Estancia de los Rios – Patagonia Chile | 9 Days – 8 Nights
Visiting Patagonia is like traveling back in time. Most of its inhabitants live from the land raising cattle or sheep. In this remote area, helping your neighbor is a way of life. Here the concept of time and distance are unique. Eight hours on horse back is what takes to visit your nearest neighbor. The streams are cool due to springs
percolating from the high Andean snow.
Waters are rich in sub-aquatic life with Nymphs, Crayfish, and Minnows. Wild, strong fighting trout populate these waters in great numbers. They were introduced to the streams of Patagonia in the late 1800’s. Brown trout were brought from Scotland across the Atlantic Ocean. Today, a hundred years later, we fish for wild trout of this same genetic stock. These beautiful fish seem to have been painted with vivid colors by the hand of an artist. For many years we explored the rivers of Patagonia searching for a place to build a fishing lodge. Long distances and poor roads represented the main obstacle for anyone interested in visiting the area for serious fishing. At Estancia de los Rios the main river in only 100 yards from the lodge from where we have access to various streams and spring creeks that can be reached within a short drive or on horseback.
Additionally to fishing, the following activities are available to our guests: horseback riding , hiking, scenic float trips, guided tours -by vehicle or horseback- to the Estancia’s headquarters or to visit the Gauchos -Patagonia’s cowboy- at work, mountain biking, tour to the Puerto Cisnes Fjord; visiting the small village and local salmon farming operation, tour to the Queulat National Park with magnificent views of the Queulat Glacier and hikes within the temperate rain forest, and finally cooking classes by the lodges chef , focused on typical Chilean dishes.
Arrive to Santiago, connect a flight to Puerto Montt after a 1:30 min, you will be met by one of our representatives after leaving the baggage claim area to assist you with your luggage and show you to your private transport to your hotel in the lake side village of Puerto Varas, only 30 min away where you will overnight.
Saturday: Depart your hotel around 10:30 am, After 30 minutes drive to La Paloma airport in Puerto Montt, the charter pilot will show you to your twin engine plane, a 1:20 minute scenic flight you will arrive to the lodge’s airstrip. Then a short 30 min. drive to the lodge. After lunch your guide will take you fishing to water near the lodge. After several hours of great dry fly or nymph fishing, we go back to the lodge for a welcome cocktail followed by dinner, during dinner the head guide will explain the plans for the next day.
Sunday: We usually fish our way upstream casting dries and nymphs. The river has a healthy population of Brown trout and excellent hatches.
A good fish weighs from 2 to 5 pounds, taking the fly eagerly but delicately. The challenge here is to spot the largest fish within range. After a morning’s fishing, we will have a streamside lunch. The afternoon program includes a nearby spring creek then, a short walk to the river to hit the main hatch. Spring creeks require more patience and delicate work but they can be extremely rewarding. The hatch on the main river is always exciting, suddenly coming alive with fish feeding on the surface; when this happens, you want to be close to the largest fish and with the right fly. Last summer during the hatch, our good friend Claudio hooked and landed four beautiful Brown trout between 3 and 5 pounds, all on dries, in a little more than an hour.
Monday: Today we’ll go fishing down the valley to the Andes where the river runs much larger in size due to a large tributary coming in from the North. We will fish from the junction down. Here the river goes through a narrow path between some rock banks; pools are very deep and slow, good holding spots for large trout.
We will start using streamers or Nymphs until we see some action on top, then we will change to dries. We fish each pool very carefully with our streamer or nymph, waiting for the big one to take our fly. As soon as these fish grab the fly, they head for a big log or rock, so you have to react fast in order to stop them, if you can. As we fish upstream the river opens into beautiful runs with gravel beds. Here the rest of the group will join us for a streamside lunch. This section of river has no access but by wading. We continue fishing, trying some dries and nymphs as we approach the evening hatch…
Tuesday: Today we go fishing toward the headwaters. Here the river is smaller and has an interesting structure. We will start using nymphs, fishing pocket water and a few deeper holes, covering between a couple of hundred yards to no more than a mile of river during the morning. As the water temperature rises we’ll switch to a dry fly. Using a smaller rod, you should be able to land between 10 to 15 fish in a morning. In general, wading is easy and safe. The rivers have gravel bottoms and are not slippery. The water is very clear so it’s easy to avoid large underwater logs or boulders. After the morning’s fishing, we’ll join the group for an “Asado” the traditional Patagonia barbecue with lamb or slabs of beef attached to irons thrust into the burning coals and rotated slowly. The charred meat is washed down with a robust Chilean red wine. Later, after the Asado and some rest, we get ready for more fishing. In the afternoon, our goal is to catch alarge trout on a dry fly during the hatch. We’ll go to a pool or run where you have spotted larger trout over the last few days. Once there, we will wait until the fish start rising for the hatch and go after your trophy.
Wednesday: Today we’ll fish a small stream located in a valley south from the lodge. Not more than 20 miles away.
We start the day fishing upstream with nymphs. We fish slowly, covering at the most a half mile during the morning. The stream is narrow with grass and bushes that touch the water from deep cut banks. The river has Brown trout in great numbers, which have never before seen a fly and are very strong. After lunch, we’ll fish further downstream where the river is larger. Here we will use grasshoppers, a pattern that works very well in most of the rivers that have cut banks. This valley is, without a doubt, one of the wildest corners of Patagonia.
Thursday: An early breakfast and then to the river, by now your guide should have told you all of the secrets of this great river. Today like all previous days, you will be fishing a section of the river you have not fished before. After you’ve enjoyed the evening hatch, we head back to the lodge.
Friday: After breakfast, we will enjoy a session of sight fishing for large Browns in the shallows of the nearby lake. Fish here very active even in a bright sunny day. This allows you to see fish as they came to your fly but curiously, here most fish come very slowly examining your fly with great attention to finally opening a large white mouth while continuing their usual path. The excitement of this type of fishing has no parallel since you are the privileged observer of all the action and the anticipation of the strike is hard to bare. Sizes of fish are quite remarkable and although many anglers do t favor lakes, this particular situation is extremely rewarding, basically like fishing a large spring creek.
Saturday: Departure. Today is your last day in Patagonia; you will enjoy a full morning fishing session. You will have the chance to go after the one that got away or perhaps try the fly you didn’t have last time. After lunch, the lodge’s vehicles will take you to the airstrip to meet the plane that will fly you to Puerto Montt to catch your connection to Santiago
Outdoor heaven is found in a remote valley nestled within the majestic Andes and the lodge in this paradise is Estancia de los Rios. The lodge is located on a 360,000-acre ranch offering incomparable seclusion and privacy in an incredibly beautiful setting. There are numerous possibilities for interesting walks and hikes from the lodge as well as several horseback rides to remote corners of the ranch. Various rivers and streams with wild Brown Trout allow for a world class fly fishing experience. The variety of environments provides great opportunities for bird watching unique and interesting species as nearly a hundred different species have been catalogued on the property. The streamside lodge can host up to 12 guests in style and comfort. Great care is taken to make this an authentic Chilean experience. The following is a list of outdoor activities that the lodge’s experienced and enthusiastic guides have carefully developed for its guest.
Our daily trips allow you to explore pristine areas of the large estancia and enjoy the comfort of the lodge. The terrain largely dictates the pace and the distance we need to travel on a certain day but where possible there is a lot of trotting and cantering specially during the longer rides. The terrain at the Estancia is varied with two mayor mountain ranges to the North and South of the lodge allowing day trips in to remote valleys and lakes, some above timberline. The use of horses is one of the main means of transportation in the area, thus there are trails to most areas of interest within the ranch. We will plan our daily rides the day before and they are tailored to the experience of the rider. Riders are accompanied by an experienced guide. In the event that other guests would like to ride we will pair the riding parties according to experience and interests. Experienced riders will be able to go at a faster pace always escorted by our guide. As to the lengths of the rides, these can be from one or two hours to daily rides of up to 6 hours with additional one or two hours rest and several stops.
The Horses: Criollos are native breed of mainly Iberian origin that has been bred by horsemen that have selected it for excellence since 1544. Later these horses were crossed with breeds brought from Europe. They vary in size but the majority being between of 14 and 16 hands. They are well schooled strong, fit, willing and sure footed. Horses are allocated to suit your level of riding experience. Each day before departure the horses are thoroughly checked for any signs of fatigue or injuries, when necessary the horses will be changed. Saddling up and the horses general welfare during the rides is the responsibility of the guide unless the guest wants to saddle its own. You will not be asked to help or look after your horse unless is something you specifically request.
The Riding Customs: The tack is Chilean and comprises of metal-framed saddles. Its origin is Spanish and they have been designed specially for long trips. Layered with “chiporro” (sheepskin) and protected with leather. The other clothing beneath the saddle are called: batan, pellon and matra (felt) and are normally laid on ground by gauchos and baqueanos to provide a soft and warm bed. Rope, rawhide and leather form the bridles, girths, straps etc. The stirrups consist of a leather cup through which the foot cannot pass. Most of the horses are ridden in simple snaffles. Halters are worn throughout the ride with rope tied around the horse’s neck to tie up at lunch stops/rest Saddles: Unlike any other saddle in America today. It takes the best of three styles: the rear looks western, the front looks Australian, and the middle looks English!
What You Need to Bring: In general we recommend to bring summer and winter clothing: long pants/riding pants, waterproof parka or rain coat, waterproof pants, leather riding boots, leather gaiters, strongly woven long sleeved shirt as protection on bush trails, fleece jacket, wool socks, hat as protection from sun, rain and branches, sunscreen lotion & lip balm, sun glasses, gloves, riding helmet. A more complete list with detailed information about what to bring will be sent to you once you boo
Sample Ride; Cascada Winchester Norte. After an early breakfast at the lodge, we meet with our guide who will hand us the necessary equipment. After a brief description of the ride, the “Chilean ” horses and its handling we start our ride towards the “Winchester Norte “waterfall. For the first 30 minutes we will ride through large natural prairies. Our guide will explain to us how to better handle and communicate with our horse, this way we will be able to enjoy our ride. We will start a slow ascent towards “Pampa Alta“ and gradually will begin gaining altitude until we reach the “Winchester Norte” canyon and the falls. From this point we will be able to observe beautiful views of the snowed capped Andes, the Cisnes river valley and the Carlota Mountain. We will be able to encounter several species of birds, among them the Gray chested buzzard eagle (Geranoaetus melanoleucus) and maybe the Majestic Andean Condor (vultur gryphus)
We Hill dismount for 30 minutes to hydrate relax and to enjoy the different vistas. For the more adventuresome, a short hike to take pictures or to swim under the waterfall is a possibility. We will then start our return to the lodge, riding along a slightly different route. Our guide will show us the potential of our horses to ride in a safe and calm way along traditional routes used by local “gauchos” on their daily work. Along the way we will observe the Cisnes river valley to the East as it transforms into a vast steppe or “pampa” with soft rolling hills covered by tussock grass as far as your eyes can see. The ride is coming into an end when, in the distance and we see the trees surrounding the lodge where the chef is waiting for us with refreshments and ours douvres. Dificulty: Easy Duration: 1⁄2 day Riding time: 3 hours Equipment: Riding or comfortable pants, gloves, polar fleece, wind breaker or similar, sun glasses. Equipment supplied: Saddle, reigns, helmet, and chaps. Maximum: 6 persons plus guide. Minimum: 1 person plus guide.
Walks and hikes
There are several hikes of different lengths and difficulty levels to beautiful corners of the ranch such as; water falls, forests and mountain lakes with a plethora of birdlife including flamingos and black necked swans, several species of ducks and other interesting water fowl.
Winchester lookout: We follow the Winchester creek up stream on its right shore. As you go up the hills you can appreciate great vistas of the main valley behind. Finally we get to the lookout and you can also appreciate the snow capped Andes. The gradient of the hike is intermediate and takes from. Time: 4 to 5 hours. Distance: Approximate distance of this hike is 7 miles round trip. Level: Intermediate.
Sarta Lake ( the source of the Cisnes river ): We start from the lodge by car and drive to a Gaucho post, here we will appreciate the local way of life of a sheep herder in Patagonia. From this point we start our hike ascending towards the North leaving the steppe and entering beautiful Ñirre a nd later Le nga forests. We co nti nue ascending until we reach the tree line. We reach the beautiful Sarta lake which is the source of the Cisnes river on our way back we will enjoy beautiful views of the Andes and the Cisnes valley below and the tips of the Magdalena mountains further South. The variety of environments will enable us to appreciate several species of local flora and fauna. Total approximate distance: 10 miles. Time: Approximately seven hours round trip. Level:Intermediate.
Sawmill lookout: We drive to the ruins of an old sawmill. We walk towards the South following an old logging road until we get to a cross road, we take the left road and begin slowly walking up the hills. Having advanced up the hills we can see the beautiful Cisne Valley and the snow capped Andes mountains towards the West. Approximate distance: 2,5 miles.Time: 3 hours. Level: Easy.
Carlota lake descent to lodge: We drive from the lodge to the Carlota lake passing first through the floor of the main valley and then through thick Lenga forest. We continue climbing until we reach the lake almost at the top of the mountains. Once we reach the lake, we continue climbing by foot to get to the top of the Carlota hill which is above timberline. On our way we will walk by a smaller lake which hosts a variety of birds. As we climb we will appreciate the change in size of the Lenga forest due to the increased height and stronger winds. Once on the top of the Carlota hill we will be able to enjoy magnificent vistas of both the Cisnes and the Magdalena valleys. On our way down we will enjoy walking through the Lenga forest and walk by several small lagoons and bogs this will give us the chance to see a variety of birds and animals. Total distance: 15 miles. Time: Approx. 7 hours. Climb takes approximately 3 hours and the descent 4 Level: Difficult.
Buitrera falls: We start our hike following the Cisnes river downstream all the way to the confluence of the Buitrera creek and the Cisnes. We follow the creek upstream walking through a beautiful and small valley as we continue up the valley as it gets narrower and the rivers runs through a small canyon with rock walls which get steeper and narrower as we continue up ending on a great waterfall that flows through interesting rock formations. From this point we can continue wading the river upstream or walking along, we will find beautiful pools here we can swim in its crystal clear waters. After we have followed the creek upstream for almost a quarter of a mile, we turn East and walk through the barren hills appreciating the beautiful Cisnes valley below. Total Distance: 7 miles. Time: Approximately 5 hours round trip. Level: Intermediate.
The ranch offers the opportunity to travel along a variety of trails and ridges on a mountain bike. Using the equipment we provide to assure comfort and safety, biking allows our guests to fully enjoy the geography of Patagonia. The use of helmets, gloves, sunglasses and adequate footwear are an important element for each of these outings. Half-day bicycle explorations will be combined with trekking and horseback riding explorations. Duration: Half or full day. Difficulty level: excursions are matched to guest capacity: expert to novice.
The extent of the property and the variety of environments provides several different eco systems for birding. The guides have identified and catalogued close to a hundred species of birds at the ranch. . If we venture into the rain forest, we can observe several more unique species such as most of the Tapa Culos, the Des Mur’s wire tail or the Megellanic wood pecker. Further east on drier and open environments there is a very good chance to see several species of birds of prey such as; falcons, owls, eagles and carrion eaters like the Crested Cara Cara, Chimango and the majestic Andean Condor. The river and several lakes offer the opportunity to observe: The flamingo, the black necked swan, rails, grebes, geese, ducks and stilts. Duration: Half or full day. Difficulty level: excursions are matched to guest capacity; expert to novice.
Photographic and Cultural Safaris
Visit the local village to learn about the unique way of life of its inhabitants and go shopping to the local store where you will see a reflection of the local way of life by looking at several interesting items such as; hand tools, saddles, horseshoes, hats, shoes, boots, essential food items such as the “Mate” a herbal infusion, and common items to us but there considered a luxury such as Chocolate, a soda can or a bottle of wine. Drive across the Andes from the dry pampas and hike into the rainforest. On the way you will see an interesting transition of landscape as we get deeper into the mountains populated by
several unique species of tall trees and plants such as the wild fuchsia, tall Beech Notofagus trees, ferns and elephant ears. Duration: Half or full day. Difficulty level: excursions are matched to guest capacity; expert to novice.