Villa Maria Behety

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Tierra del Fuego

    Villa Maria Behety Overview

    Largest River Frontage (100+ pools) on the Rio Grande…

    La Villa Maria Behety and Estancia Maria Behety is perhaps the most desirable of the high profile lodges on the river because of its access to over thirty-two miles (105 pools) of the best river frontage in the system. Anglers are never more than a thirty minute drive from the furthest beat.

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    Most Deluxe Lodge on the Rio Grande…

    La Villa de Estancia Maria Behety is the most deluxe lodge on the Rio Grande. Limited to six anglers per week, guests share more than 102 pools with Estancia Maria Behety Lodge and enjoy old world charm in the beautifully restored, historic mansion. There is no finer lodge in South America, and no lodge in Tierra del Fuego that's more appropriate for non-angling companions. Amenities include a 9,000 bottle wine cellar, private rooms, Jacuzzi tubs and a very talented team of guides.

    Arguably the Most Coveted Sea-Run Fly Fishing Experience on Earth…

    Hooking up with a big sea run brown is an emotional fishing experience that defies accurate description. Even the most die-hard steelheaders will admit nothing really compares to the grab of a chromed up sea-going brown trout. The Rio Grande is ground zero for the greatest runs of sea-run browns in the world – with over 1000 fish per mile throughout the 50 miles of prime spawning and fishing habitat. Only six true fly fishing operations enjoy access to this mystical river. The maximum combined occupancy of all the Rio Grande lodges between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chilean border is about 50 anglers. That’s an average of nearly a mile of private water for every single fisherman.

    Extremely Competitive Availability. Book Early…

    Guest capacity at our Rio Grande properties is purposely small in order to deliver exceptional personal service and a world-class fishing experience. Our lodges’ limited capacity, as small as six and no larger than twelve, results in space becoming extremely tight, especially during high-demand months of January, February and March. Therefore, if you are serious about booking a trip to the Rio Grande it is important to get on the wait list as soon possible. Usually by the end of May we are in position to offer rod space to those on the waiting list. That is not to say that prime space isn’t available later in the year, but if you are set and going and want to secure pick-of-the-litter dates – get on the wait list and book early!

    Tierra Del Fuego

    Tierra del Fuego (“Land of Fire”) is literally located at the end of the earth on the southern tip of South America. It is actually an archipelago separated from the mainland by the Strait of Magellan and collectively forms the Cape Horn, only a few hundred miles from Antarctica. The Rio Grande is located on a northerly portion of Tierra del Fuego known as the “estepa”, or the region of southern Patagonia signified by its isolation and endless panoramic rolling hills. The Rio Grande River is the most popular sea-run brown trout river in the world, and runs upstream (west) from the Pacific Ocean and the town of Rio Grande for approximately eighty kilometers before entering the Chile.

    In 1520, Ferdinand Magellan, searching for the western route to the Indies saw smoke rising to the south while navigating the straits that have since been named in his honor. It is said that the smoke was from signal fires lit by native Ona people, alerting their communities that something new and strange had been spotted on the horizon, a tall ship. Magellan named the island, Tierra del Fuego, “The Land of Fire.”

    Today the geo-political name, Tierra del Fuego refers to both the island - of which the western half is located within Chile, and the eastern half within Argentina – as well as a specific Province of the Republic of Argentina, comprising the Argentine half of the island and the Antarctic Peninsula. Tierra del Fuego is a very young territory; its first non-native residents came in 1871. Its first town, Ushuaia, is the southernmost city in the world and was founded only a hundred years ago.

    La Villa Maria Behety & The Rio Grande:

    La Villa, at the entrance to the 275,000-acre Estancia Maria Behety, was once regarded as among the most beautiful ranch mansions in all of South America. Its guests brought fame to the Rio Grande, and their stories and laughter filled the villa until it was gutted by fire in the late 70's. After painstaking restoration by local craftsmen and the addition of every modern convenience, the Menendez Family Home is once again welcoming angling guest.

    The fences of the Estancia Maria Behety and La Villa Maria Behety surround 495 square miles of cattle and sheep grazing country, approximately 275,000 acres. All of these pampas border the northern bank of the Rio Grande opposite the Estancia Jose Menendez and Estancia Despedida. The three fishing lodges on the opposite bank alternate daily use of slightly 32 miles of Estancia Maria Behety river frontage in a friendly, organized and harmonious relationship that insures a quality and private experience for everyone on the river.

    From its promontory nearly 30 kilometers from the estancia entrance, the Villa Maria Behety is within minutes of more than 100 of the finest pools on the river and their location alone ensures one of the top trophy trout trips on the planet. The lodge is limited to only six anglers (single occupancy bedrooms) for each of the 14 weeks of the season. Although La Villa Maria Behety is the most opulent of the lodge’s on the Rio Grande, make no mistake, or be fooled by the charm comfort and amenities of La Villa. This destination is a fishing lodge – first and foremost.

    Though most of the Rio Grande is on the Chilean side of the border, nearly 80% of the prime spawning habitat and all of the Rio Grande’s best fishing is on the Argentina portion of the island, much of it in the first 45 miles above where the river enters the sea. The maximum combined occupancy of all the Rio Grande lodges between the Atlantic Ocean and the Chilean border is about 50 anglers. That’s an average of nearly a mile of private water for every single fisherman.

    The lodges on the opposite, southern riverbank are Despedida, Kau Tapen, and Villa Maria (part of Kau Tapen). The upstream estancias separating Maria Behety and Kau Tapen from nearby Chile border increasingly shallow pools, more marginal spawning habitat, and fewer and fewer sea trout. Resident brown and rainbow trout fishing in the tributaries and the Rio Grande headwaters is excellent.

    Everything about the lodge revolves around the Menendez Family’s personal guarantee and total commitment to offering the finest fly fishing experience in the Americas. The guides are renowned for both their intimate knowledge of the Rio Grande and consistent success in bringing monster sea trout to the bank. All of the guides at the lodges on the Rio Grande are Argentines. In fact the entire staff and management at both lodges on the Estancia Maria Behety are home grown; the chefs, hostess, maids, yard boys, every single employee is there to meet and/or exceeded your trip expectations.

    The Fishing

    Fishing for sea-run brown trout is very similar to fishing for steelhead in many ways. Similar to steelhead, which are anadromous (sea-running) rainbow trout, the brown trout of Tierra del Fuego actually return to the ocean each season to feed and grow. They return to their natal waters on the Rio Grande River to spawn each year, and offer an incredible opportunity for anglers to catch some of the largest and liveliest brown trout on earth! Sea-run browns on the Rio Grande average 10 - 14 lbs, and experienced fly rodders usually hook about a half dozen per day. Trophy fish in excess of 20 pounds are not uncommon and about one in 50 is a monster pushing 30 pounds or more.

    The character of the water on the Rio Grande is for the most part, wide and slow moving as it meanders down the hill from the headwaters in Chile. It is perfect habitat to swinging flies with heavy single handed or spey rods to fish laid up in pools waiting to push up stream.

    Tackle and techniques on the Rio Grande are not very complicated. Anglers choose from a broad range of lines, tips and terminal tackle according to the water conditions. Experienced steelhead and Atlantic Salmon fishermen immediately feel “in their element.” Quartering downstream with streamers or dead drifting nymphs are the most common methods used, and skated dry flies are terrific when the conditions are right.

    The Rio Grande is one of the easiest streams to wade in the Americas. The river is seldom more than thigh deep, and can be easily crossed between pools. There’s no moss on a bottom made of nothing but perfect spawning habitat ranging in size from pea gravel to golf ball sized rocks. Leave your studded boots at home because there isn’t a rock big enough on the Rio Grande to trip over.

    Boat runs are never more than 10-15 minutes, and your fly line will be in the water by 8:00AM at the latest. Guides always give a brief orientation and chat up the day’s game plan relative to what species you want to target, the expected tide, and fishing conditions. The game plan may consist of a morning bonefishing session followed by a walk to the reef, cruising for trevally, walking the edges harassing triggers, or hitting the channels in search of feeding milkfish. It seems every day is a different ballgame – but with so many different species around there is absolutely never a dull moment. After a full day of fishing you return to the mothership at 4:00PM, arrive at Alphonse at 5:00PM, cocktails at 6:30, dinner at 7:00, and off to bed at 9-10. This regimented routine makes the week fly by.

    A Typical Fishing Day on the Rio Grande

    Fishermen start each morning with a light breakfast of fresh fruit, cereals, yogurt, toast and coffee, as well as a full American Breakfast (if they have the room), followed by a full morning of fishing. Each two anglers share a guide and vehicle. Their beat usually consists of two to four pools, all for themselves. Fishermen typically return to the lodge by 1 o’clock in the afternoon where a delicious midday meal, perfectly complemented by local wines, is served, followed by a well-earned siesta.

    Anglers, well-fed and rested, fish the evening session right up to (and sometimes beyond) the brilliant Tierra del Fuego sunsets. They’ll then return to their respective lodges, in time to regale each other with tales of giant fish, then sit down to yet another meal that would put many five-star restaurants to shame. By this time you have been ridden hard and put away wet, only to rise the next morning and start it all over again. What a wonderful way to be treated...EAT, SLEEP, FISH, EAT, SLEEP, FISH, EAT, SLEEP...

    Hooking up with a big sea run brown is an emotional fishing experience that defies accurate description. Most fish grab a streamer or nymph on the swing and your first notion is you’ve hooked a snag. But there are damn few snags in the Rio Grande. It’s about this time when the three-foot long “snag” starts violently shaking its head, and its time to plant your feet and get ready for a fight.

    These big brown trout are much like Pacific salmon and steelhead, in that they’re most active in low light conditions. The scientists call them nega-phototropic, and as the sun gets higher, fish retreat to the deepest parts of the pools. Perhaps it’s because they’re used to the deeper sea, or they feel exposed to predators in bright sunlight, but it’s a fact they’re more aggressive and much more likely to strike a fly in the early morning, late evening, or when it’s overcast. In mid-day, when the sun is at its highest, they’re unlikely to respond to even the most perfectly presented fly. One of the reasons so many photos of the Rio Grande mega trout look like deer caught in the headlights is that most are caught early or late in the day.

    Most anglers arrive shortly after first light and will see dozens of fish rolling on the surface of the pools in the blush of the dawn. Action is usually red hot for a couple of hours and then begins to taper off. The reverse is true at the end of the day, and it’s maddening to leave the river when the light has disappeared and the fish are still exploding all around. The fishing schedule is designed around the best fishing times. Really, the Argentines have mastered the art of squeezing two fishing days into one.

    The Fishing and the Wind

    Much is said about the winds of Tierra del Fuego and it is seldom that any of it is good. The truth is that the Rio Grande isn’t super wide, casts are seldom seventy feet, and almost never directly into the wind. Competent casters have little difficulty adjusting to the almost constant gusts and even those that struggle agree quickly that the results are worth every effort.

    Two-handed rods have become very popular on the Rio Grande and are excellent tools for covering the water, especially when the wind is howling or the river is up and wider than normal. In the last three years we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of Rio Grande anglers using two-handed rods. 75 percent of the Rio Grande anglers are fishing the big double-handed guns now. Two-handed rods are arguably the most efficient tool to fish the Rio Grande; they make it easy for a lot of anglers, especially those with shoulder or elbow problems. Single-handed 8-weight rods matched with stout reels and assortment of interchangeable tips still have their place on the Rio Grande and, in the right conditions fish can be taken on the surface. However, sink-tip lines streamers and nymphs account for the vast majority of trophy trout.

    Accommodations

    Guest at La Villa will enjoy a very meticulously built and finished single level lodge that is comfortable, warm, inviting and efficient; designed exclusively with anglers in mind. The architectural style inside and out at La Villa is turn of the century Patagonian with the addition of every modern convenience available. All the rooms at La Villa are private, single occupancy rooms; elegantly decorated featuring a spacious private bathroom with a glass walk in shower, Jacuzzi tub and large vanity and sink area. During non-angling times between double daily fishing secessions, guest will gather in one of two living areas where fishing tales are told, cocktails enjoyed and the next fishing sortie is anticipated with the warmth and comfort of a crackling fire burning in the fireplace. The dining schedule at La Villa is determined by the fishing program and every consideration within reason is given to the most productive times to be on the river. All meals are served in the formal dining room; creations of talented Argentine chefs using fresh ingredients from the greenhouse and meat raised and processed on the estancia. A fully stocked 9,000 bottle wine cellar featuring some of the finest Argentine varietals and full open bar add to the experience. Other amenities at La Villa include radiant floor heat, 24 hour internet service, wader/equipment room, designated fly tying areas and gift and tackle shop.

    Capacity

    The lodge will hold a maximum of 6 guests per week in single occupancy bedrooms.

    Travel

    Fishermen fly direct to Buenos Aires, Argentina from Dallas/Ft. Worth, Miami, or New York on an overnight flight arriving the following morning. Fishermen then gather their luggage, clear customs, and are met by a driver who transfers the group approximately one hour to the Domestic Airport for the flight to either Ushuaia or Rio Grande aboard Aerolineas Argentina or Lan Airlines.

    Tailwaters uses a very reliable customs assistance and chauffeur service that operates comfortable, air-conditioned vans. Our staff of drivers make sure you are properly checked in for your two-hour domestic flight to Tierra del Fuego. Some travelers elect to spend the day and evening in Buenos Aires prior to departing for the lodge the following morning. This is a great way to break up the two legs of the journey, do some sightseeing, and recharge your batteries. We of course facilitate your stay at one of our recommended hotels in the Recoleta (downtown Buenos Aires).

    Upon arrival in Ushuaia or Rio Grande, the group is then met at the baggage claim by someone from the Maria Behety staff and driven to the Estancia.

    Note About Ushuaia versus Rio Grande Flight Itineraries

    The drive time from Ushuaia is approximately three hours to the lodge. The drive time from Rio Grande is approximately 45 minutes to the lodge. However, there are more numerous and flexible flight itineraries to and from Buenos Aires (AEP) and Ushuaia then there are to/from Rio Grande. The advantages of the Rio Grande routing is the short drive from the airport to the lodge, however this is a once a day flight with a very early departure out of Buenos Aires (which requires an overnight in Buenos Aires the night prior). Either routing, we will coordinate meet and greet at the airport and auto transfer to the lodge.

    Sample Itinerary

    Friday

    Afternoon flight to Buenos Aires. Arrival into Buenos Aires the next morning.

    Saturday

    Anglers gather their luggage, clear customs, and are met by a driver who transfers the group approximately one hour to the domestic airport for the flight to Ushuaia, Argentina aboard a local carrier such as Aerolineas Argentina or Lan Airlines. Tailwaters uses a very reliable customs assistance and chauffeur service that operates comfortable, air-conditioned vans. Leticia and her staff of drivers make sure you are properly checked in for your two-hour domestic flight to Ushuaia. Upon arrival in Ushuaia, the group is then met at the baggage claim and driven to the lodge.

    Sunday - Friday

    Six Full fishing days on the Rio Grande for Sea-Run Brown Trout! Each of the angling days is spent fishing in both the morning and evening. The beats are rotated, and normally anglers will not have to repeat any pools during their stay. Fishermen return to the lodge in the heart of the ranch to enjoy a mid-day meal, and have the chance to relax for a few hours. The lodge is only a short distance from the river, no more than half an hour to the most distant beat on the huge ranch. Continued overnight at La Villa Maria Behety.

    Saturday

    After breakfast guests are transferred back to Ushuaia or Rio Grande for the flight to Buenos Aires. The group is then picked up and transferred back to the International Airport and assisted through check-in for your flight on to the United States. Overnight flight back to USA.

    Sunday

    Early morning arrival back in the U.S.

    When to Go

    The big sea-run brown trout start to return to the pools of the Rio Grande in significant numbers around Thanksgiving. Less than a month later the river is loaded with fish and it is estimated that by the first day of each New Year, nearly 80% of the escapement has reached their annual family reunion. That translates into more than a thousand monster trout per river mile. The fish initially herd up in the best lower river pools, though hundreds more of the silver sea trout continue to pour into the Rio Grande on every high tide, twice a day until sometime in May. The most sought after dates are late January, February and March, the center and most pleasant part of the short, near-Antarctic summer.

    Because the most productive week of the season shifts ever year and can’t be consistently targeted on the calendar, the best time to be on the Rio Grande is unpredictable. But it’s all good! Consider that thousands of these huge fish are caught each season, yet when population studies are compared to accurate catch records, it’s clear that a surprisingly small number of the fish present (which don’t actively feed after they return to the river) actually end up being hooked. What triggers their aggressive behavior and when it happens is arguable, but what can’t be challenged is that every week on the Rio Grande can be, and usually is phenomenal.

    Time your Trip for January, February, March, or the first two weeks of April. While mid-season offers the most pleasant weather, the best weeks ever recorded have been the last weeks of the season. Randy Berry and his friends from Teton Valley Lodge in Idaho once averaged 53 fish per rod during what some consider to be the most difficult week of the Tierra del Fuego summer.

    Early season fish are very aggressive, full of fight, and acrobatic. They move readily to dries, and three of the largest sea trout ever recorded were caught and released in January. The most productive weeks of the season shifts each year and can’t be consistently targeted on the calendar. The best week to be on the Rio Grande is whichever best suits your schedule. In fact, when the weather cooperates, nearly every day of the season is good!

    When to make your travel Plans to Tierra del Fuego

    Guest capacity at our Rio Grande properties is purposely small in order to deliver exceptional personal service and a world-class fishing experience. Our lodges’ limited capacity, as small as six and no larger than twelve, results in space becoming extremely tight, especially during high-demand months of January, February and March. Therefore, if you are serious about booking a trip to the Rio Grande it is important to get on the wait list as soon possible. Usually by the end of May we are in position to offer rod space to those on the waiting list. That is not to say that prime space isn’t available later in the year, but if you are set and going and want to secure pick-of-the-litter dates – get on the wait list and book early!

    2011-2012 RATES

    (based on shared room/guide)

    7 Night / 6 Day Fishing Package

    $6095 Per Angler

    Non Angling Package

    $2850 Per Person

    What's Included
    Guided fishing; Meals; All beverages including Argentine wines and cocktails (Open Bar); Ground transportation to/from Ushuaia or Rio Grande Airports; Fishing Licenses.

    What's Not Included
    Airfare to/from Ushuaia or Rio Grande, Argentina; Ground transfers and accommodations in Buenos Aires; Use of fishing equipment; Staff and Guide gratuity; Airport departure taxes (approximately $25 US); Laundry Service; Phone calls and other items of personal nature.

    Terms & Conditions

    Tailwaters Travel must adhere to the cancellation policies of the guides, outfitters and lodges which it represents. La Villa Maria Behety’s policy follows: A fifty percent deposit is due at the time of booking to confirm all reservations. Full payments are required at 60 days from departure. Deposits and all payments are nonrefundable unless replacement clients are found. Finding a replacement for a South American trip on short notice can be very difficult and, at times, impossible. Receipt of deposit and/or final payment is acknowledgement that registrant has read and accepts the cancellation, refund and responsibility clauses.

    Consider Travel Insurance!

    Given the inherent strict refund policies associated with nearly all fishing packages, we cannot stress the importance of obtaining travel insurance to protect your investment. Travelers can obtain coverage for pre-existing health problems (related to yourself, your family, business partners, or your traveling partners), emergency evacuation, lost baggage, delay, life insurance packages; even “no questions asked” or “for work reasons” coverage.

    We will provide you with more detailed information about travel insurance from our sponsored provider, Travel Guard, when you book a trip with Tailwaters Travel. We can conveniently process a very comprehensive insurance policy for you in-house after asking a few simple questions.

    Call today to protect your investment: (888) 824-5420

    Please review our Policies & Cancellations section.

    Non-Angling Activities

    Fly fishing is the predominant activity at La Villa Maria Behety. Non-anglers are welcome to join fishing guests, however there are very limited non-angling activities available other than hiking, relaxing at the lodge, and observing wildlife. The warm hospitality on the ranch and gorgeous landscape is a very calming place to enjoy a book and relax while angling companions are on the river.