Introducing Estancia El Palenque
This spectacular ranch or “Estancia” presents the opportunity of a lifetime in owning a truly picturesque ranch getaway in Patagonia, Argentina. Estancia El Palenque feels like a step back in time to a simpler life, surrounded by natural beauty and unique culture.
On the northern end of the famous Corcovado River valley and at the foot of the snow-capped Andes Mountains, the ranch is distinctly situated and very scenic. The property encompasses more than 12,000 acres, is very exclusive and private, yet located in proximity to larger towns, amenities, and a commercial jet airport. El Palenque lies 18 miles from the Chilean border, and the continental divide runs right through the ranch.
Recreational opportunities are immense on the ranch and throughout the region. Fly-fishing on the Corcovado is world renowned, and having a six-kilometer private stretch provides unbeatable float and wade fishing in a very remarkable setting.
Well-appointed improvements are constructed in the traditional Patagonian style by old-school artisans using materials derived right on the ranch. Two cabins, a main lodge, historic manager and employee’s cottages, as well as barns, corrals and other operational facilities make for a rustic and very attractive headquarters.
Estancia El Palenque offers an owner considerable value in the agricultural component of the ranch with its traditional cattle operation being run by local managers and gauchos with decades of experience ranching in the valley. Considerable timber harvesting also contributes to the overall agricultural value of the ranch.
Topography & Locale
Estancia El Palenque is the northern most of the three properties that make up the Corcovado Valley Ranch Complex. Directly to the south and in the heart of the valley is Estancia Poncho Moro, and continuing further to the south and up high onto the western slope is the Lago Vinnter property that borders and looks across the magnificent lake into Chile.
El Palenque spans the entire width of the valley, with the magnificent Corcovado River meandering through it. The headquarters of the ranch is protected and tucked up in the foothills on the eastern edge of the valley. Several ponds, water features, bridges and roads have been developed in order to make for a well-established and tranquil setting. The property continues more than five miles up the mountainside to the elevated and overlooking alpine forest that makes up about two-thirds of the property.
The valley floor, which includes about one-third of the ranch, is between 1,300 and 2,000 feet above sea-level. Rising to the east the elevated high plateau range reaches nearly 6,000 feet in elevation. The fact that the ranch encompasses the entire valley and also extends through the foothills and up to the high plateau on the eastern mountain creates a very diverse landscape and comprehensive holding.
A Welsh family originally homesteaded the estancia in the 1930’s having been granted two “leagues” if they worked the land. Originally the area was part of the Estancia Pampa and it is believed that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid who worked in the area and on the Estancia Pampa during the turn of the last century constructed a line-camp cabin on the property.
The custom improvements on the ranch are thoughtfully crafted and can accommodate up to 14 people plus managers and staff. Improvements include:
- 2 private cabins, each with their own fireplace and kitchen
- A large 2 bedroom guest chalet with fireplace and game room
- A central lodge with 2 bedrooms, dining and living area, as well as a commercial kitchen
- A manager’s and staff cottage as well as a gaucho’s cottage
- Historic barn, shop, corrals and other equine and livestock facilities
The Corcovado River is a very unique freestone fishery with ample water year round. In the spring the river swells with snowmelt pouring into the valley through the river’s many tributaries from the surrounding peaks. The crystal clear water stays cold year round and rushes over huge boulders underneath a canopy of lush cypress and willow trees that give an almost jungle-like feel. Insect life in the stream is prolific, giving both rainbow and brown trout a great food source affording them to reach large sizes. The river can be either floated from a raft or waded, and depending on the time of year and water flow both techniques can be very fun and effective.
Huge king salmon journey from the Pacific Ocean up the Corcovado every year, using the stream as a their sacred spawning ground. This gives the fly-fisherman a challenging and exciting species to target at the right time of the year. Upstream from the property at “The Boca” of Lago Vintter, where the Corcovado River originates, there is a stretch of accessible water that is famous for producing world-record-size spawning brook trout.
The area surrounding El Palenque presents countless other fly-fishing opportunities within an hour’s drive of the ranch. Some of the region’s famous rivers include The Rio Grande, The Rio Corintos, and The Rio Tecka, as well as countless others. This region’s diversity of water is often compared to places like Montana or Idaho because of its huge amount of rivers, streams and lakes. However the water in Patagonia offers a very distinctive feel unlike anything else in the world.
Other recreational components on the property include quail hunting, horseback riding, hiking, ATV’ing, and mountain biking. The surrounding area also boasts close proximity to incredible national parks, hunting for red stag, and the special cultural amenities of Patagonian Argentina.
Estancia El Palenque has a storied history as a cattle ranch with a cow/calf operation of 450 mother cows with capacity of up to 600, as stated by the current owner. The cattle operation is currently leased back to a local rancher, whose grandmother owned and operated the ranch when he was a boy. With nostalgic ties to the land, this manager is a wonderful steward and aims to operate the ranch in the traditional Argentine way, just as it was by his grandparents years ago. His cowboys, or “gauchos”, know the landscape well and live on the ranch year round, shepherding their cattle on the range daily. The English speaking manager is a man of many talents, as a well-educated veterinarian, an artful craftsman, skillful chef, and also an Olympic downhill ski racer, he is a joy to work with and a true asset to the ranch.
Ranching is still very much a way of life in Argentina. Nearby ranchers support one another with annual branding events, weaning of calves, the sharing of bulls, and they take great pride in maintaining the tradition of sharing their labor and knowledge with their community.
The operational improvements have been maintained with exquisite care taking into account the layout, the historical integrity, practical use and attractiveness of the homestead compound. Corrals, loafing sheds, and other cattle handling facilities allow Estancia El Palenque to be a terrific standalone enterprise. The elevated eastern mountainside plateau serves as the summer range for the cattle with plenty of natural grazing forage. The cows are pulled off of the mountain in the fall and spend their winter in the protected valley.
Revenues are also derived from the sale of harvested Ponderosa Pines. Incentivized by the Argentine government, thousands of trees were planted in specified areas years ago and are harvested and replanted annually in order to manage an ongoing and sustainable timber operation.