Sometimes I go because of a certain species and sometimes I go for the variety of species found in a specific fishery, but this trip I went for the entire cultural fishing experience that Argentina boasts. For years I had heard about this country filled with beautiful topography, gin clear rivers and lakes, delicious wines, mouth-watering meats, awesome fishing and lest I not mention the gorgeous people. Well, finally in celebration of turning over into a new decade of my life, I decided to make it happen. I set off on my maiden mission as a new member of the Tailwaters Travel staff with high expectations. David Leake, owner of Tailwaters, wanted me to experience the best of Patagonia, so put me with onto Argentina’s top outfitter, Patagonia River Guides. Let me tell you, both PRG and Argentina did not disappoint. In my previous mention about gorgeous people, PRG not only has the best equipped, trained, English-speaking, fun-loving guides in Argentina, they are all extremely good looking as well. Though I must admit, one trip was not enough check it off my “Bucket List”, as it is so immense and offers 1000’s of both fisheries and wines that I still need to sample, vet and enjoy.
There are several non-stops now that leave from various cities all over the US from NYC to Atlanta and Miami over to Houston and Dallas. I, being a Houstonian, took the easy non-stop overnight flight to Buenos Aires, the cultural mecca of Argentina along with my traveling companion and fellow angler, Dr. Jeff Kozak. The 10hr flight went by in a flash with a little help from my tiny 5mil friend, Ambien. Before, I knew it, seat belt signs were going on and landing gears being lowered into place. Arrival: Customs also was a cinch, especially because Tailwaters had prepped us for the need to “pre-pay of reciprocity tax” before heading down. Within 30 minutes we had our luggage, cleared customs and were being greeted by one of the most friendly smiles and embraces I have ever encountered by a total stranger. That welcome came from LOL Argentina: Tourism Solutions’ owner and founder, Gaia Macchiavello. Tourism Solution she was from the greeting to getting us to and situated at our La Serena hotel to the city tour that followed and airport transfer the next day. I never worried for a moment about the logistics of our trip.
Due Gaia and her driver Niko being so welcoming, I felt immediately at ease, as her English is superb, smile infectious. They immediately took us by the gas station for water and beverages, which was a nice treat and compliment, having just flown for 10 hrs. As we set out for the hotel, she handed us each a packet with our trips in-country travel arrangements, accommodations, flights, transfers and maps of the area. Gaia was so knowledgeable about her beloved country and culture. We spent 4 hours learning Argentina’s history and current state of affairs as we toured the city. To celebrate our new education, we stopped and dined at one of BA’s best steak houses, Cabana Las Lilas, to get our first sampling of meats and wine. Two hours later, I was calling for a wheel barrel to help me roll out of the place.
OUR BUENOS AIRES LODGING:
La Serena was located in the centrally situated hip area of Recoleta, walking distance from the exclusive Patio Bullrich Mall. This small boutique hotel with its modern wood sleek decor and low lighting, welcomed us with white and clean rooms.
My room had an awesome marble whirlpool bath with rain head shower that felt excellent after the long flight down.
After a quick rest and regroup, Jeff and I headed out to dinner at Il Ballo del Matone in Palermo District at what seemed like the late our of 9pm, but fortunately with the 3hr time change, was perfect timing. We met up with a friend of a friend, Maria and my Bolivian Tsimane guide and Argentine friend, Mariano Wainstein, and then headed out for a little late night/early morning dancing at Isabel…woo hoo!!
DOMESTIC TRANSFER DAY:
The next morning, Gaia was out front bright and early with another huge smile on her face and more energy than the Energizer bunny. With a personality so infectious, it helped Jeff and I come alive for the 2hr flight over to Esquel. Tailwaters had handled all our in-country transfers and logistics with the help of Argentina’s travel and logistics company LOL, which made the trip and all the traveling, oh, so easy and seamless. Our flight was a blast, as it was filled with mostly all American fly fishermen. I spent the two hours taking turns from gazing at the gorgeous landscapes below and listening and learning from others previous Patagonia fishing trips and adventures. It seemed at the flight’s conclusion, that we were definitely with the right outfit of Patagonia River Guides, as the best success and satisfying stories came from their past clients.
ARRIVAL: PRG TREVELIN
Our plane landed on an airstrip in the middle of a vast tree-less valley with the Andes Mountain Range as its backdrop and east winds blowing over at least 20knots. Our group of PRG’ers now having grown from Jeff and I to 6 were immediately greeted by Trevelin’s lodge manager, Julian and 2 other assistant guides, Hernan and Alex. The luggage coming off the belt was a little bit of a cluster, but just so thrilled to be there, chatted excitedly with the guys.
patagonia fly fishing tailwaters travel Argentina
The drive was short and easy as we made our way thru the town of Esquel and houses with bushes and bushes of huge roses. Within 25 minutes we were pulling into the drive of PRG’s Trevelin Lodge with its beautifully manicured lawns and roses and mountain range in the distance. Upon arriving it just made you take a deep breath of the clean crisp air, because you knew you had arrived “home”. It just felt good. The wooden lodge boasts both awesome natural lighting thru it huge floor to ceiling windows and great spot lighting throughout the home and cabins that accentuate the gorgeous paintings and photographs that line the walls.
After unpacking, we met the rest of the “gang” over drinks on the front deck. We had the great company of Rick and Bronwyn out of Seattle, David and Caroline from North Texas, John and Leslie down from New York, Eric Gobkin from the “City” aka NYC, Ron and David, college buddies from Hawaii, and none other than Tailwater’s excellent photographer, Matt Jones, graced us with his skills and presence having come north from Argentina’s famous Fitz Roy. The amazing thing about almost every one of the guests is that they were “return” clients. Looking back now, I understand…once you have been once it is hard not to return.
After drinks, and when I say drinks I really speaking of one of two things, either the simply delicious Argentina red wine from the Mendoza providence or a glass of whiskey from PRG’s infamous “Whiskey Bar.” Clients are encouraged to bring and contribute a “nice” bottle of whiskey when they come to stay at Trevelin, in return, that “donor” may drink nightly from the “whiskey well”, an amazing selection libations from all over the world that range from Jim Beam and Maker’s to Oban 14 and Lagavulin 16. During “cocktail” hour, there is always an array of munchies like nuts, green and black olives, cured sausages and cheeses to satisfy “snackers” like myself. Both drinks and dinner are served by a bevy of Argentine beauties, Fernanda, Aime, Dolores and Viviana, always with a smile of their face. Top notch service. When dinner is announced, we all sit around a big family style dining room table. On the chalkboard near the table, details out our scrumptious menu for the evening including a tantalizing starter, melt in your mouth delicious main and sinful dessert all prepared by Chef Hebe and her team. By the time dinner was over every night, it was all you could do to roll us over to the comfy leather couches to stretch out with a glass of Fernet to help digest.
I think one of my favorite things about the meals at Trevelin is the family style table. Every meal I got to sit next to someone new and get to know them better whether about their “professional” life, family life or past fishing adventures. It is a great round table to find out about some hot “fishing” spots around the world.