Argentina to Chile ~ Across the Andes, Grand Traverse
These cross-border rides start in Argentina, about 30 kms south of Bariloche and ends at Llanada Grande in Chile. A 14 day trip, riding first through the foothills of the Argentine Andes, exploring the Patagonian steppe, beech forest and dry valleys of the Alto Chubut mountain chain, before crossing the stunning Puelo Lake by boat. Once in Chile, with new horses, the route follows the course of the Puelo River and its tributaries, ending with a transfer to Puerto Varas. With 5 days riding in Argentina and 6 days in Chile, nights in simple camps, refuges and on the fairytale Las Bandurrias island, it is a journey for the adventurous in the true pioneering spirit of Patagonia.
Riding: 5-8 hours a day over varied terrain.
Horses: Criollo cross.
Pace: moderate to slow due to terrain.
Riding ability: confident intermediate to experienced riders.
Weight limit: 89kg (14st); heavier riders may be taken on request with supplement for extra horse payable.
Accommodation: 3Δ camps, rustic homesteads/cabins.
Group size: max 8.
Season: November to January
Horses: For the first part of the ride you will use horses owned by your hosts Tammy & Dominik - mostly Criollo (the local Argentine breed). You swap horses at the Chilean border and for the second part of the trip use horses owned by your Chilean host, Cathy. These are generally a little smaller, averaging 14hh to 15hh and are mainly Criollo, Chilean Horse and Chilean Horse crosses (similar to a stocky Arab!) All the horses, having been bred and trained locally for working cattle, are strong and sensible yet also responsive and forward going, so a pleasure to ride. They are ridden western style and are used to neck reining. Saddles are similar to a western or Maclellan style army saddle, with a comfortable sheepskin on top.
Hours: There is usually about 6 hours riding a day with breaks for rests and lunch though some days may be up to 8 hours.
Pace and experience required: These rides are geared towards intermediate, fit riders who are relaxed and secure in the saddle at a walk, trot and canter in open country. The pace is not fast, due to the terrain, but there are usually chances to trot and canter each day.
The first and last nights of these rides are spent in comfortable hotels in Bariloche and Puerto Varas respectively. Most other nights are in rustic homesteads, where rooms tend to be small and cosy, and there are usually shared bathrooms. Two nights are spent on the idyllic Bandurrias Island and two nights are spent camping, in simple dome tents. There are no washing facilities in camps - the clear mountain rivers and lakes are used for washing. Meals at homesteads are traditional gaucho (cowboy) fare, and when camping are cooked by your guide/the gauchos over an open fire and are usually eaten sitting on the ground around the campfire.
(valid to January 2020)
4th to 17th November 2019
Itinerary in brief - Argentina to Chile, Grande Traverse
|Day 1||You will be met at Bariloche airport and driven to a hotel in town where the first night is spent.|
|Day 2||Breakfast, then transfer about 30km to meet the horses and gauchos. Saddle up, load up the pack horses and set off into the wilderness. A picnic lunch and ride on to the Pichileufu river where camp is set up for the night.|
|Days 3 & 4
||Breakfast and set off towards the next camp site. Two day's riding over the mountains, across water meadows and through forests. The descend through drier terrain to El Sapucai, a homestead on the Alto Chubut River, where the second of these nights is spent.|
||A full day riding out from El Sapucai, high into the hills, through native beach forests, to a wonderful view point. A picnic lunch then return by a different route to the homestead.|
|Day 6||Leaving El Sapucai you descend to the roadhead. Here you say goodbye to the Argentine horses and meet the vehicles for a drive to the small town of Lago Puelo. Night at a lovely lodge just outside town.|
|Day 7||Today is a rest from riding but important miles to cover. The first leg is by boat across Lago Puelo. After clearing Argentine customs you cross the rapids that divide Chile & Argentina. Here you reach the Chilean customs control and afterwards there is a short walk to Lago Rocas where you meet another boat which takes you to the beautiful island, Las Bandurrias. A welcoming Chilean dinner.|
|Day 8||Breakfast and a short boat trip to the mainland for the days ride through wonderful forests to a secluded lake. A picnic before heading back to the shores of Lago Rocas and transfer by boat to Las Bandurrias.|
|Days 9 to 12||During the next 4 days you make your way along the Puelo river and its tributaries. Riding through remote forested valleys and across crystal clear rivers, with views of snow capped mountains. Nights are spent in isolated homesteads, accessible only by horse or on foot.|
||Breakfast and a final morning ride to meet the minibus at Llanada Grande. From here an hours drive takes you to the Tagua Tagua ferry. A further 3 hour drive and you arrive at Puerto Varas, beautifully positioned on the shores of lake Llanquihue, with dramatic views of Osorno volcano. Overnight Puerto Varas.|
||Breakfast and transfer to Puerto Montt Airport.|
|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 Bariloche airport and meeting / transfer will be arranged at set times on the first day. On the last day you will be transferred to Puerto Montt airport in time for a morning flight. On the outward journey you need to fly to Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, then take an internal flight to Bariloche. On the return you need a flight from Puerto Montt to Santiago and from there there are direct flights to Europe (including London, Paris and Amsterdam) For flights from London budget around £1000 economy return (varies with season and availability).