Kayaking in Patagonia

Posted by on January 18th, 2013

Many of our travelers head to Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina, with the desireP1030170 of seeing the park’s namesake: glaciers. The Perito Moreno Glacier is famous for its incredible rate of movement (up to 2 meters per day) and the fact that you can hike on it and gaze into its eerie blue depths. For another intimate encounter with stunning chunks of ice I recommend putting kayaking on your itinerary. Estancia Cristina has recently begun offering kayaking on the Upsala Arm of Lake Argentino. The excursion begins with a slow, scenic boat ride of about 2.5 hours to reach a calm part of the lake where conditions are favorable to kayaking. During the boat ride the guides take advantage of the time by educating passengers about glaciers, their movement, and the formation of icebergs. The time is also spent on the long and very necessary process of putting on a dry suit. A dry suit, like a wet suit, is designed to maintain your body temperature while in cold water; however, the aptly named dry suit is desP1030167igned so that if you fall into the water your body will stay completely dry except for your head and hands which are outside of the vice-like grip of the dry suit sleeves and neck hole. Putting on a dry suit is serious business. It took us close to an hour to watch the demonstration of how to put them on, to collect the various pieces of the suit, and then to squeeze ourselves into them. My fellow kayakers and I could not stop laughing as we took countless photos of each other in our highly technical but very unfashionable get-ups. Once we landed at a protected inlet of the lake our instructors gave us a thorough demonstration on how to paddle and maneuver the two-person sea kayaks. All the preparation and effort was well worth it when we pushed off into the perfectly still, icy lake and quietly glided by our first iceberg. Cruising up Lake Argentino we passed many beautiful bergs, yet there is nothing like looking up at a massive iceberg from the perspective of the surface of the water. Our guides paddled around us playfully like river otters, instructing and encouraging us as we awkwardly made our first attempts at maneuvering through the narrow, labyrinthal space between the bergs. There were moments when my kayaking partner and I miscommunicated and bumped into the side of an iceberg. If we were going fast enough this would have tipped us over but happily no one went for a swim that day. We spent around 2 hours in the kayaks, paddling around the serene inlet, gazing at the awesome spectacle of glacial ice inches away from us. If the weather is calm, which is never a guarantee in Patagonia, I would rate the physical challenge of this excursion as moderate. However, if the weather changes, which happened our last 30 minutes in the kayak, the power of the famous Patagonian wind will require you to use your upper body strength and stamina. If you are up for a little adventure and exercise and are looking for a unique way to appreciate the gorgeous icebergs of Southern Patagonia, consider adding the Estancia Cristina Kayaking excursion to your itinerary.

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