Kayak expedition Lago Fagnano – prologue

Sometimes dreams turn into reality. As a boy, growing up in Ushuaia, my friend Walter watched Lago Fagnano with admiration as much as anxiety. As a grown up, he dreamt to one day kayak the lake to get to know its secrets. Just hearing him talk about Lago Fagnano with such respect gives a totally new perspective to its essence. He never talked openly about his wish, as he figured no one would care. Until someone told him to pursue his dream.

And so kayak expedition Lago Fagnano was born. Walter aimed to fulfill his dream: to circumnavigate the lake – one of the biggest in South America at about 120 kilometers long and up to 10 kilometers wide – in kayak. A trip that has never been done before.

Expedition map
Unfortunately, once he started preparing for the trip, not everything went as he planned. Chilean authorities would not give the permit to cross the most western end of the lake, his companion cancelled the last moment and the Argentine coast patrol suddenly demanded an aid boat for security reasons. Though hugely disappointed, Walter claimed that everything happens for a reason.

The afternoon before he was to leave, I chatted with him about the expedition and the last-minute changes to the plan. He told me he had decided to go anyway without informing authorities. ‘You want to come?’, he asked. A week earlier I told him I wanted to be there on his departure at the lake to wish him well. ‘Yes, sure’, I responded. Then, slightly suspicious, I wrote, ‘You’re not thinking to go alone, right?’ It remained silent on the other side of Messenger. Suddenly it dawned to me. What did I actually say yes to? Coming to wave him off as was the initial plan or coming along on the expedition? As Walter was offline, the question remained unanswered. I started washing underwear. Just in case.

Over 40 minutes later the redeeming answer came. ‘Yes, I am going alone but if you want to, join me’. I replied without a doubt. ‘I’m going with you’. As much as I wanted to support him in accomplishing his dream and join him in this adventure, I didn’t like the idea of him being out there on his own. ‘Let’s have a mate and talk about it for a minute.’

I had listened to Walter talking about his dream. He had been ready for it for a long time. My thoughts were not as profound as his then. Over a few minutes of mates I told him I wanted to go and accomplish his dream together. But also that, being unprepared and inexperienced, I didn’t want to endanger his expedition. I didn’t know what we were up to – even Walter didn’t. I knew we took a risk. The weather can be extremely rough here. People disappeared and died on that lake. But none of that scared me. I put my trust in Walter’s skills and experience and in my endurance and unbreakable optimism.

Everything that needed to be said was said in those two minutes. We looked at each other, smiling with confidence: we are up for this. Expedition Lago Fagnano is about to start. And it’s gonna be one hell of an adventure.

Read more about our first day out there on the lake:

Kayak expedition Lago Fagnano – part 1


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