Aguas Arriba Lodge

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July 3rd, 2021


Pato Garcia and Ivor Matovic, owners of Aguas Arriba Lodge, by Lago Del Desierto.

The place chose by the couple is a dense 300-years-old forest, with trails ending in rocks, hanging glaciers, sandy beaches and waterfalls with pools

With grown-up children, and 19 grandchildren, they fulfilled their dream of having a house by Lago del Desierto…

A couple from Buenos Aires chose this remote area of southern Patagonia, in front of a Glacier and with view to Mount Fitz Roy, to live half of the year and receive guests.

“We met during the second stage of our lives, with teenage children. We were extremely willing of developing a Project together, and we started to look for the place to do it”, they tell us.

Patricia “Pato” García and Ivor Matovic, hosts since 10 years of Aguas Arriba, a lodge enclaved in the forest and by the shore of Lago del Desierto, the same lake that kept Argentina and Chile on guard some time ago, a dominium of lengas and ñires that covered themselves of a furious red during autumn.

Pato had seen a picture of Mount Fitz Roy when she was 17 years old, that made an everlasting impression on her. “When I arrived at El Chaltén for the very first time, and went walking by the lake, I immediately realized this was the place we were looking for”, she tells us. The small village has been neglected: “trees are missing”, she thought. She had been working as a landscaper for 20 years in Buenos Aires and is a lover of nature and of untouched places. The crush happened during a hike by the lake, when she discovered the lichens, the hanging glaciers, the huethuet that approached them with their inverted beaks reflected in the water. Ivor, an engineer born in South Africa, was also looking for a change after 27 years of corporate life. Lover of outdoor, he was also ready for a new adventure and Pato was the ideal partner to make it happen. Together they visited lakes, mountains and various villages of the Argentine and Chilean Patagonia, before arriving to El Chaltén, where they found the perfect spot in which they could build their personal paradise

To arrive to Pato and Ivor’s intimate refuge one has to move 37 km away from EL Chaltén. It can only be reached by boat, or after three hours of trekking.

Pato Garcia showing a map to her guests to detail the attractions of the area.

One of the five bedrooms Of Aguas Arriba, with view to the lake.

“We had the opportunity to buy a large plot of land with its own private shore to the lake, a place only reachable by boat, as there was no road to arrive by car, and that is how we started with the difficult adventure of building up a house in such an isolated place”, the owners tell us.

Aguas Arriba Lodge is reachable only by sailing along the lake, or after three hours of trekking through a trail bordering the lake. Just in front of Vespignani Glacier, it is the only house by Lago del Desierto, and it camouflages with 800 hectares of woods, an area destined to the preservation of the Huemul and the environment.

The 2500 boat trips

Pato and Ivor never imagined that the project would turn out to be a deed: it took 2500 boat trips to transport -over four seasons – the nails, the wood, the appliances, and the furniture to equipe the house. It was a titanic endeavour, nourished by an even bigger dream.

Transport of Wood used in the construction in one of the 2.500 boat trips

Construction demanded four years and during this stage of very difficult logistics, the couple camped by the lake

View of North Face of Mount Fitz Roy from the house under construction.

“Everything was very difficult and it was done with a lot of effort and passion.  From the very first moment we knew that the absence of a road to arrive was going to pose us challenges. There was no electricity, nor gas, nor any other sort of public utility, and supply logistics was indeed complex”.

Bureaucracy was another obstacle which we had to overcome patiently. On top of all the necessary permits to allow for construction, and after years of submitting documentation, studies of environmental impact needed to be added. “We had the commitment that we wanted to take care of the place, this was our main proposition. Despite the remoteness of the place, we wanted to set out a sustainable project and commit ourselves to the preservation of all that surrounded us”, they explain.

There were 4 years of construction, during which they camped. They wanted to build only five bedrooms (all with large windows facing the lake, the glacier and Mount Fitz Roy), to guarantee the maximum possible intimacy and warmth, and “that the guests can feel as friends in their home.

They used noble materials, cypress wood, stones brought from the beach, black roofs and lots of glass so that the mountains, the glacier and the lake can reflect.

The lake and the north face of Mount Fitz Roy enter the house through its wide high windows.

The fireplace always on, the wood creaking to footsteps, the soft music and the house scents coming from the kitchen are a constant in Pato and Ivor’s enchanted refuge. Effortless hosts, they follow the steps of their guests and accompany them to hike through the trails, such as the one that leads into some small waterfalls just meters away from the house, where a couple of Huemuls are usually seen. Or to Vespignani glacier, on the other side of the lake.

Pato cannot help to hide her passion for botany, and stops to show every little flower or plant in a forest that seems to be enchanted, with lengas more than 400 years old, rocks covered by fluorescent moss. “It is a 300 year-old dense forest, with trails ending up in fantastic rocks, sandy beaches, waterfalls with small pools. One can find everything”, she explains. She stills works on her profession in Buenos Aires, once the lodge closes its doors in autumn.

Guests always ask them how was it that they arrive there to which they respond that it is never too late to make your dreams come true: “We all have some passion which may have been left behind in the course of live. Playing an instrument, writing, travelling or painting…. In our case we have a passion for nature, for the forest, the mountain, and to be able to share our house with people who value the same”.

Pato Garcia leads the hike through a centenary forest lengas towards Vespignani Glacier, a “neighbour” of the lodge


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