Horseback riding in Chile is an ideal way to see the most scenic parts of the country well off the path of most tourists. The mountains and glaciers of Torres del Paine National Park offer some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. These peaks in southern Patagonia rise almost vertically from sea level to nearly 10,000 ft. which is an even greater rise from the valley floor than that of the Tetons in Wyoming. UNESCO has rightly named this area as a World Biosphere Reserve because of its unique natural features. It is located near the extreme southern tip of South America in Tierra del Fuego. Magellan sailed through this passage via the Straits which now bear his name to reach the Pacific in 1520 and became the first to sail around the world. Darwin and many other travelers of note have marveled at this fascinating part of the world.
The terrain is often ideal for long gallops and the Criollo cross horses, which have wonderful endurance, are pleased to oblige. Riders can either camp or stay in estancias. This is one of the world’s most remote regions where a few hardy farmers have raised sheep on huge estancias for centuries. The unusual wildlife includes rhea, guanaco and condor (largest bird in the world with a wing spread up to almost 12 ft.). The long, thin ribbon of Chile stretches the same distance as Juneau, Alaska to Mexico City and you will be near the extreme southern end where the next landfall to the south is Antarctica. The world’s third largest glaciers (after Antarctica and Greenland) are here and huge blocks of ice sometimes plunge into the water below. There are still virgin forest of beech and other trees and this is the home of the curious evergreen, embothrum coccineum, which produces vivid red flowers as well as other flora unique to southern Patagonia.
Many Equitours guests have greatly enjoyed these trips which are most rewarding for experienced riders who enjoy the excitement of travel in a region where the wind can blow very hard and weather conditions can be changeable and extreme. Riders have the choice of staying in inns and estancias with hot showers or of camping. Lamb and chicken dishes are the most common locally and are served with vegetables and rice or potatoes. Horseback riding in Chile’s south will open your eyes to another country and way of life very different from ours.