Argentina to Chile ~ Across the Andes, Grand Traverse
14 day cross-border rides starting in Argentina, about 30 kms south of San Carlos de Bariloche and ending at Llanada Grande, to the south east of Puerto Montt in Chile.
Where In the northern Patagonian lake district, about 1000 kms south of Buenos Aires, crossing from Argentina to Chile.
What is it like The ride starts in Argentina in the foothills of the Andes, exploring the Patagonian 'steppe', beech forest and dry open valleys of the Alto Chubut mountain chain with pack horses carrying equipment. You then cross the stunning Puelo Lake by boat and the border into Chile, and once in Chile, with new horses, ride a route along the course of the Puelo River and its tributaries. This part is Valdivian rain forest, rivers winding amongst dense evergreen undergrowth, ferns and bamboos under a broadleaf canopy - think Lord of the Rings and you'll know what we mean. 2 nights are in a simple homestead on Lago Rocas' fairytale private island 'Las Bandurrias' and the ride ends with a transfer to Puerto Varas, just north of Puerto Montt in Chile.
Who does it suit Anyone after 2 weeks of adventure, to get off-grid and do something different. You'll need to conjure your pioneering Patagonian spirit, as nights are in simple camps and refuges, sharing with fellow travellers and 'mucking in' with the team (although gaucho cooks, horsemen and pack horses travel with you!) but with 5 days riding in Argentina and 6 days in Chile, its a proper expedition and a great way to see the contrasting sides of the Andes.
Why we love it For time out to change focus and escape the routine. Do something you'll remember.
Riding: 5-8 hours a day over varied terrain
Horses: Criollo cross, Chilean and Chilean Horse cross
Pace: generally 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: 2Δ camps, rustic homesteads/cabins
Group size: max 8
Season: November to January
Price: 13 night ride from USD 7300 (approx £5615) per person
Horses: For the first part of the ride you will use horses owned by your Argentine hosts Tammy & Dominik - mostly Criollo (the local Argentine breed) and locally bred crosses. Swapping horses at the Chilean border, the second part uses horses owned by Tammy's Chilean partner, Cathy and the local horsemen who work with her. These are generally a little smaller, averaging 14hh to 15hh and are mainly Criollo crosses, 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, sure footed and sensible yet also responsive and forward going to ride. They are ridden western style and are used to neck reining and relaxed contact with the mouth. 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, although there is usually a chance to trot and canter each day, but you need to be a quiet, confident rider as there are sometimes tricky river crossings or obstacles to negotiate.
The first and last nights are in small comfortable hotels in Bariloche and Puerto Varas respectively. 2 nights are in mountain refuges and one night camping out using simple dome tents that are moved by the pack horses. Most other nights are in rustic homesteads, where rooms are small, simple and cosy, and bathrooms are shared. There are no showers or loos in the camps or refuges - and you'll use mountain rivers and lakes for washing. Meals at the homesteads are traditional gaucho (cowboy) fare, and when camping are cooked by your guide or the gauchos over an open fire and usually eaten sitting on the ground (or on whatever you can find) around the campfire.
(valid to January 2022 - 2022-2023 season prices TBC)
24th October to 6th November 2022
Average temperature guide
Itinerary in brief - Argentina to Chile, Grande Traverse
|Day 1||You will be met at Bariloche airport and driven to a small hotel in town where the first night is spent.|
|Day 2||Breakfast, then transfer about 35km to meet the horses and gauchos. Saddle up, load up the pack horses and set off into the wilderness. Lunch at a cattle outpost and ride on to the Pichileufu river where the night is spent in a mountain refuge.|
|Days 3 to 5
||Breakfast and set off towards the next refuge. Three day's riding over the mountains, across water meadows and through forests, with a night in a simple camp. Then descend through drier terrain to El Sapucai, a homestead on the Alto Chubut River, where the third 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 7||Leaving El Sapucai you descend by horse 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.The next 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 Puerto Urruita. Cross the river by motorboat with the horses swimming alongside and then say goodbye to the horses and team. An hour's drive takes you to the Tagua Tagua ferry and after a further 3 hours, you arrive at Puerto Varas, beautifully positioned on the shores of lake Llanquihue, with dramatic views of Osorno volcano. Overnight hotel in Puerto Varas.|
||Breakfast and transfer to Puerto Montt Airport.|
|Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on tel (+44) (0)1837-82544 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 Chile in time for a morning flight. On the outward journey you need to fly internationally to Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, then take an internal flight to Bariloche. On the return your flight should be out of Puerto Montt in Chile, usually to Santiago. There are direct flights from here to Europe (including London, Paris and Amsterdam). For flights from London budget around £1000 - £1200 economy return (varies with season, airline, availability and your domestic route). Contact us for further advice