Patagonia

Places, technique, kayaks, safety, the sea...
Post Reply
erinbastian
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:32 pm

Patagonia

Post by erinbastian »

Hey all,

I am wanting to put together a sea kayaking expedition to Patigonia, currently I am thinking of starting from Puerto Chacabuco and paddling south to Puerto Natales in Oct/Nov.

I would be really keen to hear from anyone who has done any sea kayaking trips in this region, it would be really great to get more information about this area and any advice would be helpful.

I am also looking for a couple more team members that might be up for a 5 week adventure through the fjords of Patagonia.

I look forwards to hearing form you.

Erin

e-wan
Posts: 170
Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:58 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Patagonia

Post by e-wan »

I've spent a few weeks there but it was a while ago. Will try and dig out a note of exactly where. Beware of storm surge when camping. As the fjords are long and narrow a strong wind can easily result in a tide higher than the obvious high tide mark. I've woken up to find the feet of my bivey sack floating in the water.

User avatar
lg18
Posts: 407
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 2:25 pm
Location: Aberdeenshire
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Patagonia

Post by lg18 »

Hello Erin,

I have never paddled in Patagonia, but I have travelled by boat (the Navimag ferry) from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales, which includes most of the area you mention, and I constantly scanned the coastline with a kayaker's eye! So I can't be of much help at all, but if you've never been to the area, and in the light of few replies so far, here goes: As you will obviously realise the distances are vast and it is completely and utterly remote and, apart from a few salmon farms, is devoid of any signs of humans (unless you happen to go out of your way to go to Caleta Tortel (that does now have road access so can act as an escape route), or Puerto Eden (no road, but the Navimag ferry calls in twice a week), which are tiny. The vastness and remoteness made New Zealand's Fjordland look like a summer picnic in comparison.

Throughout the 4 day sea journey, for amusement, I was constantly on the look-out for possible places to land a kayak and camp. Some stretches of coast had not many at all so it could be an issue - like NZ's Fjordland, for most of the time the coastline was just steep rock coming straight out of the water, covered in trees (with occasional scars from tree avalanches).

Within the chanels it seemed to be mostly very sheltered in terms of swell (although very strong currents through narrows at times) (and we were lucky with the wind). Would you have to head out into the open ocean round Golfo de Penas, or is there a tiny secret passage inside somewhere? If round the outside, that would be seriously hardcore!

I can imagine navigation could potentially be a bit challenging at times as it is just a vast maze of islands, headlands, channels and fjords.

Have you read Freya Hoffmeister's account/blog of that part of her journey round S America? Would probably be very informative.
I can't remember what time of year she passed through that area. We were there in late Summer (Feb-March), so probably the warmest time of year, and it was around 10-12 deg on the water (we had quite good weather but I don't know if this was normal). Presumably it will be much colder and worse weather Oct/Nov in Spring.

It was all completely amazingly brilliant, though, and I was desperate to come back with my kayak! There were dolphins, whales, fur seals, albatross, penguins, bonkers steamer ducks, spiky mountains, glaciers... best place I've ever been! I would LOVE to join you, but I'm just not hardcore enough by half!

All the very best of luck with planning an incredible adventure,
Lucy

Incayak
Posts: 131
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2005 12:42 pm
Location: London
Been thanked: 2 times

Re: Patagonia

Post by Incayak »

Operation Raleigh (a.k.a. Raleigh International) used to take groups on extended kayak expeditions in that general area of Chile. I watched a presentation given by one of their staff who had worked there - can't remember his name but he used to work at Woodmill Activity Centre in Southampton.

I worked in the area for several years but on dry land, Ig18's descriptions sum it up perfectly - it's wild and remote in its own unique and beautiful way.

Hope this helps you track down the knowledge you seek!

e-wan
Posts: 170
Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:58 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Patagonia

Post by e-wan »

I was there with raleigh international in 2001 I have photos and a wee map of our root but they are in storage and not digital. We did paddle past the village of Tortel which is on stilts and only accessible via plane/boat. and from their to the edge of the ice sheet and back. cant remember the name of where we started from but it was the end of the road and next to an army bace who thrashed us at a football match.

Will try and loom out more info but it may be a month or so before i am able to find it.

Ewan

e-wan
Posts: 170
Joined: Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:58 pm
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Patagonia

Post by e-wan »

aha! found them

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/7c63wqsasdd7k3a/YTrz4aqT4w

i have a note that the place we started from was called yungay but i think there is also another region in Chile further north with the same name.

you could also reed joshua slocum for more inspuration

Ewan

erinbastian
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:32 pm

Re: Patagonia

Post by erinbastian »

cheers guys its great to here from you.

I have come across a blog or two with some information and I am now inquiring with local guide companies to get a little more local knowledge. I believe there is a short cut/portage to avoid Golfo de Penas which I would agree would be super hardcore to paddle around. Its really useful to get some input on what the fjords and camping possibilities may be like so thank you, and I am glad to hear it is a desirable place to explore. I can't wait to see all the wildlife.

My research makes it look like a very popular kayaking destination with lots of shorter guided trips taking place in the area and I am hoping an expedition of this distance will really allow me to explore the more untouched areas.

Thank you for your info....... much appreciated.

User avatar
Ceegee
Posts: 1001
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2006 9:32 pm
Location: Scotand when not Mallorca North Coast
Been thanked: 8 times

Re: Patagonia

Post by Ceegee »

I also suggest you read a few reports on incident management in similar areas. Alaska and Pacific Canada comes to mind (although not as remote from rescue etc.) Matt Boze's reports are a good start."Sea Kayaker's Deep Trouble"
Cheers,
Steve C. G.

User avatar
lg18
Posts: 407
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 2:25 pm
Location: Aberdeenshire
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: Patagonia

Post by lg18 »

Hello again Erin,

Freya's blog is here if you haven't already seen it:
http://freyahoffmeister.com/expeditions ... p-reports/
Chile 2 and 3 - really amazing stuff. Bear in mind she is super-human and does triple the distance in a day of a real human!

Here's some pics of the coast:

Image

Image

Image

Puerto Eden
Image

Tree avalanche scar
Image

Image

Image

There was noticably more bare rock/less tree cover as we travelled south towards Puerto Natales
Image

Lucy

erinbastian
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:32 pm

Re: Patagonia

Post by erinbastian »

wow thanks Lucy. I can see what you mean about landing possibilities, very step sided.

I have spent the evening reading Freya's blog and it gives some good info, especially the portage section which sounds like the best route through.

:D

johnysmoke
Posts: 67
Joined: Wed Mar 27, 2013 2:26 am
Location: Boston Massachusetts

Re: Patagonia

Post by johnysmoke »

I worked as a NOLS instructor down there for four courses in 2008-2009. A lot has happened in my life since then, so unfortunately I've forgotten a lot of the details. We were based out of Coyhaique. The first two courses for October\November we chartered fishing boats out of Puerto Aisen to drop us off about a days ride out, then would paddle our route and head back to Puerto Aisen. Later out of Tortel for January-March we'd paddle out of Tortel and get picked up at the end of the course by the boats. Each course was roughly 24 days. The school always chartered out a pair of boats, for space with all the kayaks\gear\students, also they often broke down, and the conditions could be so nasty I think they wanted redundancy for safety reasons. Amazing place to paddle, we never ventured out to open ocean, it was bumpy enough in the fjords and "protected" waterways for us. Usually the highlight of a trip was to check out a tidewater glacier. We planned on travelling only half the days we were out due to weather, but that was from a conservative risk management standpoint, and also dealing with newbie paddlers. But nonetheless the weather requires really good camping skills and gear. We used four season mountaineering style tents with solid walls, keeps the wind from cranking through your sleeping bag all night. I used a three season mesh body tent by myself for a few trips, and it was chilly on exposed beaches, I would wake up in a sand box by morning if sand camping. It would also shake and flap all night in the wind, the mountaineering tents with the tauter set up shed the wind much better. We used 0 degree fahrenheit synthetic bags and that seemed about right, was very rarely if ever too warm. Often glad to have that bag when stormed in, and things just got damp after being out for awhile. A good large tarp is be a must. Excellent raingear as well. Many of the more senior instructors who work down there wouldn't even bother with gore-tex for in camp, they would use the old school rubber rain gear, often in a full length (past the knees) style. Don't forget a big thermos for mate.
I remember using a tide chart from a station a hundred or more miles away, there was nothing more specific to where we were. But after being out for a few days you'd get the rhythm of the tides down, the chart would help you predict the heights, even if it was a few hours off. We did get stormed out of a few beaches late at night from storm surge. Having to take down tents, throw all our gear and boats up into the bushes and trees and wait for the water to recede. Otherwise I remember a few big amazing rock storm beaches that were some of the nicest beaches I've ever seen. We often ended up in kind of swampy camping on shelves barely able to fit our larger group (15-18 people.) I wish I had pictures but most are on an older machine I've yet to hook up after moving a year ago.
Not sure if this would apply to a personal trips but as a "school" we had to deal with the Chilean Navy\Coast Guard, I believe it was called the Armada? Before we could head out they would require an inspection of all our safety gear, including rations, to make sure we weren't going to drown or starve. In particular they wanted to check out flares (they really seemed to like those) vhf radio, first aid, lights and headlamps, charts, compass, knives, PLB and satellite phone. I remember there was also something strange about life jackets, we were required to use those certified by the Chilean Navy\Coast Guard\Armada. So if an instructor wanted to use their personal life jacket, we had to hide it, show the officials the approved version to get the numbers right, and then drag around an extra jacket for the rest of the trip. Helps to know some Spanish if you have to deal with those dudes.

Image
Image
ImageImage
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image


User avatar
Douglas Wilcox
Posts: 3636
Joined: Sun May 11, 2003 1:31 pm
Location: Glasgow
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 46 times
Contact:

Re: Patagonia

Post by Douglas Wilcox »

Hello Erin, Stuart and Cathy Wagstaff from Sea kayak Oban were in Patagonia in January. It might be worth getting in touch with them, they are very approachable.

Douglas

erinbastian
Posts: 57
Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 10:32 pm

Re: Patagonia

Post by erinbastian »

brilliant, thanks Douglas

Post Reply