Rio Palena is an elegant fishing lodge set in southern Chile‘s magnificent Aysen Region, gateway to the fabled Carretera Austral. The landscape is majestic. Snow-capped volcanoes and bamboo forests border aquamarine glacial lakes.
Accommodating just 14 guests, there are seven en-suite bedrooms, each with views across the valley.
Rio Palena brims with large wild trout – rainbows and browns – that easily rival the spoils of Iceland and New Zealand. There is wading and floating right from the lodge. Drift boats and jet boats are used to navigate big rivers and glacial lakes, as well, of course, as opportunities to fish smaller streams from the bank.
Specialised guides are in tune with changing river and weather conditions and where to fish the best hatches, which stretches to float and the prime spots for a day of heli-fishing.
Guides will cater to a a variety of fishing styles, hurling big streamers, casting dries or nymphs in the riffles. Those looking to improve their technique will be assisted.
There are short travel times to each location, giving travellers more time on the water. Six full days is recommended for exploration of the rivers, lakes, and streams that surround the lodge.
For those not fishing, there is birding, mountain biking, riding and hiking through the expansive Andean forests.
Try rafting the rapids of the Futaleufu River or row out in a canoe. Picnics are prepared to be eaten shoreside. Those interested in Chilean produce may try their hand at cookery classes some wine tasting.
When to visit?
January and February are the summer months and the best time for dry fly fishing. As the southern hemisphere heads into autumn, river levels lower and the fish are more concentrated. For mixing streamers, driers and nymphs, early autumn is the best time to visit. April is the beginning of the spawning season for the browns and a good time to search for the largest trout.
How to get to Rio Palena
Fly into Santiago and connect to a domestic flight to Puerto Montt. Fly to Chaiten followed by a three-hour drive to Rio Palena Lodge.
Alternatively, travellers may charter the Cessna Grand Caravan from Puerto Montt to the Palena airfield which leaves just a 20-minute drive to the lodge.