Originally Published March 8th 2018 for trip 2017-18,
Edited November 3rd 2020
This trip I brought too many rods for trout fishing. I carried a 5/6 switch and a 5 wt nymph rod that I never used so my Winston 9 foot 6 weight BXIII did all the work. The Winston was good in the wind, cast the lighter streamers, and nymph rigs with indicators, a great all around rod. A softer 4 or 5 weight to play fish was on my wish list.
Remember it’s a good idea to have a backup rod and in case you have to make an insurance claim photograph everything before you leave on the trip.
My 9’4 piece rod tube fits into a large suitcase so there is no need for separate rod case luggage. This is a reminder for the future to get all my rods into a suitcase, rods have to be 9′ or less and come in 4 pieces, if they are longer than 9′ then they will have to be in 5 or 6 pieces to fit. The benefits if everything is in a suitcase is that no one can see your stuff, it’s easier to keep things organized and keep track of, there is less risk of accident, 30 inch hard plastic suitcases with wheels are easier to move around and they cost a lot less to bring on airplanes. You can buy a well build large hard plastic suitcases for 100 to 150 dollars on Amazon.
November 2020 update. My feelings now are that if I ever get to make a trip like this again these are the rods I will bring; 9′ 5 weight Winston Air, 9′ 6 weight Winston BXIII, 9′ 7 weight Winston BXIII, and the Meiser 11’3″ trout spey with both the Skagit and Scandi Heads and if I want to cheat a little I will buy and bring a Santiam Fishing Rod. Santiam makes long travel spinning and center pin rods in 4 to 6 pieces that will fit in my 30″ suitcase which will be great for exploring larger rivers.
Villa Manihuales is found at the confluence of the Rio Niriguao and the Rio Manihuales.
Villa Manihuales has a population of 3000 inhabitants. The primary income-generating activities of the area are mining, ecotourism, sport fishing, secondary activities include logging, dairy, farming, and livestock.
The town is located along the Carretera Austral which is also called the Ruta del Los Parques and is close to the cities of Puerto Aysen and Coyhaique in the region of Aysen Patagonia.
I found it a peaceful small town with plenty of markets, restaurants, hostels, cafes, and two great little parks. Backpackers, campers, and touring bicycle adventurers plus the usual auto and bus tourists are everywhere in February. The town’s cell service is 4G and first-class plus the hostels in town have fast WiFi.
January can be rainy but in February the weather starts to improve but both months are notoriously windy. In March the weather moderates, the wind eases, and for fly fishermen, the hopper season hits high gear. Hoppers, Chernobyl Ants and Foam Beetles, and Attractors are in order plus anything else you can cast because the trout are hungry and will eat anything.
The Rio Manihuales at Villa Manihuales is the upper course of the river, it is not a white water flow here but it does run fast and deep. The Rio Manihuales is not the largest river in Patagonia but it has a moves and is cold, clean, and has healthy populations of Rainbow and Brown Trout plus runs of King Salmon. Its tributaries are the Rio Picaflor and the Rio Nirehuao and the Rio Manihuales itself is a tributary of the Rio Aysen.
There is no one on the river but me, and there are miles and miles of water all to myself. I have not found many posts on Facebook or in Web searches about fishing the Rio Manihuales which makes it good for me as there are lots of uneducated and trusting trout. The river has runs King Salmon and very large trout but I had to look for them. I found plenty of access and no one seemed to mind if I crossed through their property as I always closed the cattle gates on the trails. The river can be wide so I needed to be able to fly cast for a distance which not my strong point, and there is the wind in January and February, sometimes lots of it, but I hear it lessens in March and April. Despite all this, I managed to land large fish.
My Guide working. I hooked a rather large trout in this lagoon and it fled for the bottom like a rocket and then hid under a submerged tree. Federico swam for it but we didn’t retrieve the fish or the Fat Albert. The picture of me is with one that I managed to hook.
The Parque Lavadoras is large for such a small town. It has gentle trails wandering through the park with pleasant views and benches to enjoy them while sitting. The lower section has custom wooden toy rides for the children and gazebos in case of inclement weather. The park is named because there is a small rill or creek running through it. In the past the washerwomen of the town came to do laundry, scrubbing the clothing in the stream and then hanging it on the trees in the park. One Sunday I was lucky to have been there to watch a performance art piece, that is where the picture up top is from. I also took a video and it is posted below. Here are the credits.
This is an iPhone movie that I made that Sunday afternoon.
I gained an understanding of why the park is named as it is. The performance art was about the spirit of the washerwomen, las lavenderas, who used to work along the stream that runs down from the mountains and through the park.
Sometimes I feel like I have bitten off more than I can chew. This amount of gear is crazy! I am bringing 4 rods; a 13.5 in switch rod, a Loomis 10 weight 9 ft, a Winston Boron III 6 weight 9 ft, and a Winston Air 5 weight 9 ft, and if I am going to be crazy, then a four-weight 9 ft. Then there are the reels, spools, and last but not least, all the flies for salmon and trout. Let us not forget the waders and boots, lines, leaders, tips, and other assorted junk. Daily I put my head in my hands and wonder WTF I am doing. Couldn’t I be just as happy sitting at home eating, sleeping, and doing nothing, maybe date a little?
I strongly suggest that voyagers use travel insurance. The policies I purchased have paid for themselves a couple of times on past trips. Travel Insurance makes life much less stressful. If you happen to get sick or hurt, they could save your life or even a small fortune. If your flight is delayed or canceled, you will be covered for additional charges, delays, meals, and hotel rooms. Remember to keep every single receipt; copy them on your cell phone scanner app.
Today I bought the American Airlines roundtrip New York JFK to Bogota, Colombia. The flight leaves October 30 and returns April 7, 2020. The next chore is to buy the Bogota to Santiago Chile ticket leaving around January 1 and returning March 31. My travel dates do not take more than 90 days in either country, and I preclude the need for a visa.
The one ticket is now two. I purchased the second round trip ticket going from Bogota to Santiago, Chile. I also made an Airbnb reservation in Bogota for the first two weeks. After that, my plans are not entirely fleshed out, but I intend to go to Cali and spend at least two weeks, if not a month, learning Spanish and Salsa there. That leaves two weeks to float somewhere else before I fly to Chile.
I am considering not flying from Santiago to Balmaceda / Coyhaique Airport. It would be nicer to arrive at Santiago Airport, then take a taxi to the bus station, catch the overnight bus to Puerto Montt, then take the Naviera Austral ferry to Puerto Chacabuco and a short bus ride to Coyhaique. This trip will take a few days, but why fly when I can enjoy the scenery and fellowship on the boat. Today I reviewed the cost of a round trip flight from Santiago to Balmaceda, and it turned out to be about 200 bucks round trip; going overland would cost me twice that. As long as the Latham Airline doesn’t charge a fortune for luggage, this is a better option.
As of November 1, 2021, the requirements to register one’s phone with a local SIM card in Chile has changed. Here is the webpage you need to look at in Google Chrome with the Spanish to English translate on in settings.
Getting a temporary cell phone number in Chile is a chore. I have quickly bought a prepaid local Chilean sim card chip, but this year I had to register my phone with a government agency before being allowed to get a Chilean chip and number. The process was complicated, but I managed to get through it. I heard before I left in March 2018 that the registration process has changed and become more straightforward. The registration process is something you must work on before going. You do not want to be without your phone and a data connection
Here is the last link I have used, October 2017, to register my American phone, it worked.
Where you will fill out under remote the certification application and then IMEI on your phone at the bottom of the page.
Es claro, si?
If you want I will walk you through the registration for a 7 weight 9′ 4 piece Winston BXlll? Porque, pregunta mi en website.
I live and die with my cell phone, it is my best friend and connection to the world! The cell phone provides local telecom and internet service. Know how to use it and make sure it has a large readable screen.
Check out T Mobile plans before you leave as they have international coverage for phone and data in Chile!
After you register your American cell phone you purchase a SIM card at a local Entel office, I highly recommend Entel. The sim only costs a couple of bucks. Insert the card in your phone then restart the phone. Save the sim from the USA for when you return home, to save it safely I tape it to the inside back of my Otterbox iPhone protective case. Then go to a local pharmacy and ask for recharge, spend 15,000 Chilenos, show them the local phone number that you just got from the Entel carrier, and they will charge up your account. How often you have to recharge the card/account depends on how much you use the phone and data, 15,000 Chilenos should last a week or two.
I have a Skype account for my phone calls home, it’s inexpensive. The cost for international calls is what Skype charges per minute plus what the local data plan charges you per minute, that’s if you want to phone home.
Another option to call internationally is WhatApp which is a Facebook owned app. With WhatsApp on your cell phone you can call friends for free who also have the app on their phone.
If you have an Apple iPhone you can also use Apple FaceTime and make international calls for free to those who also have iPhones.
Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot, do not forget pneumonia if you are older. When you get these shots, be sure to have them recorded on the Yellow Card provided by the World Health Organization; see International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. The card for Yellow Fever, but you never know when you might travel to a country where that disease is present and you might need to get the shot before you go.
The US Center for Disease Control has vaccine recommendations, so take a look and decide if you want them.
Always wash your hands, wash your veggies, and all fruit before eating or cooking. Some people rinse the veggies in a chlorine sterilant that can be bought in the vegetable department of the Supermercado.
Like in the USA, do not drink water from rivers, streams, and lakes, but the city and town tap water is OK. If you must drink from wilderness sources, be sure to bring the water to a boil to sterilize it or use water filters or sterilant drops to purify it.
Update on January 22, 2021. I will be getting my first Covid vaccination shot next week and the second a month later. I intend to ask for and keep a paper record. When I next travel internationally, proof may be required to enter a foreign country or even return to the USA.
Spanish is the spoken language of Chile, in the city, you may find some who speak English but in the countryside – forgettaboutit.
The Duolingo app and language website is free. If you are diligent and practice for at least 3 months, it will help you get by. An excellent start is phrases, numbers, times, and days.
Install Google Translate on your smartphone and learn to operate this app. Translate is slow and not perfect, but you can make others understand you, and perhaps you can understand them, its easier than learning the language. Google translate works offline on my iPhone when I do not have a data connection.
Practice and be very patient as you are the visitor but remember, Chileans are friendly and helpful.
And remember that when you leave to say chao pescado, you will get a laugh.
The travel insurance company I have been using is TripInsurance.com. When I have submitted claims, they paid promptly. TI has different levels of coverage at several price points. The site is easy to access, read, and understand. You decide what you need and purchase it when you buy your flight ticket.
For example, last September 2017, I purchased a round-trip ticket from New York’s JFK to Santiago, Chile, on Avianca Airlines, leaving the USA in mid-October 2017 and returning on March 29th, 2018. The Avianca ticket was 500 dollars cheaper than American Airlines. Five days before my flight to Chile, I tried to check my trip online, and there was nothing! I called and emailed the airline, but no answer. I looked at the news about Avianca and found out that its pilots were on strike and all flights were canceled. Since I had brought my tickets with my Chase Sapphire credit card through Chase Travel, they were able to cancel the trip for me, refund my money, and then book my seats on American Airlines for the same travel days. Lucky me! TripInsurance.com made up the difference in the cost of the flights. I recouped one-third of the value of the insurance.
Another example of TripInsurance.com working for me was in 2014. I made a month’s vacation to Argentina and Chile. When I was to fly back from Buenos Aires in January 2015, a tremendous snowstorm happened on the USA’s East Coast, and JFK was closed. I holed up at the Airport Hotel in BA for five days while waiting for a flight home. TripInsurance.com paid for the full stay, room, and board, read Argentinian Filet Mignon.
Remember that not all travel insurance companies are the same; Travelinsurance.com has worked well for me twice in the past 3 trips. I trust them.
I have also heard that American Airlines Credit Cards are worthwhile, but I have no experience with them.
My homeowners and renters insurance will cover me for theft and loss of personal property while traveling internationally but remember, watch your stuff! Keep everything tight and organized and look under the bed when you move to the next spot, and be sure not to leave your fly rods in the trunk of the cab! I photograph all my gear before I go, so there is a record of what I traveled with if I need to prove it.
Auto insurance for a rental car is the policy listed on the credit card you use to rent the vehicle and the car rental agency’s paperwork when you rent it. The auto insurance policy you have for your car at home will not cover you outside of the USA! Premium Credit Cards have adequate rental car insurance, but it is a complicated policy, make sure you understand it.
I cannot impress upon you enough the importance of health and travel insurance, even if your journey is only a couple of weeks long. Flight delays and cancellations, illness, and lost luggage or papers can be stressful and expensive. Travel insurance will cover your ass. It is worth it, buy it and relax.
Keep backup photocopies of passport, health and travel insurance, credit cards, & license, store the copies securely.
I miss Valparaiso. It was cheerful, sunny, and warm. I know I whined about stray dogs, poop on the street, and the garbage, but it was a really lovely place, especially upon Cerro Bella Vista at Plaza Mena.
Let me list the ways;
The city has many hills to hike and alleys to wander.
It is on a bay by the Pacific
The harbor has fog horns and the ships signal with them.
Its an old port city that was once very prosperous before the Panama Canal was opened.
Its got flavor and is a bit edgy like NYC was in the 70’s
We could make a Noir spy movie there, wouldn’t that be bacan?