Rafting & Diving in Argentina: An Adventurer’s Guide

From scuba diving with sea lions on the Patagonian coast to intense whitewater rafting in the Lake District, Argentina offers water sports for all interests and skill levels.

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Diving and Kayaking on the Patagonia Coast

A World-Heritage Site, Peninsula Valdes is one of the world’s most exciting places for marine life encounters, with a cast that includes orcas, sea lions, elephant seals, and Magellanic penguins. The self-proclaimed Scuba Diving Capital of Argentina, Puerto Madryn offers whale watching, scuba and wreck diving, and snorkel trips. Full day whale-watching excursions cost US $30-$100 ($730-2,430 ARS), depending on locations visited.

Scuba diving with sea lions in the waters of Punta Loma (11mi/17km south) includes 45 minutes of hanging out on the sea floor with gregarious pups, plus instruction on how to interact with them. Tours generally include all rental equipment and round-trip transportation.

About 62mi (100km) west of Puerto Madryn, the low-key town of Puerto Piramides is the base for sea kayaking, with outfitters on Avenida de las Ballenas offering half-day (US $70/$1,700 ARS), full-day (US $120/$2,920 ARS) and multi-day trips geared to beginners and intermediates.

Diving with sea lions off the Peninsula Valdes. Photo credit: iStock/Foto4440

Rafting and Kayaking in the Lake District

Bariloche is a wonderful base for whitewater rafting in Nahuel Huapi National Park. Rafting season along the Rio Manso runs from mid October to early May – outfitters in Bariloche offer everything from day trips (from US $80/$1,945 ARs) to week-long expeditions (US $1,600/$38,900 ARS). The relatively gentle Manso Clasico (Class II-III) tour begins at Steffen Lake. For more white-knuckle thrills, the Manso de la Frontera (Class IV) trip passes through breathtaking Velvet Canyon and ends near the border with Chile.

Half-day kayaking and paddleboard trips on Lake Gutierrez also depart from Bariloche. Outfitters provide all the requisite equipment.

Kayaking in Nahuel Huapi National Park. Photo credit: iStock

Rafting in Mendoza Province

Within striking distance of Mendoza city, the churning waters of the Mendoza and Diamante Rivers lure adventure sports enthusiasts. Whitewater rafting trips are offered year round, but in winter (June-October) the water is much colder. The rafting mecca of Potrerillos (32mi/51km west of Mendoza) is usually visited on a day trip from the city. Trips range from half- and full-day trips (US $37/90 or $900/2,190 ARS) to two-day, Class III-IV excursions. Experience isn’t a prerequisite but strongly advised for anything above Class II.

Want to know more about Argentina? Listen to the World Nomads podcast. How drinking mate defines Argentinians, how to kiss properly when you greet someone, and meet Popi, the scientist who's saving penguins.

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