I love all the different sides to kayaking but especially when I’m bombing down classic rivers that I remember seeing in the films I obsessed over as a kid. There’s something special about recognising a line or a spot that one of the old-school legends hit in the video when you’re on a river.

Going to Chile this winter I had little ambition other than to kayak every day and enjoy some of the beautiful rivers and waterfalls this country has to offer. I thought of it as a kayaking holiday after a savage year of big, scary projects. My holiday partner was David Sodomka and our luxury accommodation was my Palm bivvy bag next to his car. At least that was my plan for accommodation, but Pucon Kayak retreat were proper nice to us and let us stay indoors. 

We quickly blasted down the Maipo River at high water, too quickly to get any photos but this sort of high-volume boulder garden is best experienced in the kayak …

Arriving in Pucon I quickly realised why this has been such a stomping ground for kayaking over the years. Home to some of the best sections of river in the world, I spent my time on the Palguin and Nevados. The Nevados had a lot of juice in it, which made the river run incredible and the infamous “Demshitz drop” pretty full on! I dropped in and managed to hold things together on a high-water lap there!

There is a triple crown of waterfalls a short road trip away from Pucon. Which includes Tomatita, Blaco la Sur and Newen. I confidently dropped Tomatita and Blanco Sur several times before we made our way to the biggest one, the 80ft Newen. 

When we got to Newen late in the day I didn’t like the look of the water level and the chance of getting swallowed at the lip and walked away. The next day another crew flew off it and hit the bottom when they landed. Happily, all was well with the depth checkers but still, I was relieved to avoid that and happy for once to have listened to that little voice that tells you to play it safe.  

The Peusco provided my favourite style of kayaking, fast, powerful, techie, boulder garden. It’s a nice busy lap with so many moves to hit and the occasional hole to dodge. I took some sportier lines because David Sodomka wanted to take some photos … 

Felt like we were on a roll and although the water levels were marginal, I stepped up to the las Turbinas waterfall. Shouldn’t have done, I took a massive hit at the bottom of this one. Somehow limped away from it but had a hard time putting my shoes on by myself or carrying my kayak afterward. (Yay). Should have listened to the little play it safe voice in my head. 

One of the most unique waterfalls I have ever seen distracted me from the back pain. It was so special going through this natural archway and flying out and away!

The back pain was definitely remembered at the bottom but the beautiful Claro was just down the road so what was a kayaker meant to do? I dragged myself down the Claro, it hurt a lot but it was so worth it to kayak in that Canyon!

Hard as it was to admit it, I needed to take some time off and let my body heal so I committed to two days rest while we drove down to Patagonia.

We fell in love with the Futa River at high water. Big, powerful, surging rapids that offered up either huge air or a savage dunking every lap. Simply brilliant to be in amongst all that powerful blue water.

Showed myself down the Terminator rapid at high water, laughed at David telling me not to get lost in the ocean before peeling out and getting lost in the ocean of Terminator. It’s such a big, long rapid it can be hard to find your markers and work your way down it. After endless laps on the Futa, it was time for me to head back to the UK. One month later, sore and tired and stoked on kayaking. This trip felt like a whirlwind, not quite the chill kayaking holiday I wanted but an amazing time road tripping from river to river with David!

See you on the water, Bren