Chile sea Kayak trekking trips expedition to San Rafael Glacier Northern Icecup Patagonia with YAK
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Sea kayaking Expedition San Rafael Glacier in the Northern Icefield

kayaking San Rafael Glacier expedition

General Information


We invite to paddle towards Patagonia´s Northern Icefield which extend for hundreds of kilometers along the spine of the Patagonian Andes. With the Southern Icefield , they are the longest contiguous icefield outside of Antartica and Greenland

It will be approximately 14 days in an area where the unexpected will become habitual and the landscapes that we will see could only be described by those who have been there. We will listen to amazing stories of the pioneers of this remote areas, pass by enormous waterfalls, gigantic forests, impressive views of the glaciers and unique flora and fauna until we reach our destination kayaking till San Rafael Glacier in the Northern Icefield of Chile.

 General Information

The climate is humid, with an average annual  temperature of 8º C and precipitations that reach 5,000 mm annually in the highest regions. In the apt areas, the vegetation presents a dense covering of trees, bushes and herbs , highlighted amongst these are: the Chilco Flower or Fuchsiaand the immense ferns. Cypresses, Cinnamon Tree, Lengas and millennium old Alerce.

The bird fauna is abundant and varied, there are just as many sea birds as land birds. The situation is not quite the same for the fish, there development is limited due to the low temperature of the waters.  The harsh climate also affects the mammals which are in small abundance; among them are the fox, huemul (deers), the Chilean mountain goat, the beaver and sea lions. 

Driving to the put-in

Old cementery in the road ..

San Valentin Mountain

210 feet of ice walls..and more


** V I D E O

click here

positive and intermediate paddlers + experienced campers


, Aysen Region

Duration 14 days aprox.
Time of Year

November / early December / April


Please Ask

Trip Details
Begin/Ends in Coyhaique (XI Region).

Number of participants 5 persons
Lodging 2 nights in cabana in Coyhaique , 2 nights local family guesthouse or cabin close to General Carrera Lake but mainly camping in remote locations.
Itinerary check below

Climate Weather in the zone
Photography Opportunities Glaciers, Icebergs, Northern Icefield views , San Valentin Mount, gigantic forests, enormous waterfalls, variety of seabirds, sealions , dolphins and possibility of orcas.

-Scenic driving in Caretera Austral getting closer and closer to the Northern Icefield
-Paddle in front 70 meters ice walls and between icebergs of the Northern Icefield
-paddle in extremely remote areas of Patagonia formed by islands, fjords and channels.
-paddle in between the Marble Cathedrals.
-Magnificent views of the Icefields and virgin rainforest.
-nature hikes discovering amazing views of the glaciers.
- authentic cultural experience with the local people of Patagonia.
-Trekking towards Exploradores Glacier.
-Trekking towards San Rafael Glacier.

Suggested Gear Please Ask
How To Get Here ?

Fly from your country to Chile (Santiago airport), and from there fly to Balmaceda airport with LAN Chile airline or SkyAirlines/ take a transfer (bus at the airport) to the hostal/cabin in Coyhaique city..

*About the Area:

The area in Patagonia, specially around the Icefields is eally very variable and changes extremely fast.

Huge walls of ice that suddenly falls

We can expect many days of rain, sometimes we will be paddling in windy conditions and breaking waves , sometimes probably aprox.1.5mt (4.5 feets) , remote campsites (probably we will have to open camping areas with machetes) , start the days very early, sometimes at night, in order to avoid the winds.

paddling between icebrgsUnderstand that this is an area that rains aprox 5 mt per year so will rain and rain almost every day so we will be wet...but also amazing sunny days (sometimes).

Also consider that if any emergency the evacuation will be extremely slow, no hospitals in the area (please read the conditions section). Few options for camps along the way, and in some places stopping points widely separated in the steep sided fjords. Landing spots for setting campsites are very few and they are very separated ...most of the time bush camping. Exist some long exposed open crossings.

About water tempetrature.. very cold...rivers coming directly from glaciers...The cost is covered with dense vegetation and lots of rocks in the shoreline with the exception of few small beaches.

*About the Route to San Rafael Glaciar :

" ... From the Indians who first explored these channels and islands in dugout canoes this area of the world has always been infamous for its fierce, unpredictable weather and revered for its remoteness and beauty "

We will have to paddle first Rio Exploradores , a flat glaciar river , some few parts with some current (with some trees in our way , depending how was the winter) until reaching the Pacific Ocean , where we will continue south to the glacier paddling a channel oriented north-south. Very few campsites, some exposed to the wind, rocky beaches and lots of forest over the shoreline, some grass beaches that are really swamps. As we paddle we will find places with very strong currents because of the tides to se will have to be very careful to planify the crossings carefully. Total paddling aprox. 200km totally selfsupported.

*About the Participants:

This expedition is designed for active travelers prepared to work, whose rewards will be developed and found into the heart of the wilderness. You'll find your trip even more enjoyable if you remember to bring flexibility and a sense of humor with you

Amazing days too

bring flexibility and a sense of humor with you
Everyone has to be a real active participant in every step of the trip, be ready to paddle some days 5-6 hours (20-30 km/day) , feel confortable paddling in winds of 15 - 25 knots in 1.5 meter (average) breaking an surfing waves.

This is is a self-supported trip (no boat with us) so we will have to travel with the minimum equipment so we can have space inside the kayaks for everything considering the lenght of the trip, and BE MEDICALLY 100% .

Everyone must know and be ready to demonstrate if required different alternatives of self-rescue and assited rescue before the trip starts and also we highly recommend to know how to roll (if someone flips while paddling with waves and in windy conditions, rescue will be very hard and slow).

Also be confident with bracing strokes and very advisible to have a wilderness first aid course.

It´s very important that you come with very good gear for your legs and feet because we will have always to get out of the kayak and also get in the kayak in the water to protect the kayaks from the rocks of the shore.

*Team members should have the mindset that they are responsible for themselves and the other members of the team while on the water, in the backcountry and around camp.

Note: We must state that the success of this type of trips is subject to unexpected weather and personal situations, so adventurous spirit and good disposition will be fundamental.

*About the Trip:

Wind and waves sudenly appears

Please consider that this is an " expedition trip " that although we know the route , the weather is so unpredictable that we have to be adapting to the new conditions frecuently. Becasue of that we have study a lot the area with satellite photos, charts , ask information , send a float plan to the Chilean Navy in advance and have the authorization to do it.

We will have to deal with expedition behaviour and solve situations as a group requiring a lot of teambuilding and positive attitude. It´s extremely required that particpants undertsand that this is a trip where we will have to paddle although is windy , that all the program can be modified or cancelled at any step according to the group safety and that means no refunds.

We are not offering a race and we will "try" to complete the program of this self-supported trip .

Please consider that the trip can be modified in any step of the program, cancell, or just dont arrive to the end if the weather doesnt allow us to continue in a safe way considering the paddlers experience required or if the group is on risk and that means no refunds.

The duration of the trip is aproximate....

*About the Land Section of the trip (Carretera Austral road):

" This part can be also the main highlight of the trip as the scenery while driving is amazing ".
The Carretera Austral road is the only connection in Patagonia and in this area is quite rough and also progress has moved slowly.

Road to the put-in

Our private vehicle will take us from the city of Coyhaique (meeting point) along the Carretera Austral, a 1000-km dirt and gravel road constructed over the course of 20 years, that serves as a link between tiny villages and fishing hamlets once accessible only by ferry or plane. This road winds through a landscape of rolling hills and long grass, over roaring rivers and past emerald lakes backed by snowy peaks and glaciers. After some kilometers , the Carretera Austral traced a path through temperate rainforests to a tiny village tucked away among the channels and fjords of the desolate Patagonia coast.

*About the food:

Will be according to the nature of a self-supported seakayak trip in a variable area where we have to move before the wind appears considering Patagonia environment and the limited space (Breakfast-Trail food- cooked dinner)


DAY 1: At 20:00 hrs meeting in the lodging place (cabaña or hostal) in Coyhaique with the other members of this expedition. Explain trip logistics and dinner (not included).

Day 2: Breakfast and start driving. This part of trip is a super nice scenic driving and some people consider it as one of the highlights of this expedition. In the afternoon , arrive to Puerto Tranquilo, a tiny village located in the shoreline of General Carrera lake , the second biggest lake in South America. Dinner in a local hostería . Nigh in cabaña (cabin or local hostal) / (B-BL-D)

Day 3:
To increase our safety, in the morning , we will have a practice of strokes and rescues in this windy lake paddling to the Catedrales de Mármol Islands (Marble Cathedrals islands), that are marble rocks formations eroded by the wind and water. After a boxlunch , and some hours driving west , we will start our first aproach to the Northern Icefield, hiking uphill to enjoy a wonderful view of Exploradores Glaciar in the distance. Continue driving west till our put in in Rio Exploradores. Campsite and dinner close to the river. (B-BL-D)

Catedrales de Marmol (Marble Cathedrals)

Day 4 - Day 12 - 13 (aprox.) : Sea kayak expediton to San Rafael Glacier in the Nortthern Icefield , first paddling downstream Río Exploradores river till the sea . Spectacular views , remore campsites, trekking to San Rafael Glacier , paddling between icebergs and back to the put-in (B-BL-D)

Day 13/14: Scenic driving in Carretera Austral arriving finally in Coyhaique town. Goodbye Lunch. Night at cabin or hostel in Coyhaique. (B-L)

DAY 15: Extra day just in case weather problems .

The program and itinerary is aproximately and can be modified or cancel at any step according to the weather , group conditions or guide decision , meaning no refunds.
Probably we can do it in less time, but if weather is not safe , we will have to wait till the conditions improve .

  • Guide: Juan Zuazo - Director of YAK EXPEDICIONES , english speaking, certified by the British Canoe Union of England as BCU 4 STAR Sea Award , ACA seakayak Instructor Levcel 4, certified in First Aid as Wilderness First Responder , certified as BCU Rescue and Safety. NOLS Trainning.
  • Land transportation in private van from/to Coyhaique.
  • All food according to the program.
    (B:Breakfast / L: Boxlunch (Trail food) / D: Dinner)
  • 2 nights hostel /cabin in Coyhaique , 1 night local family guesthouse or cabaña in Puerto Tranquilo (rooms always shared with the members of the expedition).
  • Chilean NAVY seakayak navigation authorization
  • San Rafael National Park fees.
  • Navigation Equipment: expedition seakayaks , imported from USA and Germany, with original rudder, spray skirt, paddles and life jackets.
  • Cooking equipment/ Group tarp.
  • Safety Equipment: Satellite telephone, VHF Marine radio, charts, tide tables.
  • Limited insurance once the seakayak trip starts ...but we highly recomend that you bring your own insurance.

  • Swimming knowledge and seakayak and camping experience in remote conditions. Probably and before the trip starts , will be requiered that each participant demonstrate in the sea selfrescue and assited rescue procedures, plus paddling confortable in waves (and surf) in windy conditions. If those techniques are not properly done , the participant will not participate in the trip and no refunds at all .
  • Previous experience in kayaking and camping in cold and rainny climates, plus paddling in windy conditions and surfing waves.
  • EXCELLENT physical state and health compatible with the activity to be performed. 
  • Previous indication of any illness or health problem 
  • Strictly abide by the indications of the guide during the trips 
  • You'll find your trip even more enjoyable if you remember to bring flexibility and a sense of humor with you.
  • Positive attitude if unexpected situations
  • Understand that this is team activity in the outdoors and the participation of each person at each stage is fundamental.  
  • Understand that all activities performed in nature can indicate some risk and also death. 
  • The program could be modified or cancelled at any stage due to weather conditions or sudden incidents that could affect the security of the group. Evacuation from this area is extremely slow.
  • This trip will be developed in an area where the weather conditions changes very fast.
    YAK EXPEDICIONES takes no responsability for any accident or death situation.
  • Before the trip starts you must send the Medical Form and Reservation Form that appears after you press the RESERVATION button , located at the end of this program, and also send signed the Release of Liability Form.
  • To have read and have a clear understanding of the Terms and Conditions section.

  • Extremely slow and very low possibilities to receive any help from outside if we have an emergency = we are allone .For safety reasons we will use at least one double but also single kayaks. 
  • Hospitals and Professional First Aid Care are very far from the place where we will be navigating.
  • You have chosen Patagonia , a place where the weather is unpredicatble, so we can have sun but also rainny days , very relaxing days but also windy if it rains we get wet , smile , and keep enjoying as one of the few lucky persons that had visited this area..
  • Please read our Conditions section about Cancellation,Modification and Evacuation protocols.


AFTER  you press the RESERVATION button, send us an email specifying:
- Your Name , age
- Name of the trip you want  (number of days)
- Number of participants
- Date of the trip you want (and your availability)

* we will send you a Reservation and Medical Forms that you have to send us back by email

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