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Sea kayaking Exploration to San Rafael Glacier - Northern Icefield

San Rafael Glacier Expedition

More photos of Expedition San Rafael Glacier

General Information


Words cannot describe this grandiose and welcoming natural sight, found at a latitude of 47 degrees south and a longitude of 73 degrees, 30 minutes  west. Along these coordinates we can find the Northern Icefield (San Rafael Glacier), from where this everlasting river was born 1,000 years ago. Right in the heart of the landscape sits this intense iridescent blue ice which is the soul of one of the most beautiful hidden sceneries.

San Valentin Mountain

It will be approximately 15 days in an area where the unexpected will become habitual and the landscapes that we will see could only be described by those who have been there. We will pass by enormous waterfalls, gigantic forests, impressive views of the glaciers and unique flora and fauna until we reach our destination paddling between icebergs in the San Rafael Lake.

60mt wall of ice

* One of the fous of this expedition is to offer a cultural based-adventure and authentic experiences by interacting in the areas where we travel with the local people and their culture

Level Advanced paddlers and experienced campers


Duration 12 days aprox.
Time of Year November
last week of March/April

Please Ask

Trip Details Begin in Coyhaique and ends in Puerto Aysen.
Number of participants 6 persons
Lodging 2 nights sleeping in private cabañas in Puerto Aysén town and camping in remote locations.
Climate Weather in the zone
Photography Opportunities Glaciers, Icebergs, gigantic forests, enormous waterfalls, sealions , dolphins and some possibility of orcas.
Activities paddle between ice in extremely remote areas, enjoying magnificent views of the Northern Icefields.
Suggested Gear Please Ask
How To Get Here ?

Fly from your country to Chile (Santiago airport), and from there travel to Coyhaique:

1)Fly with LAN Chile airline to Balmaceda airport and take a minibus at the airport to Coyhaique.

3)Navigate with NAVIMAG ferryboat from Puerto Montt to Puerto Chacabuco then consider a local bus to Coyhaique.

 General Information

San Rafael Glacier It is located in the Aysén Province, in southern Chile, and was created in 1967 to protect an extensive uninhabited and almost inaccessible territory of 1,742,000 hectares destined to protect the wild life. It is still the most extensive park in the region, covering more than 400,000 hectares with ancient ice  in the zone known as Campo de Hielo Norte (Northern Icefied)

This Chilean National Park was declared to be a worldwide reserve by UNESCO in 1979. Located at latitude 46 – 45 south of the Chilean Patagonia .A Spanish navigator discovered this place four centuries ago. Today it has become one of the natural splendors of Chile, of the greatest international importance. The ice of the San Rafael Glacier dates back as far as 300,000 years, its frontal face is 2kms wide and its ice towers reach up to more than 75 mts. and plunges down into the ocean waters more than 230 meters. It has a length of 15 kms and stems from the San Valentín Nevado of the Southern Ice Fields of the Los Andes Mountains. The blues of the ice and its constant avalanches have converted this natural spectacle into international fame. With its ice floes of different shapes and colors it is a spectacle that is unique in this world

The climate is humid, with an average annual  temperature of 8º C and precipitations that reach 5,000 mm annually in the highest regions. In the apt areas, the vegetation presents a dense covering of trees, bushes and herbs , highlighted amongst these are: the Chilco Flower or Fuchsiaand the immense ferns. Cypresses, Cinnamon Tree, Lengas and millennium old Alerce.

The bird fauna is abundant and varied, there are just as many sea birds as land birds: amongst them exist ducks,  cormorants and black necked swans. The situation is not quite the same for the fish, there development is limited due to the low temperature of the waters.  The harsh climate also affects the mammals which are in small abundance; among them are the fox, the Chilean mountain goat, the beaver and sea lions. 

The only elements of the park are the San Rafael Lake- almost a closed cove to the sea where fishing is allowed and where the glacier descends into the lake. During specific times of the year, the loosening of these huge masses of ice creates an incredible natural show.  What makes the San Rafael Glacier stand out from the other glaciers existing in the park is the fact that it is regressing, due to the influence of the ocean climate, which is relatively cold.


*About the area:
condiciones muy variables de navegación
The area in Patagonia, spacially around the Northern Icefield , and in particular around San Rafael Glacier is really very variable and changes extremely fast.

We can expect many days of rain, sometimes we will be paddling in windy conditions and breaking waves , sometimes aprox.1.5mt (4.5 feets) , remote campsites (probably we will have to open camping areas with machetes) , start the days very early, sometimes at night, in order to avoid the winds.

dificultad para desembarcarAlso consider that if any emergency the evacuation will be almost impossible , no hospitals in the area (please read the conditions section).

About water tempetrature.. very cold...rivers coming directly from glaciers...The cost is covered with dense vegetation and lot´s of rocks in the shoreline with the exception of few small beaches.

It´s very important that you come with very good gear for your legs and feet because we will have always to get out of the kayak and also get in the kayak in the water to protect the kayaks from the rocks of the shore.

*About the participants:

viento y oleaje durante la navegación en kayakEveryone has to be a real active participant in every step of the trip, be ready to paddle some days 5-7 hours (20-30 km/day) during aprox 8 days continuously, feel confortable paddling in winds of 15 - 25 knots in 1.5 meter (average) breaking an surfing waves.

Understand that this is an area that rains aprox 5 mt per year so will rain and rain almost every day so we will be wet...but also amazing sunny days (sometimes).

Landing spots for setting campsites are very few and they are very separated ...most of the time bush camping.

This is is a self-supported trip so we will have to travel with the minimum equipment so we can have space inside the kayaks for everything considering the lenght of the trip, and BE MEDICALLY 100% .

Everyone must know and be ready to demonstrate different alternatives of self-rescue and assited rescue before the trip starts and we requiere to know how to roll (if someone flips while paddling with waves and in windy conditions, rescue will be extremely hard, extremely slow or not possible).
Also be confident with bracing strokes and very very advisible to have a wilderness first aid course.

Team members should have the mindset that they are responsible for themselves and the other members of the team while on the water, in the backcountry and around camp

*About the Trip:
Please consider that this is an " exploratory trip " that means that we know part of the route but there is also a section that we havent been before. Becasue of that we have study a lot the area with satellite photos, charts , ask information , send a float plan to the Navy in advance and have the authorization to do it.
tipo de paisaje

We will have to deal with expedition behaviour and solve situations as a group requiring a lot of teambuilding and positive attitude. It´s extremely required thta particpants undertsand that this is atrip whre we will have to paddle although is windy , that all the program can be modified or cancelled at any step according to the group safety and that means no refunds.

We are not offering a race...and we will "try" to complete the program of this self-supported trip (no boat with us) . Please consider that the trip can be modified in any step of the program, cancell, or just dont arrive to the end if the weather doesnt allow us to continue in a safe way considering the paddlers experience required or if the group is on risk and that means no refunds. The duration of the trip is aproximate....

aproximación al glaciar San Rafael

*About the food:
Will be according to the nature of a self-supported trip in a variable area (breakfast, trailfood while paddling and a warm dinner consiting of pasta and sauces).


DAY 1: Meet in Coyhaique city at 4PM and transfer in private vehicle to Puerto Aysén town, close to Aysen Fjord (1 1/2 hr driving) . Sleep in private cabañas. Welcome dinner and trip logistics (D)

DAY 2-12: Eearly breakfast at our cabaña , move to Puerto Chacabuco town , NAVY check and start paddling Aysén Fjord - Costa Channel - Tres Cruces Gulf - Elefantes Fjord - San Rafael Lake and Glacier . The last day undo basecamp and start paddling to intercept a local fishing boat. (B-T-D). Navigate back to Puerto Chacabuco town , transfer to our cabañas in Puerto Aysén and the next day transfer to Balmaceda airport. End of our services

The program and itinerary is aproximately and can be modified or cancel at any step according to weather , group conditions or guide decision..

  • Transportation from Coyhaique city to cabañas in Puerto Aysén town and return using a local fishing boat to Puerto Chacabuco. Transfer to our cabañas in Puerto Aysén and the next day transfer to Balmaceda airport all together as a group.
  • All food according to the program
    (from dinner Day1 at cabañas in Puerto Aysen town till breakfast last day in cabañas in Puerto Aysén).
    (B:breakfast / T:Trail food / D: Dinner)
  • 2 nights at cabaña in Puerto Aysén  
    (shared with the members of the expedition, private bathroom)
  • National Park fees
  • Chilean NAVY seakayak navigation authorization
  • Navigation Equipment: expedition seakayaks , imported from USA and Germany, with original rudder, spray skirt, paddles and life jackets.
  • Cooking equipment and Group Tarp.
  • Safety Equipment: Satellite telephone, Marine radio, charts, tide table.
  • Guide: Juan Zuazo - Director of YAK EXPEDICIONES , certified as BCU 4 STAR Sea Award , english speaking, first aid and rescue knowledge  (NOLS Course and Wilderness First Responder Course).

  • Limited insurance once the seakayak trip starts with Interamericana Insurance Company (chilean company)...but we highly recomend that you bring your own insurance also.

paddling between icebrgs
  • Swimming knowledge and advanced seakayak and camping experience in remote conditions. Probably and before the trip starts , will be requiered that each participant demonstrate in the sea selfrescue and assited rescue procedures plus the esquimo roll. If those techniques are not properly done , the participant will not participate in the trip and no refunds at all .
  • Previous experience in kayaking and camping in cold and rainny climates, plus paddling in windy conditions and surfing waves.
  • EXCELLENT physical state and health compatible with the activity to be performed. 
  • Previous indication of any illness or health problem 
  • Strictly abide by the indications of the guides during the trips 
  • You'll find your trip even more enjoyable if you remember to bring flexibility and a sense of humor with you.
  • Positive mental attitude in front of unexpected situations
  • Understand that this is team activity in the outdoors and the participation of each person at each stage is fundamental.  
  • Understand that all activities performed in nature can indicate some risk and also death. 
  • The program could be modified or cancelled at any stage due to weather conditions or sudden incidents that could affect the security of the group. Evacuation from this area is almost impossible or extremely slow.
  • In this area any kind of rescue is extremely hard to perform or impossible. Helicopter evacuation is impossible.
  • This trip will be developed in an area where the weather conditions changes very fast. YAK EXPEDICIONES takes no responsability for any accident or death situation.
  • Before trip you must turn in a signed form of  Release of Liability
  • To have read and have a clear understanding of the Terms and Conditions section.

Note: We must state that the success of this type of trips is subject to unexpected weather and personal situations, so adventurous spirit and good disposition will be fundamental.

 Do you wish to accommodate this trip to you needs as a  Custom Trip (private trip) ?


AFTER  you press the RESERVATION button, send us an email specifying:
- Your Name , age
- Name of the trip you want  (number of days)
- Number of participants
- Date of the trip you want (and your availability)

* we will send you a Reservation and Medical Forms that you have to send us back by email

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