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Anna and Andrew Gill recently returned from a wonderful fly fishing holiday to Chilean Patagonia – “we couldn’t believe it held brown trout to 8lb’s and beyond”. Staying at Cinco Rios and Estancia del Zorro, they have shared this trip report with us:
We recently returned back from a wonderful holiday to Cinco Rios and Estancia del Zorro, on the outskirts of Coyhaique in Patagonian Chile with my husband Andrew, and our two boys Callum and Dougal. We all thoroughly enjoyed the fantastic hospitality shown by Sebastian and his team of excellent guides over our two week stay.
Traveling from Sydney, we landed in Santiago which allowed us to adjust to the new time zone and explore the city. Our accommodation for a few nights in a converted 1927 Mansion was very nice, perfectly positioned, quiet and very comfortable. Located in Bohemian Santiago, we had access to a range of nice restaurants and cafe’s within walking distance and it was a great way to start the trip.
After a short domestic flight we landed in Balmaceda near Coyhaique and were greeted by Sebastian. Coyhaique is very remote, however it’s a real outdoor adventure town with plenty of mountain climbers and adventurers using it as their Patagonian base for a range of activities in the Andes. For us it was fly-fishing and soon we were taken to the outskirts of town and to the famous Cicno Rios lodge, towered by snow-capped mountains. While catering to a largely American client base, the lodge was well set out with a myriad of huge glacial rivers and lakes to fish.
The diversity of fishing in the region is outstanding. Fantastic rivers to drift boat, or Jetboat to glacial lakes, Sebastian and his team have the access and understanding to make the absolute most of the opportunities and weather conditions. The scenery is a major distraction you will miss strikes as a result!
Our designated guides Ivan, Hector and Lalo were excellent throughout our stay where we caught numerous rainbow and brown trout using a variety of methods including drift and float boating and jet boating which was exhilarating. For me it was my first time to try fly fishing and after an early mishap with my new rod, I also landed several fish throughout the week!
The scenery was magnificent and stunning, and we enjoyed the opportunity to take daily picnic lunches by waterfalls, lakes and the river side. Overlooking the Rio Simpson river we fished numerous others during our stay including the Azul, Desague, Rio Paloma. We all really enjoyed floating the Manihuales River and the boys felt their fly fishing really improved during this short amount of time. The guides are as hungry as you are to get on to the fish. Sebastian was a great host and we enjoyed hearing plenty of stories during the evenings with fine food, and meeting a range of other anglers there during our stay.We then set off in our second week to stay at Estancia Del Zorro, a 50,000 acre family ranch and fly fishing lodge on the edge of Chile and Argentina. For us this really was the highlight of our holiday, staying in a traditional residence belonging to Sebastians family and with access to numerous bordering properties, the fly fishing options were endless.
The private spring creek at Estancia Del Zorro is truly unique piece of water, while there was some wind about which made it challenging at times we couldn’t believe it held brown trout to 8lb’s and beyond! We managed numerous brown trout to 21 inches during our stay and the boys particularly enjoyed guide Pablo who was excellent and patient throughout the week. He took particular care in sharing local dry fly techniques on the often highly technical spring creek. If you paid attention the results flowed generously.
We really enjoyed the Gaucho experience, riding horseback and fly fishing throughout the property. We also spent a thrilling morning on a cliff top 1400m above the valley floor watching Andean Condor’s roost and soar above our heads on a neighbouring property – incredible!
The food and Chilean wine at the lodge was amazing where we dined in the communal ‘Great Room’ each evening with other guests. The Estancia was a real authentic Chilean experience which will stay with us forever and it was hard to say goodbye. We then flew back to Santiago and onto Valparaiso, a world heritage city by the sea with great culture and again, thoroughly enjoyable. Our hotel was was really well positioned in a cultural and creative hub, with easy walking access to good restaurants and cafes. Our room overlooked the old city with ocean views and with some sightseeing and visits to local wineries it really capped off a wonderful family holiday.
Thanks again James and to Fly Odyssey Australia for organising our holiday, we hope to return again sometime soon!
Anna and Andrew Gill.