Chile ~ Patagonia, Torres del Paine
Torres del Paine National Park is home to some of the world’s most dramatic scenery. The granite towers of the Paine Massif dominate the surrounding Patagonian plains and grey blue glaciers flow down from the southern ice cap, cutting their way through immense mountains before crumbling into turquoise lakes. Waterfalls tumble from granite cliffs and condors soar over the snow capped peaks as the haunting cry of guanaco echoes on the rolling hills. The open grassland and wild valleys that shelter between the craggy mountains are ideal for horses and make a superb setting for long canters against an extraordinary backdrop.
Set date trips are for 9 nights, either camping in the National Park or staying in local estancias, hosterias and farmsteads. Rides are run between October and March. Itineraries include 8 full days riding. Shorter 4 night trips and private tailormade rides can also be arranged on request.
Riding: 5-9 hours a day.
Horses: locally bred Criollo and Chilean cross.
Pace: moderate and varied, with good open going for long canters.
Riding ability: suitable for intermediate to experienced riders.
Weight limit: 95kg (15 stone).
Accommodation: 3* camping or simple estancias and lodges (2 options).
Group size: maximum 8-10.
Season: October to March.
Horses: The horses are medium build cross breeds, generally Chilean Horse crosses or Criollo mix. Some have Percheron blood. They are bred locally on the surrounding estancias for working cattle and sheep and most range from about 14.2hh to 16hh. They are good natured and a sensible, responsive and enjoyable ride. Saddles are Chilean style with a comfortable sheepskin on top. The horses are trained western style and are used to neck reining. Groups are normally limited to a maximum of 10 guests (8 on Estancia Rides).
Hours: There is generally 5 to 9 hours riding a day, riding from camp to camp or estancia to estancia, with breaks for rests and lunch.
Pace and experience required: To take part in these rides you should have a reasonable amount of previous riding experience and a reasonably good level of general fitness. You should be comfortable and in control on a well schooled horse at a walk, trot and canter and used to riding in open country. Experienced riders will have fun, well paced riding over good terrain. The horses include sensible, steady schoolmasters so less experienced riders who are fit and adventurous, can also participate. The pace is varied with opportunities for good long canters most days.
Accommodation on the rides varies with the itinerary. The first night on the 10 day itineraries is spent at a hotel in Puerto Natales. Then for the Gaucho & Glacier Camping itinerary most other nights are spent in tough, weather proof dome tents in private camps, moved ahead of riders. Sometimes camps are set up in or near one of the National Park's appointed camping areas where there may be showers (not always hot!). On Estancia Rides other nights are at family run estancias (farms), either working estancias in comfortable guest rooms, or at estancias that have been converted to small hotels. Rooms are generally twin bedded with private bathroom although bathrooms are shared on some nights.
Valid until April 2018
Itinerary in brief - Estancia Ride. Please enquire for Gaucho & Glacier itinerary
|Day 1||Arrive Punta Arenas. Transfer by bus to Puerto Natales. Overnight Hostal El Establo (or similar) in Puerto Natales.|
|Day 2||Set off driving north, to Estancia Consuelo where you meet the horses. Set off riding along the fjord, stopping for a picnic lunch. Meet the vehicle and, leaving the horses, drive a short wat to Estancia Perales. Dinner and the night Estancia Perales.|
|Day 3||Breakfast and take the boat across the fjords to Balmaceda. Meet new horses and a long ride following the Serrano river. Night at Hosteria Rio Serrano.|
|Day 4||Today's ride takes you to Lago and Glacier Grey. Optional boat trip on the lake to the face of the glacier and transfer back to the hotel by car - or ride back to Rio Serrano, night at Hosteria Rio Serrano.|
|Day 5||Ride across the heart of the National Park, with great views of the granite peaks of the Paine mountain range. The are some good opportunities for long canters. Arrive at the comfortable farmhouse of Estancia Tercera Barranca for dinner and night.|
|Day 6||Ride out from Tercera Barranca heading north to the deserted Estancia Germitas and then follow the Las Chinas valley to a waterfall where you stop for lunch. In the afternoon ride back by a different route to Estancia Tercera Barranca for dinner and a second night.|
|Day 7||Breakfast and transfer by car to Estancia Cerro Guido. Taking a picnic lunch, ride out into the remote baguales area where herds of wild horses can be found. Return to Estancia Guido for dinner and the night.|
|Day 8||Breakfast and set off riding across the pampas southwards towards Estancia Entre Lagos. There are good opportunities for long canters. A picnic lunch and ride past Lake Sarmiento with dramatic views of the Paine Massif across the water. Dinner and night at Estancia Guido.|
||A full day ride with picnic lunch, riding to the deserted Estancia Flores, close to the Argentine border. Stop for a picnic lunch and in the afternoon ride back to Estancia Guido, crossing open pampa with good chances for long canters. A delicious barbecue dinner and night at Estancia Guido.|
||Breakfast and transfer to Puerto Natales for your onward journey.|
|Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on tel (+44) (0)1837-82544 / 825440 for further information, detailed itineraries, dates and answers to questions.|
The meeting point for the rides is Puerto Natales, gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. You will need to fly to Santiago, Chile's capital, then take an internal flight to Punta Arenas at the southern tip of Chilean Patagonia and from here transfer by bus or private transfer to Puerto Natales. There are several flights from London to Santiago, generally departing in the evening and arriving Santiago mid morning the next day (e.g. the Chilean airline Lan Chile flies via Madrid). There are 3 or 4 flights a day between Santiago and Punta Arenas. For flights from London budget around £1100 economy return (varies with the airline, season and availability).