~ January 2019 ~
The second half of our 2019 trip began an hour and a half south of the town of Esquel at a very large Estancia called The Tecka Land Company. We booked the trip through a company called El Encuentro and used their guides, which when we did it we didn’t know how fortunate we’d be having Alun Lloyd for the week.
After a week at Tecka we moved to the El Encuentro Lodge overlooking the Futaleufu River and Alerces National Park.
Est. Tecka is one of Argentina’s largest estancias with 470,000 acres, 90,000 sheep, and I don’t know how many cattle on the Patagonian steppes below the Cordillera:
One of the venues you fish is a spring creek called the Tecka River, above.
The Estancia is so big it has two fishing lodges. We stayed at the one called “Headquarters” on the northern portion and we fished the Tecka River that flows behind the Lodge for the first three days.
We went out from 7:30-9:30 pm the day we arrived. At first I was surprised simply how many fish I caught, but gradually I realized that if you target small little openings in the underwater grasses there were larger fish like this healthy Brown I took on a grasshopper pattern.
The wind blew like crazy somedays, and made casting tough, but it made little difference to the trout.
When you walk into the Lodge there are 20” long primary feathers from a Condor in a glassed frame. These feathers are the farthest away from the Condor’s body attached to the skin of the wing on the ‘hand’ of the bird. We saw Condors literally every day. Also herds of Guanaco and Rheas with their young were as common as deer in Colorado.
And you often fish with sheep on the other side of the river from you. Sometimes they are alive; sometimes they are dead.
We got into the gaucho culture and wore Argentine boinas on cold days. While we were there, and typical of how harsh Patagonia can be even in their “July”, we got snow about 1000’ feet above us on the Cordillera. It was chilly the rest of our stay.
When you are not fishing the Rio Tecka, they’ll drive you 45-50 minutes across the ranch on their own road system to float fish the Rio Corcovado (below). This river starts at the mouth of a large lake and runs several miles through the ranch and enters Chile where it is renamed the Rio Palena.
Above, Kristen scores in a little Laguna out on the steppes called Fango.
Here Kristen fishes the Corcovado while our guide sets up lunch. She landed seven before lunch and two or three more after lunch.
About half way through our week long stay, they held an Asado (roast) and the estancia owners came and had fire-roasted lamb with us. It was good to meet them. They lived walking distance from the Headquarters building we stayed in.
In the Lodge’s living room was an arrowhead collection presented to an Estancia Manager some time ago. When the man who received this passed away his family gave the collection back to the Estancia because these were all found here on ancient Tehuelche lands. I found flint-like rocks stream side often, but never a fully formed arrowhead. What a kick to find one! The Native American peoples originally here were Tehuelche. These people were mostly hunters & gatherers and they suffered much from the more war-like Mapuche people raiding them from the Chilean side of the Cordillera. The chef at this Estancia was a Tehuelche woman and she sure knew how to cook!
Besides all the domesticated animals everywhere on this Estancia it is crawling with Guanacos, Rhea (above), Foxes, Armadillos, Condors, Pink Flamingos, Eagles and uncountable small perching birds.
Calafate bushes lined the rivers, which were terrible for your back cast. The blue berries are edible, but still a bit sour, but if you’re careful to avoid the thorns you can have a feast in between casts if you like a sour berry….I did.
And here is a tree in front of Headquarters I’ve never seen before with an almost two meter girth at the base. They call it Alerces, but we’d call it a young Sequoia. It was planted near the time of the Estancia’s founding in 1910.
Our week at Est. Tecka ended and we drove north an hour and a half to the El Encuentro lodge situated on the river that is called Rio Grande in Argentina, but Rio Futaleufu once it crosses the Chilean border. Futaleufu is a native word for ‘big water’, if I recall properly. This lodge is just a few miles from the Chilean frontier and I noticed all the guides called it the Rio Futaleufu even though they were all Argentine. I thought this setting was the most scenic of anywhere on this trip.
We stayed in the right-most building. Below, is the view we saw every evening looking north across the river to a peak called the ‘sleeping nun’ in Alerce National Park.
This was our upstream view from the back deck, above. And our downstream view, below:
If you like inspiring scenes, this is a place to put on your bucket list.
Our Guide, Martin Majul, put us on so many fish, most days we couldn’t count.
Kristen said this is the repetitive pose she remembers Martin & me in one glorious day. I had ‘front of the boat’ magic that day.
Corral & Cordillera above; below, a realgaucho out checking the herds one chilly day: