Chile’s central and southern regions are home to dozens of rivers where kayaking enthusiasts of all skill levels can practice this sport.
In the north, kayaking is done almost exclusively in the sea because of the region’s dry climate, which is not conducive to supporting fast rivers. Sea kayaking has earned a number of fans in places like Damas Island and the resort towns of Pichidangui and Los Molles.
Central Chile is home to tame rivers like the Maipo River (just outside of Santiago) as well as more difficult ones like the Teno River in Maule Valley and the Claro River in the Radal Siete Tazas National Reserve.
If you prefer sea kayaking, head to the beaches of Quintero and Algarrobo, the Aculeo Lagoon or Lakes Rapel and Viichuquén.
While you can practice water sports throughout Chile, the best rivers for kayaking are found in the southern regions, especially Araucanía. One of the most famous is the Trancura River, which is just 14 km from the resort town of Pucón. The Laja Lagoon and its nearby lakes (including Caburgua, Villarica, Calafquén, Conguillo, Riñihue and Ranco) offer excellent conditions and beautiful scenery as does the Petrohué River near Puerto Varas.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, try kayaking along the canals of the archipelago of Chiloé, taking in the natural scenery and traditional architecture of this colorful area. Or you can explore the fjords and canals around Caleta Tortel, a small town located at the end of the Carretera Austral.
If you’re up for a real adventure, head to the Strait of Magellan in Cabo San Isidro, which is 75 km south of Punta Arenas. Local kayaking tours can take you all around the area, and some include excursions to Cabo Forward, where you’ll find the cross that marks the end of the continent, and Francisco Coloane Marine Park, where you can watch humpback whales.