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Andes to the Ocean Sea Kayak Expedition with Perfect Weather

by Sarah Locke

Kayaking the lower Rio Futaleufu and Rio Yelcho was one of the highlights of our trip to Chile. It gave us a chance to see some of the most beautiful backcountry in Chile, as well as spend time off the beaten path, on our own. We can't really compare the time on the river to the kayaking and rafting on the upper Futaleufu - that was wonderful too. They were complementary, and we would highly recommend the one week combination kayaking, rafting and unguided sea kayaking tour we did to anyone.

The kayaking on the lower Futaleufu was sublime, with steep forested slopes rising all around us to distant glacier capped mountains. The river is lazy, but still with a good current as it winds towards Lago Yelcho. We enjoyed the pleasant pastoral landscape.

Lago Yelcho was a scenic highlight of our trip. Where else can you paddle a lake with such stunning mountain scenery, but also with warm waters, abundant fish, and fabulous camping? We spent the first night on a beautiful white sand beach, swam, made a campfire and just watched the sun sink into the hills.

The waters of Lago Yelcho were kind to us. It was glassy calm most of the first day, but in the late afternoon the winds rose and we took shelter behind one of the many points. I'm sure this lake can produce huge waves when the winds really blow, but we never felt in any danger, even with our 11 year old son. He pushed hard whenever we needed the extra muscle power. You do have to plan your lake crossings to make sure you don't get caught out in the open. We enjoyed the remoteness of the lake and during the whole trip, saw no other tourists. We passed the occasional farm and fisher, but that was about it.

Rio Yelcho flowed much faster than we expected - we thought it was going to be a long slog to the ocean, but the current moves along, and the lower section was equally beautiful. Its a valley of a hundred waterfalls, with long white ribbons of water cascading off the mountains. Maybe this is only because we had about 24 hours of rain! The forests are incredibly steep along the river, making it seem like what I have thought the River Yangtze might look like. Camping is a bit scarcer on the Yelcho, but you can riverside find pastures with graceful old trees to camp under.

The ocean section of the trip is very short, but pleasant. We managed to cross the tidal flats with only about half an hour of dragging our boats. If we had more time we would have enjoyed visiting the sea lions and dolphins. We found Chaiten to be a very pleasant town, and if we were to do the trip again, we would leave a couple of days to visit the Pumalin Park also.

Expediciones Chile specializes in adventure travel vacations in Patagonia Chile. Rafting in Chile on the Futaleufu River. Torres del Paine, Cerro FitzRoy trekking in Patagonia. Off season skiing in Chile and Argentina. Equestrian vacations and mountain biking holidays in the Futaleufu Valley. Whitewater kayaking in Chile. Whitewater rafting outdoor guide school. Fly fishing in Patagonia Chile and Argentina. Learn to roll a kayak at the Expediciones Chile kayak school. Eco tours and yoga vacations. Information on the climate of Patagonia, traveling in Patagonia and regional maps.

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