waters along the coast or in lakes. This more relaxed but equally
thrilling variation is called sea kayaking, and it allows you to experience
and enjoy the adventure and freedom that come from exploring the world
by water. The main characteristic of sea kayaking is the silent movement
of the boat through the water, propelled only by the paddler who is
careful not to disturb the peaceful, natural environment of the places
he or she visits.
The exact origin of the kayak is unknown, but we do know that the first people to use it were the Eskimos. It is supposedly the oldest type of vessel that is still used today and is estimated to be 3,000 years old.
The British were the first to discover the Eskimo kayak and they brought it to Europe towards the end of the 19th century (1890). Since then the kayak's shape, size and material has continued to evolve up to its present-day form and appearance. All the current models are variations and improvements on the original kayak used by the Eskimos at sea.
In the last few years we have witnessed the spread of kayaking on a global level and thanks to new materials and designs, faster and more secure kayaks are being built.
Kayaking in Chile
Types of Kayaks
Paddling in calmer waters is becoming the popular choice for a more relaxing trip that allows you to admire and enjoy nature's wonders. Chile boasts many destinations for practicing sea kayaking; the Pacific coast and its countless fjords, and the hundreds of lakes and lagoons that populate the territory from the central region to the extreme southern tip.
There are two different kinds of sea kayaks; sit-on-top also known
as recreational kayaks and sit-inside or touring kayaks.
Fiberglass. In general, fiberglass
is the ideal material for building kayaks. Besides being durable
it is lightweight and rigid and remains resistant against impacts.
It is known for being easier to repair than plastic kayaks.
Composite. Composite or Kevlar is an extremely strong and lightweight synthetic fiber that is used for making bulletproof vests and shields. The disadvantage of Kevlar is its high cost and even though it is lighter than fiberglass, the difference in weight is not very noticeable. This type of kayak is more commonly used in competitions where more acceleration is required.
Poly carbonate. This relatively new material is very similar to that which is used for making lenses and eyeglasses. It is more resistant to the possible damage caused by ultraviolet light than a polyethylene kayak and moreover, it is recyclable.
Plastic. Plastic kayaks are much more economic and resistant to deterioration than fiberglass and even though plastic kayaks have been popular among renters, they still have their defects. They can become deformed in hot climates and if stored or transported incorrectly and without the proper protection, they can suffer irreparable damages.
Folding. These kayaks are ideal for storing in smaller spaces when traveling. They obviously require maintenance and time to assemble.
Wooden. For beginners, building a
kayak out of wood is the best way to get started. You can find kits
with pre-cut pieces in stores.
Inflatable. The major concern that
exists with this type of kayak is that it may deflate. However,
contrary to the appearance of the material, it is amazingly resistant
in aggressive areas such as reefs or rough sand.
The necessary basic safety equipment that is needed for a peaceful journey in kayak is the following:
Paddle Float. An inflatable bag that is affixed to one end of the paddle (the blade) and helps the paddle reenter the kayak in case he or she falls out.
Repair Kit (kayak and accessories). Must have the necessary supplies for repairing the kayak, jackets, cockpit cover, etc.
Emergency Kit. Scissors, tweezers,
disinfectant and antiseptic, a Swiss army knife and it may be necessary
to include a first aid manual.
When and where
- Isla Damas.
- La Paloma Reservoir.
- Puclaro Reservoir.
- Pichidangui Beach.
- Guanaqueros Beach.
- Tongoy Beach.
- Los Molles Beach.
Sea kayaking in this area is almost completely limited to the ocean waters since there is not enough river flow (not even near the outlet) to enjoy a ride on the current.
- Aculeo Lagoon: Metropolitan region. Located 65 km (41 mi) southeast of Santiago.
- Rapel Lake: Metropolitan Region. Located 145 km (91 MI) southwest of Santiago.
- Peñuelas Lake: Metropolitan Region. Located 93 km (58 MI) west of Santiago.
- Cachapoal, Maule and Rapel Rivers.
- Yeso Reservoir: Metropolitan region. 3,000 m (9,840 ft.) above sea level in the middle of the Andes mountain chain.
Practically the entire central coast is apt for sea kayaking. Beginning in this region, the rivers are more abundant and the first lakes and lagoons (artificial or natural) start to appear. You can navigate in sea kayaks or river kayaks alike.
- Bío-Bío River: 8th Region of Bío-Bío. Southeast of Los Ángeles. Class V.
- Trancura River: 9th Region of the Araucanía. 14 km (9 MI) from Pucon. Classes III and IV.
This region of Chile boasts countless lakes and lagoons for kayaking. We will soon bring you more of the best places.
Northern Patagonia Region
- The coast of the Grand Island of Chiloé.
- The Comau, Qintupeu and Cahuelmó Fjords.
- Yelcho Lake.
- Palena and Yelcho Rivers
- Futaleufú Rivers.
This region of Chilean territory boasts innumerable lakes and lagoons as well as the fjords around Chiloe and further south. We will soon bring you more of the best places for river kayaking.
Southern Patagonia Region
- Serrano River: 12th Region of Magellan. Torres del Paine National Park. Class I.
This region of Chile boasts innumerable lakes, lagoons and fjords. We will soon bring you more of the best places.
Check out our Destinations in Chile section for suggestions on places to go to carry out your adventure.
Environmental: Keeping in mind that kayaking
is an activity that allows you to be in direct contact with nature,
it is essential that you follow certain guidelines of environmental
- Take care of nature.
- Do not throw garbage in rivers or lagoons. Keep it in a secure
place where it will not accidentally fall out.
When you are in trouble it is important that you know how to call for help. Consider the following:
- A whistle, the louder it is the better your chances of being rescued
- Mirrors for reflecting sunlight.
- Strobe lights, they function like mirrors at night.
- VHF marine radio (high frequency radio)
- Rescue flags.
- It is better to carry your cell phone with you, in case you find yourself in an area with a signal.
- Wear flashy clothing, brightly colored life vests, paint paddles with fluorescent colors, keep fluorescent colored hats in the pockets of your life vest.
A few more suggestions before venturing out in your kayak:
The following is a list of the equipment needed for kayaking. We recommend
seeking help from other kayakers or specialized personnel at your
- It is essential that you know how to swim well.
- Always use the proper equipment never leaving out any elements of safety.
- You should take your time and plan your route carefully. You must know the entrances and exits of the river, weather conditions, the location and availability of rescue teams, etc.
- Do not kayak alone.
- Do not kayak near dams or outlets.
- Form an emergency plan with what to do and where to go in case of emergency.
The following books contain information on places where you can go
kayaking, as well as facts on tour operators, rates, conditions, etc.
- Spray skirt
- Proper Clothing
- Bilge pump
- Whistle or audible signal
Check out more texts in our Books section.
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