a little about Andes Drifters..

Andes Drifters fly fishing patagonia argentinaCatching enormous brown trout is a lot of fun, but what usually makes people wistfully remember their experiences in Patagonia is the company they keep during their journey. I enjoy being with others who share the same passions for the adventurous lifestyle and boundless opportunities that Argentina presents; and recently I discovered kindred spirits in the entire team at Andes Drifters.

For most people considering a trip to Patagonia, the shear reliance on local expertise makes choosing your outfitter a critical piece of your venture.

Andes Drifters is a unique collaboration of Argentine owners and local guides, based in San Martin de los Andes, Argentina, with partners in the US who are also seasoned professionals in fly fishing and South American travel. The combination equates to people who understand both what adventurers from the north hope to experience, and exactly where to go to find it. And the offerings aren’t just limited to fly fishing, but encompass stag hunting, wing shooting, the entire spectrum of mountain-culture diversions such as trekking, kayaking, horseback adventures, biking, skiing, golf, and almost anything else you can dream up. Flexibility, fulfillment of unique requests, and high value proposition are their keys to success. This also makes Andes Drifters a top outfitter choice for outdoorsmen who would like to bring the entire family, or non-fishing/hunting companions.

The foundation of Andes Drifters is Gustavo Hiebaum, a young, affable Argentine who embodies the passion for a life outdoors. Gustavo resides in San Martin de los Andes; personally directs most of the activities of travelers, including some of the guiding; and speaks English fluently along with all of the other guides that I encountered with Andes Drifters. You get to know people pretty well when you spend 3 full days together floating and camping on a wilderness river, and my recent trip with Gustavo down the Rio Caleufu left a definite impression on me: this guy loves what he does. Ten hours a day behind the oars, and some of it through inclement weather, never stopped his laughter or his enthusiasm for finding fish.

Organization is also a key component of an outfitter’s delivery to clients; and I never found myself having to wait for late pick-ups, equipment, or most notably, hot coffee on a chilly morning camped out on the river. The Andes Drifters team demonstrated professionalism in their preparation for trips, timeliness, and setting the client up for success in the field; not to mention a beautifully slow-cooked lamb Asado by the river and a comfortable camp set up (including a portable generator and nicely strung lights for finding your way to the tent).

For clients seeking more civilization in their Patagonian experience, Andes Drifters can set you up in a comfortable hotel or Bed & Breakfast close to the conveniences and action of town; or perhaps in a riverside lodge. Your preferred destination and adventure will dictate the best location for lodging. If you can articulate what you want out of your vacation, they will try to customize the agenda to match your desires.

My personal experience with Andes Drifters consisted of numerous conversations with the partners in the states; a long dinner meeting with Gustavo Hiebaum in San Martin de los Andes, (fantastic local restaurant by the way); and finally a plan to meet his team of guides and support staff for an early season check-out run down the Rio Caleufu. First, I found everyone at Andes Drifters to be responsive. Every email that I sent, and every single phone call, were all returned promptly; they don’t leave you wondering whether they are interested in helping you. I was in business for many years back home, and good communication is a deal breaker for me; so I was very pleased with this team. Secondly, when Gustavo said he was going to be there, he was there; and he was organized and ready to go. All I had to do was show up. He even called me the afternoon before and offered to send one of his team over with dry bags to help me prepare for the trip down the river (nice touch, as not everyone will come fully equipped). More evidence that Andes Drifters really wants you to have fun, and they understand the details that impact enjoyment.

Lastly, was the companionship factor. I know it’s been a great trip when I leave feeling like I just made new friends; and that’s exactly how I felt after this trip. No stress, lots of laughs, loads of fish (due to great guiding skills and local knowledge, regardless of my casting skills), and astonishment that it ended so quickly. For three days, I completely forgot that anything else existed besides my friends, fishing, and the extraordinary scenery around me. My definition of a perfect vacation.

Memo Stephens

To contact Andes Drifters, go to: www.andesdrifters.com