“Newest hotspot… Best in the world… Most in the world.” You have heard these terms used many times in sporting articles and ads. In the world of high-volume dove hunting, Argentina’s Salta Province truly is all of those things.
Quoting from writer Gary R. Zahn in Shooting Sportsman magazine:
“Imagine hearing the subdued yet audible roar of more than a million eared doves’ wingbeats as the birds erupt from late-afternoon feeding fields. Rolling in waves across harvested soybean and peanut fields, the doves accumulate in locust-like swarms, then join undulating flight lines headed for the nearby roost. Words cannot do justice to such an awe-inspiring spectacle of nature. Did I mention that there are estimated to be 100 million doves in the province?”
Besides the amazing dove hunting, outfitter Floro Lavalle’s guests also have the option to shoot spot-winged and picazuro pigeons or spin or fly fish for South America’s renowned golden dorado, whose reputation for hard strikes, acrobatic leaps and finger-burning runs makes them one of the world’s most sought-after gamefish. Both activities are accessed from the same lodge.
Framed by the picturesque Centinela Mountains, Salta’s 620,000-acre Anta valley produces bountiful yields of soybeans, corn, peanuts and wheat. Due to its northerly location (closer to the equator) the region enjoys a delightful climate that changes little throughout the year. This grain production is surrounded and interspersed with the forest of the Gran Chaco, which covers northern Argentina, southern Bolivia and eastern Paraguay, providing an environment in which the populations of spot-winged and picazuro pigeons and eared doves flourish to incredible numbers.
Salta’s varied shooting platforms are unique in Argentina. For example, one day hunters may be positioned in the midst of a huge roost, the next around the perimeter of a harvested grain field, the next down in the river bottom or over a waterhole and the next around the edge of a huge local feed lot. Depending on the season, guests have the option of excellent pigeon hunting — pass shooting or using decoys — which in volume rivals Paraguay or anywhere else in the world. Lavalle has a fantastic selection of high-quality shotguns available for rent, including new Benelli and Beretta autoloaders. Of course the guns are transported to and from the field for you, and cleaned after each use.
When we say the best in Argentina high-volume gunning, we mean high-volume. We have had guests shoot more than 200 boxes in a day here. 5000 shells. That is not a misprint!
The reputation of South America’s golden dorado as a fantastic game fish is well deserved. They punish lures and flies, instantly make multiple acrobatic leaps like a tarpon and make finger-burning runs. The beautiful clearwater mountain rivers of northwestern Argentina — in particular Salta Province — provide habitat to 15-30 pound adult specimens as they migrate up the rivers to spawn, and juvenile fish from 3-10 pounds reside in the rivers year-round. On a good day here, an angler might hook five to ten fish and any fish hooked will provide a thrilling fight in these small waters.
Outfiter Floro Lavalle has Patagonia-trained guides and rights to the very productive Dorado, Del Valle and Seco Rivers which are easily accessed from the same lodge as the hunting. In addition, Lavalle has a dedicated four bedroom fishing lodge—San Fernando—just minutes from the streams. All streams are wadeable.
A six to eight-weight fly rod is recommended with floating and sink tip lines. Deceiver, clouser or muddler patterns on 1/0 to 3/0 hooks with combinations of black, blue, brown or red with white underbodies, tied with deer hair or bunny fur work well. Spin/baitcasting fast-action rods are recommended to cast 2″ to 4″ diving minnows and 1/4 oz. to 1/2 oz. silver and gold spoons and spinners.
It’s not all about the shooting and fishing….our outfitter, Floro Lavalle, is well-known for his beautiful lodges, fine wines, creative Argentine cuisine, and attentive service.
His opulent new 20,000 sq. ft. lodge, Estancia Chacu, offers nine bedrooms, lovely dining and cocktail areas, shaded patios, gardens, fountains and all of the charm of a European country manor, but with modern comfort and convenience. The lodge sits on a picturesque hillside location on a 4,000 acre private ranch.
Dining is uniformly terrific, featuring famed Argentine beef, Italian and German dishes and local game specialties. Delightful, robust Argentine Malbecs, and Cabernets are presented with each meal and a full bar is also available. Professional massage therapists are available every evening to relax and reinvigorate exhausted limbs and sore shoulders.
Drive times to the shooting areas range from 20 minutes to 1.2 hours depending on bird movements and if hunters are shooting pigeons (the longer drives). Drives to the fishing areas range from 10 to 40 minutes, depending on where anglers are accommodated and which river is being accessed.
Non Shooting/Fishing Activities
The city of Salta, capital of the province, was founded on April 16th, 1582 by Hernando de Lerma, governor of Tucumán on the orders of Spanish officials in Perú. Outside of the city several regions feature traces of pre-Columbian cultures, mingled with ruins of indigenous villages, together with forts and buildings dating back to the time of the Conquest and Colonization.
The wine producing town/area of Cafayate is flanked by rivers and inside a belt of vineyards and wineries that are open to visitors. Here you can learn of Argentina cultivation methods and taste spectacular wines, many unique in the world. Artisan exhibitions are often held and guests can enjoy peñas and boliches (folk enjoyment, usually at night), along with bike and horse renting. 5 km upwards towards San Isidro , you can see caves with ancient cave paintings.
$795 per night. Included are accommodations, all meals, open bar, land lease fees, all services of professional guides, round-trip airport transfers and Salta Province hunting permit. Not included are commercial air travel, gun rental at $75/day, shells at $14/box and tips.
Prime time: Year-round for doves. Pigeons are best late-May through August. Dorado fishing is best September-November and March-May.
Many excellent carriers, such as American Airlines, Delta, United, Lan Chile, Aerolineas Argentinas and Varig offer flight service to Buenos Aires, Argentina, from Dallas, New York, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, or Los Angeles. Most of the flights depart the U. S. in the evening and arrive Argentina early to late morning the next day. From Buenos Aires, shooters/anglers take a two-hour jet flight north to Salta City. Estancia Chacu is around two hours (by van) from the Salta airport.
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