The second of the De Las Carreras family lodges to open on the Río Grande after Kau Tapen, Villa Maria is located on the middle river and offers anglers first crack at newly arrived monster sea trout on the lower Río Grande. For those who enjoy the challenges and rewards of two-handed rods, this is a dream destination.
Tierra Del Fuego (TDF) is home to the world’s greatest population of giant sea trout. Located in the southernmost point of Argentina, the Rio Grande river meanders quietly through the grasslands of TDF boasting perfect fly fishing pools on every corner. It is perhaps the only place on Earth that can offer a realistic chance for anglers to catch a highly sought after 20lbs sea trout – or even 30lbs+ for a lucky few. Unlike many Atlantic salmon rivers, the magnificent runs of sea trout are constant throughout the season, meaning consistent numbers of fish are caught each week at Villa Maria Lodge.
This unique destination offers the chance for each angler to spend a week swinging flies on the mighty Rio Grande for these amazingly strong and large fish, with guests breaking personal best achievements each week.
The lodge hosts 10 rods on a weekly basis, with just over 60 named pools on the Villa Maria beats giving each angler ample amounts of water to use. The snake-like nature of the river allows the guides to use the TDF famous winds to their advantage when trying to swing flies for these wonderful fish. More often than not the winds will be in your back.
Villa Maria Lodge hosts 10 rods weekly and is based on the lower reaches of the Rio Grande river, only a short distance from the tidal water. With over 60 named pools it enables each angler ample amounts of water, meaning you will never fish the same pool twice – unless of course you want to!
The river meanders through the grass lands of the TDF with a steady flow throughout the system and beautiful gravel beds in the majority of the river making for comfortable wading. Accompanied by world class guides, guests will leave the lodge around 9am after breakfast, fishing until approximately 1pm. Following lunch and a siesta, guests return to the river in the late afternoon and fish until dark.
The primary target is, of course, sea run brown trout. Similar to steelhead in the northern hemisphere, the anadromous browns of Tierra del Fuego enjoy a cult-like following. By January, chrome fish push into the river and through mid-March fly fishers are targeting – and catching – fish that average in the teens, but break the 20lbs mark regularly.
The highly professional guides that work at Villa Maria lodge have many years of experience between them, and their mixture of nationalities makes for a well-rounded experience. Each angler will fish with a different guide each day, allowing you to gain a plethora of new tricks and tactics when sea trout fishing.
Villa Maria Lodge is located on the Jose Menendez Estancia. This property dates back to 1894 and once supported a bustling village of family and laborers who operated the sheep ranching business. Still surrounded by more than 120,000 acres of grazing land, and still hosting 40,000 sheep plus 1,500 head of cattle, the property sits close to the mighty Rio Grande river and looks like a tidy movie set, with white picket fences and colourful flower gardens. The lodge building that is now Villa Maria was once the ranch manager’s family home. In recent years it’s been completely transformed into a modern fishing escape.
The lodge features six en-suite double and single rooms, smart furnishings, and spacious and gracious living areas. Delicious meals are prepared daily by the lodge’s dedicated chef. Each evening a roaring fire and well stocked bar welcome you back from your day’s adventures. The on-site tackle shop is stocked with high quality LOOP rods, reels, flies, lines, clothing, and other on and off water gifts and essentials. In addition, guests have the full use of the lodge’s fly-tying table and gear storage rooms.
And if one lodge wasn’t enough, Villa Maria also boasts a riverside day house that’s used to augment the fishing rotation. The day lodge has three cozy rooms perfect for midday siestas. Its convenient location increases fishing time and gives our anglers a place to relax after enjoying midday lunches, such as steak or lamb cooked over open coals.
Food & Cuisine
At Villa Maria, the kitchens come to life through the use of fresh and regionally representative meats and produce. By combining these elements, they create delicious flavours and varied textures that harbour hidden stories and traditions on each plate.
A top-notch team of experienced national and international chefs, trained in both classic and avant-garde culinary techniques, execute the food. With an artisan’s touch, chefs prepare every dish from scratch to be served at a minute’s notice. At Villa Maria lodge you’ll enjoy fresh pastas and fire-roasted meats like the famous Patagonian lamb – roasted gaucho-style over charcoal embers – alongside ocean-fresh flavours such as King crab. And don’t forget to save room for dessert. From homemade ice creams to classic sweets and pastries, guests are truly covered.
Finally, Villa Maria feels strongly that the food they serve and the wines they pour should mirror the fishing opportunities on offer. As such they use the renowned wines of Bodega Catena Zapata, a fabulous reflection of Argentine culture that competes on the world stage.
Day 1 – Home City to Buenos AIres (BA)
- Fly from home city to Buenos Aires International Airport
- Taxi from airport to chosen hotel
- Check-in to hotel and overnight – Please contact us if you require further advice on hotels
Day 2 – BA to Villa Maria Lodge
- 7:30am taxi from Hotel to Domestic airport
- Board flight to Rio Grande Airport (Approx 3hrs)
- A member of the team will be there to great you on arrival
- Transfer to the Lodge by car
- Enjoy a ready-made lunch at the lodge
- Tackle setup followed by an evening of fishing
- Continue to overnight at the lodge
Day 3 to 9 – Continued Fishing (6 full days fishing)
- Continued fishing and overnight stay at Villa Maria Lodge
Day 10 – Lodge to BA
- Pack bags in the morning and a member of the lodge will load luggage into cars
- Transfer back to Rio Grande Airport
- Board flight to BA
- Overnight at chosen hotel in BA
Day 11 – BA to Home City
- Board flight to home city
- Continue with own arrangements
- Full board accommodation
- 1 guide between 2 anglers
- Six days fishing
- Transfer from Rio Grande Airport to lodge
- Transfers in Buenos Aires
- Any extra hotel in Iceland outside of the lodge
- Items of a personal nature
Do you need a visa to Travel?
No, on arrival in Argentina you will be granted a free 90 day tourist visa as a British citizen.
Is difficult to fish in the strong wind?
Many people worry about the famously strong winds of TDF. The truth is that the river meanders a huge amount through the valley and the prevailing wind is from the west. This means that most of the time you will have it in your back, making for a simple roll cast that flies across the river.
What is the wading like?
Wading on the Rio Grande is perfect, soft gravel river beds and light current make for a pleasurable wade throughout the river.
What else is there to do?
Tierra Del Fuego is a barren location located in the southern most part of Argentina. Other than Guanaco, sheep and large numbers of sea trout there is very little in the way of wildlife. The occasional fox or condor causing the skies. Watching the local gaucho round up his sheep is a sight to behold. Other than that, it’s just you, the fabulous lodge and the river.
What size rod should I take to the Rio Grande?
We recommend taking at least two rods with you on your expedition. A smaller rod for the the evening fishing when the wind dies down and a larger rod for tougher conditions. We take 12’6″ rods 13’2″ rods and 14′ rods.
Why choose LOOP Travel?
LOOP travel have extensive teams across the globe all working to give you the best possible advice when traveling in search of top class fly fishing. Our advice is totally free to you and booking with us comes at no extra cost.
Our years of experience between the teams and plethora of knowledge is second to none. Our team members know these destinations backwards, having spent many years guiding, managing or fishing these lodges.
We only sell what we know, meaning we only offer the best possible advice and products.
As the river is a medium size, and the climate is often windy; anglers usually fish 13ft or 14ft double-handed rods, with 8# / 9# line ratings. This allows anglers to cover all the water required and still punch the fly into the wind when required. Although the wind is often in your back, it is useful to practice the upwind cast. Leader materials at Villa Maria vary depending on the weather; a mixture of 8lbs – 25lbs will keep you covered for all occasions.
Fly choice on the Rio Grande can be very particular, and we kindly ask you to contact us directly for more information on this.
The weather in Tierra Del Fuego can be brutal, with strong winds and potential cold evenings meaning you must be well equipped. The elements can best always be combated with our Torne wading jacket, layering shells such as our Onka jacket and pants, and our beanies!