Itinerary for Patagonia Packraft Expedition
Day 1 – Arrival in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
Welcome to Patagonia!
Arrive in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina. You’ll likely be coming from a stopover* in Buenos Aires.
*Note: the shuttle between airports in Buenos Aires can take 5 hours, so most people plan for a night or more to explore the city.
One of your guides will greet you at the Bariloche airport. We’ll drive you to the hotel, Las Marianas Hosteria, right in the centre of town.
You’re on your own today to explore town and go out for dinner—we’ll point you in the direction of some amazing restaurants (or chocolate shops!)
Day 2 – Packraft and Whitewater training
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll meet up for introductions and go over the plan.
Next, we’ll load up the vehicles and depart for El Bolsón and our accommodations for the night (120 km drive.) We lodge at a cozy lodge near the Azul River.
When we get to the river, training begins. This day is about getting comfortable in whitewater: in and out of your boat.
At this point, you’ll be introduced to the full guide team. Depending on your group size, you’ll have 2 or 3 professional river leaders with you throughout the trip. They’re whitewater experts with years of guiding experience in Argentina and around the world. They love the water and enjoy teaching people of all skill levels. They’ll be looking forward to helping you get confident in your boat.
We’ll paddle a fun and beautiful section of class II (on a scale of 1 to 6) whitewater on the Azul. You’ll learn how to:
- Read whitewater and pick routes through rapids
- Work with the water to steer your packraft in the river—and get where you want to go
- Swim safely in moving water
- Safely walk across shallow sections alone and as a team
- Flip your packraft and climb back in
- Communicate on the river
- Catch rescue throw bags
- Surf waves!
- And more…
Back at the lodge, we’ll have all the gear laid out and help you pack up for tomorrow’s departure. This evening you’ll pack up for the river:
- Load your backpack
- Pack food and equipment (we’ll have it all laid out so it’s easy)
- Test out our water filters and backpacking stoves
- Set-up your Hennessey Hammock or tent
Enjoy an amazing meal at the lodge—the expedition begins tomorrow
Day 3 – Hiking and Paddling across the border to Chile
Don’t forget your passport! After an early breakfast, we’ll depart for the short drive to Lago Puelo National Park. From the shores of the Lago (lake) Puelo, we’ll start paddling or hiking, depending on the wind conditions.*
*Throughout the trip, we‘ll adjust our plans for big lake crossings based on the wind. Luckily, if we have a strong headwind, there are great hiking trails around all the lakes. With a strong tailwind: we can lash our boats together and rig a sail!
We’ll pull over for snacks, lunch, and photo ops: this is the land of turquoise water and snow capped mountains.
We arrive at the border crossing to leave Argentina (Gendarmeria) and fill out our exit paperwork. These have to be some of the most charming little border crossings in the world—they won’t blink at the sight of us in our paddling gear 🙂
From there we continue via “no man’s land” either hiking or paddling the lake another 4km and a short section of whitewater, which connects Lago Puelo to Lago Inferior.
We continue by paddling Lago Inferior for 9km to reach the Chilean border crossing (Carabineros). After completing our paperwork for entering Chile we will backtrack slightly to stay at Nadine & Fernando’s cabana. They live in between the border crossings and will provide us with a well-deserved home cooked meal!
Day 4 – Whitewater Rapids, Hiking & a Night in the Wilderness
After breakfast with our hosts, we’ll hit the water, paddling another 3km down the lake before we reach the mouth of the Rio Puelo! You’ll enjoy paddling an awesome 8km stretch of continuous class II rapids.
We’ll arrive at a deep and steep class V gorge. This wouldn’t be a fun or smart place to try and paddle. We’ll take to the trails, hiking along the canyon through the Valdivean forest with occasional views of the canyon rapids.
It’s expedition camping tonight. We’ll set up camp toward the end of the canyon. Gather round the fire and settle in for a night in the wilderness.
Day 5 – Whitewater Rapids and Paisano Hospitality
We’ll have breakfast at our campsite before starting onto paddling a beautiful section of the Rio Puelo.
We stop at the home of Don Dario and his family for a traditional, Chilean lunch.
The river this afternoon is awesome with spectacular scenery and some of the best rapids you’ll paddle on the whole trip.
After another great day on the water, we’ll arrive at Don Chindo’s house, where we’ll camp for the night.
Day 6 – Lago Las Rocas and return to Argentina
After breakfast at Don Chindo’s, we jump on a local bus for a quick shuttle to the Lago Las Rocas trailhead.
After a short hike we’ll reach the lake where we paddle back to the carabineros Chilean border crossing. This is yet another gorgeous lake.
With our passports back in hand, we continue the trek onto the Argentinean border crossing.
Gathering around the fire, we’ll enjoy our last night of camping together; reminiscing about the journey, and enjoying the simple life: food, fresh air, camaraderie, and wilderness adventure.
Day 7 – Paddle Lago Puelo, return to Bariloche, farewell dinner
After breakfast at camp, we’ll put back onto to the now familiar waters of Lago Puelo and we’ll re-enter Lago Puelo National Park, enjoying our last paddle across this beautiful lake.
We arrive back at the eastern shore with high fives and mixed feelings: mission accomplished on an incredible journey, fond memories of the characters we met and the beautiful countryside we experienced along the way, but certainly some ambivalence about leaving it behind.
It’s always a bit of a culture shock to get back in a vehicle and drive through towns. We ease back into ‘civilization’ with lunch in El Bolson (the market here is a great place for souvenirs!) followed by a beautiful 2 hour drive back to Bariloche.
We’ll make it to the hotel with plenty of time for showers and cleaning up gear before our final farewell dinner at a great restaurant.
Day 8 – Departure and flights home
This morning, breakfast is at the hotel. Depending on your flight schedule, you may have time for a final stroll around town. Then we’ll drive you to the airport to see you off.
If you’d like to stay for a few more nights in Bariloche, let us know and we can make those arrangements. If you’d like to stay forever—you’re not alone 🙂