Access to Barraco Lodge requires a 2-hour flight from Santiago de Chile and a 3hr drive, followed by a zip across Martin lake by speedboat. Omar and his oxen, Muchacho and Bonito, wait on the other side to transport guests and their luggage up the steep hill to the lodge. Piping chimneys and Pisco sours await. This is a world class hideaway set amidst a bucolic backdrop of forest, grassland, rivers, lakes and soaring peaks. The lodge is hearty, soulful, wholly uninterested by thread-count and room service. The Puelo river, perfect for dipping in, runs by the property, carrying glacial water from the mountains to the lake below. Guests are usually woken to the sound of kindling being added to the wood burner in each chalet. Shower water pressure and temperature are erratic. Mealtimes are biblical. Sleep in this part of the world is well earned and incomparably deep. Jaime and Boris, who run the show, are both experienced helicopter pilots and thrill in taking guests to the wildest corners of the region for off-piste skiing, rafting, trekking, kayaking and riding.
Location: Landing into Puerto Montt in Chilean Patagonia (1h45m flight from Santiago), travel 2 hours by 4×4 along a dirt track, cross a turquoise lake by speedboat, then travel up a steep hill to the secluded setting of Barraco Lodge as your luggage is loaded into a traditional cart and pulled up the hill by oxen. The journey to Barraco is an incredible experience in itself, with arresting scenery of ancient forests creeping up mountains in every direction. This remote part of northern Patagonia remains completely wild; mountains are densely-clad with pristine forest and carved by fast-flowing rivers and waterfalls carrying pure mountain water. One of the lodge’s great assets is its position, high on a mountainside, providing breathtaking views over the lakes and valleys below.
The lodge: Sleeping 10-12 guests in 3 log cabins with wood-burning fires, Barraco is an inviting wilderness refuge with heart and soul. Originally a 1940’s colonial style house, the lodge has been renovated by local craftsmen using materials gathered from the surrounding forest; predominately larch wood. The style is intrinsically Patagonian, blending effortlessly into its natural environment.
Private rooms feature King beds, hand-carved wooden furniture, fluffy sheepskins, thick blankets with traditional Mapuche embroidery, chandeliers designed from antlers, and large en-suite bathrooms.
Each cabin has ample indoor and outdoor dining and social spaces, including a lounge, music room with piano and a well-stocked library with books detailing the history of Patagonia. There’s also a sauna and outdoor hot tub with a view across the valley – what a way to relax after a day out exploring!
Exploring Your Surroundings: While there’s plenty of time for reading, swimming and relaxing, days here are generally adrenaline-charged. There is hiking through dense forests, mountain climbing, horse-riding, fly-fishing, kayaking alongside glaciers and puffing volcanoes and whitewater rafting. All activities are completely personalised with private guides. The lodge also offers more gentle expeditions, as well as relaxing massages.
Horse riding: Expeditions are led by experienced mounted guides, sleeping in tents each night around a campfire.
Helicopter Rides: Lodge manager, Boris, is warm, welcoming and great fun. The fact that he doubles as a helicopter pilot makes him one of the coolest guys we know in Patagonia. There are two helicopters at the lodge, and whilst the most popular expeditions are heli-fishing and heli-skiing, flights to nearby volcanoes and glaciers for treks and indulgent lunches are incredible experiences not to be missed.
The helicopters are used to reach the most secluded hiking trails and high-altitude lakes for fishing and paddle-boarding. One of the most extraordinary experiences takes guests over the Puelo and Poicas rivers, to see and sulphur pluming from the Puelo volcano, before flying over the immense ice crevasses of the Yates Glacier, with views of Hornopirén Volcano, Pinto Concha Lake and the Pacific Ocean. Those keen to do so can then heli-skiing down the 45-degree slope of the volcano.
Stalking & Fishing: Deer and bore stalking are on offer from March to April. Fly-fishing is a year-round activity and a highlight of a stay at Barraco Lodge. The location is close to the Puelo and Triador Rivers and the guides are first-class – taking guests on jet boats to different sections of river or lake each day, and providing classes for beginners. Heli-fishing is incredibly popular at Barraco as it allows guests to access pristine rivers and creeks which might never have seen a rod before.
Patagonian Cuisine: Chef Maite Daroch spoils guests with hearty cuisine to keep energy levels high and bellies full. Delicious BBQ’s are served outside with stunning views over Lake Tagua Tagua – these tend to be very leisurely, indulgent affairs!
Maite sources all food locally and grows many products in the onsite organic garden, ensuring ingredients are always fresh. Dishes range from Patagonian specialities such as lamb, king crab and seafood, to traditional native dishes like wild mushrooms (Morchelas) from the Puelo Valley.
Romantic Escape: The seclusion and tranquility of Barraco’s setting and the beautiful surrounding landscapes provide the perfect romantic escape for nature and adventure lovers. We arrange romantic excursions in Tagua Tagua national park; hiking along nature trails, swimming in crystal-clear lagoons and private picnics at the foot of hidden waterfalls. One of our favourite excursions is taking a boat trip to a remote lake beach for a typical Patagonian asado (BBQ) and Pisco Sours. There are also volcanic hot springs hidden away in the forest that your private guide can take you to by helicopter for a relaxing afternoon à deux.
Sustainability: Barraco Lodge is proud to use green energy, always using organic and local produce. The lodge works in close partnership with local communities and supports local causes in conjunction with tourism. Sustainability is an important part of their operation and they are keen to share with guests their passion for protecting their natural surroundings.
Part of a Journey: We’d recommend 3-7 nights at Barraco Lodge. Following this, fly south to Torres del Paine National Park in Southern Patagonia for spectacular hiking, or north to the Atacama for lunar landscapes and desert expeditions.