If you already in Patagonia and plan to hike either O Circuit / W Trek, or you want to experience Patagonia in a different way, you might want to kayak Torres Del Paine. Kayaking in Patagonia is a really popular activity, once second to the W Trek.
If you haven’t read my comprehensive guide to Torres Del Paine Trekking, check it now.
So, is it worth it to Kayak Torres Del Paine ? If money is not a constraint, it’s a great way to see the park. For budget travelers, spending a couple of hundred dollars on a half-day kayaking trip can be out of scope.
What is it like to Kayak Torres Del Paine?
Kayaking in Torres Del Paine offers rare opportunities to explore some of the remote corners of the National Park, that nobody can hike to. It’s certainly a great way to admire the dramatic fjords and waterways, paddle around the icebergs, explore the remote Serrano Glacier and Serrano Lagoon.
On the way to Torres Del Paine, most tourists completely ignore it’s neighbor Bernardo oHiggins National Park. Well, there is a reason for it. It’s not easily accessible. However, if you take one of the kayaking trips that span across multiple days, visiting Bernardo oHiggins National Park is certainly a viable option.
You will be kayaking next to towering glaciers, ending the days at wilderness campsites in the pristine forest are, falling alseep to the sound of roaring rivers.
Who can Kayak in Torres Del Paine ?
Simple answer to this question is pretty much anybody can. Kayaking trips run from half-day to kayak lago grey to multi-day trips that include glacier grey.
The trips also accommodate various skill levels and offer tandem boats. So, if you have never kayaked before but you want to kayak among the grey glacier, there are beginner friendly trips that are offered.
Can I combine Kayaking with hiking and other activities ?
Most certainly yes. This is one of the common ways indeed.
Here are some ways this can be achieved:
- Part of O circuit or W trek, while you are at Refugio Grey area, take a break from hiking and explore the glaciers by Kayak.
- Before starting the hike or after finishing the hikes is another option.
- Have the Hotel Lago Grey drop you at Refugio Grey by boat, finish your kayaking trip and start the W trek from Grey glacier. I have discussed this itinerary of starting the Torres Del Paine W trek from Refugio Grey in my guide to W Trek.
- Or take an organized tour that covers hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking and kayaking.
There are plenty of options to suit everyone’s need.
Can I Kayak in Patagonia if I don’t know how to swim ?
As I mentioned earlier, there are kayaking options in Patagonia for all levels. However, if you are wanting to go on multi-day kayaking in Patagonia, it is safe to say that you need to know swimming.
Patagonia weather and wind can be unforgiving. And if you are not experienced or panic if the boat capsizes, it is not a pleasant experience. I would recommend practicing kayaking and swimming at your home country before heading out on multi-day trip in Patagonia.
How fit do I need to be do Kayak in Patagonia ?
You start kayaking on a beautiful warm day and it feels smooth and you can see that glacier grey in far distance. But, suddenly in few mins the weather changes and you are paddling against the strong winds, or you are asked to turn around. This is everyday in Patagonia kayaking. So, a good fitness level to kayak against the wind occasionally is a good idea, before signing up.
What do I need to pack for kayaking in Patagonia ?
For day trippers as well as multi-day kayakers.
- Sun glass
- Sun screen
- Water bottle
- Camera with waterproof cover or waterproof sack
Kayaking in patagonia packing list:
- Head lamp
- Synthetic quick drying long sleeve shirt & long pants
- Smart wool or synthetic socks
- Polar fleece or synthetic jacket
- Waterproof jacket and pants
- Pair trail shoes
- Polar gloves
- An extra change of underwear
- Insect repellent
- Sleeping bag
There are other things needed for kayaking but all of these are usually included in the trip cost. You don’t have to take any of these with you.
- Waterproof boots
- Kayak gloves
- Kayak skirt
- Kayak vest
- Life vest
- Kayak and Paddles
All kayaking tour operators will also arrange for meals and snacks if its more than half day trip.
Get Travel Adventure Insurance
If you are going on adventures like kayaking and trekking in Torres Del Paine, I can’t insist on how important it is to get any emergency situation covered. God forbid, if something happens in such remote places, it’s going to get really expensive to get moved to a nearby hospital or medical service which will be couple of hours away.
A good travel adventure insurance will have such expenses covered. I am a big fan of World Nomads, I have used their service in all my adventure trips.
Why buy travel insurance from World Nomads.com?
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What are Kayaking routes in Torres Del Paine ?
- Kayak glacier grey lago
- Serrano river
- Puerto Toro of Bernardo O’Higgins National Park
- lagoon of the Serrano glacier
Checkout the classic routes below by swoop-patagonia.com
How much does it cost to Kayak in Torres Del Paine ?
It ranges from $200 to over $3000, depending on how many days of kayaking trip you chose. Learn more about the prices from the respective tour operators as they change the prices based on the demand.
Where do the Kayak trips in Patagonia start from ?
Most of the multi-day kayaking trips actually start from Puerto Natales itself. The tour companies will pick you up from your hotel in Puerto Natales and bring you back to the same place.
However, for the half day trips, either the Hotel Lago Grey or Refugio Grey are the usual starting points.
How many days do I need to Kayak in Torres Del Paine ?
The longest tour I have seen advertised is 6-days. So, thats an option. However, there are tours that range from 1-2 hours to 6 days. The choice is yours.
If you ask my personal opinion, since I did it part of a O circuit trek, a half-day trip was plenty for me to get closer to Glacier grey on the kayak.
Tour Operators for Kayaking trips in Torres Del Paine ?
There are at least 100 tour operators you can find in Puerto Natales that can arrange the Kayaking trip for you. My recommendation is to talk to your hotel / hostel guys and get their recommendation.
- Use TripAdvisor to get reviews on the specific tour operator
- Reach out to the tour operator to get more details and price shop
- Keep safety first in mind. A few bucks here and there is not worth it at the cost of safety.
- Find out about the group size by the tour operator and the number of guides to tourists ratio.
- Pick the one you feel most comfortable with.
Here are my recommendations for tour operators.
When is the right time to kayak Torres Del Paine ?
Summer is the best time to explore Patagonia by kayak. However, during the winter season of May to September, you can still Kayak to enjoy the snow covered National Park.
Can you Kayak Torres Del Paine with kids ?
Short answer is NO. There is a minimum age requirement due to the nature of the park. 14+ for most day trips and 18+ for multi-day trips.
How to manage expectations while kayaking in Torres Del Paine ?
- Plans can change dramatically
- Weather can change without any warning
- You may never kayak through the glacier caves as advertised due to poor weather conditions
- Multi-day kayaking trips are guaranteed to be physically demanding
- River paddling will sometimes be against the current making it really hard and perhaps unpleasant for some
Given the warnings above, it’s better to be mentally prepared and be flexible mentally. The views at Patagonia are guaranteed to be spectacular. However, what you will see on a given day or a trip is left to the weather Gods.
A tripadvisor review by Jessica T
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