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Andes to the Ocean Sea Kayak Expedition during a Storm

by Bryan McCarthy

The sea kayak trip went well. It was awesome putting in at Don Mario's. The little class two stuff was fun in our huge, fully loaded sea kayak!

The river was fun to paddle, the scenery stellar, the lake was windy. We could hear the surf breaking on the backside of the island when we entered the north end of the lake. The wind funnels right through those tight steep walls. We had a few 4 footers break over the bow and steady 15 -25 knot winds which made the paddling slow. We lucked out and found a protected little gravel beach and hauled out for the night. We stayed on that beach for the rest of that day and half of the next waiting for the weather to improve- when it didn't we decided to stay a second night. Reassuring ourselves that "tomorrow would be BETTER".

Tomorrow was actually worse but we had to paddle. We paddled close to 4 hours into the seas and stout head winds- hiding in the lee of little points. Finally we came onto our chart- which was good, at least we knew where we were- but it meant that we had 10 more miles of snails pace paddling to go if we were going to finish the lake.

We kept going passing large cascades- which coincidentally offered good places to stop near by- and came to the suspension bridge around 7:00 at night. Immediately under the bridge the river picks up-the current sweeping us around the corner- after all day plugging along we suddenly found ourselves zooming along. In front of us a big eddyline on the left, trees and steep bank on the right, dead ahead a sizable curler wave. After a few seconds of debate- we paddled like hell-pierced the wave- it broke falling powerfully limp onto Danielle's chest. We made it through and camped down stream on a higher gravel floodplain island.

The next morning, Danielle woke up to find a huge (3 inch long) slug in her mug, it had squeezed through the hole that you drink out of. We put on and let the current sweep us down stream, our destination Chaiten. It rained off and on all day, the upper hills, cliff faces and glaciers hiding behind a ghostly veil that would drift in and out. Although it would have been really nice with sunshine- the rain made it feel so much more remote and foreign- every little rock crack or crevice was spilling over with water, falling, collecting an micropools and falling again- on both sides of the river hundreds of large and small falls brought waters to the river.

We made through Tres Piedras where the Amarillo comes in with out incidence- but in some spots without warning, or visible obstacles the river would boil, surge, slide in sheets over one another, crease and lie flat- even after traveling through that long lake- the waters remember where they came from!

We made it out to the Pacific around 7:00 on the night before we flew out. Amazingly the tides were up enough to sneak into the Rio Negro where we cooked and camped out on the outskirts of Chaiten. The rain still coming and going, but the wind that we had fought all the way across the lake, and down the river, had vanished. As we crawled into our tent the rain began again!

The next morning we awoke to SUNSHINE!!!! and flat seas- and the tide was again favorable. We got lucky, but for all this fortune there had to be a price. As I pulled off my sprayskirt from the coaming I noticed that it wasn't exactly how I had put it on. Someone had been in my cockpit. My drybag lay slightly limp in my seat, I opened it. All of my passports, credit cards, license, business cards, brochures were laying there looking at me, the Eagle Creek travel pouch that they were in was gone, and with it, a stinky heavy weight poly pro shirt, and my friends copy of Ayn Rands' "The Fountianhead" - which I had borrowed from my roommate without him knowing. So if you find a paperback copy of the Fountainhead in Chaiten with a little inscription signed with a happy face, you know who it used to belong to and I'd like to get it back - the only thing of real value that was taken.

We skipped breakfast and paddled towards Chaiten-about a 35 minute paddled from Rio Negro. We were a little disappointed because we didn't have time to cruise around the island to check out the sea lion colony. But as we were paddling in we saw a head poke through the still blueness of the bay and then another. Danielle whipped out the camera and started shooting... pictures of 6-10 sea lions as they swam closer and closer towards us chasing fish- It was awesome and THE perfect way to finish the trip!

We met Nicholas, who was just out buying some fruit, at the beach and he came back later and helped us get the boat taken care of, and we hung out the rest of the day at the bus station with him, listen to chorongo music, and he jammed with another guide that was passing through town with some friends. From there to the airport- to Puerto Montt to Puerto Varas and some congrio and kuchen!

So thanks all! It turned out to be exactly what we were looking for a little scary, a little challenging, very supportive, a little adventurous, and a hell of a lot of FUN!



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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