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Kayaking in Patagonia

Patagonia offers some incredible kayaking opportunities from the white water of the Lake District, to the wilds of Southern Patagonia and Torres del Paine and, of course, the Beagle Channel off Tierra del Fuego.

Read our guide to Kayaking in Patagonia or check out the map

Kayaking in Patagonia

Patagonia is a top destination for kayakers and white water rafters, who come from all over the world to take advantage of its amazing rapids and rivers. Patagonia also offers some wonderful kayaking opportunities on calmer and lakes and rivers too. We've selected trips that take you on exciting rivers and pristine lakes and amongst giant icebergs and glaciers. Alternatively you might find a trip that combines kayaking with trekking and other activities.

Where to go Kayaking in Patagonia

Kayaking Torres del Paine

Kayaking in Torres del Paine National Park is a great way to see some of the less accessible parts of this natural reserve as you can take in the wilder, ...

Kayaking in the 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 to Cape Horn

For experienced paddlers looking for the ultimate Patagonian kayak experience this is a 10 day expedition down the cape. Your chance to earn the right to wear an ear-ring!

The expedition starts in Ushuaia and is fully supported by a sailboat. With your highly experienced guide you'll kayak across the Beagle Channel, visit Puerto Williams, and continue to Puerto Toro, Picton Pass and Caleta Martial. This cove is the last sheltered spot before the Cape and here'll you wait for the right conditions to paddle down to, and around the Cape. Return to Ushuaia aboard the sailboat.

For further information please get in touch.

Kayaking in Patagonia - your questions answered

Why do it?

The western edge of Patagonia, where the southern ice cap meets the Pacific Ocean, is only really accessible by water. So kayaking is a great way to experience Patagonia’s out-of-reach places and fantastically diverse landscape; mountains with cascading waterfalls, glacial landscapes and beautiful fjords.

Who is it for?

Kayaking is popular with visitors to Patagonia 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 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.

Best areas for Kayaking

1. North: kayaking in the Lake District

The Chilean Lake District is famous for its white water rafting and is a great place to enjoy some wild and adventurous kayaking. Kayakers from around the world come to the Futaleufú river known for its strong currents and deep blue waters created by glacial sediment.

The Argentinian Lake District or ‘the Bariloche Lakes’ is lush and green and not dissimilar to our own Lake District.

2. Middle: kayking in Torres del Paine

The Torres del Paine and Bernardo O'Higgins National Parks contain some very dramatic Patagonian scenery. Here you'll be able to kayak amongst fjords, glaciers and icebergs.

3. South: Tierra del Fuego

Challenge yourself to kayak in and around the wild and remote island of Tierra del Fuego – the 'end of the world' where Darwin's notion of Natural Selection was reputedly born. You can kayak across the Magellan Straits that separate Tierra del Fuego from the mainland, or the Beagle Channel, where you may find yourself paddling amongst a sea lion colony.

Which time of year and for how many days?

In Patagonia the weather starts warming up in November with the hottest month in February and the summer ends in March. Although kayaking trips are available throughout the year, going in the warm sunny months is preferable as Patagonian winters can be cold with very strong winds which can result in trips being cancelled at the last minute. Kayaking trips generally tend to be shorter than trekking trips and can last from 1 – 10 days.

Where will I stay?

Accommodation varies from trip to trip dependent 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.

Is it easy to get there?

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.

Can I combine this with something else?

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.

Will I get any training?

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.

Trips that include Kayaking and Other Activities  

Multi Activity Sport in Patagonia

See the best of Torres del Paine’s landscapes and wildlife by Mountain Bike, Trekking, Ice Hiking and Kayaking- no previous experience required!

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5 days


Patagonia Multisport Adventure

Join this experienced team for a week of kayaking, horse riding, trekking through a nature reserve and pampering back at the ranch. The price ...

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8 days


Bariloche Lakes and Mountains Adventure

This multi sport adventure will see you kayaking, biking and trekking from lake to lake and eating typical Argentinean 'asado'. You'll spend one night ...

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8 days


By land and by sea

Staying in comfortable cabins and enjoying delicious traditional cuisine, on this trip you will have the pleasure of riding through forests and up mountains ...

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3 days


From Sea to Summit

Combine kayaking, horse riding and trekking in the verdant area of Cochamo. You'll bathe in the hot springs of of Cahuelmó, and have the ...

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9 days


Kayaking Landmarks across Patagonia

Google Map

Questions? Need help?

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Guide to Patagonia

Patagonia spans over 1,000 miles north to south and landscapes ranging from forests, to glaciers, to volcanoes and deserts. Read our Patagonia Guide to find out: how to get there, when to go, what to see and how to find the best trip. Or find out about:


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How can we help you?

We are Patagonian specialists, and have helped all sorts of different people arrange their perfect adventure holiday in Patagonia. Whatever your budget, group size, length of stay, preferred activity or appetite for adventure we're here to help you.

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About Swoop

We've spent 15 years exploring Patagonia, and arranged holidays for over a thousand customers. We have a network of trusted guides, lodges, and local operators across the region and delight in helping people plan and arrange a great holiday.

You can book directly with our local partners in Chile and Argentina, or with our ATOL certified company here in the UK.

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