Patagonia By Kayak – A Photo Essay

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Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

When we set our sights on Patagonia In November 2009, we decided that we wanted to explore this popular destination in a unique way. While Patagonia is well known for it’s incredible hiking trails, we love to be on the water, and thus were excited to board kayaks for a three day excursion on the Rio Serrano.

The Serrano river winds it way through Bernard O’Higgins National Park, just south of the famous Torres Del Paine Park. It provided us with breathtaking views of mountain peaks and numerous glaciers.

Patagonia is known for poor weather in the spring, and we embarked on our trip by kayaking head first into a snow storm. Throughout our three days, there was quite a bit of cloud and it was awfully cold. The active rivers also provided us with a few challenges as while we are somewhat experienced in kayaking, it has mainly been on calm lakes.

It was beautiful, it was thrilling, and despite the cold, our three days on the river was a definite highlight of our South American journey.


view of the Tyndall glacier

Our first camp, with a view of the Tyndall glacier. The sun shone a little spotlight on it.

so calm

Day 2 had little wind and the kayaks were the only objects making ripples in the water

Pete in front of the mountain

Pete drifting along enjoying the scenery

Drifting along

Dalene and the guides taking in the magnificent views

Serrano Glacier

In front of the magnificent Serrano Glacier. No we are not about to practice our roll techniques.

Pete in front of an iceberg

We were able to paddle up next to the mini-bergs that the glacier fed into the lake.
And later we were served pisco sours over some ice we collected.

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  1. WOW.. just amazing. I lived in Argentina for 5 months when I was in college but didn’t make it down to Patagonia. So SO So SO So SO regret it haha. But its just another reason for me to go back!!! 🙂
    That looks like an amazzzing adventure!!! 🙂
    That’s what life is all about…exploring 🙂

    1. Thanks Lauren! It is a very incredible corner of the world – you must return for it! Hopefully not when it’s snowy though… 🙂

    1. Thanks Justin! We would have liked to be there when it was not so wintery as well! 🙂 It is really an amazing place, we’ll be putting up pictures of the famous Torres Del Paine soon, which is right nearby and another incredible spot. That whole region is worth a good long visit!

  2. Patagonia always makes me think about the hiking trails they have over there, but it looks like its a great place to go kayaking as well 🙂 Must be amazing getting so close to the glaciers on the water.

    1. For sure, it really was quite amazing to get that close to the glaciers. We did quite a bit of hiking in Patagonia as well, but the kayaking was definitely a highlight! Thanks for stopping by. Cheers!

    1. Yes, it was pretty intense being that close to the glacier, that day we were next to Serrano the winds would pick up and blow us all around, which made it pretty difficult to get super close, but we managed. Kayaking is one of those things we picked up a couple years ago and absolutely love it. Wherever (if) we settle there will surely be 2 kayaks nearby. Cheers!

  3. stunning glacier photos. thanks for sharing! mama tungurahua’s glacier is reforming with each rain, but she’s been spewing wisps of steam out the other side for the past few days…local lore says she’ll erupt again for Carnival!

    1. Hey Sam, thanks for stopping by and your comment. It was pretty cool being right next to these. It was a little chilly, but nothing too bad for these Canadians 😉 Cheers!

  4. Patagonia is a great part of the world and your kayak adventure looks like a great experience. I visited this part of the world many years ago, and from memory there weren’t such tours available at the time, which is a shame as I would have given the kayaking trip a go. Getting out in the wild in a place such gives your visit alot more meaning than taking a few photos and getting back on a bus.

    1. Totally agree Jason – and we knew we wanted to see this part of the world in a unique way. As we were getting into the busy summer season, we didn’t want to just be in a big line of hikers, we had almost the whole park to ourselves it seemed.

  5. Oh, I love kayaking…. but I’ve never had the opportunity to do so next to glaciers! I certainly hope you didn’t have any reason to roll in that water – I imagine it was quite chilly. 🙂 The photos are awesome and have a really nice vibe to them; what kind of camera did you bring with you?

    1. Dalene almost had a “roll” incident that was unexpected when she got caught in a whirlpool, but her super skillz got her out of the situation. And yes the water was freezing, so thankfully she stayed upright. For the camera we were using a Canon PowerShot SX10IS, nothing fancy. To get the filter, just some CS3 tricks. Thanks for the comment on them.

  6. These photos are stunning! We’re going to be in Patagonia this November and we’re trying to work out what to do while we’re there. This has definitely just jumped to the top of the list!

    1. It was a definite highlight of our trip around South America (albeit a bit pricey). But, that whole region is expensive. We loved that we were able to explore the area without walking on the heels of the backpackers in front of us – we barely saw another soul and had it almost all to ourselves. Worth every penny. 🙂

  7. Wow – and I thought hiking through a snowstorm was tough! Wish we had more time and better weather to explore more parks in Patagonia!

    1. Hiking in snow can be just as challenging! I want to get down there again when the weather is a little better too, there’s still lots of the park that we’d love to explore.

    1. Very true. We can’t wait to get to NZ and do some serious kayaking there. We try and paddle every place we go.

    1. yes, very delicious and refreshing. Especially with pisco poured over. It’s early in the morning, but now I’m craving a pisco sour. It’s noon somewhere right?

    1. Thanks Candice! We love being out on the water and still on our to-do is kayaking in NF. Last time we were down there we tried but both companies we called to rent the kayaks did not even answer their phones, bums.

    1. We are not much of cold people either, but this excursion we couldn’t resist. Kayaks and glaciers, it was a great combo and apart from the first couple hours of a sideways snowstorm, it was purely awesome.

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