Saturday, February 8, 2014

DIY Walk-Wading-Floating Patagonia Argentina and Chile: Adventure Travel at its Best.

A fellow from New Hampshire, named Frank, came to Patagonia for three weeks.  He fished and traveled Argentina and Chile, with FCFF.  His testimonial is below and in the end, a new man/spirit named Francisco, went back to the U.S.A.

Francisco, muchas gracias for everything, it was a pleasure hosting you!

Francisco with a Patagonia Trophy.

I have been dreaming about fishing in Patagonia for years. Trout fishing in January, when North America is frozen, was something I really wanted to experience. To say nothing of seeing country that's been described as what the West was like, a hundred years ago.  My buddy and I wondered if we could do a trip like this on our own, having never been there, neither of us Spanish speakers. I looked at lodges, but they are expensive, and seem to cater to larger groups. And then I heard of Mark Foley, and the do it yourself fishing he offers. When I saw Mark's presentation at our local library, I realized his services would be just right for us. His focus on walking and wading sounded like the perfect way to fish Patagonia--it's how we like to fish.Then my buddy decided that he couldn't make the trip, but no problem--with Mark, I had a way to travel to Patagonia by myself. 

Mark and I met,  and we talked about the different times to fish Argentina, and each season's pluses and minuses. He asked questions about my budget and time frame, and put together a proposal that reflected my preferences. We decided to begin in Junin, his home base, but also to travel south to Los Alerces National Park and into Chile. This customized, do it yourself trip included lots of wading plus some float trips too.

I expected that Mark would show me beautiful rivers and great places to fish, and he did. You could spend a life time exploring the rivers around Junin. Patagonia's waters (and the country they flow through) are simply beautiful, and surpassed any expectations I had. It made me so happy to be in that unspoiled country. Even in January, high season there, in most places we never saw other anglers. I hoped to meet a lot of trout, including some big ones, and I did! What I didn't expect was how much I'd learn from fishing with Mark, and how this time would make me a better angler. He is a natural teacher, and he knows his home waters extremely well. I equally loved floating with Mark's partner Gustavou, who is an excellent guide, fisherman, and a great guy.

Nor did I expect all the ways Mark would introduce me to local food, customs, culture and people. If you only come to Patagonia to fish, you're missing half of the experience. We ate at places the locals eat, and the food was inexpensive and fantastic! I was amazed at how well we ate and drank, on such little money. Mark is an expert at finding the best places--whether that is to float a fly, chow on empanadas or gelato, or spend the night--whether camping or under a roof. With Mark's help, I got to see and experience the real Patagonia. And his facility with Spanish, and Argentine-Chilean culture, provided a level of comfort and security, for a solo traveler like myself, that I really appreciated. When I had trouble connecting with my wife back home, he even let me use his laptop to write her.

I had an amazing time traveling around Patagonia with Mark, who's a great companion: he plans carefully, delights in showing you the places he's discovered, and is unflappable when things don't go exactly as planned. My three weeks in Patagonia were certainly the trip of a lifetime, and I relish the many adventures we had together.  I'm already wondering when I can return to Patagonia to fish with him again. This was a journey I will never forget, and I'm so grateful to Mark for making it possible. If you are dreaming of traveling to Patagonia, talk to Mark--you'll be glad you did.

Frank Clarkson. Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  USA