Argentina ~ Patagonia, Andesluna
There is little in Argentina to beat Patagonia and here, just south of Bariloche, you can immerse yourself in its unadulterated, picturesque and natural best. Elevated plains and crystal clear rivers surrounded by rocky peaks with endless views; native forest of lenga beech and ñire (southern beech), rough, open grassland where you might spot guanaco, red deer, armadillo and huge Condors soaring on the thermals. Just as the nomadic Tehuelche Indians did for hundreds of years, you can ride from camp to camp, a pack horse carrying luggage, your sure footed Criollo horse climbing the slopes of the Alto Chubut mountains. Or stay at “El Sapucai”, a simple working cattle farm close to the Chubut River, taking time out from the modernity of today’s fast moving world.
The 7 night Cordillera Ride and 13 night Grand Traverse run on set dates, with 3 night stays at El Sapucai arranged on request.
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 95kg (15 stone) but contact us if over 90kg (14st 2lbs) or over
Accommodation: 3* camping / teepees / rustic homestead
Group size: maximum 8
Season: October to June
Horses: You will be riding local Creole horses, many of them homebred, well adapted to mountain life and used to the rigours of working with cattle. 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. Saddles are Argentinian style, similar to a western or Maclellan style army saddle, with a comfortable sheepskin on top. On the Grand Traverse ride, you will change horses when you get to Chile. Saddlebags are always provided for personal belongings and pack horses transport luggage on the progressive rides.
Hours: There is usually between 4 and 8 hours riding a day with breaks for rests and lunch on the progressive rides. Hours are more flexible during a homestay.
Riding Experience: The rides are aimed at reasonably experienced, confident riders. To join them you must feel relaxed, comfortable and secure in the saddle at a walk, trot and canter. You should also be used to riding for reasonably long hours, in an open environment, on sometimes challenging terrain. There are occasional interesting river crossings which require riders to be quiet and confident in the saddle.
There is a range of accommodation on these rides. El Sapucai, a small farmhouse owned by your hosts, is the base for homestays and is also used during the progressive rides. It is rustic but comfortable, with two cosy tipis serving as bedrooms in addition to those in the house. On other nights you may camp on farmland, next to the homesteads of local families. On the Grande Traverse 3 nights are spent camping, 1 night at El Sapucai, 2 nights on Isla las Bandurrias (Chilean side), 4 nights are in local farmhouses, and 3 nights in more comfortable hotels/guesthouses. Camping is usually in walk-in 6m x 4m tents with camp beds and inflatable mattresses. They are 3 man tents but there are normally only 2 guests per tent to provide more space. Camp is set up for you on arrival. Meals when camping are cooked by the baqueanos over an open fire and are usually eaten around the fire.
2019 prices (valid to May 2019)
El Sapucai Homestay (3 nights)
|Itinerary in brief - Andean Cordillera 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, city tour if time allows. Traditional ‘asadao’ (barbecue) dinner at a local restaurant. Night at the hotel.|
|Day 2||Breakfast before driving towards the Ñirihuau area about 30 kms from Barlioche. Saddle up and set off, following La Mina river into the wilderness. A picnic lunch before continuing on to the Ñirihuau river where the first night is spent in camp on the banks of the stream. 4-5 hours riding|
|Day 3||Set off riding to the pass “Paso sin Nombre”, 1,700 meters above sea level. Continue riding to reach an idyllic spot surrounded by native Southern beech forests where camp is set up close to an isolated shepherds hut. Dinner and night in camp. 6-7 hours riding.|
|Day 4||Strike camp and descend through remote Southern beech forests. Camp and dinner on the shores of the Chubut River. 5-6 hours riding.|
|Day 5||Continue along the Chubut River valley, passing old silver and gold mines, and learning about their history when you stop for lunch in the wilderness. A few more hours riding before hot showers, dinner and a comfy bed at El Sapucai, a small farmhouse belonging to your hosts on the shores of the Chubut River. 5-6 hours riding.|
|Day 6||Set off riding in the Alto Chubut area, climbing high into the hills and stopping for a picnic lunch with wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. Return by a different route to El Sapucai for dinner and the night. 4-5 hours riding.|
|Day 7||Your last day riding, following an old track with excellent views, that takes you to Puesto Viejo. A last lunch with the gauchos and say goodbye to the horses before a 2 hour transfer back to Bariloche. Dinner in a local restaurant and night at the hotel. 5 hours riding.|
|Day 8||Breakfast and transfer to the airport or own arrangements for onward travel.|
The start point for these rides is Bariloche and there are regular daily flights from Buenos Aires Jorge Newbery (Aeroparque) domestic airport into San Carlos de Bariloche. British Airways currently have daily flight departures to Buenos Aires, usually leaving London Heathrow at about 21.00 arriving Buenos Aires at about 09.30 the next day. Iberia and Aerolineas Argentinas also have daily flights from London via Madrid to Buenos Aires. Other options are via the continent (eg Air France or Lufthansa) or via the USA. Fares to Buenos Aires start at about £850 per person economy return although this will vary depending on availability and how far in advance you book.
You can also fly to Puerto Montt via Santiago and take scenic bus/boat route across to Bariloche. There is an extensive network of buses (for example Chevallier, El Rápido Argentino, and Andesmar), which are comfortable (flat bed seats), convenient and safe from Buenos Aires to Bariloche, the bus journey takes about 18 hours.
The Grand Traverse Ride takes you to Chile, so you will need to fly back from Puerto Montt airport, near the town of Puerto Varas where the ride ends. There are regular daily flights from Puerto Montt to Santiago, Chile's capital, with LAN Chile and also Sky Airlines. Again there are also luxury overnight buses (comfortable flat bed seats and good value) - the journey by bus from Puerto Montt to Santiago takes about 14 hours. At present there are no direct flights between Santiago and London but Iberia, LAN Chile and Aerolineas Argentinas, all fly to London via Madrid. You can also fly with a combination of British Airways and LAN to London, via Buenos Aires, Sao Paolo or Miami. American Airlines also have flights via New York and Air France via Paris. Flights will cost from about £850 economy return, depending on the airline and season.
Please call us for more flight information or if you would like a fare quote. Our ATOL number for flight bookings is 6213.