from Debra Carr Brox for Patagonia Baker Lodge
Nothing speaks louder than a personal testimonial. Debra Carr Brox and her husband, Eric, visited Patagonia Baker Lodge through Orvis Travel. Here's what she had to say about their experience at Baker Lodge:
Last December, my husband, Eric, and I made our third fishing trip to Chile. This one took us to the heart of Patagonia, the famous Coyhaique region, where we fished with Patagonia Baker Lodge. On this trip, all the variables worked in our favor. The skies were clear blue without a drop of rain for six days. Temperatures ranged from 72 to 80 degrees. The wind was a minor factor only on one afternoon (practically a miracle in Patagonia). The hatch was on, too, with caddis covering the dining room windows in the evenings. Perhaps the best aspect of the trip was the opportunity it provided to wadefish. I love wadefishing, and it seems that is what we did the whole time we were at Patagonia Baker Lodge. Most of the areas were easy to wade, too. They did not require lots of stamina or long hikes. The fishing was just plain good, too. We caught more than 15 fish apiece each day, averaging from 12 to 24 inches. Eric caught the biggest, which was about 27 inches. Some of the fish I lost were trophy size – one brown I had on for only a minute was about 30 inches.
Our trip began with our landing at Balmaceda airport, where we were picked up for the five-hour journey to the lodge. The drive was made bearable by the most spectacular scenery I have seen in South America. The road to the lodge winds through the countryside and a national park. Around each bend was another jaw-dropping vista. In mid-December, the lupines and other wild flowers are in full bloom and line the road in a profusion of color. Mountains, lakes, rivers, ravines, volcanic landscapes and glaciers were all part of the view. We even stopped high above a lake to view a nest holding a baby condor.
Patagonia Baker Lodge owns three Zodiacs of various sizes and a drift boat – all in excellent condition. A typical day would start with breakfast at around 7:30 am. We’d load into the boat by 8:30 or 9 o’clock. Within 15 minutes, we would arrive at the selected run and start fishing immediately. Many times we were in sight of the lodge. The lack of long rides to go fishing each day was a big plus in my book. We’d return to the lodge for a hot lunch and a bottle of wine about 2:30 pm. After a siesta or some fishing in front of the lodge, it was back in the boat around 4:30 to fish until 9:30 or 10 o’clock. We fished the gravel bars in the middle of the Rio Baker where the wading was easy and fish of 18 inches and larger could be pulled out of water only eight inches deep. Within sight of Class III and IV rapids, we fished the edges where slower pools, boulders and fallen logs created outstanding trout habitat. Down river, gravel beaches and lagunas gave us a different experience, which was equally exciting and productive. In one of the small lagunas created when the river receded, I saw some decent sized fish rising and threw a few casts into it. I was using a stimulator with a nymph dropper. A good-sized fish, 16 to 18 inches, took the nymph, and while I was fighting him, a much larger fish flew out of the water and took the stimulator. I had two rainbows on at once! As the two took off in opposite directions, the fish with the nymph broke off. But I landed his big friend. Only in Patagonia...
On our fourth day, our guide, Esteban Osorio, treated us to a day on the Rio Cochrane, near Coyhaique. This river is famous and revered by the fishermen of Chile for holding very large trout that are extremely difficult to catch. Osorio said that landing one fish a day there is an excellent day. The river is as beautiful as any I’ve ever seen in my travels. The trout that call it home are all over 20 inches with the biggest I saw at over 34 inches. The Cochrane is very deep. The pool where Eric caught his big fish was easily 35 feet deep. But the water was so crystal clear that you could see the bottom and watch as the lunkers cruised and fed.
The Cochrane trip requires an hour’s ride to the put-in, but was the only location that required travel. Our guide was knowledgeable about the rivers and how to fish them. He was also a purist. We had always been told that the only flies that work in Chile are big foam beetles, Chernobyl ants and huge woolly buggers. Osorio insisted on nymphs size 18-24 and dries, including size 12-16 caddis. I had much more success and fun using these flies. Osorio spoke excellent English and was a joy to be with 13-plus hours per day.
Patagonia Baker Lodge has six double rooms, each with a private bath. All rooms have a view of the river, a woodstove, a radiator for heat and modern bathrooms. Five rooms have two double beds and one has a king-size bed and an extra-large bathroom with a whirlpool tub, a good choice for couples. There’s a dining area and full bar just inside the main entrance. A well-appointed lounging area is placed under the big windows that face the river. Double doors in the lounge area open on a large deck that hangs over a huge eddy in the river and offers views of the snowcapped mountains in the distance.
The dock is placed to the right, below the deck, and you’ll usually find a staff member or a guest there casting to big rainbows. There is also a loft above the dining area with sofas, satellite TV, a fly tying table and a table for cards and games. The lodge has telephones and Internet access for guests.
I was so impressed with the entire staff at the Patagonia Baker Lodge that I can’t say enough good things about them. They were warm and friendly and spoke English fluently. We had so much fun with them that I was sad to leave. This was the first season for Operations Manager Manuel Reyes, who was efficient, accommodating and anticipated our requests. He was dedicated to our comfort and enjoyment. Esteban Osorio is the head guide and has decades of experience fishing all over Chile and Argentina. He’s one of the best guides I have ever fished with anywhere in the world. The head chef, Anita Dias, trained at INACAP, at the time Chile’s largest and most well-known culinary arts school. Meals were family-style, and at least one staff member would eat with us. I found the menu varied and the food excellent. Beer and wine were included.
The flexible scheduling at Patagonia Baker Lodge was wonderful. We were not forced into a restrictive routine. Dinnertime was determined by our fishing day. Since it did not get dark until almost 10 pm, it would have been very frustrating to pack it in at 6 pm in order to be home in time for dinner.
Something to consider when planning a trip to Rio Baker is that as the season progresses and temperatures rise, the level of the river rises in response to snow melt. The lower water levels allow for wading. Otherwise, drifting may be the only way to fish most areas. Talk to the booking agent about water levels. I suggest mid-October to early January, then mid-March and April for the best fishing. According to Osorio, the very best time to fish the Cochrane is mid-October to mid-November.
Something to consider when planning a trip to Rio Baker is that as the season progresses and temperatures rise, the level of the river rises in response to snow melt. The lower water levels allow for wading. Otherwise, drifting may be the only way to fish most areas. Talk to the booking agent about water levels.
We booked our trip through Orvis Travel (Tel. 800-547-4322. Web: www.orvis.com/travel).
Arrival at Balmaceda Airport, a lodge staff member will pick you up and drive you to the lodge. It’s a scenic five hour drive through some of the most breathtaking mountains in Chilean Patagonia. Although you may choose to take a charter flight, the drive is spectacular and we recommend it to all visitors. Don’t forget to bring your camera with you.
A brief stopover will be scheduled about halfway through the trip so you can get a hot coffee, soft drinks or a snack. You will be welcomed at the lodge with a traditional Chilean Pisco Sour cocktail. If you feel like fishing right away, you will only need to walk a few steps.
If you choose to charter an airplane to get to the lodge earlier, the lodge’s guides will be ready to take you out in a zodiac for your first encounter with the Rio Baker’s trout. The sun sets between 8 and 10 pm, with great hatches at dusk.
During these full fishing days you will have the chance to fish many of the Baker’s most productive spots. You will also spend time on the Rio Cochrane, whose upper stretch resembles a large spring creek. As the river gets closer to the Pacific Ocean it starts to look more like a typical Pampas river.
Several other smaller rivers and streams will be visited, depending on the time of the year and fishing conditions: the Maqui River, Maiten River, Bertrand Lake, and Cochrane Lake, are some of the options that this unique part of the world has to offer anglers lucky enough to visit.
Departure day. After breakfast one of the lodge’s vehicles will return your group to the airport in Balmaceda. This is another chance to see the magnificent mountain ranges, lakes and forests from a different perspective. Don’t put your camera away just yet. If you are flying out, you will have enough time for some morning wade fishing near the lodge.
Although daily schedules are prepared according to the angler's preferences, the following is a typical routine:
This is a remote and pristine fly fishing paradise. Patagonia Baker Lodge was built by fly fishers, for fly fishers. It offers all thecomfort and amenities that any angler may need and then some. All of the guides are p rofessional, properly trained, English speaking guides with several years of experience in the region. This experience, combined with first rate vehicles and boats, will ensure safe access to even the most remote fishing spots.
Patagonia Baker guides have access to a wide variety of watercraft, including four different zodiacs, a McKenzie style drift boat and a cataraft. The lodge and its staff is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and rewarding fishing experience. The fishing program includes 12 km of the Baker River, the Cochrane River (about a 50 minute drive from the lodge), other smaller rivers, streams and some lake fishing. Bertrand, Carrera and Cochrane Lakes all produce incredible fly fishing for stillwater anglers. However, the focus at Patagonia Baker Lodge is primarly on fishing the area’s numerous rivers and streams. Although boats are used for fishing as well as transportation, most of the rivers are wadeable, providing opportunities to get out and stalk wild trout. The rivers around Patagonia Baker Lodge support one of Patagonia's most abundant and interesting populations of wild rainbows and resident browns. Anglers can expect to catch good numbers of acrobatic rainbows and colorful browns averaging 2-8 pounds. Virtually every season really big fish, up to 18 pounds, have been landed by skilled anglers. And just in case you just can’t get enough, there is a very active dry fly pool only a few yards away from the lodge.
Bertrand, Carrera and Cochrane Lakes all produce incredible fly fishing for stillwater anglers. However, the focus at Patagonia Baker Lodge is primarly on fishing the area’s numerous rivers and streams. Although boats are used for fishing as well as transportation, most of the rivers are wadeable, providing opportunities to get out and stalk wild trout. The rivers around Patagonia Baker Lodge support one of Patagonia's most abundant and interesting populations of wild rainbows and resident browns. Anglers can expect to catch good numbers of acrobatic rainbows and colorful browns averaging 2-8 pounds. Virtually every season really big fish, up to 18 pounds, have been landed by skilled anglers. And just in case you just can’t get enough, there is a very active dry fly pool only a few yards away from the lodge.
A number of recreational activities can be coordinated for the enjoyment of accompanying non-anglers. Examples include things like horseback riding, bird watching, rafting, kayaking, trekking, sightseeing, motorboat tours in Lakes General Carrera, Bertrand and Cochrane. These are unforgettable half-day or full-day experiences that include transportation and lunch. Non-fishing activities are subject to advance planning and weather conditions.
The lodge is located 170 miles south of the airport in Balmaceda, about 2 miles from the small and picturesque town of Puerto Bertrand. The lodge has ample room so guests can relax in comfort and take advantage of the well thought out floor plan. Built specifically for fly fishermen, Patagonia Baker Lodge features six deluxe double rooms with electric heat, a fireplace and private bathrooms.
Each room has a view of the turquoise green waters of the Rio Baker just outside the window. The Club House has two great rooms with fireplaces, full sized bar, dining room, and a fly-tying and leisure area. If you need to stay in touch with the rest of the world during your vacation, Patagonia Baker Lodge has all of the modern conveniences including telephone, fax, email, Internet, and satellite TV. This is all topped off with superb gourmet dining that anglers will enjoy after a long day on the river. Read our Chile fly fishing trip reviews to learn more about this Patagonia lodge.
2014-2015 Season & Rates: mid October through mid April
|double occupancy||accompanying an angler||traveling alone|
|7 nights, 6 days||$5390||$3730||$5980|
|4 nights, 3 days||$3420||$2390||$3690|
Deluxe accommodations with private bathroom. Local transportation. Guided fishing (fly fishing only, catch and release). Ground transfers between Balmaceda airport and lodge. Breakfast, lunch, cocktails and dinner. Meals include selected Chilean house wines, domestic beer, or soda. One excursion for accompanying non anglers per stay. Fishing license (issued directly at PBL). Satellite TV at Club House, Internet and Email (unlimited Wi-Fi usage time on your own portable).
Air charter transportation between Balmaceda airport and lodge (optional charter flight, approximately $1,600 each way for up to 7 guests), trip insurance, fishing equipment, flies, phone calls, laundry, extra activities, extra meal or beverages and gratuities.
Overall: 4.6 / 5 based on 9 reviews
8 of 9 reviewers would recommend this product to a friend.
Trip of a Lifetime! -
By: benso040 from Saint Paul, MN
This was truly the trip of a lifetime. Between the beauty of Chilean Patagonia; the quality of the Rio Baker fishery; the food/wines/accommodations at the Baker Lodge; the authenticity and kindness of the staff; and the shared passion for fly fishing that linked everyone there- it was simply spectacular. I'm a lifelong avid fisherman but relatively new to fly fishing. I found the guides were skilled teachers and their passion for fishing was a joy to behold. On the scenic 5 hour ride down to the Lodge (an excellent transition from busy life to the tranquility of the Baker) I asked about the fishing in the dozens of creeks, rivers and lakes that we crossed or skirted and our guide/driver had fished them all and recalled with the universal zeal of fishermen, the size and type of fish, conditions and flies used on his most recent outings there. The rest of the week passed in a flash with opportunities to fish the Baker, the Cochrane, the Mai-Ten, and Lago Bertrand. Our group caught plenty of fish including "Big Brown" a 28 incher from Lago Bertrand- and missed as many as we caught. The evenings were spent as friends around the dinner table with good food and wine and the Renaissance era hosting skills of Manuel Reyes- part owner and lodge manager. A remarkable fisherman/entrepreneur who spent much of his early life in Sweden. The team he has assembled were a key part of the experience. While this was the trip of a lifetime, I'm already working on ways to get back!
great guides and staff -
Really enjoyed fishing the Baker River--what a piece of water. Fish were from 16 inches to 30 inches in January/February. Fished mostly streamers, with some hoppers, fat alberts, dry flies and nymphs. Guides were terrific--very knowledgeable and hardworking. The lodge is right on the river so very convenient. Also opportunities to fish nearby lakes and streams, but Rio Baker was the high point for me. Would recommend contacting the lodge for specific recommendations about specific flies to bring for the time you are there. Lodge staff were very helpful and responsive. Accommodations are fine--not luxurious but certainly adequate for fishing trip. The scenery is spectacular. If coming from outside of Chile, would allow plenty of time to make connections from international to domestic flights. We missed ours--the Santiago airport was a mess and it took an hour to get our baggage. Not a good way to start the trip! Despite this, a wonderful experience all in all.
A grand delight! -
By: 3SnowyOwl from North Oaks, MN
PBL is located in the midst of spectacular grandeur. With each bend in the river or bend in the road or shore on the lake, there's new beauty. Stunning! The hospitality of the Lodge is superb! Great staff! The fishing on the Baker was excellent, with fish we caught in the 16-28 inch range. All muscular with hefty shoulders. It takes a while to travel to the lodge, but the scenery along the way is captivating.
Can't wait to go back -
By: GeorgeL1 from Virginia, USA
Just returned from the Baker Lodge. This was my 7th trip to Chile and the 5th to the Baker. Every time I go to this lodge and the fishing keeps getting better. The water was down this year yet the fish still fought harder than ever. The meals keep getting better and the staff have everything managed perfectly. See you next year.
Mid January Fishing with Baker Lodge, Chile -
By: fairfaxflyfisher from Fairfax, VA, USA
Fishing at Baker Lodge was spectacular: trip of a lifetime. We went in the middle of summer (mid January). The guides were terrific, fish were good size to great (15-25"). I'm told there are some much bigger, but this was more than adequate for me. Big muscular strong fish that leap from the water and fight like the blazes. I particularly liked fishing on the Baker River itself, especially the evening from 8-10 pm, just before dark. Although the hatches in summer are not frequent (even the caddis), the fish are eager to take large hopper-like flies, ants, beetles, and if that is not "on", then they take streamers by bolting from their lie and hammering the fly. What a hoot! In addition to the Baker, they have a nice smaller freestone stream (Mytan), that is wadeable. I love to wade fish. That is a really nice option. They also have a spring creek available, but really very difficult unless you can cast 40-50 feet accurately. It's rare to have all these options from one lodge and one site. The lodge itself is comfortable and well appointed. The internet (wireless) allowed us to maintain contact with family and let them know we were safe and happy. Rooms were comfortable, clean and very nice. Perfect for a fishing lodge. I cannot say enough about all the Baker Lodge Staff: Lodge Manager, Manuel, Guides (Rodrigo and Marcelo) and support staff including the wait staff and chef. Everyone was so friendly and helpful. They were able to accommodate our needs on a daily basis, even if we asked for a change in schedule that morning, in order to fish the evening 'hatch.' The guides were the best I have ever had. Truly fun to be with and gave just the right amount of encouragement and instruction. Great fishing experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat!! Thanks for a great trip Baker Lodge Staff!!
Lodge lets down trip -
By: Spotthedog from U.K.
Having carefully read the paperwork supplied by Orvis I was excited about my first trip to Chile. Generally the fishing lived up to its hype except that the size of the fish were very small as soon as you left the Baker river with the fish averaging less than a few ounces , Half the boats used were hired in and lacked maintenance. The vehicles were rather battered pickup trucks with some seat belts that didn't work! Not a good thing on the very rough narrow gravel roads. By far the most disappointing feature of this trip was the Lodge itself. There is absolutely no way this could be described as Deluxe accommodation. Instead the room was basic. Heat was provided by electric radiators because the storage heaters didn't work and we were not allowed to use the log burning stoves in the rooms. Due to mess and fire risk. The wardrobe door didn't close properly and the shower was impossible! It proved impossible to control the water temperature so it ran scolding hot or instantly changing to freezing cold. There is no TV or fax. Even the office printer didn't work. High speed internet was a joke. It was provided by a dongle from the mobile telephone network. Consequently it was totally unreliable and dead slow. The dictionary definition and my understanding of "gourmet" dining bore absolutely no resemblance to the quality and presentation of the food provided..The same applied to the lunches that generally only consisted of a couple of filled bread rolls . Whilst the setting and scenery is spectacular the trip failed to provide value for money. My experience with other Orvis Lodges clearly shows this is not a trip I would recommend to others because better fishing in equally stunning locations in much much better quality Lodges is available for considerably less cost.
Response from: General Manager of Orvis Travel, Orvis Adventures
Posted: 3/28/2014 3:40:54 PM
One of the things in which we pride ourselves is attention to detail and understanding the individual and their desires when booking a trip with us. In this case we miscalculated the specific level of amenity that would ultimately give this customer his best experience. The Orvis Travel sporting travel program manager visited the lodge shortly after this guest’s trip, and investigated all of the items mentioned in this review. The lodge confirmed that one seatbelt was malfunctioning during this guest’s visit, but that it was repaired within a few days. Although this trip was not an appropriate fit for this guest, based on our site inspections, recent guest feedback, and the other stellar customer reviews, there is no doubt that Patagonia Baker Lodge is committed to providing a rewarding fishing experience with a high level of service and comfortable accommodations. It is a very good choice for those guests looking for a remote and scenic destination where they can have an authentic fly-fishing adventure in the mountains of Patagonia without compromising comfort and safety.
The best place to fish in all of Patagonia -
This is the best place to fish in all of Patagonia (Chile & Argentina). It is remote, but sooo worth it. We are going back for our 4th trip!
Second Trip, Outstanding -
This is the second time that I've gone on this thip with George Layton, and especially appreciate his work in organizing those trips with Orvis Travel. Manuel, the lodge manager, was an excellent host. He has an excellent staff, and he manages them in a friendly way that creates a very pleasant atmosphere at the Lodge and on the various waterways. I thorougly enjoyed the trip both times. It was a bit of an adventure for me, and I would highly recommend it to anyone else. Chile is beautiful, the staff and facilities of the Lodge are outstanding, and the fishing is wonderful.
Fishing excellence -
By: phishes from Tysons Corner, VA
This trip was one of the best I have ever been on. The people there were very helpful. The lodge and food where excellant. The fishing was beyond reproach with the variety of waters to be fished, the way to fish each of the waters and of course the FISH. As I tell people "I could of caught more fish. But I could not land the ones I hooked fast enough."