Learn to Paddle

Rolling a whitewater kayakLearn how to paddle a whitewater kayak or canoe while visiting beautiful Patagonia! This course is designed for paddlers with little to no experience. The instruction will take place on the crystal clear lakes and rivers in and around the charming town of El Bolsón.

The course begins with the whitewater paddling basics such as paddling strokes, boat control, wet exits and the roll (for kayakers). We will introduce these concepts on Lake Puelo where we can teach good habits before continuing on to moving water. Throughout the course students can expect to gain confidence paddling in class II moving water.

Instruction will include fundamentals such as eddy turns, peel-outs, ferries and the importance of edge control. The course will include these skills as well as hydrology, river reading and basic river safety and rescue techniques.Our goal and grand finale for the course is a full-day river trip on the Foyel River. Students will put into practice all of their new skills while enjoying the spectacular scenery of the Foyel River valley.

Cost: Depends on course length and accommodation choice.

Professional paddling instruction
All required paddling gear (kayak or canoe, paddle, PFD, helmet, sprayskirt)
Professional English speaking instructors.

Not included:
Transport to the course location (details can be arranged)
Medical & travel insurance (required).
Base layers for paddling – see packing list for details.
Optional instructor gratuities.

Our learning locations may include Lake Puelo and the Azul and Foyel Rivers (will vary according to water levels/conditions).  The course will run from 9-4pm daily with breaks for lunch and snacks.  The course will also include video analysis and dryland instruction.

Listed below are some of the areas covered in the Kayak and Canoe courses depending on the student’s interest and progression.


  • Carrying a kayak
  • Entering and Exiting the kayak
  • Forward and Reverse strokes
  • Forward and Reverse sweep strokes
  • Draw Strokes
  • Balancing
  • Edging
  • Carving
  • Braces
  • Forward Ferry
  • C-Turn
  • S-Turn
  • Front Surf
  • Introductory Side-Surf
  • Self Rescue
  • T-Rescue
  • Throw Bag Rescue
  • Rolling
  • River Signals
  • Whitewater Principles
  • River Reading


  • Forward and Reverse strokes
  • River J stroke
  • Bow Draw & Crossbow Draw
Offside Forward stroke
  • Blending, Combination, Variation, and Extension of Strokes
Low Brace 
High Brace
  • Righting Pry
  • Accelerating from a Stopped Position
  • Eddy Turns and Peel Outs
  • Running Side Slip
Forward Ferry
”S” turn
  • Jet Ferry 
  • Surfing 
  • River Running Techniques 
Using River Features and Current
  • Whitewater Principles
  • River Signals
Self Rescue
  • Throw Bag Rescue
  • Canoe over canoe rescue

Play hard, rest easy.
While on a Paddle Patagonia “Learn to Paddle” course you have the option to stay in a local lodge that includes the use of a sauna and hot tubs which are a real luxury after a long day of paddling! Camping is not required but may also be an option for most locations on our paddling courses.  Contact us to learn about the various options.


Paddle Patagonia’s trips travel through several different mountain terrains and at anytime the weather can change often and quickly.  In general, the early season may see cooler mornings/evenings with hot days (20+ C°).  As we get closer to Jan-Feb, the weather stabilizes into warmer summerlike conditions (25+ C°).  The sun in Patagonia can be quite intense and a good sunscreen is advised.


All of the rivers we paddle are crystal clear and clean.  Water temperatures will range from 10-20C°.  See packing list for details on what to bring.

Packing List

Required personal paddling equipment:

  • Good footwear for paddling (we recommend something with thick soles that is supportive enough on rough terrain, a pair of sneakers will work)
  • Base layers (non-cotton, see list below)
  • Water bottle

Required Paddling layers:

  • Wool, polypro or neoprene tops
  • Wool, polypro or neoprene bottoms
  • Shorts
  • Wool or neoprene socks

Suggested personal gear:

  • Spring/summer clothing
  • Long pants
  • Warm sweater or fleece
  • Rain coat
  • Baseball or Sun hat
  • Sunglasses with strap
  • Sunscreen
  • Wool or fleece hat
  • Shoes for hiking (either running shoes or hiking boots will do)
  • Sandals or slip on shoes to wear indoors/off the river
  • Personal toiletries
  • Head lamp
  • Light pack towel or sarong for riverside changing
  • Ear plugs & Nose plugs

It is recommended to make photocopies of all your important documents prior to departure.  Keep a separate copy in your checked luggage and carry the originals with you.


  • Passport
  • Travel & Medical Insurance
  • Emergency Contact information

Getting Here:

Option 1:

Fly to Buenos Aires in Argentina, connect to San Carlos de Bariloche.

Most international flights fly into Ministro Pistarini International Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina (also known as Ezeiza), the airport code is EZE. You will then need to get to the domestic airport called Jorge Newbery Airport (also known as Aeroparque), the airport code is AEP. From there you can take a connecting flight to San Carlos de Bariloche (BRC).

How to get from Ezeiza (EZE) to Aeroparque (AEP):

  • Transport Bus Service: There is an official bus line called “Manuel Tienda Leon” that transports travelers to other locations in Buenos Aires. You purchase a ticket from their booth after clearing customs (they have one inside and one outside). The cost is approximately $16 USD per person and they have departures approximately every 20 minutes. (www.tiendaleon.com.ar).
  • By Taxi: This will cost approximately $50 USD per taxi. Upon exiting customs you will see several official taxi companies. You purchase a standard fare to Aeroparque from one of those stands by cash or credit card, they give you a ticket and you then take that to the official taxi line. This option is faster and one taxi will take up to 4 people. However if you have extra or oversized bags you may want to take the bus service.

Option 2:

Fly to Santiago in Chile, connect to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.

You may also choose to fly into Santiago de Chile. The international airport is called Arturo Merino Benitez and the airport code is SCL. From there you can get a connecting flight to San Carlos de Bariloche (BRC), usually via Aeroparque Buenos Aires (AEP).

Arriving into Argentina

Some nationalities now need to purchase a “reciprocity entry fee” online ahead of time, namely Canadian, American and Australians. Most European countries do not have to pay but for the others the cost could be between $70 and $130 USD with varying validity. You must purchase this by credit card online in advance and may be able to choose a single entry or a multiple entry visa. You DO NOT need a multiple entry visa for crossing in and out of Argentina and Chile by land. Only purchase multiple entry if you plan on flying into the country again in the next 5 years. Please check with your local embassy to confirm the regulations for your country of origin.This was accurate at the time of writing but please double check as rules may have changed!

Here is the website link for purchasing your reciprocity fee: http://www.migraciones.gov.ar/accesibleingles/

Make sure you print out the receipt for your reciprocity fee and carry it with your passport.