After competing in the Whitewater Grand Prix, Team NRS paddler Nicole Mansfield stayed on in Chile to make the most of the incredible whitewater there. Enjoy these photos and memories from her trip.
As far as kayaking destinations go, Chile is trending right now. Chile’s status as a whitewater hot spot is well deserved, as it’s relatively easy to coordinate logistics, and it offers big rewards. Pucon features the quintessential clean waterfalls. Futalefeu has the beautiful big water. Everywhere in between and beyond has more clean waterfalls, big water, boulder gardens and all those other things we kayakers crave. I found some siphons, wood-choked zones and dirty waterfalls, so it’s not some unrealistic fantasy zone, but it is damn worthy.
Spending two and a half months from mid-November to the end of January in Chile, I experienced all sorts of extremes. I was miserably cold throwing snow balls, and then I was hiding from the sun with a ridiculous leg burn. There were parties until the sun came up and mellow nights camping waiting for the sun to set so it seemed acceptable to fall asleep.
There were times in the Pucon hot spot where coordinating kayaking plans was a huge task given the overwhelming number of paddlers, and the ultimate group was an unwieldy, uncountable number. Conversely, outside of Pucon, we found ourselves without any kayakers around, struggling with shuttle.
In short, Chile was incredible. I tried to speak Spanish, ate lots of cheap avocados, drank plenty of Pisco, boofed, plugged, smashed into waves, and spent a lot of money on gas and tires for the rental car.