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For the Restless
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Woman lounging inside Eleven Lodge next to large window overlooking mountains of Patagonia

On Location At Rio Palena Lodge, Patagonia

When we think of adventure, there's one place that's always sprung to mind: Patagonia. From heli-skiing in the Andes to bombing down forest trails on our bikes to casting flies in crystal clear rivers, it's been high on our list for a long, long time. We finally got the opportunity to realize that dream recently when the AETHER team, including founders Jonah and Palmer, traveled to the Eleven Rio Palena Lodge, nestled in the heart of the storied region. With pieces from our Spring 2024 Collection packed and ready to road-test, this is how we spent six memorable days in Patagonia.

Google Earth view from Los Angeles to Rio Palena Lodge in Patagonia
Google Earth view from Los Angeles to Rio Palena Lodge in Patagonia
Man in plane overlooking Patagonia landscape and lake
Clouds and blue sky against mountain terrain in Patagonia
Flag of Chile blowing in the wind

Day 1

Tired but excited, we landed in the southern Chilean town of Chaitén after over 15 hours in the sky. We were immediately greeted by incredible views as we drove to our destination, taking the sights of Lago Yelcho, a glacier-fed lake that covers 45 square miles near the town of Villa Santa Lucía, and El Malito, a sparkling river that draws trout anglers from all over the world. After winding our way alongside the magnificent Rio Palena through an Andean valley, we finally came to the lodge that bears the river's name. Mere steps from the water, the lodge is part of Eleven's unique group of properties around the world, which are chosen not only for their untouched locations but also for their "strong connection to both community and landscape." Eleven's lodges are designed for serious adventure but built with luxurious comfort in mind, allowing them to offer the best of both worlds.

View of Rio Palena Lodge
Man fly fishing on river's edge in Patagonia
Local Chilean huaso sitting on horse in front of mountain landscape of Patagonia

Day 2

The next morning we rose early to drive to the Futaleufú River, rated one of the top five whitewater rafting destinations in the world with Class-4 rapids along the entire route. Zipped in our dry suits, we set out with our experienced Eleven guides down the river. They directed us to the Puente a Puente, or "Bridge to Bridge," section of the Futaleufú, which some have described as similar to running all the hardest rapids of the Grand Canyon in a day. With names like Entrada, Tobogán, Pillow Rock, Toro and Mundaca, we navigated a dozen, continuous rapids—all without sending a single AETHER team member overboard.

Group of people whitewater rafting
POV of people whitewater rafting with water spraying
Man on edge of river watching person kayaking down river in Patagonia
Whitewater rafts going down river in Patagonia

Day 3

Patagonia takes hiking to the next level, so we asked the guides at Rio Palena Lodge to create a custom itinerary for us. They took us that morning to Tronador, an extinct volcano that hugs the Chilean and Argentinian border. There we hiked the Salto El Tronador path, which led to an awe-inspiring waterfall that was worth the trek. Afterwards, we piled into a helicopter for a ride to the banks of the Rio Palena, where we watched the sunset over the mountains and fished trout-filled waters. Finally, we returned to the lodge for the evening, where we were greeted by a dinner of wood-fired pizza under the stars.

Black and white photo empty dirt road in mountains of Patagonia
Woman hiking up steep path in forest of Patagonia
Waterfall in Patagonia
Man in river fly fishing with helicopter on the shore in the foreground and the mountains in the background
Top view of ingredients in bowls for pizza
Pizza being pulled from oven
Empty chairs situated in private area with lights hanging from trees

Day 4

Eager to get in more fly fishing, we set off in the morning for the Rio Palena, but this time we went down the river itself, grouped in rafts that allowed us uninhibited access to the water, and numerous scenic views, as we floated leisurely. By mid-day we pulled off to a riverbank and enjoyed lunch before setting off on-foot for El Tranquilo, where spectacular hiking awaited. As night fell we arrived back at the lodge just in time to experience a traditional asado dinner, a multi-course barbecue and wine pairing that was like nothing we'd ever done before.

Three people in raft boat fly fishing
Woman in raft fly fishing
Man and woman standing on suspension bridge in Patagonia
Man cooking on outdoor grill at dusk in front of river in Patagonia
Cabin with wall of wine bottles and blankets
Woman smiling during conversation over dinner outdoors

Day 5

On our last full day, we traveled by helicopter over the Tranquilo Valley on our way to explore a glacier and "the Cathedral," a series of naturally formed caves with distinct marbling in yellows, blues, whites, and greens. After hiking over the crevasse-marked surface, we ended up at a turquoise colored glacial lake, which we traversed on stand-up paddle boards, dodging chunks of glacial ice along the way. We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the epic lunch our guides provided for us on the shores of the lake, too.

Inside helicopter view of pilot overlooking lake in Patagonia
Man and woman paddle boarding on icy lake in Patagonia
Woman giving peace sign and smiling from inside helicopter
Two people in distance walking along mountain ridge with blue sky and clouds overhead

Day 6

With one last fishing trip to the river under our belts, it was time to pack our gear and head back. With the help of our hosts at Eleven Rio Palena Lodge we'd seen and done more than we could have even imagined, and crossed Patagonia off our list.

Trees with long cast shadows along the river in Patagonia
Silhouette of man and woman in lodge overlooking Patagonia mountains
Man lounging in Chilean chamato with hat pulled over eyes at night