General Information on Altue's Sea Kayaking in Chile

 
 
 
Guides
Guides are the heart of any successful expedition. Altue has the best in the business, with years of experience guiding adventure travel groups. They know just what it takes to make this the most wonderful time of your life, and how to communicate to you their enthusiasm and zest. The leader is well acquainted with the natives -not only the flora and fauna, but also the people along the way- and is thoroughly versed in the lore and history of the area. We operate our trips with one guide for every five participiants.
 
Location
The Gulf of Ancud is a relatively small body of water lying between Chiloé Island and the continent in southern Chile, at approximately 42°15"S, 73°W. This area constitutes the northern-most part of Chilean Patagonia. The fjords are on the continental side of the gulf, behind the Huequi Peninsula, while the islands we visit cluster along the eastern margin of Chiloé.
 
Getting There
All of our trips start and end in the city of Puerto Montt/Puerto Varas. The best way to get there is by domestic flight from Santiago (1,45 hrs) with 4 times daily frequency with Lan Chile airline. Another option is an overnight bus from Santiago to the Bus Terminal of Puerto Montt (12 hrs), with many long-distance bus companies based in Santiago.

 
Weather
The climate is similar to that of the northern Puget Sound in Washington State. The summer months of January and February (equivalent to July and August in the U.S.) are generally very pleasant, though rain can be expected at any time. Temperatures vary greatly according to the weather, with daytime highs ranging from the 50s F to the 80s F, and overnight lows in the 40s F or 50s F. The water temperature of the sea have a media of 50º F during the summer season.
 
Experience and Fitness
This is an adventure primarily of natural beauty and unique culture. The trip is not especially rigorous, and requires no prior experience with kayaks. There are no poisonous snakes, insects or plants, and no dangerous wild animals. Nonetheless, as with any outdoor activity far from cities, there is always an unavoidable element of risk. Also, we may encounter variable weather and tidal conditions that will require modifications to the itinerary.
 
Group Size
Normally, the group is limited to 10 guests. However, if you wish to bring your own kayak, take turns paddling with another member of your own party, or ride the support boat full time, the number can be increased. To operate our trips, we must have minimum of four people signed up 45 days in advance of the scheduled departure date.
 
Food and Drink
On out longer trips, our cook conjures up a variety of mouth-watering dishes in the support boat's miniature galley. In the trips on Archipelagic Chiloe we will delight our palate with the famous "curanto clambake" (over 8 participants), the most typical dish in southern Chile and always being surprised by delicius typical meals in different cozy family houses.
 
An old Chilean adage reminds us, "don't rust your pipes with water, my friend, there's red wine to quench your thirst!" We fully believe that neither lunch nor dinner -and as far as that goes, breakfast too, if you really insist- is complete without a good glass of wine. For those who don't agree, we provide juice, coffee, tea, herbal tea and -if you're not worried about rusty plumbing- filtered water. You may acquire other beverages at your own expense before departure the first day.
 
Note: If you have special dietary requirements, please let us know ahead of time.
 
Accomodations
In the first part of the trip in Puerto Varas we will be lodging  in “The Guest House” Hotel 3*, 2 nights.
This National Monument building is also known as “Casa Kortman”, builded in 1926 with a truly German style.
During the 6-day Andean Fjords sea kayaking trip, guests will be sleeping in tents provided by Altue, based on double occupancy; in the event of severe weather or personal preference, bunk-style lodging is also available on the support boat.

 
Kayaks
Altue will supplies two-person fiberglass sea kayaks of the Northwest Seascape 2 type, which have a rudder and compartments for gear and are designed specially for touring. These craft are surprisingly stable. While it is possible to tip them over, it won't happen unless you make a really bad move like trying to grab for a dolphin if one should swim alongside. Altue also furnishes you with at two-bladed paddle, spray skirt, life jacket, and safety devices such as a water pump, paddle leash and paddle float. If you have your own kayak and want to bring it along, you're welcome to do so.
 
Personal Gear and Clothing
 
Sleeping Bag
You must provide your own sleeping bag. While Arctic expedition weight is not necessary, the specific type of bag will depend on your own sleeping habits. Just remember one thing: this is a fairly damp climate, and humidity accents the nighttime chill. By all means bring a foam sleeping pad or air mattress. (not necessary on the 5 day trip).
 
Camp Clothing
You will want something comfortable to change into at the end of a long day's paddling, especially if you get wet in the kayak. Your best bet is artificial-fiber clothing that dries fast and keeps you warm even if wet. Jeans and a cotton tee-shirt will be fine for hot afternoons, but they may dry slowly and will chill you while they're damp. You may wish to bring swimming trunks for the hot springs. Be aware that you may not have the chance to wash anything out. But don't burden yourself with too many changes of clothing. Grin and bear it, and you'll have more fun.
 
Don't neglect your shoes. Water-sports sandals are good for all-round use, and you can always add a pair of thick socks for warmth. If you prefer something sturdier for climbing around brush-covered hillsides, a pair of light hiking boots is an excellent choice as are rubber boots for mud and rain.
 
Be sure to bring along a raincoat, poncho, or rain suit. We hope it won't rain, but you should come prepared.
 
What should the well-dressed sea kayaker wear?
 
This is a complicated question to which there is no clear answer. The basic problem is that the air temperature may be quite warm, while the seawater in the fjord is cold. If you prepare yourself for a sunny day, a spill from your kayak is liable to chill you to the bone before you can be fished out of the water. If you prepare yourself for the water, you may well find yourself melting into a puddle in the bottom of your kayak. And then, of course, what do you do if it rains?
 
  • A good compromise for all conditions -and one that is relatively economical- is a "Farmer Bill"-type wetsuit without sleeves but with long legs, which will protect you reasonably well from severe chill if you fall into the fjord. If the day is warm, you can splash water on yourself to cool off (the spray skirt will keep it out of the kayak). Use waterproof sun block or a long-sleeved polyester shirt to keep the sun off your arms. If the day is cool, put on an acrylic or polypropylene jacket under your life vest. It may not stay dry, but it will help keep you warm, and the life vest acts as a partial windbreaker. If the weather turns nasty, you may wish to add a layer of rain gear.
  • Another possibility is a full wetsuit. It is more expensive that the other type, does not allow for ventilation under the arms, but will be considerably better in the water (don't forget, though, that the idea is not to be in the water at all, unless you're in a hot spring). Additional layers of clothing can also be put on over this wetsuit.
  • A third choice is a dry suit. This is the most expensive alternative and may be very uncomfortable in the warm sun.
  • The most economical choice of all is simply multiple layers of clothing that you can add or subtract as necessary. While you're in your kayak, this works fine. If you tip over, you'll chill rapidly and will want to get back aboard as quickly as possible.
 
Proper head gear is another important item. The first consideration is the sun. You may want to use a billed cap, with a bandanna fastened around the sides and back to protect your ears and neck. If the cap and bandanna are water resistant, they will keep rain from running down your neck. A wide-brimmed hat is another good choice. Just be sure it has a chin strap, as lunging for a flying hat is almost guaranteed to land you in the drink. Bring along a good pair of sunglasses, which should also have a strap.
 
For footwear, use a pair of water-sports sandals, windsurf booties, or light sneakers. When you beach your kayak on a shallow sandbar, you should expect to get your feet wet. They probably won't get cold while you're paddling, since they'll be protected below the deck.
 
A pair of windsurf gloves is a good investment, both to avoid blisters while paddling and to help keep your hands warm. Special kayaking mitts are also available.
 
Although we make references to falling in the water, it has yet to happen in the seven years we have operated. 
 
Other Personal Gear
  • Day pack 
  • Hat, sun block, suntan lotion, and lip protector 
  • Insect repellent 
  • Toilet articles, including soap 
  • Towel 
  • Flashlight, with extra batteries.