14 Day/13 Night Fly Fishing Sample Itinerary
Day 1: Depart airport of origin, international overnight flight to Santiago, Chile (SCL)
Day 2: Your shuttle driver-‐guide will meet you at the single arrival hall and you will continue your journey south by vehicle. The route follows along the Austral Highway on pavement and improved gravel road to Puerto Río Tranquilo, a village on the shores of Lago General Carrera, Chile’s largest lake and South America’s second largest lake. Driving time is approximately four hours.
After checking in to your private cabana or boutique bed and breakfast the evening may be spent relaxing or taking a stroll about the lakeshore and town.
Day 3: Following breakfast we head to the local dock where we depart by boat to explore the fascinating and labyrinthine intricacies of the Marble Chapel and Marble Cathedral along the lake’s coastline towards the south.
After lunch we continue south. Our destination is the small hamlet of Puerto Bertrand, located at the headwaters of the Baker River, Chile’s largest volume river, a world-class fishery and the centerpiece of a contentious dam-building project by the Spanish energy consortium Endesa. Driving time is approximately two hours.
After checking in at the waterfront hotel where you’ll spend the night, we’ll continue by road further south to view the mighty Confluencia, junction of the Baker and Nef rivers and a thundering cataract whose majesty would be lost if the dam ever becomes reality. Time permitting we may continue to the lower portion of the Patagonia Land Trust's proposed future national park in nearby Valle Chacabuco. Here is an excellent location for game viewing of guanaco, condors, foxes, rheas and other wildlife. The Land Trust is part of a family of organizations established by entrepreneurs-‐turned-‐conservationists Kristine and Douglas Tompkins to establish new protected areas, recover imperiled species, and promote healthy associated communities.
The evening can be spent relaxing over a glass of wine or a stroll about the hamlet.
Day 4-6: The next several days are dedicated to fishing the impressive Rio Baker. The Baker has attracted international recognition for the excellence and challenge of it's fishery, yet remains a largely private experience. The river is a crystal--clear, turquoise--colored powerhouse that yields impressive results wade fishing along its banks as well as float fishing from catarafts or other small craft.
Local trout are comprised most abundantly of rainbow, including the incredibly strong and athletic Río Baker variety, steelhead-‐like in size and life cycle though not in selectivity for the fly, as well as some brown trout. As you probe the local reaches you’ll pass by occasional farms and observe the pace and texture of rural life bordering the river.
If not all members of the party wish to fish, we can explore options for other activities including a visit to the nearby town of Cochrane, a typical Patagonian community and the last major settlement along the Austral Highway before the road ends 230 kilometers further south. Another option is to visit Caleta Tortel, a tiny village located where the Baker River flows into the coastal fiords and known for its many wooden stairs and walkways. We return to the same lodgings each of these evenings unless we plan an overnight in Caleta Tortel in advance.
Day 7-8: This morning we take a short drive south, turn off the main road and cross over the Baker River on a small suspension bridge spanning a narrow gorge. Continuing to the road’s end we arrive at the waters of the Río Maitén where we meet our gaucho (Patagonia cowboy) friends and horse guides who will accompany and support us during this portion of your trip.
The next several days will be spent between hiking and fishing, following local horse trails and the natural path of the river, seeking out the most productive waters each day and tent camping each night. Packhorses will carry the fishing and camping equipment allowing you the freedom to explore and to enjoy. The Maitén is a small to medium-‐sized clear water stream with great dry fly fishing for rainbow trout.
You’ll also be able to choose from a variety of additional local waters and secret holes. The are is home to third generation working ranches and the river route takes us past several homesteads. The terrain consists of semi--open, grassy fields interspersed with both scrub and mature forest. Lunches will be somewhere along the trail where we may invite a local gaucho out herding cattle or sheep to join us, or be invited to share mate, the traditional local tea sipped from a gourd through a metal straw. Dinner is prepared by your guides at a tent camp along the shores of the river or near a neighbor's home.
Day 9: This morning we finish our hike, fishing along the way to the road head where we meet the shuttle vehicle. We say goodbye to our gaucho friends and begin our return. Depending upon the time, we may choose to return via a different road, one that shuttles the vehicle over the river using a motor-‐less, cabled ferry raft, devices that were once quite common in Patagonia but that have all but disappeared as bridges take their place.
After settling back in to your previous lodgings and enjoying a shower and meal you may wish to head our for an evening session on the Baker just in case you missed any lunkers the first time around.
Day 10: After breakfast we pack our belongings and head to the hamlet of Bertrand. The town’s dock is the departure point for a class III whitewater rafting descent of the Baker River. After your descent we enjoy a picnic lunch and return to Bertrand.
The town dock is also the departure point for the 16-‐kilometer long boat shuttle to the first of Patagonia Frontiers’ wilderness ranches. We pass through a narrow gap, a breach in an ancient glacial moraine, from the striking blue water of Lago Bertrand to the beautiful jade-‐green Lago Plomo. Once we arrive, are greeted by the staff, and have a look around you settle in to your accommodations in the rustic guesthouse.
We round out the day exploring the ranch and surrounding property, picking fruit in the orchards, meeting the horses, or just relaxing. Meals are served ranch-‐style, or carried along for enjoyment during hikes or rides.
Rafting is optional though it must be coordinated in advance. In lieu of rafting you may choose to come directly to the ranch.
Day 11: As the sun rises up from the end of the lake we can sip yerba mate and marvel as the light plays over the snowy-‐headed peaks encircling the ranch. We shuttle by boat to the beginning of our six-‐mile day hike back to the ranch. The route follows a high bench above Lago Plomo with glaciated peaks at our shoulder and the lake splayed out below our feet. On the horizon lies the expansive Northern Patagonia Icefield with its seemingly endless peaks.
This is the traditional route used by the gauchos, our friends and neighbors. Families living in the valley follow the trail with herds of cattle on their way to market, or in years past, before more frequent boat travel, for purchasing their supplies of flour, sugar, mate, and other sundries. We hike between rocky outcroppings, across high alpine valleys, and through enchanted forests of native beach dripping with moss.
As we near the lake’s end we view far up the wide Solér Valley floor and beyond to where the afternoon sun stands watch over the summits. We descend from the bench and finish our hike across forested pasture to the dock, boats, houses and barns we’ve been spying from a distance. It will be a long, satisfying day that finishes with a wholesome meal, a glass of fine Chilean wine and falling asleep while listening to the horses soft grazing on home pasture.
Day 12: After a slow morning we meet some of the ranch’s sturdy Criollo mounts, familiarize you with the comfortable Gaucho tack and enjoy a horse ride around the area. In Patagonia, horseback riding is an integral part of the traditions, customs and daily affairs of a unique and colorful culture.
The horse is one of the most salient features of everyday rural life and to ride a horse in the great expanse of wild Patagonia is more than a simple adventure. It is also a chance to become momentarily immersed in the distinctive and gracious culture of the local gauchos and to be offered a glimpse into one of the most traditional sectors of Chilean society.
After the ride we can relax, enjoy the ranch and prepare for wine on the beach around a campfire.
Day 13: Come sip hot coffee or tea on the porch while the smell of fresh bread escapes from the ranch house kitchen. Take a stroll along the lakeshore, hunt for cherries or gooseberries in the orchards, or wander through old forest listening for the characteristic thumping of the Magellanic Woodpecker, one of the largest woodpeckers in the world and the model for Disney’s Woody Woodpecker. If you like we can go Boca-‐fishing, taking the boat out on Lago Plomo to the small yet productive areas located where individual waterfalls, cascading down from the cliffs above, enter steeply into the lake.
In the evening we plan on a customary Chilean barbeque, or asado parado. Guests, staff and neighbors traditionally all share in this feast of lamb, slow-‐roasted over an open fire, new potatoes, fresh salads from the greenhouse, bread and wine. Don’t be surprised to find yourself staying up late listening to the strumming of a guitar and a soft, Spanish melody.
Day 14: After saying our early morning goodbyes we return by boat to Puerto Bertrand and begin the drive north to the Balmaceda/Coyhaique airport for your afternoon domestic flight to Santiago and overnight international flight home.