Kayaking in Tigre on the Parana Delta with El Dorado Kayak

Kayaking in Tigre on the Parana Delta with El Dorado Kayak

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This post is WAY overdue. Thank you for the reminders!

Almost 2 months ago we went on a day trip to the Tigre Delta to go Kayaking. Our spanish school (Vamos!) recommended a tour company to us called El Dorado Kayak. A day of kayaking outside of the city sounded great, so we signed up for a Sunday. We’ve been here in Argentina for just about 3 months in total now and I would have to say that the day we spent in Tigre with these guys probably ranks as one of the best days we’ve had, and El Dorado Kayak is by far the best tour company we’ve worked with.   I wrote a review about them on Trip Advisor here awhile ago, but figured it was about time I wrote something a little bit more thorough. So, here goes…

What is Tigre (some context)?

Tigre is a town just outside of Buenos Aires that is situated right on the edge of the Parana Delta. The Parana Delta is a massive delta (5400+ sq. miles) with tons of islands, many of which have vacation homes or B&Bs/hotels which are very popular place to spend a nice day outside of the city, and many others as you get further out which are pure wilderness.

Aerial_view_of_the_Lower_Paraná_Delta Image

An Aerial view of part of the delta

You can get to the town by train from Retiro station in just under an hour–and it’s a local train that stops frequently, so it’s really not very far away. The train costs ~$AR2 per person, which is about US 50 cents. Not bad.

Tigre_delta_map image

Not that far...

Our adventure

We were told to meet one of the guides in the Tigre station at 9:30am as they are based in Tigre, which meant that we had to be on the 8:30am train from Retiro, which meant that we had to get up at like 7:30am. Did I mention it was Sunday?? This was a rough start, but we made it. Then, we met Juan in the Tigre station next to the big map of the delta on the wall, which is pretty hard to miss.

Tigre_Delta_Map_In_Train_Station Image

See, pretty hard to miss

It also helped that Juan was the only guy walking around carrying a kayaking paddle. We weren’t really sure what to expect from him as you never really know what you’re getting into with local guides here, but we were immediately very impressed. His english is basically fluent and he’s quite a dynamic guy–aside from running kayaking trips, he is also in the middle of finishing an advanced degree in anthropology with a focus on Andean pan-pipe music (if I remember correctly) and teaches English.  Additionally, he is widely traveled outside of Argentina and even lived in Europe for a couple of years which gives him a much broader perspective than most.

As we followed him out of the train station, he told us that he had invited along one of his english students for the day so that he could be more exposed to english. Sounded great to us! Ignacio was ~13 years old and a nice addition to the trip. We followed Juan to the ferry station where he bought us tickets and then we got onto a ferry.

Tigre_Delta_Argentina_Ferry image

Lots of ferries leave from here all day--no roads, only boats

He explained to us how big the Delta is and showed us on a map how far out we were going. I don’t think we believed him about how far we were going until we had been on the ferry for an hour and still weren’t at our destination–and the ferry goes pretty fast :) Really cool scenery along the way though–lots of beautiful houses and people having big BBQs and enjoying the day. Very cool “this is where the locals go on weekends” sort of vibe.

Tigre house image

Lots like this, all with their own docks

It was a little over an hour on the ferry before we were dropped off at a fairly non-descript dock and walked a bit futher to the base camp of El Dorado Kayak:

El Dorado Kayak house Tigre Image

Home base with plenty of kayaks

Their house was literally the last one on the very edge of civilization. This was great, because it meant that we’d get to kayak away from all of the ferrys and other big boats that leave big wakes and get to see some real nature.

When we arrived at the house, we met Juan’s business partner Chapa. Chapa also spoke great english and was incredibly welcoming. He had kayaked out earlier so that he could have lunch ready for us when we arrived. The 5 of us sat down and had some delicious cheese sandwiches and Mate for a bit, then got ready to hit the river–very easy to leave stuff in their house while you’re on the river, so don’t worry about bringing stuff with you, it will be safe and you won’t have to take it in the kayak with you and get it wet.

El dorado kayak dock tigre image

This was their dock, and that dog is one of the only dogs that has been willing to play with Jen in all of Argentina

We got our brief onshore paddling lesson and then off we went. Chapa stayed behind to begin preparations for the massive Asado (aka huge BBQ with several courses of meat) that we would have when we returned. We took 2 tandem Kayaks, me and Jen in one and Juan and Ignacio in the other and followed a route that took us way, way out there–there were points where the water was almost too shallow even just for our kayaks, so definitely no other boats; other parts were more populated so we got to see lots of beautiful houses as well. It was beautiful, and it didn’t hurt that the weather was a perfect 75 degrees and sunny all day.

Tigre el Dorado Kayak trip image

Ah, pure nature

Tigre delta el Dorado Kayak trip image

...And some civilization as well

Juan set a great tone for the trip. It didn’t feel like we were tourists on a guided trip. He clearly knew an enormous amount about the area and shared a lot with us, but it felt more like we were just out kayaking with a friend and sort of hanging out, chatting about whatever came up. We kayaked for about 3.5 hours, which to be honest was probably an hour more than we needed… we were very tired when we finally got back to the house (and quite sore for the next several days). Along the way, Juan mentioned that his fiance and a friend of hers were going to join us for the Asado; we were excited to meet them (and have meat with them).

Tigre kayak trip image

In case you were wondering, this is harder than it looks--especially after 3 hours

We got back probably around 3:30ish and Chapa had outdone himself on the grill. We met Juan’s fiance and her friend, who were also finishing their theses in Anthropology and spoke near perfect english, and sat down to wine, soft drinks, home made chimichurri and criolla sauce, bread, salad and potatoes as we eagerly awaited each meat course that Chapa brought over to us. It started with Choripan which is one of our very favorite things–think of a spanish type Chorizo cut in half and put in bread. It’s awesome. That was the appetizer, then it was followed by 3 courses of different cuts of steak all of which were fantastic. We clapped for the chef more than once.

El Dorado kayak grill Tigre image

This was the grill!

We sat, talked and ate for almost 3 hours and had a wonderful time. Again, the coolest part was that it didn’t feel at all like a tourist thing, it felt like we had been lucky enough to be invited out with some locals to hang out at their house in Tigre for a Sunday. We talked about Argentine customs and food rituals, which the anthropologists knew quite a bit about–e.g., the traditions around drinking Mate and the traditions around Asados–discussed local politics, compared to the US and where ever else the conversation took us. As anthropologists (and just genuinely cool people), they had some fascinating things to say.

We caught the last ferry back to Tigre at 6pm which got us back to the town at ~7:15pm or so. Then we fought our way through the massive crowd (it was a beautiful day, so the place was PACKED) to buy return train tickets and finally made it back to Retiro at ~9pm followed by home at ~9:15pm where we promptly collapsed. At 12+ hours, including 3.5 hours of paddling, this was a full day indeed.

Costs/logistics

What did we pay for such a full day? Not much. To be honest, we don’t remember exactly… it was either AR$250 or AR$300 per person including everything (US$65-75 each). Quite a deal for a 12 hour day like that, especially when you factor in all of the food.  To set it up, you just need to email them and make a reservation (just check their website for contact info)–also, you should double check pricing, as it likely varies by season.  Logistically, all you have to do is get yourself to the Tigre train station which is very easy.  Trains leave Retiro station every 30 minutes or so 7 days a week.

Summary

As I said in the beginning, this is one of the best days we’ve had down here. Tigre is a great place to see (especially on a nice day) and I can’t recommend these guys enough. A lot of people go out to Tigre for the day and just ride around on the ferry; I think that’s an ok trip, but you see so much more if you do something like this. And, by the way, they’re quite happy to customize the kayaking portion if you want something that won’t leave you sore for several days :)

Highly, highly recommended.

A few more photos (and some repeats) in our image gallery here:  Tigre Image gallery


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Comments
  • Marnie June 6, 2010 at 11:33 am

    Great report that will be useful to many readers – loved the photos. Muchas Gracias. ~Marnie

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