Pucón in Southern Chile has become a world-renowned kayak hotspot, with enthusiasts of the sport traveling from across the globe to experience the area’s unparalleled whitewater and natural beauty.
But Pucón’s rivers aren’t just for the pros. The latest trend to hit this region’s waters is Stand Up Paddle Boarding – or SUP Boarding to the kayaking community – an exciting and accessible way to take advantage of this area’s beautiful rivers without any prior kayaking experience.
About the sport
SUP Boards are shaped like long, flat surfboards. Riders stand on the center of their board facing forward, propelling and steering the board with a long paddle.
SUP Boarding stands apart from other kayaking varieties for its fast learning curve. While the feeling of balancing on water is initially disorienting, the skill can be mastered within 30 minutes of practice, and riders can hit the river on the spot. This lies in stark contrast to learning to whitewater kayak, which can often require a few days of rolling technique practice.
Navigating rivers by SUP Board also offers especially panoramic scenery views since the paddler stands at full height. It’s a sport that also provides a great core workout – and you can even practice yoga poses on your board while floating down the river.
SUP Boarding around Pucón
The Río Toltén, which originates in Lago Villarica, is an exceptional SUP Board route thanks to its unforgettable scenery and exciting mini-rapids. The snowcapped peak of the Volcán Villarica remains in view nearly the entire two hour trip, and the Toltén’s rapids offer the perfect taste of adventure for adrenaline junkies and non-athletes alike. In January and February when this region’s temperatures rise, there’s nothing better than a cool and refreshing trip down the Toltén.
SUP Boarding is a growing sport in Pucón and multiple kayaking companies in the area are now offering guided trips and rentals. For a great Toltén tour that includes SUP Boards, wetsuits, transportation, and a knowledgeable guide, contact the Pucón Kayak Hostel at David@PuconKayakHostel.com or check out their website. The half-day trip costs USD$63 (CLP$30,000).