Horseback Riding in Argentina

Ride Across the Andes

Overview

This six day Ride Across the Andes takes you from Puerto Varas in the Lake District of Chile to the Argentine national park Nahuel Huapi near Bariloche. The trek follows the old pioneer trail crossing the remote Puelo Valley; a route once used by smugglers. The journey, led by local outfitters, takes you through the hidden valleys of the pristine Patagonia Wilderness passing crystal clear lakes and ancient forests.  You will get a glimpse of the culture as you overnight in homes of the local pioneers.

The pace is steady, views are stunning and the trip is exciting, but not fast paced. The riding can be demanding as the terrain is steep and trails windy and riders will spend long hours in the saddle. There are lots of river crossings, which are great fun and allow riders to experience the local way of traveling.  Some steep ascents and the undulating terrain can turn a bit more demanding if the weather is not good.  This adventurous ride is an excellent way of experiencing lots of different terrain and being able to ride one of the toughest horse breeds in the world.  Riders may canter on open ground and trot in the forest, but due to the terrain much of the time is spent at a walk – the footing just does not allow for much fast-paced riding.  Enjoyment and comfort in the saddle are greatly increased if you are ‘riding fit’. For additional dates, check out the Riding Through the Andes trip, which is the same itinerary but ends back in Puerto Varas.

Nights 1 through 5 (1,2 & 3 on 6 day ride): You are invited into the local pioneers’ houses for a unique opportunity to experience their way of life. The extremely charming but often rustic houses offer basic accommodation mostly in twin, triple or dorm rooms with shared facilities and hot showers. Food is organically grown and sourced from local gardens, while meat will be cooked in a delicious Chilean asado (BBQ).

Nights 6 and 7 (4 & 5 on 6 day ride): Accommodations are at a private island: Las Bandurrias. Guests stay in a cozy and well equipped stone cottage heated by firewood; the same system heats water for showers. The bathroom offers a splendid view of a coigue forest while the living and dining areas and the great sundeck, overlook the small beach next to the quay. Here you find stunning views of Las Rocas Lake and the surrounding peaks. The cottage offers accommodations for up to 6 people; the main house has two rooms with original French country décor. It is a very cozy and warm place where riders will share meals and pre-dinner drinks with your island hostess. The main house is surrounded by flora where birds come to nest: one of the hostess’s prides.

The cuisine on this trip will be a special mix of flavors and ingredients that create a unique Creole-Chilean gastronomic style. A traditional wood stove gives its special flavor to the dishes.

  • Overview:
    The horses used for this ride are Chilean Criollos. Like many other Criollos breeds across Latin America, the Chilean Criollo is extremely strong and even tempered. Their hooves are thick and their dense double coat makes them well suited for both cold damp and hot dry weather. Thick manes, tails and forelocks are characteristics of the Chilean Criollo horse. They do well in the steep, rugged terrain and the higher altitudes where this ride takes place. Modern Chilean saddles with thick sheepskins are used for this ride. They are designed to distribute the body weight across the horse's back, thus minimizing strain on both the horse and rider. They are quite comfortable to ride.
  • Equipment Required:
    Saddlebags are supplied to carry your lunch box, water bottle and jacket, but we recommend you bring a small day-pack to carry a few personal items such as sunglasses, sunscreen, tissues, mosquito repellent, etc. Your luggage will be carried by packhorses so bring personal belonging in soft duffel bags. No wheeled luggage please.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Chilean Criollos
  • Trip Pace:
    moderate
  • Tack:
    South American
  • Weight limit:
    195 lbs without supplement, up to 220 lb

The meeting point for this ride is your hotel in Puerto Varas on the shore of the Llanquihue Lake, one of the biggest lakes in Chile. Hotels can be arranged for you, as well as transport from the nearby Puerto Montt, Chile airport. The ride ends mid-afternoon in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina. You will be transported to the airport if you have an outgoing flight that evening or taken to your hotel for the night.

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Puerto Varas to Las Rosas

You will leave Puerto Varas at 9AM in a minibus towards the Andes. Along the way you will be able to admire the Llanquihue Lake, as well as the Calbuco and Osorno volcanoes that are part of the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. Once you arrive at the edge of the Reloncaví estuary, the first fjord in the south of Chile, there will be a short break to appreciate the local gastronomy in the Cochamó village, well-known for its agricultural crops and fishing industry. On the way, you will pass through the Río Puelo valley near its river mouth in the sea before arriving to Tagua Tagua Lake. Here you will have lunch at a local restaurant and then cross the lake by ferry. Once on the other side, you will be completely disconnected from the telephone network and from the Internet. After a 40-minute drive, the transfer will drop you off at Puerto Urrutia. Here, you will meet the baqueanos team and the Creole horses. As you will cross by motor boat, the horses will swim alongside, guided by a boatman. While the baqueanos pack the pack horses on the other side, you will get to know your horse. Once ready, the expedition starts passing by beaches of the Puelo River that go through farmed fields. Late in the afternoon, you will arrive at the home of one of the baqueanos, a place just in front of the Puelo River, where you’ll spend the night.

Time: 4 hrs. of transfer ; 2 hrs. on horseback

Day 2

Las Rosas / Ventisqueros

Today, continue your ride in the Río Ventisqueros valley, crossing the river many times. Ancient woods, open spaces and rivers, a long and great day in the middle of the mountains awaits you. you will be crossing amazing forests and self-sufficient little farms in remote areas. Just as the locals do, you will ride across the large Ventisqueros River and its fast-flowing water. Enjoy a nice lunch on one of the Ventisqueros beaches and then keep going on the path to the end of the valley in front of a glacier. Here, you will be hosted for two nights in one of the most remote areas in the region.

Time: 6 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 3

Ventisqueros / El Toro / Ventisqueros

Today you will venture even further into the valley and encounter beautiful views of the glacier that gives the valley its name. Your route crosses the “Universo” river and the property of the very first inhabitant of the valley and his family. It is a very sparsely populated area in the middle of completely unspoiled nature, offering impressive views of a natural environment that is still preserved. The trail passes through immense forests and runs along the river. After crossing the river several times, you will cross an incredible forest of Alerce (Fitzroya Cupresoyde). Nobody lives in this isolated area and you will encounter breath-taking views and an unspoiled natural environment. You will have lunch near the Raquelita River and return to the house in the afternoon. Have the opportunity to swim in the clear blue river and rest.

Time: 5-6 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 4

Ventisquero / Las Bandurrias Island

This morning you will set off on a full-day ride with forests, river crossings, mountains and waterfalls towards the Puelo River. There will be a relaxing time for lunch near the Ventisquero River. After leaving the valley in the afternoon,  cross the Puelo River by an important local hanging bridge. This place is particularly spectacular due to its huge waterfalls and rapids. Then take trails alongside the mountains until you reach the lake Las Rocas. At the end of the longest day of this expedition, a well-deserved rest will await you at the private island Las Bandurrias. A remote place surrounded by the cordillera where you will be able to contemplate the landscape and enjoy the lake. A haven of peace in the heart of the cordillera.

Time: 7 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 5

Isla Las Bandurrias / Lake Azul / Isla Las Bandurrias

Today you will leave the island to meet the horses and the baqueanos down by the lake. A quick stop at the farm La Colina gives a first glimpse of the Chilean countryside in the heart of the cordillera. The journey continues to the Azul (blue) Lake through the cordillera where you will enjoy various views. You will stop to have lunch on a beach and after the picnic, will follow the trail towards Las Rocas Lake. You will pass through an ancient Valdivian type forest, with its very diverse vegetation, which is found in very few regions. Wet and steep grounds, very ancient trees as well as majestic mountains will be part of the scenery. There will be a short boat trip to Las Bandurrias Island with accommodation  in the guest house.

Time: 4-5 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 6

Las Bandurrias Island / Bariloche

On the last riding day, leave the Bandurrias Island and head up to the frontier. This short trip will take you to the Chilean customs and immigration post. After fulfilling the Chilean customs formalities, take a 15 minutes walk towards the Inferior lake to take a 50 minutes navigation on a jet boat along two lakes, crossing the rapids that connect Chile and Argentina. Once you arrive on firm land, walk towards Argentinean customs. After ending the customs procedure on the Argentinian side, you will meet the transfer that will take you to a restaurant for lunch, and afterwards to your hotel in Bariloche. The city of Bariloche, surrounded by lakes and mountains, is located in the very heart of the Patagonian Andes mountain range.

Time: 1 hour on horseback, 50 minutes Lake crossing, 3 hours transfer towards Bariloche.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible and changes may occur at the guide's discretion due to unforeseen circumstances.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

Departure Dates

Trip Starts
Trip Ends
Nov 13, 2022
Nov 18, 2022
Nov 21, 2022
Nov 26, 2022
Dec 20, 2022
Dec 25, 2022

Pricing & Options

  • Base Price
  • $3,9006 day ride
  • Pricing Variation
  • $4,150Including transfers and accommodation the day before and after the ride
Additional Pricing Information:
A 50% deposit is required to confirm this ride. Ride price is set, guaranteed and final at the time deposit is paid.


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Contact Megan Barrett

I recently returned from Estancia Los Potreros in Argentina and my heart and head are still in the clouds! I took Hadley's suggestion and am so very impressed with their ranch. The horses are sure-footed in this often rocky expanse, have good manners, soft mouths and are well trained. If asked... it would be impossible for me to choose a favorite mount. Their numerous dogs often joined uns on our treks and provided plenty of love upon our return. The landscape changed dramatically during our rides and flowers were in bloom. The various birds were aplenty, including hummingbirds. The delicious and varied meals were professionally prepared, including fresh bread baked every day. The staff (guides, gauchos, owners Kevin and Lou Beggs) have made every effort to know the guests from other countries. Thank you to you, Equitours and the Fox family for helping me plan this amazing adventure!

Kathrin Koonce, February 2020