SUP: A new way to enjoy the water

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By Marcela Martinez
My cousins and I were motivated to try SUPing (Stand Up Paddle boarding) out of curiosity about this growing sport and by our desire to try new things, but also to potentially discover a new way to enjoy the incredible natural scenery found in southern Chile for outdoor sports.
We began our SUP adventure in Puerto Varas early in the morning, at 7:30 am, with Jose Ignacio Muñoz, who would teach us how to stand up paddle board.  We inflated the SUP boards and donning wetsuits and lifevests jumped right in the water. We lacked experience paddling a surfboard, but after just a few minutes of instruction we managed to gain enough control and balance to enjoy this adventure to its fullest.  
The landscape bordering Lake Llanquihue couldn’t have been more picture perfect.  The real highlight of the excursion for me was the beautiful lake, which gifted us calm waters surrounded by the pure green vegetation of Puerto Varas and the Calbuco and Osorno volcanoes.  We paddled along the shoreline and each moment nature revealed something new. We heard nothing but the sound of the boards gliding through the water and occasional birds such as ducks.
Three kilometers of paddling without a break was plenty exertion for us. When we arrived at Puerto Chico at the other end of the lakefront of Puerto Varas, we rested and jumped in the water -- all that paddling had made us hot despite the morning chill. When we turned back to finish the trip, the sun’s rays peeked from behind the clouds, surprising us and illuminating the water. The way back felt much more tiring because we didn’t have the same strength as we started with, nevertheless we enjoyed every paddle stroke. Altogether, the journey’s six kilometers left us more than content. For sure, we left wanting to do this again.  
The origin of SUP comes from Polynesian cultures.  In Hawaiian a SUP is called Ku Hoe He'e Nalu, which means to stand, paddle, or navigate a wave.  It’s a water sport stemming from surfing that can be done in rivers, lakes, or oceans and involves paddling a board while standing up. 
José Ignacio Muñoz, the founder of SUP- Puerto Varas, for years was devoted to surfing, but a recent surfing injury led him to embrace this sport.  He says that although SUP is increasingly popular around the world, and more and more you see people enjoying the sport in Chile, the sport is still in its infancy here. Says Muñoz: “Stand up Paddling is easy, it has a fast learning curve and can be even be a family activity, it’s not competitive.”
Muñoz explains that its indispensable to have good weather to do SUP; in particular, its best to do SUP when there is less wind, because when its windy its harder to navigate the currents and its more dangerous. 
According to Muñoz, the best places to SUP near Puerto Varas are the shoreline in front of the city, La Poza, and the Chinquihue sector.  He says that without doubt southern Chile’s Araucania and Los Lagos regions offer the most potential for practicing SUP in the country. “I’ve been surprised because many women come here to paddle with us at 7 am and by 8 am they’re already dressed and going to work,” says Muñoz. His future projects include possibly organizing a SUP program for local schools. 

For more information visit: SUP- Puerto Varas on Facebook