Wednesday, March 17, 2004
November brings hot temperatures and lots of quality whitewater to paddle in Argentina.
The headwaters of the Rio Mendoza flow east from the shadows of Cerro Aconcagua, South America's highest mountain located in the high central Andes. From its confluence with the Rio Tupungato, the Mendoza loses its steep gradient but grows to a meduim-high volume as it descends into the arid wine making province and city of also the same name. The city of Mendoza is a historical Argentinean location with a wonderful climate, ridiculously cheap steaks, and very friendly locals who will push your understanding of the Spanish language to the limit. Once you head west from town on the major Chile-Argentina road (Ruta 7) you will soon find yourself in the small village of Potrerillos and the home of Argentina Rafting. The actual village of Potrerillos was recently moved to a higher elevation so that more water could be stored in the lake created from the dam on the Rio Mendoza. Soon Argentina Rafting will also make the move to a new location, but for now Martin and Erica Moreno and their fellow paddling crew have a great place to eat, camp and lounge at while you get some good melt-water playboating done.
Martin Moreno at home on the Rio Mendoza.
Water levels are low in October, however through November and on into Mendoza's hot summer you can expect clear blue water and many sections containing fluffy (III-IV) waves and holes. The Rio Mendoza is worth visiting even if Chilean paddling is your main goal. Those who have an extra weekend waiting for the plane in Santiago can jump on an easy 3hr bus over the Andes and be on the river by the afternoon. The views of Aconcagua, Puente del Inca, and other high mountain scenery won't be wasted even if your kayak never sees the water! Although access and information can be limited, Argentina is another paddling destination that will intrigue those looking for somewhere new. They may take a route to an opposite ocean than Chile, but rivers like the Rio Mendoza, Diamante, Atuel and Neuquen in central Argentina have more secrets to reveal. For more information about rivers and the sport of kayaking in Argentina, check out: www.kayakero.com.ar. (in Spanish)
Rafting the Argentina way means lots of good wine and steak before embarking under a full moon......
Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Surf's up in Chile...... photographs by David Manning.
After hearing rumors about Chile's epic Ocean surf, Michelle and I again loaded up our van with fellow roadies David, Scott and Dirty Tom and headed back north 7 hrs from Pucon to Pichilemu on the Chile's central coast. The boys were just back from the Rio Futaleufu and Pichilemu would be their last destination before they flew back home to Calgary. When we arrived, we discovered a fun little Chilean beach town well known by Santiascos who flock here during their holidays in January and February. When we arrived however, the beaches were scarce and most turistas had already returned home to their normal routines. First up for us was finding a cheap hotel and then renting some more beach toys. Nearing the end of our voyages, our kayaks were limited to one creeker and one playboat between a bunch of us. David and Dirty Tom found some surf boards to rent the next morning so we were excited to see some hilarious carnage over the next few days.
Dirty Tom and David with their Pichilemu rental sticks
Pichilemu has two significant beaches which wrap around some rocky points and create amazing left to right breaks. Most people would be happy at the main beach in the town, however Punta del Lobos is about 10km to the South and there the waves are even larger. Before he took to board surfing, Dirty Tom fired off some astonishing rides in the Dagger Nomad creeker that Scott was taking back to Canada.
Tom Faucher showing how a creekboat can surf the Ocean.
Overall the beaches and waves of Pichilemu offer a change from the inland mountains and rivers. If you are traveling through Chile with some paddling friends check this spot out. Pichilemu is about 100km west from the Panamerican Highway (5) and there are multiple access routes in between the cities of Rancagua and Teno. Learn more about surfing Pichilemu here.
Dropping in with the Dagger FX