Horseback Riding in Chile

Glacier Estancia Ride

Overview

This horseback riding tour in Chile is a spectacular opportunity to experience the wilderness and culture of the region. Riders absorb an ever-changing natural beauty as they venture off the main hiking trails and into the heart of the vast and varied landscape of the Torres del Paine National Park.

The ‘Torres’, great granite towers and the mountains of the Paine massif dominate the park.  Surrounding the massif is open rolling country with pockets of forests with the scarce “Lenga” and “Nires” trees, rivers, lagoons, waterfalls and incredible massifs or “Horns”, which reach 10,000 feet at their highest point.  Great glaciers flow down from the southern Patagonian ice cap into the lakes of the park.

On the Glacier Estancia Ride you stay in comfortable hotels and authentic hosterias along the route. The itinerary includes a boat trip up the Last Hope Sound from Puerto Nateles into the park. You will experience a first-hand view of Patagonia’s estancia life, which includes the joys and difficulties posed by farming cattle and sheep in the area. The route offers plenty of diversity with gallops across open pampas, treks to wild glaciers and iceberg filled lakes and peaceful rides through valleys and ancient beech forests, with plenty of time in the mornings or late afternoons for short hikes, photography or to just relax and enjoy the solitude of this remote wilderness.

Take a look at our other rides with Western style riding.

The first night of the ride is spent in a comfortable hotel in Puerto Natales. Several nights are spent in small hotels or hosterias which are associated with local working estancias. Comfortable ensuite accommodations are provided. Other nights are spent in estancia “homestay” accommodations, where a family atmosphere and hospitality are generously extended. Hot showers are available each night.

Breakfast and dinner are taken at the guesthouses or estancias. Breakfast usually includes ham, cheese, bread, croissants, local jams, coffee and juice. The restaurants in the estancias offer a lively atmosphere and wholesome food. Dinner menus include lamb variations (the main staple of the local cuisine), chicken, some fresh fish, salads and vegetables, accompanied by rice or potatoes. Beer and wine are available at a reasonable cost throughout the ride.
Lunches will be given to riders at breakfast and packed in saddle bags or day packs. They consist of sandwiches with fillings such as tuna, cheese, peanut butter, avocados, ham and vegetables, along with fresh fruits and other snacks. You are required to look after your own lunch boxes. Vegetarian options are available upon request.

  • Overview:
    The horses are Criollo crosses and vary in size with the majority being between 14 - 15.2 hands, they are strong, fit and willing to move out when asked. Horses are changed through the trip to ensure that they are fresh. Riders are not responsible for grooming or tacking, as there are Chilean horsemen (Baqueanos) that care for the horses on the ride. The tack is Chilean. This is similar to western tack with comfortable suede/sheepskin lined saddles. Rawhide straps are used as girths giving more security than traditional string girths. The style of riding is western and the horses respond to neck reining. Most of the horses are ridden in simple snaffles.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Criollo crosses
  • Trip Pace:
    moderate
  • Tack:
    Chilean
  • Weight limit:
    210 lbs

Punta Arenas airport at 3pm on Day 1.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Punta Arenas and transfer to Puerto Natales

Group transfer from the Punta Arenas airport to Puerto Natales at 3PM (or from a  Punta Arenas hotel before 2.30PM), arrival in Puerto Natales around 5:30PM and check into the Hostal El Establo. In the evening meet your guide who will escort you to dinner at a local restaurant, trip briefing during dinner. Wine included with the welcome dinner.

Day 2

Day 2 Boat trip across fjords to Balmaceda and two hour introductory ride

After an early breakfast, transfer to the pier in Puerto Natales (10 min drive) from where you will take a boat ride up the Last Hope Sound (4 hours). Enter the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. hared by the region of Magallanes and Aysen, this is the largest National Park in Chile and one of the five most expansive in the world (over 3 million hectares). With access only by water, the mountains and southern ice field remain a remote and pristine corner of the planet, containing the third largest mass of ice on earth, after Antarctica and Greenland, so the climate is understandably extreme. Disembark here and enjoy the stunning views which combine old growth forests of evergreen and deciduous southern beech, fire bushes, and cypresses – a stunning contrast to the snow capped peaks and glaciers in this area. Walk to Serrano Glacier (approximately 1 hour round trip. Afterwards take a take a short zodiac boat ride to where you meet the horses and enjoy a picnic lunch before the two hour intro ride along a trail through forests passing pristine rivers and streams in the shadow of Chacabuco and Balmaceda range of mountains. Dinner and overnight at Hosteria Balmaceda. All meals included, wine and drinks with dinner are an out of pocket expense.

Day 3

Ride from Balmaceda to Rio Serrano

After breakfast, start a fairly slow but long ride which gives you the chance to become more familiar with the riding style while enjoying the dazzling scenery enroute into Torres del Paine National Park. Towards the end of today’s trail cross the river Nutriaand come onto the pampas as you approach the Hotel del Paine where you will spend the night.  The hotel offers comfortable rooms and great views of the Paine Massif. A large living /dining area awaits with a log fire, a bar and good restaurant. For early risers this location offers some of the best sunrises in all of Patagonia!  All meals are included (excluding wine/drinks). Saddle time: 6-7 hours.

Day 4

Ride to Grey Glacier and Lake

Today, prepare for the pampas ride to Grey Lake. The view will be dominated by the jagged granite peaks of the Paine massif as you ride out along the Grey River to the largest glacier in the park, Grey Glacier. On reaching the trailhead, tether the horses and walk out across the swinging footbridge through the forest to Grey Beach. The view is memorable – the sandy shores of the beach form an almost surreal contrast to the blue of the floating icebergs that have calved off the nearby glacier.

Grey Glacier protrudes off the southern ice field and is quite simply a wonder of nature. Measuring 28 km in length and covering a total surface area of 270 square km with its frozen walls of crystalline ice towering almost 35 meters high, it never ceases to impress. After spending time along the beach and enjoying a picnic lunch, walk back to horses for the exciting ride back to the Serrano River. *Note for those who would like to get up closer to the face of this marvel of ice, you can arrange a trip out onto the lake on the Grey II boat. This is an optional excursion available at a cost of approximately US$140 per person (depending on the exchange rate). Transfer back by vehicle if you opt for the boat tour. Return to Hotel Del Paine for the night. All meals are included (excluding wine/drinks). 5-6 hours in the saddle, 3 hours if you choose the boat tour.

Day 5

Ride the up and over trail across the heart of the park to Laguna Amarga

After a filling breakfast, pack up and start the ride eastward towards the heart of the Park. You will be riding directly towards the Paine Massif mountain range and the views are dramatic and beautiful. The trail skirts the southern edge of the mountains on a rarely trodden path and you pass azure and turquoise lakes with the huge granite mountain peaks standing behind. After a picnic lunch taken in one of the pretty valleys, continue east onto the beautiful soft pampas of the Patagonia steppe. Enjoy a few good canters as the light fades and the shadows lengthen until you reach Laguna Amarga where you will find your charming accommodations in tiny houses. All meals included, wine and drink with dinner are an out of pocket expense. 7-8 hours in the saddle

Typical of estancias of the area, Estancia Tercera is a working sheep ranch situated in an enviable position on the Park border, offering fantastic views of the granite Towers and mountains of the Paine Massif. With land extending to 6,454 hectares, it offers quality accommodation close to Torres del Paine National Park in addition to its continuing as a working Patagonian ranch. Sleeping just 21 guests in 7 ensuite rooms, the ranch house has a lovely, intimate feel. There is a comfortable living area warmed by a welcoming log fire where you can read and relax before dinner, which is served in the adjacent wooden quincho. A hot tub also soaks away any aches! All meals are included (excluding wine/drinks). Hours in the saddle: 7-8.

Day 6

Ride out to Laguna Amarga and Salto Las Chinas and onto the pampas at Estancia Gemita

Ride from Laguna Amarga where you may see flamingoes who usually reside in the lake, to the North-East. The area is full of guanacos and the hills ring with their alarm calls as you ride by. There will be chances for canters until reaching the dramatic Las Chinas waterfall where you stop for lunch. Afterwards cross Las Chinas river and on to the land of the Estancia Tercera Baranca. Overnight at the estancia. All meals are included (excluding wine/drinks). Saddle time 5-6 hours.

Day 7

Drive to Estancia Cerro Guido and day ride from the estancia into the surrounding mountains.

Transfer to the Estancia Cerro Guido, a large working estancia with approximately 110,000 hectares, 37,000 sheep, 2,500 cattle and 400 horses. After checking into your rooms meet the new horses. From the estancia stables make your way up the mountain side behind the estancia and into the surrounding hills. The Sierra Baguales are a stark contrast beside the rolling landscape of the pampas below. After lunch continue to the Indian burial site, although no artifacts remain onsite, later, back at the estancia you will be able to see photos of the site and also learn about it. Welcome dinner at the estancia and enjoy the comfortable beds. All meals are included (excluding wine/drinks). Saddle time 5-6 hours.

Day 8

Ride south across the pampas to Condor cliff, return to Cerro Guido

Today saddle up for another full day’s ride (7-8 hours). This time, head south to Estancia Entro Lagos. This is an open ride across grassy meadows and welcoming pampas. Riding south with the dramatic Paine mountains to your right enables you to fully appreciate the distances the original pioneers encountered and which the estancieros still cover to this day. There will be lots of opportunities for canters on your responsive horses. With wind in your hair and a smile on your face experience the sheer joy that is riding in Patagonia! After a leisurely picnic lunch ride to Lake Sarmiento where you have some time to photograph the Torres del Paine mountains from the lake’s blue waters. Ride back to Cerro Guido via Flamingo Lake. The huge roaring fire and big soft sofas invite you to relax and reflect on the experiences thus far. All meals included (excluding wine/drinks).

Day 9

Ride to the deserted Flower Estancia ‘Las Flores” and into the Sierra Balbuales mountains, back to Estancia Cerro Guido

After breakfast mount up and begin your last day of riding, to the Sierra Baguales mountain range. Today will give you a view of the vast glacial valleys carved by the glaciers thousands of years ago. Start by traversing the mountain behind Cerro Guido, along the track called “Paso Guitarra”. Pass the lovely but deserted Estancia Las Flores where you will see the original adobe building left in the area. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the middle of the valley where you may be able to see condors soaring above. Continue on the Vega Nash and enjoy a few last canters along the large flat vega, a typical pampa in this area. The trail will bring you back to Estancia Cerro Guido where a delicious Patagonian asado dinner will be cooking and you can enjoy your last night together. All meals and wine is included tonight with the farewell dinner. Saddle time 7-8 hours.

Day 10

Transfer to Puerto Natales and onto Punta Arenas

After a leisurely breakfast, group transfer back to Puerto Natales and leave for Punta Arenas at 10 AM for your onward journey. Arrival at the PUQ airport at 12.30 PM. If you are spending an extra couple of days in Punta Arenas after the ride consider a visit of the Isla Magdalena (located about 32 km northeast of Punta Arenas) to see the Magellan penguins (about $60 for a round trip ferry ride with a full hour on the island) or a visit to the Nao Victoria museum with a full scale reconstruction of one of Magellan’s ships that you can climb on.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible and may be changed at the guide's discretion based on unforeseen circumstances.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

Departure Dates

Trip Starts
Trip Ends
Jan 5, 2020
Jan 14, 2020
Jan 19, 2020
Jan 28, 2020
Feb 2, 2020
Feb 11, 2020
Feb 19, 2020
Feb 28, 2020
Mar 4, 2020
Mar 13, 2020
Oct 2, 2020
Oct 11, 2020
Nov 2, 2020
Nov 11, 2020
Dec 2, 2020
Dec 11, 2020

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $6,600Cost per person if there are 4-5 riders on the trip.
  • Pricing Variation
  • $7,000Cost per person if there are 2-3 riders on the trip.
  • $6,000Cost per person if there are 6-8 riders on the trip.
  • Single Supplement
  • $990

Departure Dates

Trip Starts
Trip Ends
Jan 2, 2021
Jan 11, 2021
Feb 2, 2021
Feb 11, 2021
Mar 2, 2021
Mar 11, 2021
Oct 2, 2021
Oct 11, 2021
Nov 2, 2021
Nov 11, 2021
Dec 2, 2021
Dec 11, 2021

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $6,600

    Cost per person if there are 4-5 riders on the trip.

  • Pricing Variation
  • $7,000

    Cost per person if there are 2-3 riders on the trip.

  • $6,000

    Cost per person if there are 6-10 riders on the trip.

  • Single Supplement
  • $990

    Cost per person if there are 6-10 riders on the trip.

Additional Pricing Information:
Ride price is set, guaranteed, and final at the time the deposit is paid.


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Contact Biggi Hayes

The gauchos and horses were excellent! There were lots of long canters and steep mountains.

Adrieene Soler, 2009