Monday, January 23, 2006

Jan 23-25 - Kayaking on Reloncavi Fjord

The Navimag arrived in Puerto Montt at about 6am on the 23rd, and we were off by about 8am. We were then picked up in Puerto Montt by our guide from Ko´Kayak who was taking us on a three day trip down Rio Petrohue and into the Reloncavi Fjord.

We drove up to Puerto Varas and then on to their boat house in Ensanado. We were given the appropriate gear, signed the appropriate liability waivers and then taken to the drop in point on the Rio Petrohue.

This time of year, the area is plagued with tabanos. Tabanos are these giant horse fly type things that are incredibly annoying. They were our constant companions down the Rio Petrohue which made it difficult to focus on anything else.

It was easy paddling down the river as we were going with the current, and other than a couple incidents with some fallen trees in the river, things were going pretty well.

Right up until we hit our first and only real rapids. The guide went and checked it out first as they can change depending on the tide, as its where the river meets the ocean. We did pretty well until the last rough patch which dumped both Rena and Casey into the river. We managed not to lose any of our gear and after a brief rest period to get them back into their kayaks, we were on our way again. We kayaked out of the river and into the fjord for a few km, where we camped for the night.

The next day started out very nice with hardly any wind and lots of sunshine. The wind was predicted to pick up later in the day so we were trying to get as far as we could in the morning as we´d be going right into it. We kayaked past a number of salmon and mussel farms, and also got to see a few sea lions swimming around. In particular what appeared to be a giant bull sea lion (at least he seemed pretty big from a kayak - I'm guessing 2,000 lbs or so). Again, being accountants and not athletes, we didn´t get as far as we´d hoped. But luckily there was a support boat that picked us up and took us to the 'hospedaje' where we were staying tonight. And a more seaworthy vessel you won't find.

The hospedaje was basically an old family farmhouse with just the grandmother/mother left. The lady of the house was now running a bed and breakfast type set up. I'm not sure how often she gets guests as there are no roads to the place. It looked a little rustic from the outside but was very nice on the inside. There yard was also full of animals - 2 dogs, 4 pigs (with about 20 piglets), 4 cows, 6 geese and a few cats. There must have also been some chickens as we heard the roosters first thing in the morning. No power or tv, but plenty of entertainment. As they didn´t speak english and our spanish sucks, we´re not 100% sure of how it happened, but we gathered that some other dogs showed up one day while they were gone and attacked one of their pigs, and basically chewed its leg off. There´s obviously something we´re missing, but it was quite the sight. (this next picture may not be suitable for all audiences)

The last day we headed further down the fjord and around one of the islands that is usually home to a fairly large seal lion colony. We had perfect weather today, lots of sunshine and no wind - when we started in through the little islands the water was just like glass.

It was very picturesque with little houses here, while surrounded by mountains and volcanoes. We saw a couple of sea lions but as its apparently mating season (or something) there weren't any on the island. But we also got to see a few dolphins who were swimming/surfacing pretty close to where we were. Of course no pictures as they weren't really sticking around for very long, but still pretty cool.

The support boat then picked us up around noon and we made lunch on the boat. The boat then took us to a town on the fjord where we would be picked up by the van.

The support boat tows a row boat behind it for getting to shore, although its not the most sea worthy vessel as we found out on the way back. The solution was just to go faster and once the front of the row boat got out of the water, it pretty much sorted itself out.

After a few hours in the minivan, we made it back to Puerto Varas where we would be spending a couple of nights before heading to Bariloche in Argentina.


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