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A Reunion at El Palenque in Argentina

Our final stop in Patagonia was at Estancia El Palenque, a historic ranch situated just outside the small town of Corcovado, Argentina. Our family had been here ten years previously, so we were excited to revisit the property.

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The ranch manager of the property, Diego Neira picked us up in Palena, Chile and drove us along the Corcovado River through small canyons similar to the foothills of Colorado to El Palenque.

As you enter the property, you are met with breathtaking views of the Corcovado River valley. The dirt road from the entrance weaves through several ponds and willow trees and crosses over the crystal clear Corcovado River. The headquarters of El Palenque is tucked behind sprawling cypress groves that reach the sky and looks directly at the Andes that loom to the west of the property.

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As you approach the main lodge, you are greeted by throngs of sheep and dogs. The building has western facing windows that gaze over the valley and mountains. Upon entering the lodge, there was already a blazing fire in the great fire place, glasses of Argentine Malbec, and delicious meats from the property.

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There are two log cabins that sit next to the main lodge. Each of these homes have bathrooms and space for up to 6 guests. After unpacking we decided to explore the valley.

Malbec in hand, we started our late afternoon hike through El Palenque. As we walked through the willows of the property, a light breeze followed us along with Diego’s dog Bruja. Near this area of Argentina, the sun does set until almost 10 at night, so even near 7pm the Andes were still flooded with light.

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After the hike by the river, we returned home for an authentic Argentine dinner of spiced potatoes and chicken and bread.

Our next day at El Palenque was a full day float trip down the Corcovado River. The trip began at the Estancia Poncho Moro, another ranch within the Corcovado Valley Ranch Complex. The Corcovado River affords an incredibly private fly-fishing experience. Crystal blue water created by snowmelt from the surrounding peaks stays cold year round and is home to extensive rainbow and brown trout. The insect life is abundant and affords all of the fish within this stretch of river to reach large sizes. If you come at the right time of year there is also an ample population of salmon that swim upstream from the Pacific.

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German was our guide for the day and has worked at Poncho Moro for years. We floated near boulders and underneath a canopy of cypress and willow, and we were each able to catch sizeable fish. We lunched on the bank of the river and feasted on an incredible lunch replete with wine, cheeses, meats, and bread before finishing our float trip in the middle of the El Palenque property.IMG_7759

Our last night in Patagonia started with an asado with Diego, his family, and childhood friends at the adjoining quincho. Diego’s ancestors have been connected to El Palenque since the early 1900s, and he showed us photos of Diego’s great grandfather around the lodge from when he owned it. The asado was a great ending to our trip. We had lamb from the ranch cooked directly on a fire and were surrounded by people who have been linked to the land since they were born. We listened to stories of growing up in Esquel and Corcovado and what the area means to them. We discussed the election of president Macri as well. You can feel the excitement among many Argentinians concerning Macri. With Macri in office, there will be a push for further foreign direct investment and domestic entrepreneurship. (Keep an eye out for our upcoming blog on investment in Argentina.)

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The next morning we headed out for our final adventure in Patagonia. The last leg of our trip would bring our journey full circle and take us to Lago Vintter, the source of the Palena/Corcovado River. The shoreline and the boca of the river are the boundaries of Estancia Poncho Moro. The incredibly large lake spans across the border of Chile and Argentina and framed by the majestic Andes.

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The waves bid us farewell as we make the hour and a half drive to Esquel for our flight back to Buenos Aires. Estancia El Palenque holds a special place in our family’s heart. It’s the epitome of the classic Patagonian ranch and was Mirr Ranch Group’s initial inspiration to sell in the region. It is a property rich in history and built on Patagonia values.

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