If you want to take matters into your own hands and sail at your own pace, don't miss the chance to do kayaking. Marvel at the scenery that surrounds you as you glide through the Chilean waters, salt or fresh, in its lagoons, lakes and beaches.

Popular tours

Here's a list of the best tours with Kayaking in their activities. To see the full list, visit our Tours in Kayaking

  • Kayaking in Cucao Lake

    Kayaking in Cucao Lake3 Hours

    Come to sail in Kayac by Lake Cucao in Chiloé National Park. This lake is a glacial origin and together with Lake Huillinco form the…

    • On Request
    • On Request
  • Kayak in the Simpson River National Reserve

    Kayak in the Simpson River National ReserveFull day

    Meet the tranquil lakes and rivers around the Simpson River National Reserve on this kayak ride accompanied by professionals. You will…

    • On Request
    • On Request


A kayak is basically a long and narrow boat, adequate for sailing rapids or facing long journeys. In this sport, the kayaker is sitting on the boat, maneuvering the kayak with a double blade paddle.

The type of kayaking you practice depends on personal expectations and choice. Just like preferences differ, kayak sizes and models vary according to the challenges each scenario poses.


The origin of kayaking can be traced back hundreds of years to Greenland and the Aleutian archipelago, where the Eskimos built canoes with seal skin extended over a frame made of wood or deer bone, using paddles to sail the seas. Originally, kayaks were created for fishing and hunting. Nowadays, they are used primarily for leisure and sport.
White Water Kayaking

The British were the first to discover the Eskimo kayak, taking it to Europe in 1890. Since then, shape, size and material of the kayak has evolved to its current form and appearance. All the current models are variations and improvements on the original kayak used by the Eskimos at sea.

White Water Kayaking:

Classification of rivers according to their difficulty level

  • Class I: Easy. Rapid flow with small waves and meanders. Few obstructions, all of which are obvious and easily surmountable with little training. The risk is low and self rescue is easy.
  • Class II: Beginner. Direct rapids, with clear and broad canals which are evident without previous exploration. Occasional maneuvering is required, but rocks and medium size waves are easily surmounted by trained paddlers. Little risk for swimmers, and group help is rarely required.
  • Class III: Intermediate. Rapids with high, irregular waves often capable of swamping a canoe. Narrow rapids that often require complex maneuvering and a precise control of the vessel. Big waves and strainers are easily avoidable. Previous exploration is recommended for non-experts. Injury to swimmers is rare and self-rescue is easy, but may require from the group to avoid prolonged swims.
  • Class IV: Advanced. Powerful, intense, predictable rapids, that require precise maneuvering in their turbulent waters. Depending on the characteristics of the river, large waves and holes may require fast maneuvering under pressure. Quick eddy turns are necessary to initiate other maneuvers, explore the rapids, or rest. Scouting is often necessary, and water conditions make self rescue a very difficult task. Group assistance is necessary and requires previously developed skills.
  • Class V: Expert. Extremely long, violent, and unobstructed rapids, which expose paddlers to big risks. Descents may present large, unavoidable waves and holes, steeps falls, and demanding and complex routes. There may be long distances between backwaters, which requires an excellent physical condition. Scouting is mandatory, and sometimes can be hard. Swimming is dangerous, and rescues are difficult even for experts.
  • Class VI: Extreme. This class of rapids is an example of difficulty, unpredictability and danger. Mistakes will lead to serious injuries and rescue may be not possible. For expert teams only, provided that all the necessary precautions have been taken.

"White Water kayaking" is the one practiced in rivers of class III,IV, and V

White water kayaking in Chile:

Chilean rivers are a hot destination for rafting and kayaking fanatics. The rivers that get most of the attention are Bío-Bío and Futaleufú, both of which are class V. The other Chilean rivers fluctuate between classes III and IV.

These are some of the best locations for practicing white whiter kayaking in Chile.

Central Area

  • Maipo River: Región Metropolitana, in the Melocoton sector, 22 km (14 MI) away from Guayacan village. Spring and summer seasons. Classes III and IV.
  • Cachapoal River: VI Region oh O'Higgins
  • Claro River: VII Region of Maule. Located in Radal 7 Tazas National Park. It is known for its waterfalls.

Araucania and Lakes

  • Bio-Bio River: VIII Region of Bio-Bio. Southeast of Los Ángeles. Class V.
  • Trancura River: IX Region of Araucania. 14 km (9 MI) away from Pucon. Classes III and IV.

Northern Patagonia

  • Futaleufú River: X Region of Los Lagos. 155 km (97 MI) southeast of Chaitén. Class V.
  • Baker River: XI Region of Aysén. Located 10 km (6 MI) northeast of Cochrane. Class V
  • Espolón River: XI Region of Aysén. It precedes the Futaleufu and it is considered a training place for the latter. Class III.

Southern Patagonia

  • Serrano River: 12th Region of Magellan. Located in Torres del Paine National Park. Class I.


White water kayaking is an exciting, challenging, but sometimes dangerous experience. It is practiced in class III, IV and V rivers, and therefore, it requires advanced technical skills, as well as physical fitness, stamina, and psychological preparation. These capabilities must be acquired through training, lessons with a licensed instructor or a qualified school, and of course, lots of practice.


  • Choose a river class according to your skills.
  • If you are not familiar with the river, seek advice from a knowledgeable guide or from a reputable agency.
  • You must be a good swimmer.
  • Always use the proper equipment with all the elements of safety.
  • Take your time to plan your route carefully. You must know the entrances and exits of the river, weather conditions, current river conditions, the location of falls and obstacles, the location and availability of rescue teams, etc.
  • Do not kayak alone.
  • Do not kayak near dams or outlets.
  • Design an emergency plan so as to know what to do and where to go in case of an emergency.


Bearing in mind that kayaking is an outdoor activity, that occurs in direct contact with nature, some rules of ecological behaviour are necessaryTake care of nature.

  • Be respectful of nature.
  • Do not throw garbage in rivers or lakes. Keep it in a secure place where it will not accidentally fall out.


In order to choose the right equipment, you must bear in mind what type and level of kayaking you intend to do, whether launching yourself into Class III+ rapids, or travelling through calmer waters. If you don't have much experience, take advice from experienced kayakers, reputable agencies, or specialized stores.

This is the basic white water kayaking equipment:

  • White water Kayak
  • Life jacket (PFD)
  • Paddles
  • Neoprene suit
  • Spray skirt

When buying or renting equipment, seek advice from someone experienced, so as to choose the implements that best suit your needs. You can start by renting until you're sure you like this sport and want to continue practicing it.

Sea Kayaking:

Types of Kayak

There are two types of sea kayaks: 

  • Sit-on-top or "recreational" kayaks have an open cockpit, for which the kayaker sits "on top" of it, making it possible for him\her to jump from the vessel if needed. This feature makes it the ideal choice for beginners.
  • Sit-inside or "touring" kayaks have a narrower cockpit, leaving the kayaker "inside" the vessel. It allows him to stay safe and dry, with no risk of falling, but they are really dangerous if the kaya overturns.  

Parts of a Kayak

  • Cockpit: the cavity where the kayaker sits.
  • Hull: the area that is in contact with the water, and that defines the main characteristics of the kayak, such as stability, speed, and maneuverability.
  • Deck: upper part of the kayak, that covers the hull and protects the kayaker.
  • Drop Skeg: lower part of the kayak and its symmetry axis, it gives direction to the vessel.
  • Bulkheads: a composite wall in fibreglass & Kevlar kayaks or a foam wall in polyethylene kayaks to separate the storage area from the cockpit area, and to limit water access.
  • Forward and rear hatches: dry areas for storing and giving flotation to the kayak.
  • Bungee Shock Chords: are used to store a map, water bottle or attach a low-slung deck bag to house small pack items in an easily accessible area.
  • Rudders: provides paddlers the ability to control direction (steer) using their feet via a rudder system with cables attached to sliding or pivoting foot peddles.
  • Retractable Skeg: the skeg is deployed from the hull and can be lowered up, down or anywhere in between using a hand controlled lever or dial for use as a tracking aid, and stabilize the kayak against winds and tides  

Materials of a Kayak

  • Fiberglass: it is the ideal material for building kayaks, for it is durable, lightweight, rigid and resistant against impacts. It is also much easier to repair than plastic.
  • Composite: composite or kevlar, is synthetic fiber that is used for making bulletproof vests and shields. It is ligther than fiberglass, but much more expensive. Kayaks made of composite are used in competitions where more acceleration is required.
  • Poly carbonate: this 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 cheaper and resistant than fiberglass kayaks. Even though plastic kayaks are more popular, they can become deformed in hot climates or if stored and transported incorrectly, without the proper protection.
  • Folding: these kayaks are ideal for storing in small spaces when traveling. They require more maintenance and time to assemble.
  • Wooden: building a kayak out of wood is the best way to get started in this sport. You can find kits with pre-cut pieces in stores.
  • Inflatable: the major concern 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.

Sea Kayaking in Chile

Paddling in calmer waters is becoming the popular choice for a more relaxing trip that allows you to admire and enjoy the wonders of nature. Chile boasts many destinations for practicing sea kayaking, such as the Pacific coast and its countless fjords, and the hundreds of lakes and lagoons that abound in our territory, from the central region to the southern extreme.

Región de Atacama and Altiplano

Sea kayaking in this area is almost completely limited to the ocean, since neither lakes nor rivers have enough flow to sail.

  • Damas Island.
  • La Paloma Reservoir.
  • Puclaro Reservoir.
  • Pichidangui Beach.
  • Guanaqueros Beach.
  • Tongoy Beach.
  • Los Molles Beach.

Central Area

Almost the entire central coast is apt for sea kayaking. From this region on, rivers are more plentiful and the first lakes and lagoons start to appear. You can navigate in sea kayaks or river kayaks alike.

  • Algarrobo, Quintero and Concón Beaches. Valparaíso Region
  • Aculeo Lagoon. Metropolitan region.
  • Rapel Lake. Metropolitan Region.
  • El Yeso Reservoir. Metropolitan region.
  • Cachapoal, Maule and Rapel Rivers. Libertador B. O'Higgins Region
  • Colbún and Vichuquén Lakes. Maule Region

Araucania and Lakes District

This region of Chile boasts countless lakes and lagoons for kayaking:

  • Bío-Bío River: XVIII Region . Southeast of Los Ángeles. Class V.
  • Trancura River: IX Regiona. 14 km (9 MI) from Pucon. Classes III and IV.

This area also has countless lakes and lagoons.

  • Laja Lagoon and Lleu Lleu Lake . Bío-Bío Region
  • Conguillío, Villarrica, Caburgua, and Colico Lakes. Araucanía Region.
  • Calafquén, Neltume, Pirihueico, Panguipulli, Riñihue, Ranco, Llanquihue, Todos Los Santos and Chapo lakes. Los Lagos Region.


This region of Chile boasts innumerable rivers and fjords.

  • Pumalin fjords, Chiloé Archipielago, Yelcho lake and river, Futaleufú river, Palena river and lake. Los Lagos Region
  • Aysén river, General Carrera Lake, Bertrand Lake, Baker River, fjords and canals in Tortel. Aysén Region
  • Serrano River. Magellan Region.


Basic Equipment

  • Kayak
  • Paddles
  • Spray skirt
  • Compass
  • Bilge pump
  • Whistle or audible signal
  • Flashlight

Safety Equipment

  • 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: must have the necessary supplies for repairing the kayak, jackets, cockpit cover, etc.
  • Emergency Kit: scissors, tweezers, bandages, disinfectant and antiseptic, a Swiss army knife and it may be necessary to include a first aid manual.


Things you must bear in mind when kayaking:

Some suggestions you must consider before venturing out in your kayak:

  • You must be a good swimmer.
  • Always use the proper equipment, never leaving out any safety elements.
  • 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.
  • Design an emergency plan with what to do and where to go in case of emergency.

Emergency Equipment

  • Whistles
  • Flares.
  • 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.



Federación Chilena de Canotaje

Avda. Ramón Cruz 1176, office 509, Ñuñoa
Phone: (56-2) 272 90 95 and 272 42 04

Trips and Lessons

Kayak Australis 
65, El Bosque Sur , 2nd floor, Of. 3, Las Condes
Phone: (56-2) 650 8264
Altue Sea Kayaking
Phone: (56-09) 4196809


The Essential Whitewater Kayaker: A Complete Course
Author: Jeff Bennett
Whitewater Kayaking: The Ultimate Guide
Author: Ken Whiting , Kevin Barette
Kayak: The Animated Manual of Intermediate and Advanced Whitewater Technique
Author: William Nealy


These are de destinations where you can Kayaking