Chile ~ Patagonian Frontier
South of Puerto Montt and nestled between the Andean Cordillera and the Pacific Ocean, the Puelo Valley is the Chilean gateway to Patagonia, an area of 1 million square miles that straddles the Chilean - Argentine border as it plunges south to Tierra del Fuego. It is the beginning of the fabled land of fjords, snow-capped volcanoes, hanging glaciers, roaring milky-blue rivers, green forested hills and the enchantment of Southern Chile. Much of the landscape is Valdivian forest, one of only a few examples of temperate rainforests in the world. The neat and energetic Chilean Criollo horse is without doubt the best way to explore this magical landscape and there are different itineraries with set date departures, from 5 to 13 nights, with equipment carried by packhorse and all including two nights staying in a cottage on a beautiful private island in the middle of an Andean lake.
Dates for set departures are scheduled between November and late March and we can also arrange other departures and itineraries, and tailor-make trips for private groups.
Riding: 4-8 hours a day.
Horses: locally bred Criollo and Chilean cross.
Pace: generally slow due to terrain.
Riding ability: all abilities if reasonably fit; Chilean horses are fairly small, around 14-15hh, and the local riding and tack different from the English style and easy to learn, but hours can be long so a reasonable level of fitness and some previous riding experience are required.
Weight limit: 89kg (14 stone) for most itineraries. Heavier riders can be catered for but there will generally be a charge for an extra horse.
Accommodation: local hotels / guesthouse, rustic farmsteads and cottages (2* camping on Grand Traverse ride only).
Group size: maximum 10, (8 on Grand Traverse).
Season: November to March
Horses: The horses are medium build cross breeds, generally Chilean Horse crosses or Criollo mix. They are bred locally for working cattle and sheep and most range from about 14hh to 15hh. 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.
Hours: There is generally 4 to 8 hours riding a day, 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 varied terrain. The horses include sensible, steady schoolmasters so less experienced riders who are fit and adventurous, can also participate. The pace is varied with some canters most days.
Accommodation on the rides varies with the itinerary, all include 2 nights on a little private island on a lake in the Andes. Other nights are in rustic farmhouses, cottages, guest houses and hotels. The Grand Traverse also includes 2 nights camping in simple dome tents. Rooms in homestays are generally twin, triple or dormitory style with shared bathrooms and hot showers. Single rooms are not generally possible except on nights when hotels are used.
Grand Traverse (13 nights)
Andean Crossing Ride
|Day 1||Itinerary in brief - Puelo Ride. Please enquire for other itineraries
Depart Puerto Varas driving south to Lago Tagua-Tagua. Ferry then short drive to meet horses. Ride, river crossing, continue to cottage for dinner and the night.
|Day 2||Breakfast and ride on through virgin forest. Picnic lunch, riverside siesta and continue on. Dinner and night in family farmhouse. 5hrs riding|
|Day 3||Breakfast and ride through country only accessible by horse. Picnic lunch. Ride on to Puerto Urrutia where you meet new horses. The day’s adventures include a ferry crossing with the horses swimming alongside. Dinner and overnight in cosy cottage. 6 hrs riding.|
|Day 4||Breakfast and set off riding through Ventisquero Valley to the cottage that is home for the next 2 nights. 6-7 hrs riding.|
|Day 5||Day ride into a wild and unpopulated valley. Picnic lunch. Back to the cottage for dinner and the night. 4 hrs riding.|
|Day 6||Breakfast before heading to a hanging bridge and beyond. Picnic lunch and afternoon ride to Lago las Rocas where you leave the horses. 10 minute boat ride to the private island of Isla las Bandurrias for dinner and the night. 6-7hrs riding.|
|Day 7||Breakfast and boat back to the horses. Gentle day ride to Lago Azul and back with picnic lunch. Return to Isla las Bandurrias for dinner and the night. 6hrs riding.|
||Breakfast and a morning ride to the border post. Leaving the horses in Chile you cross Lake Puelo into Argentina. After clearing customs you drive to El Bolson for lunch and then continue to Bariloche. Own arrangements for onward travel. NB In February & March on this day you return to Puerto Varas in Chile as there is not usually enough water in the rivers for the boat crossing to Argentina).|
|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.|
For most rides the meeting point is Puerto Varas, near Puerto Montt in the Chilean Lake District; for the Grand Traverse it is Bariloche in Argentina. There are flights in Chile from Santiago to Puerto Montt and in Argentina from Buenos Aires Jorge Newbery (Aeroparque) domestic airport into San Carlos de Bariloche.
British Airways fly direct London to Santiago and Iberia, LAN Chile and Aerolineas Argentinas, all fly to Santiago via Madrid. Flights will cost from about £900 economy return, depending on the airline and season. There are regular internal flights between Santiago and Puerto Montt from about US$150 return. There is also an extensive network of buses.
For the Grand Traverse the meeting point is Bariloche. The ride ends in Puerto Varas in Chile so your return flight / transfer should be from there (Puerto Montt airport). British Airways currently have daily flight departures to Buenos Aires, usually leaving London Heathrow at about 21:00 arriving Buenos Aires at about 09:00 the next day. For the return they have afternoon flights each day from Santiago to London. Iberia and Aerolineas Argentinas also have daily flights from London via Madrid to Buenos Aires / back from Santiago. Fares start at about £1000 per person economy return.