Argentina ~ Patagonia, Andesluna
7 night rides using simple farmstead, mountain refuge and camp accommodation. Shorter stays based at El Sapucai, a working farmstead, on request and some longer 13 night rides crossing the Andes into Chile. Season October to April / May.
Where In northern Patagonia, on the Argentine side of the Andes, from a small farmstead about 3 hours south of Bariloche. 13 night rides cross the Andes into Chile.
What is it like El Sapucai is a simple, family owned farmstead nestled amongst rough open grassland in the foothills of the Alto Chubut mountains. The area is in the rain shadow of the Andes, so it's generally drier than the Chilean side. Riding routes climb the hills to elevated grassland plains, cross rivers and lakes and follow winding paths through native forest of 'lenga' and 'nire' (southern beech). These rides are no frills, connecting with nature in back-to-basics, simple living.
Who does it suit Simple, authentic, welcoming - these are for anyone who wants to switch off and re-connect with nature. You can ride out from the farmstead to explore on a sure footed Criollo horse, you can enjoy the silence of the mountains in isolation by the river or, as the nomadic Tehuelche Indians did for hundreds of years, you can ride from camp to camp with a pack horse carrying your luggage. Riders of all levels are warmly welcomed and the whole feeling is relaxed, peaceful and friendly.
Why we love it There is little in Argentina to beat the Patagonian landscape and tuning into a more simple rhythm of life, feels completely refreshing. These rides are also great value!
Riding: 4-8 hours a day or tailored to suit
Horses: Criollo and farm bred crosses
Pace: slow to moderate
Riding ability: novice to experienced; families welcome
Weight limit: about 90kg (14st), please check if you are close to this
Accommodation: 3* camping / yurts / rustic homestead
Group size: maximum 8
Season: October to May
Price: 7 night rides from USD 2340 (approx £1825) per person
Horses: You will be riding local Creole horses, many of them homebred and all well adapted to mountain life. The horses average 15hh, are strong, sensible, very sure footed, responsive and forward going, so great fun to ride. They are ridden western style and are used to neck-reining and relaxed contact with the mouth. Saddles are Argentinian style, similar to a western or Maclellan style army saddle, with a comfortable sheepskin on top. On the Grand Traverse ride, which is a long route crossing into Chile, you will change horses when you get to Chile. Saddlebags are provided for personal belongings and pack horses transport luggage on 'progressive' rides.
Hours: On the Alto Chubut rides there is usually between 4 and 7 hours riding a day with breaks for rests and lunch. When based at El Sapucai for consecutive nights, riding hours are flexible and can be adapted to suit.
Riding Experience: Place to place rides are aimed at reasonably experienced, confident riders. To join them you must feel relaxed, comfortable and secure in the saddle on a well schooled horse at a walk, trot and canter. You should also be used to riding for reasonably long hours, in an open environment, on varied terrain. Although the riding pace is not fast and much is at a walk, there are occasional interesting river crossings and may be obstacles to negotiate which require riders to be quiet and confident in the saddle. Riders of all levels are welcome at El Sapucai, where riding can be very flexible.
El Sapucai is a traditional, Patagonian style farmstead; rustic and simple but reasonably comfortable. It is the home of your hosts and there are two double guest bedrooms in the farmhouse and two cosy yurts which provide additional bedrooms. The bathroom is shared, with water heated by wood burning boiler and there is no electricity or 'phone signal. You are truely off-grid. On Alto Chubut Rides, other nights are in a small hotel in Bariloche, in camps set up in the mountains or on farmland next to the homesteads of local families or in shared rooms in simple mountain huts. Camps use spacious walk-in 6m x 4m tents (usually a 3 man tent for 2 guests) with camp beds and inflatable mattresses provided and as far as possible, are set up ahead of your arrival. Meals are cooked by the 'baqueanos' (the name given to the gauchos in this part of Argentina) over an open fire and eaten seated around the camp fire on logs or whatever you can find. For more details of accommodation on the 13 night Grand Traverse rides, please see our separate webpage.
Alto Chubut Ride (7 nights)
Alto Chubut Ride
Average temperature guide
|Itinerary in brief - Alto Chubut Ride. Please enquire for other itineraries.|
|Day 1||Arrive Bariloche airport in Argentina. Meet your guide and transfer with the group to a hotel in Bariloche. Depending on arrival time, a city tour or some pre-ride shopping if time allows. Traditional ‘asadao’ (barbecue) dinner at a local restaurant. Night at the hotel.|
|Day 2||Breakfast before driving towards the Ñirihuau area and the Pichileufu River about 35 kms south of Barlioche. Saddle up and set off, following the river into the open spaces of the Patagonian wilderness. Stop for a saddlebag picnic lunch before continuing on to a small outpost estancia where the night is spent in a simple mountain refuge. Dinner around the camp fire (about 4-5 hours riding) |
|Day 3||Set off riding to the “Paso sin Nombre” pass, at 1,700 meters above sea level and after a lunchbreak head down away from the dry open country to an idyllic spot surrounded by native southern beech forests. The night is spent here in a simple refuge close to an isolated shepherds' hut. Dinner and night (about 6-7 hours riding).|
|Day 4||Breakfast around the camp fire, then pack up and mount up. The route continues alongside the Pantanoso stream, descending through remote southern beech forests. Then leave the forest and head into more open country, passing an occasional lagoon. The Chubut River which was just a small trickle close to its source now emerges as a respectably sized stream and camp will be set up on the banks of the river in a wonderfully private wilderness. Dinner and night in camp (about 5-6 hours riding).|
|Day 5||After breakfast in camp, continue riding along the Chubut River valley, passing old silver and gold mines. There might be time for a mate with some of the locals, to hear their stories of the area, a fascinating insight into its history, when you stop for lunch. Mount up after your picnic for the final 2 hours riding to El Sapucai, where a hot shower is waiting. Dinner and a comfy bed at El Sapucai, your hosts' small farmhouse on the shores of the Chubut River (about 5-6 hours riding).|
|Day 6||A leisurely breakfast and then time to explore the Alto Chubut area, a day which demonstrates your horse's skill and agility on all terrains - wetland, rocky hills and forest. Climb high into the hills stopping for a picnic lunch with wonderful 360 views of the lagoon and surrounding mountains. In the afternoon ride back to El Sapucai by a different route for dinner and the night (about 6-8 hours riding).|
|Day 7||The last riding day and a final ride following an ancient track through the hills to Puesto Viejo. A last picnic with the gauchos before saying goodbye to them and the horses and departing by minibus for a 2 hour transfer to Bariloche. Dinner in a local restaurant and final night at the hotel (about 5-6 hours riding).|
|Day 8||Breakfast and transfer to the airport or own arrangements for onward travel.|
The meeting point for these rides is San Carlos de Bariloche, which has a domestic airport and regular daily flights from Buenos Aires Jorge Newbery (Aeroparque) domestic airport. There is also a good overnight bus connection, with comfortable buses (flat bed) from Buenos Aires to Bariloche providing a convenient and safe way to travel. The bus journey takes about 18 hours.
Alternatively you can fly to Puerto Montt in Chile via Santiago and take a scenic bus/boat route across the border to Bariloche.
The Grand Traverse Ride ends in Chile and if doing this you will need to travel / fly back after the ride from Puerto Montt airport, near the town of Puerto Varas. There are regular daily flights from Puerto Montt to Santiago, Chile's capital as well as comfortable overnight buses - the bus journey from Puerto Montt to Santiago takes about 14 hours. Please contact us if you need more flight or travel information.