When the Spanish arrived in Chiloé in the 16th century, they found the islands and continental fjords populated by a seagoing people known as Chonos, who paddled canoes known as dalcas. Fabricated from three sewn boards, these dalcas held 10 or 12 people and were, according to early chroniclers, the most seaworthy craft in the islands. In the fjords and islands of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, the Yamana and Alacalufe Indians traveled through some of the world's most tempestuous waters in similar craft.
Over time these nomadic canoeists, and their ancient seagoing way of life, died away. As little as ten years ago, the only paddlers to venture into the southern fjords were hearty foreign adventurers who mounted expensive, time-consuming expeditions, bringing their own folding kayaks from abroad.
Today, however, trips are available offering soft adventure paddling in the northern Patagonian fjords and the islands of the Chiloé archipelago. These trips do not require previous paddling experience, nor are they physically challenging, as all paddling is done in protected fjords and islands, with no exposed crossings. All they require is a desire to visit a pristine marine environment, paddle among sea lions and dolphins, soak in tidal hotsprings, camp on the fringe of an old-growth forest, and enjoy fine local meals aboard a traditional wooden support vessel. Tours that include a visit to the Chiloé archipelago offer the additional opportunity to glimpse a traditional subsistence farming and fishing community, where oxen are the only tractors and tourists are a welcome novelty.
Thanks to the Tourism Promotion Corporation of Chile : 202-530-4109