El Saltamontes

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Chilean Patagonia - 2.5 Hours from Coyhaique

    El Saltamontes Overview

    A Chilean Fly Fishing Institution

    Saltamontes defines the Chilean traditional of fly fishing. The Gorronos practically started the “lodge” concept in Chile, and have it down to a science. It is an extremely polished operation run with care by a genuine Chilean host family in the heart of some of the most gorgeous scenery and incredible dry fly fishing in Patagonia.

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    Dreamlike Hoppers & Terrestrial Fishing

    It is nearly more impossible to find a river system more tailor-made for fishing terrestrials nearly an entire season. The Nireguao River offers up consistent hopper fishing most of the summer, and the dry fly fishing here and on the ranch’s smaller creeks is very predictable.

    Authentic With all the Amenity

    The superb lodge is nestled in a beautiful river valley and is luxurious, by any angling standards. Each of the nine guest rooms has private baths, and magnificent views. A small and intimate experience, El Saltamontes allows only eight to ten fishermen and four non-anglers each week of its short season. If you need a really nice place to entertain your spouse or non-angling companion, El Saltamontes should definitely be at the top of the list.

    El Saltamontes

    Jose and Erica Gorrono open their ranch to angling guests in early December, welcoming guests over the Christmas Holiday, and fish straight through the end of March. Fewer than a hundred anglers fish the ranch each year, and every week of the short season is a good one. El Saltamontes is exclusively brown trout angling with most fishing is done in the Nireguao River and its oxbow lagoons. Some of the best water in the valley is only a few yards from the door of the deluxe lodge. Browns actively feed on grasshoppers and other terrestrials and the grass bordering the stream is loaded with them in January, February, and March. Even the lodge's name, "El Saltamontes" means grasshopper.

    El Saltamontes Lodge is situated within the Gorroño family ranch “Estancia Adelaida”. The River Ñirehuao meanders through this 5,000 acre property, nestled in an Andean valley, surrounded by dramatic mountains. Anglers staying at El Saltamontes enjoy the authentic atmosphere of being immersed in a working ranch. Cowboys in goat-skin leggings, ponchos and berets ride by with lean, scruffy dogs at foot. There is always something going on in the corrals or the barn, from branding to shearing and guests are most welcome to observe or even “have a go” at some of these activities.

    The Gorrono's impressive, single story lodge and ranch house sits in the shadow of the beautiful snow-capped Andes. Each of the lovely guest rooms is well-appointed, with a view and private bath. El Saltamontes Lodge amenities are in stark contrast to the remote Patagonian location. The after-angling cocktail reception always includes “Pisco Sour,” the Chilean version of a Margarita, along with a complimentary bar and fine domestic wines.

    Saltamontes defines the Chilean traditional of fly fishing. The Gorronos practically started the “lodge” concept in Chile, and have it down to a science. It is an extremely polished operation run with care by a genuine Chilean host family in the heart of some of the most gorgeous scenery and incredible dry fly fishing in Patagonia.

    The Ranch

    Initially, the ranch was dedicated to the production of BEEF CATTLE. Jose Gorroño was an innovative grazier and the first in the region to successfully undertake embryo transplants. By introducing fine pedigree Hereford embryos into rustic, local cows, he was able to effectively fast track the improvement of the quality of his herd.

    During travels to Australia, Jose and Erica were amazed at the popularity and value of the South American ALPACAS, both “down under” and in the USA. These docile and intelligent “Camelids”, produce a luxuriously soft, warm fibre, which is highly valued. The animals themselves have a special charm and there is a high demand for breeding stock. This prompted the couple to embark on a new venture. They spent weeks on end, scouring the “Altiplano”, in the extreme north of Chile, bordering with Peru and Bolivia, at over 4,500 metres altitude (13,500 feet), purchasing export quality alpacas from the Aymara Indians.

    These were vetted and trucked south the entire length of the country, to form the base of what is now the largest, single herd in Chile. After building their own quarantine station, the Gorroño´s chartered a DC8 and exported 300 live alpacas to New York. There, they were exhibited, bred and sold all over the country, over a period of four years.

    Back at El Saltamontes, guests are charmed by the numerous alpacas and their babies that graze freely around the cabins. Along the River Ñirehuao, large herds of these gentle creatures, curiously watch the antics of the fishermen and women. Local Chilean ladies hand-spin and weave the natural colors of the alpaca fiber into beautiful shawls, scarves, throws and clothing, which are available to the anglers at the lodge.

    Horses are the other passion of the Gorroño family and some sixty head roam the Estancia Adelaida. Having ridden horses to school in their earliest years, the children are all accomplished equestrians. Son Lucas has represented Chile in international junior show-jumping championships and placed second in Australian nationals, in 3 day eventing.

    The Chilean horse is a stocky, chesty, hardy, pony with a willing and dependable nature. These form the basis of the working herd. The family’s interest in equestrian sports has prompted the introduction of other breeds such as Arab, Holstein and Thoroughbred. Some are pure-bred; others are half mixed blood lines. One of the favorite crosses produced on the ranch, is the result of a Chilean/Arab hybrid. These horses are wonderful to ride and ideal for exploring the rough terrain of the Andes.

    The Fishing

    The home river, Rio Ñireguao, has proven to be one of the finest hopper-fishing brown trout streams in Chile, with amazing numbers of surface-oriented fish. Testimony to its excellence is the large numbers of clients who return annually. Dave Whitlock, widely traveled author, angler and fly designer, himself a legend in fly fishing, wrote after a March trip that, "I've never seen a river so full of big browns that were so totally hooked or spoiled on hoppers as this place." John Randolph, editor and publisher or Fly Fisherman magazine, states that the ranch's home river, the Rio Ñireguao, is, "arguably the best wild, resident brown-trout river in South America and perhaps the world." High praise, indeed, from people who have experienced the finest fly fishing on the planet!

    The Chilean government has designated the Ñireguao as the first study-catch-and-release river in the country. It has been estimated that approximately 9,000 brown trout swim in each mile of the river, a mid-sized stream that is easily waded and very user-friendly. Expert casters often hook large numbers of trout each day, and when the "hopper grab" is on, even novice fly fishers can expect lots of strikes, with a trophy fish an everyday possibility. The lodge record, set during the 2003 season is in excess of 14 pounds!

    Anglers who have visited El Saltamontes in the past will attest to this remarkable fishing, but recently the program has improved even further. Spearheaded by innovative professional guides like Argentinean Leandro Troncoso and his intrepid crew of local and imported guides, the angling opportunities at El Saltamontes have blossomed. In addition to the home water, fly fishers now have the opportunity to ply pristine off-property waters, fisheries that, for the most part, get absolutely no outside pressure. Clients have reported fishing remote spring creeks full of feisty 12-16-inchers, rising eagerly to large dries.

    For the angler wanting a challenge, the lodge has found locations that seasonally offer demanding, small dry fly opportunities for heavy-shouldered browns, as well. The lodge even has rafts and pontoon boats for day trips to local lakes and rivers. Finally, Jose Gorrono has reclaimed nearly two miles of a picture perfect little stream flowing through the ranch. Fishing the miniature, pristine pools and riffles throughout this past season produced encouraging numbers of 10-18 inch browns.

    Fishing conditions range from easy to moderately demanding at El Saltamontes – though there truly are few scenarios that accomplished anglers would describe as remotely difficult. The vast majority of the fishing is done with a floating line, with rods in the 4-wt to 6-wt range. Occasionally, a heavy rain may briefly cloud the water, making streamers as effective as dries, but most of the fishing here is done with surface flies, particularly large terrestrials. As in most of Patagonia, breezes range from light to strong - fortunately, the lodge has such a diverse fishing program, there is always someplace to go to avoid the heaviest winds.

    The Nireguao River

    "The Home Water" Much of this river flows through high desert grasslands, reminiscent of Wyoming's portion of Yellowstone National Park. In addition to the many miles of 4-wheel drive accessible river that flows through the ranch, El Saltamontes also has the fishing rights to nearly all of the best off-property water, including some beautiful canyon stretches accessible only via raft. The Ñireguao is a wonderfully fisherman-friendly stream, with open banks for easy back casting, and washed-gravel bottoms that make wading a pleasure. The fishing, season-long, is heavily oriented around large terrestrials, with hoppers and jumbo-sized beetles the standard fare. Average fish will run 12-18 inches, with specimens over 20 inches available. As a bonus, the lodge is located right on the river - very convenient for those hard cores that want to put in an extra hour or two before sundown!

    Creek Fishing

    Outside the Ranch In addition to the main river, El Saltamontes has a number of outstanding small streams for the adventurous fly fisher - many of which offer nearly virgin fishing. One little waterway flows into a small lake - when the stillwater warms up, the big browns move into the moving water to cool off a little. The water is very clear, so the fish are edgy, but are suckers for a well-placed beetle. This is visual fishing at its best. Another little freestoner has miles of miniature riffles, runs and crystalline pools, full of aggressive 10-18 inch trout that absolutely annihilate hoppers. Yet another stream pours out of a lake and winds through a spectacular Andean setting. The fishing in this creek's fast-moving flows is wonderful, though the scenery is so incredible; it is very hard to keep your eye on the fly!

    Finally, there is the upper Ñireguao itself - this smallish spring creek flows through the Chilean "Valley of the Moon" for miles, with each miniature meadow bank and riffle home to gorgeously-marked browns averaging 12 inches, with an occasional "surprise" fish in excess of 20 inches. While hoppers work as well here as downriver, there are more aquatic insects present, meaning more diverse hatches - mayfly emergences and spinner falls are common. Serious birdwatchers will love this area, as condors and other indigenous bird species are often observed here.

    Lagunas

    Falling under this broad category of "lagoons" are a large number of what can best be described as ponds, ranging in size from pools the dimension of a small automobile, up to small lakes of 1-2 acres. Some of these are actually ancient river oxbows, while others are spring fed. They are fascinating fisheries, and consistently hold browns of larger proportions than the average of the main river, often in the 18-20-inch range, with fish over 25 inches occasionally hooked. They seem to pop up at random over the landscape of the ranch - the knowledge of the guides is invaluable in locating them.

    Lakes

    These stillwater additions to the program have been met with great enthusiasm from recent clients. One of the most unusual lakes is largely surrounded by what can best be described as "floating tundra", essentially undercut banks of gargantuan proportions. Getting close enough to the water to fish involves hiking across areas of spongy terrain - safe, but quite bizarre! There are many other small lagunas in the immediate area, most of which are connected subterraneanly to the main lake, and are also loaded with fish. Another favorite, Lago El Saltamontes, is best described by guide Leandro Troncoso: "Lago Saltamontes is quite simply awesome. Any angler harboring a prejudice against stillwater fishing will change their point of view after this experience! Using the lodge's pontoon boats we can cover most of the lake's shoreline over the course of the day. From cliffs, logjams and weed beds, this lake offers a lot of great structure. Large browns are often found hugging the shorelines in unbelievably shallow water. The fish enjoy dragonflies, damselflies, grasshoppers, beetles, caddis, mayflies and midges on their daily menu - basically, anything will work, as long as it is big and ugly! The lake area is incredibly scenic and guests seem to very much enjoy the 45-minute ride through the native forest to get there.” There is even a beautiful, glass-walled little lakeside cabana on Lago El Saltamontes for fishing couples, or pairs of anglers that would like to wake up lakeside.

    Accommodations

    The superb lodge is nestled in a beautiful river valley and is luxurious, by any angling standards. Each of the nine guest rooms has private baths, and magnificent views. A small and intimate experience, El Saltamontes allows only eight to ten fishermen and four non-anglers each week of its short season. Constructed completely from local timber and river stones, the furnishings and final touches reflect the Gorrono family commitment to make this the finest fishing lodge in Patagonian Chile.

    The cuisine at El Saltamontes is nothing short of gourmet. Talented chefs deliver meal after meal of mouth-watering regional specialties, guaranteed to put a smile on your face, and a few inches on your waistline! To accent these dining masterpieces, your host Jose Gorrono has already started stocking the lodge cellar with a fine selection of domestic wines for next season. The final evening you'll be treated to a traditional asado, an outdoor barbeque complete with live, local entertainment.

    The infrastructure of El Saltamontes consists of four independent buildings, all constructed of local river-worn stone and rough hewn logs. It is the creative mixture of rustic building materials and fine furnishings that lends El Saltamontes Lodge its unique charm. Electricity is produced 24 hours a day, on the ranch by an eco-friendly and sustainable, private hydro-electric turbine. 220 volt outlets are available throughout the lodge and cabins but adapters must be used for North American 120 volt appliances and chargers. The water supply is sourced from a pure mountain spring, gravity supplied to the lodge.

    The main Lodge, accessed over a sweeping, curved timber deck, is an impressive building with high ceilings and two immense fire places. The communal living room is furnished with magnificent antiques, cozy leather sofas and rich rugs. The adjoining bar, with a cheery wood stove, offers another option for socializing. It is always open but the focus is more often on fly-tying and card games, rather than the comprehensive array of beverages.

    The dining room seats a maximum of 15 people intimately around a heavy, antique table, and a warm fireplace. Set with gleaming candelabra, silverware and crystal, it is a feast for the eyes as well as the pallet. Huge picture windows provide a back drop of dramatic Andean peaks. The kitchen beyond, is always a hive of activity into which guests are welcome. Through the door, waft inviting aromas and friendly laughter and banter from the domestic staff. Although the chef has an array of modern appliances, the big wood stove takes pride of place. If the kitchen is the heart of the lodge, the old wood stove is its soul. A stones throw away, is a 100% organic vegetable garden, providing the kitchen with fresh greens, salads and vegetables throughout the season.

    Hidden discretely to one side of this building, is one spacious guest apartment with a super king-size bed, a single bed, wood stove, living room, en-suite bathroom and river views. Returning guests and couples often request this room for its comfort and proximity. The four guest cabins are all within a short walk from the main Lodge and have river views. Built also of river stone, they are solid, roomy and comfortable. Each of the cabins has two bedrooms, accessed from opposite sides of a cozy living room, warmed by a wood stove. All six bedrooms have recently re modeled, en-suite bathrooms. Some have twin single beds, some twin doubles and others a mixture of the two. All rooms are designed to accommodate two guests comfortably but in some instances, single occupancy is an option.

    Nestled amongst the cabins and woods is a spa. An open air, wood-fired, hot tub, steams invitingly in the evenings as anglers return after a hard day on the river. Cocktails and nibbles appear spa side to those guests who chose to soak away the day’s exertions. A hot sauna and a massage room complete the little Spa installation.

    Just beyond the main Lodge is the “Quincho”, a three sided building with a huge fire place. A traditional structure on all ranches, the Quincho allows outdoor dining in sheltered comfort. Every week guests enjoy a typical Patagonian style barbeque or “Asado”, with a whole lamb and choice, roasted beef. Neighbors arrive on horseback to enliven the atmosphere with local music and it is always a memorable night.

    Capacity:

    8-10 Anglers & 4 Non-Anglers Per Week

    Travel

    Anglers first travel to Santiago, Chile (SCL) via direct overnight flight (9 hours from DFW) from several U.S. cities including Miami, Houston, New York, and Dallas/Ft. Worth international airports. After an early morning arrival the next day, travelers connect on to Balmaceda Airport in southern Chile with Lan Chile Airlines on a three hour flight with one brief stop in Puerto Montt en route. Upon arrival into Balmaceda, guests are collected and driven to Coyhaique for lunch and onward 2.5 hours to the lodge.

    Many guests will prefer to overnight in Santiago on the way down to relax after the long plane ride and see the city. Another option is to push southward to the town of Puerto Montt halfway between Santiago and Balmaceda. The nearby port town of Puerto Varas is a very pleasant and affordable venue to get over jet-lag and hang out before making the onward 1 hour flight to Balmaceda the next morning. Please ask us for details if you are interested.

    For the 7 Night / 6 Day Itinerary, guests of El Saltamontes must plan on arriving and departing the lodge on Sundays. For the 6 Night / 5 Day Itinerary, guests must plan on arriving on Sunday and departing the following Saturday.

    Sample Itinerary

    The 7 night / 6 day package is really preferred.

    Friday or Saturday

    Afternoon (red-eye) departure from the United States to Santiago Chile. Arrival into Santiago the next morning. Overnight in Santiago in recommended hotel (if arriving Santiago Saturday) or continue onward to the lodge on Sunday.

    Sunday

    Upon arrival into Santiago, guests commute via a mid morning flight from Santiago on to Balmaceda, Chile with Lan Chile Airlines. From Balmaceda, anglers are met and driven approximately 2.5 hours to the lodge. Half day of afternoon fishing upon arrival.

    Monday - Saturday

    Fishing Days!

    Sunday

    Following a leisurely morning hanging around the lodge, guests are returned to Balmaceda in order to catch the afternoon flight to Santiago in time for the late evening connection on to the United States.

    Monday

    Arrive USA early AM.

    When to Go

    El Saltamontes is open for the months of January, February and March. As a result, El Saltamontes is nearly always completely booked by early Spring of the preceding season. You must book early!

    Spring in Chile begins in December. Trees have dropped their blossoms and warm summer weather lands in Patagonia even before all the Christmas presents have been opened. Trout season in Chilean Patagonia swings into high gear by the New Year, and continues until leaves turn crimson and drop with the arrival of winter, in late April. The summers of Patagonia are abbreviated, much like those of Montana and Wyoming. Warm days often begin with cools mornings and can be punctuated by sudden thunderstorms. But for the most part, the best time to visit this fantastic part of the world is from mid-December through early April.

    Opening day in Chile is in November, traditionally a time when North American fishermen are preoccupied with family and holidays. Schools in South America release their students just before Christmas and the rivers of Patagonia don’t see much pressure until after the first of the year. landscape is ablaze with a mind-baffling wildflower display, known locally as "Chocho" (Chilean word for “Lupine Season”). European Lupine carpet the landscape in an explosion of violets, reds, purples and yellows. Fish are on the surface, targeting caddis and mayfly emergences, as well as blizzard hatches of small creamy moths.

    Their January is our June/July. Spring snow melt is gone, the weather’s reliable temperatures are pleasant, and the hatches are predictable. Mosquitoes aren’t a concern in most of Patagonia, but the Lake District of Chile can be plagued for a few weeks with Chulihuachos, a pest resembling a horsefly that has all but disappeared by the end of the month.

    By the first of February trout begin to key on the caddis hatches and hoppers, stag beetles and other terrestrials that dominate mid-summer fly fishing action. Probably because of the weather, February and March are the most popular months to travel to and fish Patagonia. Too, our winter is a great time to escape to Patagonia’s summer and trout fish for a week or so; something difficult to do when Michigan or Vermont is frozen solid.

    April is the beginning of fall in the Southern Hemisphere. Kids go back to school and the traffic is light on the streams and rivers of Chile. Like the Rockies, the weather is less reliable in the fall; days are shorter and temperatures are cooler. Dress for a full range of weather possibilities and plan on some of the best mayfly hatches (especially callibaetis on overcast days) as well as streamer fishing.

    The country of Chile is divided into 15 regions with the vast majority of fly fishing taking place in the XI Region, called Aysén, that stretches from Puerto Montt to O’Higgins. Within this vast region of more than 109,000 square kilometers fly fishing outfitters base out of the communities Lago Verde, Coyhaique, Aysén, and Cisnes. Weather in this part of the world is complex a mixture of heavy maritime climate with cold water influences from the Pacific to an increasingly dry continental climate as you head east toward the Andes and Argentine border. There are four different recognized climates with the Aysén Region, (cold rainy temperate), (Andean degenerating to steppe), (cold steppe) and (high altitude icy).

    Non-Angling Activities

    Fly Fishing & Horseback riding are the predominant organized activities at El Saltamontes, however non-anglers are welcome and enjoy the wonderful hospitality and gorgeous setting on the Estancia.

    El Saltamontes Equestrian Program

    The Gorrono family has a very strong tradition as horsemen and has recently instated a full service horseback riding program as part of their offerings. The following is a description of their equestrian offerings from Natalia and Erica Gorrono:

    El Saltamontes is nestled in a valley in the Andes Mountains. As well as being the home of our fly fishing Lodge, It is a fully working cattle, horse and alpaca ranch. Our guests are always welcome to join in the farm's activities and many have ended up learning how to shear alpacas, work cattle and work horses using rational horsemanship techniques.

    We have a herd of around 60 horses; Chileans, Arabians, Holsteins, Thoroughbred's and mixes of these breeds. Our main riding herd of 12 horses is made up of sturdy Arab-Chilean crosses and local mountain ponies. These horses are bred in the wild and are well suited to rigorous mountain riding.

    Our family has been very involved in show jumping and eventing in Chile and Australia at both national and international levels. However, here we offer "adventure riding." Our guests enjoy riding through landscapes rarely (if ever) visited by other humans. We can take leisurely scenic rides through valleys or, if you are up for a challenge, tackle the steep Andes Mountains and be rewarded with wild riding and breathtaking scenery.

    El Saltamontes can tailor riding activities to suit every level of riding competence, from the novice to the experienced rider. Depending on current weather conditions (it is Patagonia after all!) and how long riders are willing to spend in the saddle, these can include:

    Day rides in to the surrounding valleys and mountains, joining the fishermen for lunch on the river and riding back to the lodge in the evening for well deserved 'pisco sour' cocktails, a wood fired hot tub, sauna and sumptuous Chilean cuisine.

    Cultural rides to visit locals, experience their lifestyle, drink mate and see alpaca and sheep's wool garments being made by hand. Fishermen can join in on horseback or meet us there by 4WD.

    Expeditions where we can leave horses at the end of our day's destination over night, return to our friends and comforts of the Lodge by 4WD and pick up where we left the next morning to continue on.

    Full day treks to surrounding properties where we will find camp set up and waiting for us, enjoy a hot meal cooked by our chefs, red wine and stories by the fire.

    You are most welcome to watch, learn and help in the rational breaking in process of our horses. If there is anything in particular you would like to do please do not hesitate running it by us. Our aim is to provide the equipment, logistics and venue for you to maximize your horsey experience in the Patagonia.

    Kind regards,
    Natalia and Erica Gorrono
    El Saltamontes Lodge

    2011-2012 RATES

    The 7 Night / 6 Day Packages are Sunday – Sunday

    The 6 Night / 5 Day Packages are Sunday - Saturday

    Fishing Packages

    (based on shared room / shared guide)

    6 Nights / 5 Days
    $3,950 Per Angler

    7 Nights / 6 Days
    $4,600 Per Angler

    25% Single Angler Supplement (Private Guide)

    Non-Fishing Packages

    6 Nights / 5 Days
    $2,395 Per Person

    7 Nights / 6 Days
    $2,795 Per Person

    Full Equestrian Program

    6 Nights / 5 Days
    $2,950 Per Rider

    7 Nights / 6 Days
    $3,440 Per Person

    What's Included
    Accommodations at El Saltamontes as outlined; Full days of guided fishing (2 Anglers per Guide); All meals and beverages including wine, beer, Pisco Sours, and bottled water; Applicable ground transportation; Fishing Licenses

    What's Not Included
    Round-trip Airfare to/from Balmaceda, Chile; Use of fishing equipment and flies; Gratuities; Items of personal nature including telephone calls; Laundry service; $140 Chilean Entry Fee; Airport departure taxes; Meals, Hotels, Ground Transportation and other travel expenses before and after the fishing portion of the trip in Puerto Montt or Santiago

    Terms & Conditions

    Tailwaters Travel must adhere to the cancellation policies of the guides and lodges which it represents. El Saltamontes’ policy follows: A fifty percent non-refundable deposit is due at the time of booking to secure your reservations with El Saltamontes. The remaining balance is due 60 days from arrival. All Deposits and/or final payments are non-refundable. Refunds or credits cannot be issued for fishing time lost due to inclement weather. Refunds of deposits/payments made on credit cards will be charged a 3.5% service charge to fully compensate Tailwaters Travel for all bank charges incurred. 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.