Important Forms & Checklists
Got questions or need logistics support. To help you plan and make the most of your Chile adventures we’ve prepared checklists, travel tips, and answered every question we could think of.
All About Pucon Kayak Retreat
How far in advance do I need to make a trip reservation?
It n be challenging to find a place to stay in Pucon during peak season. If you are a guest seeking lodging or specific equipment rentals in December, January, or February, we highly recommend you reserve in advance to secure availability. PKH is regularly full during this time and it’s our heaviest rental period for gear. Guests who book in advance can take advantage of special discounts and promotions not available to walk-in customers.
How does airport or bus transfer work?
Each trip has published dates and times for a trip included arrival and departure airport transfer. Due to costs of human and vehicle resources we must charge $US140 for airport transfers outside of the published times. There is also an economical public transfer service we can teach guests how to use. Pucon bus station transfers are gratis.
What amenities does retreat provide and what do I need to bring?
Trip Campers need to bring their own camping supplies, but have access to all retreat and trip amenities. Guests reserving bed accommodations are provided with linens, towels, and pillows. PKR does not stock toiletries such as toothpaste or shampoo, so unless you plan to stop at the local pharmacy or supermarket, it is better to plan to travel with your own.
Can the retreat kitchen accommodate dietary needs?
Retreat meals include a mix of authentic Chilean cuisine and gourmet favorites. An asado – or traditional Chilean barbecue – is featured almost weekly during the peak summer season. With notice we can accommodate a diverse range of dietary needs such as vegan, vegetarian, gluten, allergies, and ingredient intolerances.
Where will I keep my belongings?
Hosteria rooms, dorms, and river suites each have lockable (locks not included) spaces for personal items. Campers we recommend bringing locking devices for your gear. PKR provides kayak racks with chains and a secure gear locker for personal gear storage. We recommend you lock your kayak gear in one of our secure areas.
Are there activities to do besides kayaking?
The retreat is the heart of Chile’s volcano and lakes district with an impressive selection of adventures. Many of our guests opt for multi-adventures to take a day or session off from kayaking. Some favorites include wine tasting, hot springs, cliff jumping lagunas, volcano and national park hikes, exploring Pucón, and much more. Ask us about a multi-adventure plan.
Got recommendations for finding cheap airfare to Chile?
Trips departing on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday often come with a cheaper ticket price. So try various dates if your schedule is flexible but remember to double check the actual trip dates. Most flights into Chile depart your home country at night and arrive to Santiago early the next morning, meaning if your ticket leaves the U.S. on January 1st, you won’t land in Chile until January 2nd. The same concept applies to your return. If your trip ends on February 2nd, that is the day you arrive to your final destination back home – requiring you to depart from Chile on February 1st
Do I need to be able to speak Spanish?
No, but it sure is helpful. Chileans are well known in the Spanish-speaking community for having a very distinct dialect and using a large number of unique slang words and phrases. This can present some challenges for those even with some degree of Spanish fluency from another country. Luckily Chileans are usually muy tranquilo and have proven to be HIGHLY tolerant of foreign tourists and their attempts to learn Spanish. In Pucon and many other high-traffic tourist destinations throughout the country you will find a large number of the population is bilingual, so it’s usually pretty easy to find someone willing to translate should you need help communicating.
Do I need to bring camping supplies?
If you choose to camp for your trip you will need to bring your own camping supplies. Renting equipment is also an option when you register. All-inclusive trips will provide kitchen supplies to campers.
Electricity and converters?
Yes. PKR invested in construction with lots of outlets. We realize travelers love to geek out with videos, editing, and emails. You can purchase outlet adaptors at any hardware store for as little as $1 USD (see ‘Voltage’ for more info). We keep several outlet converters on supply to hand out to guests.
Is there Internet access?
Kind of. The fiber optic Internet line has yet to pass the retreat property. But there are options. Most cafes offer wifi access. As well, international phone plans are now receiving Internet at the retreat.
Will I have access to a washer and dryer or laundry service?
Yes. The retreat has a commercial washer and dryer. We prefer guests save money/energy costs and dry their clothes on the line, but the choice is yours.
Are there DISCOUNTs available?
The honest answer is, maybe and yes depending on how long you want to stay.
Second and Third Week Trip Discounts. Most guests want to make the most of their Chile airfare and explore more. We offer a $US200 DISCOUNT for each additional trip week.
Guest Work Exchange Program. Any regular trip guest that wants to stay longer as a volunteer worker for 21 or more days cumulative may qualify for our guest work exchange program.
Group Organizer Discounts. Got a group of friends, club, or school? Better send us an email.
Refer a Friend Discounts. Got a group of friends, club, or school? Better send us an email.
What is the retreat payment schedule & cancellation policy?
The retreat has adapted payment schedule and policies during the Corona pandemic and travel restrictions. Chiefly, we have a created a no financial obligation registration process to allow guests to research travel and logistics without financial burden. Read our payment schedule and policy here.
All About Kayaking
When is the Chile kayak season? NOV to MAR.
Chile kayak trips are designed to maximize weather and water conditions. Advanced and Expert Chile Kayak trips begin in November for high water flows and continue all season due to varying rivers and levels for expert runs. Intermediate and Beginner Chile Kayak Trips commence in January and continue through March.
Should I bring my own equipment? Is the Kayak included?
What is the retreat policy on broken kayaks or gear?
The equipment usage agreement includes a fair market value listing that both you and retreat rep agree to upon equipment checkout. In short, if you break or damage a kayak then you replace or pay only the depreciation value of the equipment from the damage incurred during your use. To help your situation the retreat also offers future trip credits if you break a kayak.
Who will be our instructors and leaders?
The retreat primarily employs kayak instructor positions to our U.S. partner, the Nantahala Outdoor Center. For decades NOC has been the industry standard for professional kayak instruction and NOC has stayed committed to their whitewater kayaking roots. We also employ hand select best of talent from our Guest Work Exchange Program.
What safety credentials are required of trip adventure leadership positions?
Staff are required to hold current certifications in AWFA or WFR, ACA Kayak Instructor, and Swiftwater Rescue Tech 3. Additionally, staff are trained and tested on the local rivers, skills assessment, canyon rescue, Spanish language, local cultural and historical knowledge, and Chilean flora y fauna.
What is a typical day like on a retreat trip?
Morning coffee or matte is accompanied by breakfast. Most mornings offer classroom kayak theory or instructional that applies to the day’s river sections.Kayak Theory is everything kayaking, including waterfall techniques, boof strokes, blade placement, edging, new school and old school, safety, where to run a rapid, geography, humor, video review. For many its their first real kayak development instruction since they were beginners. Soon thereafter you will gear up for your day’s activity. Many days are divided in two – with shuttles in the morning and late-afternoon to different local sections of river. Tuesdays and Thursdays are often designated as travel days for longer river sections or road trips. Almost every day ends with a delicious hot meal and an endless supply of stories, laughter, and games in our quincho.
What is included in the price of a trip?
Trip Price Includes 3 meals/day, double occupancy lodging, airport transfer, daily transportation, and kayak rental. The trip price does NOT include: airfare, alcohol, and meals out (average 2-3 per trip).
Can I arrive early or stay late?
Guests on regular trips may arrive early or stay longer only if they trip extend. It is important to the community ambiance that each guest eats at the same table and participates in activities. Email to learn more.
Who else will be on a trip?
The retreat attracts an international base seeking to explore Chile via kayak primarily from the US, UK, Germany, Switzerland, and Canada. Other countries we’ve seen visit include Russia, Japan, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Czech Republic, New Zealand, Australia, Austria and more. It is common to share stories around the fire with kayakers from half a dozen countries.
What if the trip dates don’t work for me?
A custom trip design is often the solution for misaligning trip dates. Email to learn more.
All About Chile
What kind of country is Chile?
Chile boasts the strongest economy in South America with excellent infrastructure and steady revenue streams from agriculture, mining and technology sectors. Chile has experienced significant growth over the last quarter century in particular, creating a visible dichotomy between rural and urban areas. The densely populated cities and towns frequented by tourists deliver high-speed Internet, reliable cell phone coverage, and an ample supply of high-quality goods and services. In rural areas you’ll find communities living off the land with no electricity and very limited access to modern resources and technology. As part of any trip to Chile, you’ll see both sides.
Can you tell me about Chile’s Climate & Geography?
What weather can I expect?
So how does Chile’s geography and climate impact your trip? You have to consider two things: time of year and location. Our base is in Pucón, in the southern half of the country. Curiously, the latitude and longitude are nearly the same as the east coast of the United States, somewhere in the Mid Atlantic region. Because Chile is in the southern hemisphere, this means you can generally expect a similar climate at exact opposite times of the year. Wait, what? It looks like this:
October = April
November = May
December = June
January = July
February = August
March = September
So if your trip is in November, the weather in Pucón will be roughly the same as the mid-eastern United States is in May, with the only notable exceptions listed below.
Why is Chile perfect for kayakers of all ability levels?
To Chile’s east is the spine of the Andes Mountains. Snow and rain draining from the eastern slope flows west towards the Pacific Ocean. Practically every drainage offers remarkable runs as the volume of water moved is significant over a short distance. Pucón is the epicenter of whitewater based on geography. A landmark destination since the early 1900’s, Pucon was originally a military trading route to Argentina. This means in addition to having the right combination of water and gradient for kayakers, it also has infrastructure, meaning roads you can use to access those rivers. The Rivers & Lakes District, where Pucon is located, is in a highly active tectonic region. This has lead to the formation of many volcanoes and hot springs – and provides a spectacularly beautiful backdrop to nearly any outdoor activity. These factors have combined to make Pucón a vacation destination for South America’s elite for generations. Now kayakers of all ability levels can enjoy the concentration of water in one of the most beautiful landscapes on the planet.
What is the transportation like?
Public transportation in Chile is clean, easy to navigate, professionally-run, and overall extremely safe. It can prove challenging with a kayak so if you’re traveling with one by bus you may need to do a little extra planning. Otherwise, taking public transportation within the country is fairly straightforward and economical. Many PKH guests never need to take public transportation (though it’s still helpful to know how the system works). If you are interested in having PKH pick you up in Temuco, please inquire about availability of our transport service.
Transportation becomes a bit of a challenge for kayakers when they are looking for river access or shuttles. Gas is extremely expensive in Chile and dirt roads that are poorly maintained are common on nearly every route. PKH provides vehicle rentals that are equipped with roof racks and/or trailers robust enough to handle hauling around all your kayaks, paddles, and gear. For kayakers who do not plan to rent their own vehicle, PKH offers shuttle services to help pool kayakers together as affordably as possible for river stretches in the Pucón region.
How is the healthcare system?
The Chilean healthcare system is ranked higher than the U.S. healthcare system by the World Health Organization (WHO). PKH has helped many groups deal with a variety of accidents, illnesses, and injuries over the years. Chilean hospitals are modern with quality basic equipment such as x-radiography, dental, and general medical assessment and prescription. A typical emergency room visit will cost about $30 USD and most kayakers pay out of pocket for their visit and any subsequent prescriptions that are needed. We recommend you consult with your health insurance provider to know your coverage – some U.S. healthcare providers require you to have a travel amendment to your existing policy. You may also want to consider researching a short-term international insurance provider.
Is Chile safe?
Chile is a considered a safe destination with an extremely low violent crime rate. Chile is the most stable and economically prosperous of all South American countries. The culture is generally very friendly and welcoming of tourists. However, petty theft is common, especially in major cities, bus terminals, and metro areas – but a combination of common sense and awareness is typically all you need to stay safe and out of trouble. We recommend every guest carry a lockable bike cable combo to lock personal gear at all times, on any trip to any destination in the country.
What is the Currency in Chile?
Chile uses the Chilean Peso (CLP). You can find conversion rates for your currency here.
What is the Voltage in Chile?
Electric voltage in Chile (and most of South America) is 220 volts, 50 cycles (220v, 50Hz). The use of appliances or electric devices designed for 110 volts need a transformer to operate. Most travel appliances, like laptops, have an auto-volt (110v – 240v) transformer built in that will adapt to Chilean electricity – all you need is an adapter for your plug so it fits into the standard wall sockets found throughout the country. Universal adaptor kits are easy to find and inexpensive. The hostel often has some for sale in reception, so don’t stress if you aren’t able to get one in advance – we will help you charge your electronics, don’t fret.
Do I need a visa to visit Chile?
You do not need a Visa to visit Chile so long as you do not plan to stay in the country for longer than 90-days. Your ‘tourist visa’ will be automatically granted to you upon your arrival as part of the customs process. If you have a passport from a country outside the U.S. or Canada — or if you will be traveling in Chile for longer than 90-days, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Guest Work Exchange Program (GWEP)
The best way for wannabe employees to get their foot in the door is GWEP. Benefits include free camping and discounted lodging, at-cost meal plans and much more!
Check out our
“You’ve got the best people,” a guest shared. The retreat owes its best people largely in part to a strategic partnership created by Tosh Arwood, Nantahala Outdoor Center – Kayak Program Director. NOC wanted to retain their best instructors, and the retreat wanted to employ the world’s best instructional leaders.