Patagonia, Chile, Chile

Rio Palena Lodge


Adventurous spirit


In Patagonia

In a vast expanse of empty Patagonia, Rio Palena Lodge keeps the adventures coming, whether you want to spend your time exclusively in waders, head out for some heli-skiing, set sail in an inflatable kayak or do some plain old hiking…but in the Andes. Your programme will be dreamt up during pre-arrival planning with your experience manager and a private chef will ensure all meals are just how you like them. Back at basecamp, there’s axe-throwing, oversize board games, hot-tub stargazing and a karaoke kit to keep the fun flowing, along with communal dinners around the long wooden table and traditional Chilean barbecues down in the asado zone.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A mate jar to make you feel like a yerba-tea-drinking gaucho


Photos Rio Palena Lodge facilities

Need to know


Seven, including two suites.


10am (due to flight times). Earliest check-in, 3pm.


If you can’t find your minibar, don’t panic: the two suites have one in-room, but the other five rooms share a communal larder on the landing, stocked with all of the snacks and cold drinks you could wish for.

Hotel closed

The hotel is open during the southern summer from December until March; and for the heli-ski season, every October and November.

At the hotel

Free WiFi throughout, helicopter, two hot tubs, sauna, drying room, games room and bicycles to borrow. In rooms: Apple TV, phone-controlled sound system, Austral Organics bath products.

Our favourite rooms

If you’re travelling as a group, try not to fall out over who gets Palena, the lodge’s master suite, which has a balcony overlooking the Andes. It’s also the only room with a television (not that you’ll need any electronic moving images with the all-natural alternative on show outside).

Packing tips

Your finest fleeces, waders and waterproofs.


All ages are welcome and two rooms (Tigre and Tranquilo) can have twin beds on request.

Sustainability efforts

The team takes every effort to conserve water and reduce the lodge’s energy consumption and plastic usage.

Food and Drink

Photos Rio Palena Lodge food and drink

Top Table

Take your morning coffee on the chairs down by the river, where you might be joined by the neighbours (two sheep), or settle onto a sofa by the fireplace.

Dress Code

As sensibly stylish as you can manage.

Hotel restaurant

The lodge’s chef will cook all of your meals for you, from breakfast of supersize sandwiches and omelettes (with a baked-on-site carb corner, of course) to picnic lunches to take out adventuring, and dinners around the communal table every evening. Guides are always equipped with excursion-friendly snacks and drinks – and if you’re hungry when you return from your day out, just-baked empanadas or mini pizzas will come to your rescue. At dinner, the set menus include traditional Chilean dishes such as the country’s version of shepherd’s pie, pastel de choclo – and one night during your stay should definitely be donated to an asado in the dedicated asado zone (with fairy lights in the trees and its own swing), where you’ll be treated like a biblical son returning home to a fatted lamb. 

Hotel bar

The bar is the ultimate masculine mountain retreat, where you can sit up by the counter to tell the staff all about your adventures as they mix up the perfect Pisco sour, play some pool, chess or giant Connect 4, or bust out the karaoke kit.

Last orders

Breakfasts are made to order and the communal dinners usually start at 8pm. The bar serves drinks from 4pm until midnight.

Room service

You’ll be missing all the fun if you stay in your room – join in at the dining room instead.


Photos Rio Palena Lodge location
Rio Palena Lodge
W-961, Palena
Los Lagos

The hillside lodge is in an Andean valley, on the banks of the Rio Palena in Chilean Patagonia, with basically no neighbours for miles in any direction.


Travel in this remote part of the world will need some serious planning – driving distances are huge. From Santiago, guests can board a flight to Puerto Montt and transfer to the hotel, with an overnight stop in Puerto Varas breaking up the 10-hour journey. From Chaiten airport, it’s a 45-minute helicopter transfer or three-hour drive to the lodge. There’s an airfield in Palena, which is a 20-minute drive away from the hotel. Private charters between Santiago and Puerto Montt can be arranged. Guests coming from (even) further south can land at Puerto Montt from Puerto Natales or Punta Arenas and continue on to Chaiten airport. It’s also occasionally possible to fly to Esquel airport in Argentina and either drive the two and a half hours to the lodge, or meet a chopper at the border.


If you love a road trip but get bored after two hours, driving in Patagonia is not for you – the distances are vast and even snacks won’t save you. Instead, Eleven’s team can help arrange transfers for you. There’s a car park on site for undeterred fans of the long open road.


Helicopter is easily the most efficient mode of transport around here. One can even meet you at the Argentine border.

Worth getting out of bed for

Itineraries can consist solely of fly-fishing if that’s what you’ve come for – and the creative concierge will be able to map out the all-inclusive, customised experience of your dreams. In summer, this could include hiking and helicopter trips to the top of the glacier, kayaking down the river, picnics, wild swimming and white-water rafting. In October and November, it’s all about the powder – the staff have helpfully pinpointed 85 off-piste ski runs for heli-skiing heaven.

If your travels take you past Parque Pumalin – a million-acre reserve of rainforest, waterfalls, mountains, glaciers and volcanoes, created by the founder of North Face – it would be rude not to drop in. 


Photos Rio Palena Lodge reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this rural hotel in Chile and unpacked their fly-fishing rods and full-bodied reds, a full account of their adventurous break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Rio Palena Lodge in Patagonia…

Her name is Rio (Palena Lodge) and she dances on the shores of a Patagonian river, with snow-capped Andes all around and only sheep for neighbours. The Eleven Experience means a stay curated down to every last detail, whether you want to fish from dawn until dusk (or later if you’d like), be the first to hit the powder on a deserted high-altitude hillside or go white-water rafting on the river that’s right outside. Anglers can wade out from basically the front door, with various lakes, streams and other rivers to work through. Après-adventure is a thing (daily, in the lounge), where the chef will top up your energy levels with hot snacks and the staff will make you a Pisco sour. And the fun doesn’t stop at nightfall – guests can stargaze from the hot tubs, borrow the karaoke kit or play a game of giant Connect 4 after dark. 

The lodge is a 10-hour drive south of Puerto Montt and a whopping 20 hours in some wheels from Torres del Paine, but the crack-squad concierge will see to smooth transfers for you. They’ll also arrange asados with fairy lights and whole lambs. The middle of nowhere always looks good, but not quite as good as this.