Loading

Genie and I made our first trip to Patagonia in January. We visited the Challhuaquen Lodge near Los Alerces National Park. The lodge sits on the banks of the Futaleufú River, which originates on the Argentine side of Patagonia, and a few miles below the lodge, flows into Chile and on to the Pacific.

In addition to the great fishing, we went hiking to waterfalls, exploring the National Park, birdwatching, enjoying great food and wonderful people. We left winter in the states to enjoy a couple of weeks of summer, with 9:30 sunsets, 90 degree temperatures, and beautiful blue skies behind the serrated ridges of Argentine Patagonia. Find this photoset on Flickr here.

Off on an adventure

Off on an adventure

Getting ready for a ten hour overnight flight, change airports, another two hour flight, then an hour drive. On the return, Delta reconfigured aircraft and booted us out of Economy Plus without even telling us.

First View of Patagonia

Here we are

Here we are

The lodge is on the Futaleufú River, across from Los Alerces national park. 10 miles from Chile.

Challhuaquen Lodge awaits

Beautiful Lodge

Beautiful Lodge

Log lodge on the Futaleufú River.

Dining Room

Dining Room

Gourmet Fare for the guests. Latest dinner was served at 10:50 PM

Fly Tying Table

Fly Tying Table

Wonderful setup for tying flies

Bar and Lounge

Bar and Lounge

Looking over the river at the mountains

One of six bedrooms

Sun anyone?

Sun anyone?

We had clear blue skies, temps in the 90's, time to catch some rays on the deck

Dusk on the Deck

Empanadas for snack

Empanadas for snack

Gotta get this recipe. This was a 6 PM snack to hold you over until the 10PM dinner.

BBQ anyone?

BBQ anyone?

One night at each lodge we had a BBQ, reminiscent of the Brazilian BBQ's in the states.

Challhuaquen from the River

Mount Monja

Mount Monja

across the river from the lodge

Sunset after a long day

Sunset after a long day

By this point, we had been up about 36 hours.

Futaleufú River

Futaleufú River

An Indian name meaning Rio Grande, or Big River. Originating in Los Alerces National Park, the river flows east, picks up several tributaries, then turns west, flows into Chile and empties into the Pacific.

Lodge View

Lodge View

Looking out across the river from the lodge.

Going hiking

Going hiking

There is a beautiful waterfall hike a few miles from the lodge. This river is another fly fishing destination. We saw hundreds of trout in the pools.

First falls

First falls

Pool is full of feeding trout

National flower

Second falls

Gregg & Genie at the falls

Double Drop

Final drop into the canyon

Genie in the mountains

Shed

Here we are

Here we are

The arrow points to a huge dam on the Futaleufú. The river then forms the southern border to the park, and the lodge is across the river about 10 miles from the Chilean border.

Dam on the Futaleufú

Dam on the Futaleufú

After the hike, Gustavo wanted to take us into the park to see the dam.

Beautiful lake framed by the Andes

Deep blue water

Serrated Ridge

Serrated Ridge

The mountains in Patagonia are distinct by the serrated edges of the ridges.

Blue sky, blue water

Snow-capped peaks

Reservoir in Los Alerces National Park

Reservoir in Los Alerces National Park

The lake impounded by the dam generates electricity to power an aluminum factory at the coast

Refreshing

Power lines over the river

Power lines over the river

The Futaleufú flows towards Chile. I didn't realize it at the time, but the dam has an incredible impact on the fishing. Because of the cold water flowing from the dam, the fishing was great even on cloudless 95 degree days.

Chimango Caracara

Chimango Caracara

The most common raptor we saw in Patagonia

History Lesson

History Lesson

Our host, Gustavo, insisted on taking us to a small museum to hear a talk about the original Welch immigrants to the area around Esquel

Tiny House

Gustavo translates

Gustavo translates

Genie's Spanish was a little rusty, so Gustavo translates what we are hearing in this pioneer cabin.

Spectacled Tyrant

Kestral

Upland Geese on the river

Ibis

Dipping a hook

Dipping a hook

About a half mile from the lodge was a long gravel bar with a glacial stream flowing into the Futaleufú. A huge eddy with Rainbows feeding on the surface. My first strike. I don't know if I've ever fished in a more beautiful spot.

Rainbow to the surface

Rainbow to the surface

Hooked him on a big grasshopper. In my experience, Patagonia is unique for the big fish feeding on the surface.

First Rainbow

First Rainbow

Nice to hook a fish on a new river without a guide. Another guest had been down there several days without a bite.

Greater Rhea

Greater Rhea

Similar to an Ostrich

Los Alerces National Park

Los Alerces National Park

Gustavo took us for a daylong drive up into the park.

Driving into the Park

Waterfall hike

Gregg & Genie at the Falls

Cascades

Falling Water

Glaciers on the Mountain

Reflecting the sky

Reflecting the sky

We drove up into Los Alerces one day. There are many rivers and lakes you can reach from Challhuaquen.

River Junction

River Junction

The water color was stunning

Baby Alerces

This is the foliage of the Alerces

Grandfather tree

Grandfather tree

Los Alerces national park is named after these trees which are endemic to the park. The oldest specimens are 3000 years old. They call them the Grandfather Tree. this specimen is 300 years old.

Alerces marker

Alerces cross-section

Incredible waters

Glacier Overlook

Ridges and clouds

Ridges and clouds

Notice the beach full of people in the foreground

Cool off in the lake

Cool off in the lake

Despite the frigid waters, the 90+ degree weather brought throngs to the beach in Los Alerces.

Want to know more

Want to know more

Check out Los Alerces national park

Back to the river to fish

Back to the river to fish

Duck flies over the river as we embark on a day fishing

Incredible eddy

Incredible eddy

There was a huge eddy across from the sandbar where I caught my first fish. On my two days of guided fishing, we started here.

Fish On!

Fish On!

We fished the whole morning in this eddy. We could often see eight or ten 16-21" Rainbows feeding on the surface within a 20 foot radius.

Nice rainbow trout

Nice rainbow trout

Float a parachute adams into the feeding fish, and bam! Genie came with us both mornings, and took the pictures on the river.

Guillermo guides the way

Guillermo guides the way

Our guide was incredible. He was respected enough by his fellow guides to be elected president of their association.

Trout hits the fly

Another rainbow

Got him hooked

One after another

Hello

That's a nice rainbow

That's a nice rainbow

I caught eight 16-2" rainbow trout between 9 and noon. When they quit biting on the surface, we went back to the lodge for lunch and siesta.

Fat Brown Trout

Fat Brown Trout

In the afternoon, we went back out and fished with streamers and a sinking tip line. Each afternoon, I caught three or four big browns. Unfortunately, Genie didn't come back in the afternoon, so I didn't get a picture of the biggest one.

Cinnamon Teal

Kingfisher

Kingfisher

We saw Kingfishers many times on the rivers and lakes. They are bigger than our kingfishers.

Rainbow on the line

Rainbow on the line

The second day of guided fishing, we went back out to the eddy where we started the first day.

Brought him in

Brought him in

Once again I had great luck. Caught 9 Rainbows in the morning on the surface with the parachute adams, and another three browns in the afternoon on streamers

Another catch

Still waters, big fish

Beautiful fish

Great scenery, Great fishing!

Here's another

Say hi

Say hi

Got where if I hooked into a 15" fish, you'd just shake him off

Raptors overhead

Sunset at the Lodge

End of a beautiful day

Futaleufú Sunset

Moon rises on our last night

Moon rises on our last night

We had an incredible five nights at Challhuaquen. Gustavo and the staff were wonderful. The fishing was great. The scenery was spectacular. Put it on your bucket list.

Tumblr