Few people still believe in dreams. Even less make an effort to fulfil theirs. That’s how kayak expedition Lago Fagnano started: as a wild dream.
We knew of the risks involved in kayaking a fierce, potentially dangerous lake like Lago Fagnano. We knew that the wind would be the insecure but significant factor to take into account. Strong, usually western winds of up to 100 kms/hour regularly blow over the lake and on to its coasts, causing strong currents and big waves. The coast itself – sand stone cliffs, rocky formations, windswept secluded forests and solitary pebble beaches – adds to the danger but provides hardly any refuge. Except for a few sheltered bays with fishing and tourist activity, the lake’s isolated location, mountainous surroundings and hostile reputation offer a truly wild experience.
That was Walter’s wild dream for a long time: to kayak Lago Fagnano roundtrip and to get to know the secrets it keeps. Now was the time to pursue the dream. Still believing in dreams, I went along.
Our kayak expedition turned out to be marvelous. Lago Fagnano is as ferocious as it is gorgeous. It challenged us with big waves and changing swells. It tested our endurance paddling straight against the strong winds. It gifted us with blue skies, hallucinating sunsets, starry nights and tranquil sunrises. It showed us its colours, turning from clear and green to intimidating black at times. We knew it, and now we are sure: Lago Fagnano commands, always. It warned us of its capacities, but in general treated us extremely well.
While kayaking long hours, we enjoyed magnificent views of the mountains and cliffs surrounding the lake. We had good fun playing in the waves. We drifted past picturesque beaches and small coves, some of which made for a heavenly spot to pitch our tent or to enjoy a well deserved meal. For a moment that beach was ours. We saw few animals, birds and humans, and the fish proved absent too. Mostly it was just us. Together we waited for the sun to rise to start a new day of adventure. Together we concluded the day with some mates until it was time to go to sleep.
I’m very grateful for the experience of kayaking this great lake as Walter’s bow mate. He’s not only a dear friend and excellent kayaker, but proved to be of great character, sharing his knowledge tirelessly, teaching me in the art of kayaking, caring unselfishly for my well-being and inviting me in on his dream.
I did my share, too. With limited experience in kayaking, I stood my ground and paddled every single kilometer to my best effort, learning and improving my efficiency. I turned to be the logistics manager, doing most of the arming & disarming of tent and beds and packing and unpacking of the kayak.
We both took care of cooking over fire, preparing delicious meals to energize our tired muscles. And, first things first, either one took special care of serving mate, reviving our inner spirits any time. Just to say, we make a great team. And we share a profound love for Patagonia.
In total we kayaked about 108 kilometers along the southern shore of Lago Fagnano, from Bombilla bay to Hito 23, the frontier with Chile, and back. We paddled about the total longitude of the lake, one way. Wind and waves delayed our progress and left us stranded on a beach for 36 hours. That, combined with time limitations, made that we didn’t manage to kayak the whole lake. But we weren’t disappointed. I think we both just felt proud of what we did accomplish.
As Walter said, life is beautiful but short. We get only one chance at living. Our expedition is another page in our lives. It was truly an awesome experience. Every moment left an imprint in my soul. Still words run short to express my feelings. We lived the dream, turning it into living reality.
That lake will have to bear with us again.
For a gallery of the best pictures of our kayak expedition, check out Kayak Expedition Lago Fagnano – images.