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The best places to go kayaking in Chile and beyond!

Kayaking is one of our favourite ways to explore Chile and beyond. You can get up close to impressive glaciers, discover hidden treasures like sunken forests and marble cathedrals, and feel the rush of sea kayaking amongst icebergs. You’ll also get amazing opportunities to see local wildlife from a totally different perspective. Here are our kayking recommendations for Chile, Argentina, and Antarctica!


Lake District 

As its name suggests, the Chilean Lake District has an abundance of wide blue lakes and beautiful flowing rivers making it a great location for water activities. For the more experienced kayakers, you can venture down the fast flowing rivers. For beginners or those wanting a more leisurely time, head out onto the slow streams or lakes, which are great for spotting wildlife and the region’s birdlife. Some popular kayaking spots are Pumalin Park, Llanquihue Lake, the Petrohue River, and the Huilo Huilo Biological Reserve.


For a more unique experience, one of our favourite places for kayaking is Chepu, a river on the main island of Chiloé. About an hour and half from the island’s capital of Castro, here you can kayak down the river to discover the eerie sunken forest. Formed by the largest earthquake recorded in 1960, trees emerge out of the water. The best time to go is early in the morning to catch the sunrise and to spot the animals enjoying the tranquility of the dawn, like the southern river otter, or huillín to locals, that can only be found in southern Chile and Argentina.


Northern Patagonia 

One of the most iconic sites for kayaking in Chile is definitely at the ‘Catedral de Marmol’. These incredible rock formations, located in General Carrera Lake in the Aysen region, look like enchanted caves as the turquoise water reflects off the smooth marbled stone above. You can kayak through the tunnels and around the monoliths in the lake for some amazing pictures or to take in the wonders of nature. 


Southern Patagonia 

The best thing about exploring Southern Patagonia in a kayak is that you can get much closer to the glaciers than you can from viewpoints. Head to the Balmaceda or Serrano glaciers in the Bernardo O’Higgins national park, near Puerto Natales, to see some awe-inspiring views from the water below, or venture out to the Grey Glacier in the Torres del Paine national park for a truly jaw-dropping experience. Alternatively, you can head over the border to Argentina to catch a close-up of the famous Perito Moreno Glacier from your kayak and feel the sway from the glacier’s famous calvings. 


Alternatively, explore the Patagonia fjords like Fjord Eberhard to take in the wild landscapes and nature of the environment around you. If you go in the summer, you can also see flamingoes here! 



Kayaking in Antarctica is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Get up close to the impressive Antarctic icebergs as you paddle around the coast of the white continent to enjoy the landscapes and nature from the unique perspective of the water. If you’re lucky, you could see penguins, birdlife, and even a whale in the water with you! Make sure you book this in advance to secure your place. 

Our favorite Chile itineraries for families

Chile is a great destination for family holidays. Not only is it one of the safest countries in South America, but it’s also packed full of new experiences for all the family. From opportunities to learn about different cultures to action-packed activities and wildlife spotting, there’s something here for everyone. 

Easter Island

One of our favorite family destinations in Chile is Easter Island. Immerse your family in the unique culture of the world’s most remote inhabited island as you explore its natural beauty and captivating myths and legends. Discover the crystal clear waters as you take a snorkeling tour in the shallows – with a little luck you could even spot a sea turtle! Head above the surface and take a boat ride around the island or take part in a body paint class on the shore to learn more about the practice from a local artist. Chill out together at the end of the day on the beach or at the hotel’s pool, or explore some of the island’s delicious food at a local restaurant! 


Patagonia is synonymous with adventure and it can be great for children. While we wouldn’t recommend some of the more difficult hikes for younger children, there is a lot more to Patagonia than the Torres del Paine circuits. Why not enjoy a wildlife safari to spot some guanacos, pumas, and birds of prey or take a tour to the coast to see the penguins? Alternatively, you could try out life on a Patagonian ranch for a day, learning about its history, how to shear a sheep, and enjoying the landscape on horseback to experience the true Patagonian lifestyle.

Lake District

Chile’s Lake District is another amazing place for families to visit. It’s great for outdoor adventures for the family. Although it’s a little tamer than its southern neighbor, exploring its beautiful national parks, glistening lakes, and spectacular volcanoes is equally as astounding. Take a nature walk through the ancient forests and see if you can spot some of the fascinating wildlife – keep an eye out for the beautiful Magellanic woodpecker’s bright red head! If you want to see more animals, head to the penguin reserve at Chiloé or to the fjords to see if you can spot some dolphins! Learn more about the local cultures here too by spending time with a local indigenous community to learn about their ancient practices and share some traditional food or head to one of the breweries established by German immigrants. 


Whether you’re a family of skiers or the young ones are just starting out, where better to go out than the Andes? Try the slopes of one of the best ski resorts in Latin America and learn all the skills with some ski and snowboard lessons at a top-rated ski school. Finish the day with apres activities including indoor sports, kids theater, swimming, and a pisco sour for the adults!

When and where to see Chile’s wildlife

Chile is home to an abundance of wildlife and a lot of travelers visit this corner of the world to spend some time trying to catch a glimpse of the whales, dolphins, penguins, birds and land animals that live here. If you’re thinking of joining them, make sure you know when and where to see them! And for your best chance of spotting something, be sure to go with a guide to make the most of their expert knowledge and to ensure the best respect and protection for the animals and local environment.


Due to Chile’s unique geography and long coastline, it’s a great place to go whale watching! Blue, gray, and humpback whales migrate along the Chilean coast to the warmer waters near the equator during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter to have their babies. But as they return south for the summer, they are commonly spotted even from the shoreline between December and March. There are often sightings of whales in Chile in the areas of La Serena, Chiloé, and Tierra del Fuego, but we think the fjords near Punta Arenas is the place to go to see these sea giants!

Whales aren’t the only magnificent creature you can find in the Chilean coastal waters. Keep an eye out for the Chilean dolphin too! They are often found closer to the land in the magnificent fjords, bays, and estuaries of the coast, but our favourite way to see them is by taking a boat trip on the Strait of Magellan and the channels of Tierra del Fuego.

Not many people know this, but you can actually see sea turtles on Easter Island! They have played an important role in local Rapa Nui culture and are frequently represented in their art, mythology, symbolism, popular traditions, and rituals. So if you’re taking a dip in the sea, don’t be surprised if you see a turtle sharing the beach with you!


One of the easiest birds to find in Chile is the penguin as it’s home to Humboldt, Magellanic, King and Gentoo penguins!

No matter when you come, King Penguins stay in Tierra del Fuego all year round. The Magdalena penguins, on the other hand, migrate seasonally. Male Magdalena penguins arrive in Magallanes in late September to early October to build nests, and the females come around a month or two later to lay their eggs. You can see them in their colonies until around March when they leave for the winter.

Humboldt penguins live along the Chilean coast and up to Peru. These penguins don’t fully migrate – some stay at the breeding colonies all year – but their numbers definitely reduce in the winter as they travel in search of food. The good news is that you can take a day trip to visit those breeding areas at the National Humboldt Reserve off the coast of La Serena, or find them in Chiloé or near Valparaíso where you can be sure to catch a sight!

If you’re very lucky, you may be able to see rockhopper or macaroni penguins too, especially in Chile’s southern archipelago. However, their breeding sites are much more difficult to reach. You can cruise out to the Falkland and South Georgia islands to improve your chances!

Beside penguins, there are a lot more birds to see in Chile! Some birds live here all year round and you can find them throughout the country including many birds of prey like the Chilean eagle (also known as the black-chested buzzard-eagle), the chimango caracara, and the American kestrel to name a few. For the keenest birdwatchers with the torrent duck on their list, you’ll need to head to the Andes mountains anywhere from the north of Chile to Tierra del Fuego, where you can watch these striking birds live amongst the fast-flowing rivers year-round. You can also find more colourful birds including ten species of hummingbirds found in various parts of Chile, various species of ibis, and the stunning red headed Magallanic woodpecker in the south.

Also in the south of Chile, keep your eyes peeled for some incredible seabirds, including the Southern Giant Petrel in Tierra del Fuego or head on a cruise to South Georgia to see albatrosses, including the gray-headed and endangered black-browed albatross. These beautiful sea birds nest between late October and early May, which is when you’ll have the best chance to see them.

Land animals

Land mammals in Chile generally don’t hibernate, so you can find them all year round. That said, some like the puma, are more easily found in the wilderness of Patagonia in the winter as they avoid the summer sun and winds. Keep an eye out in Patagonia for guanacos, the Patagonian mara, the South Andean deer, South American gray fox, viscacha, and even a big hairy armadillo!

You may see a kodkod too in Patagonia, too. Known as a guiña to the locals, a kodkod is the smallest wild cat in the Americas found almost exclusively in southern Chile’s dense scrub habitats like the Torres del Paine national park as well as its luscious, dense native forests, where you can find the smallest deer on Earth, the pudu.