Our Man In Canada
May 26th, 2003

Snowbirds in Patagonia

Chris Marshall

By Chris Marshall
Photo by Duncan Hardie

Arrayan

Ten Rivers & Ten Lakes outfitters operate out of Arrayan Lodge, located on a hillside high above San Martin de los Andes and Lake Lacar. The main lodge was built in 1939 for British actress, Renee Dickinson, who operated it as a lodge and tea house until her death in 1943 at the age of 31. At the end of WWII, her brother, Barney, who managed a local ranch but was away flying with the RAF in England, returned with his wife to take over the lodge, which they turned into one of the most renowned lodges in that part of Patagonia. Their daughter, Janet, who became a local ski instructor, still lives in the area.

View from Arrayan Lodge

Today, the new owners have reopened the main lodge as a tea house and restaurant, and have built a new lodge with luxury accommodation for eight in four private, ensuite double rooms, and with a common, glass-walled sitting room with bar and fireplace at the top of an octagonal tower, offering panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. They cater primarily for parties of fly fishers, but also arrange hiking, horseback riding, climbing, and rafting trips.

The Lodge

Fly fishers breakfast at the main lodge, are treated to a sumptuous shore lunch, and return to the lodge for a late gourmet dinner. Each trip can be customised to provide the kind of fly fishing the guests prefer. For full details visit their website at www.tenriverstenlakes.com

Getting There

We flew Air Canada to Miami and Aerolineas Argentinas to Buenos Aries. However, a number of other North American and European airlines fly into Buenos Aries. Prices vary, so it's best to shop around. The flight to Chapelco airport, just a 20 minute drive from San Martin de los Andes, is provided by a local airline, Austral Lineas Aereas. This flight leaves from the local airport, a 45 minute drive across the city of Buenos Aries. Ten Rivers and Ten Lakes outfitters will meet you at Chapelco to drive you to the lodge.

Gear

For wading the rivers, outfits of 3wt - 6wt with floating and sink tip lines are preferable. In ideal conditions, it's possible to get away with a 6wt on the lakes and when floating the big rivers, but to deal with the frequent winds, it's best to take along a 7wt or 8wt as well. A fully sinking line is also useful for getting the fly down deep on the lakes.

For flies, take along a selection of streamers and Woolly Buggers (weighted and unweighted), impressionistic nymphs (especially dragonflies), hairwing caddis, Wulffs, Adams, and tiny midges. However, the guides carry plenty of flies with them, especially local patterns for matching the hatch.

The rivers are cool, but not cold enough to warrant neoprene waders. Breathables with neoprene feet are quite adequate, and they're also so much lighter and less bulky for packing. Most of the rivers have sections with slippery boulders, making sturdy, felt-soled wading boots a necessity. Unless you prefer netting your own fish, there's no need to take a net, as the guides always carry one. One of the wonderful things about this part of Patagonia is that there are no mosquitoes! We took repellent, but never needed to use it. However, there are a few horseflies and suffered the occasional bite. A stick of Afterbite proved useful to relieve the itch. ~ Chris Marshall

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