Horseback riding in Argentina across the Andres

Ride Across the Andes

Ride Overview

This six or eight 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.  Accommodations are shared with communal bathrooms. There are few options for a private room depending on the number of travelers.

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’.

Riders must:

be comfortable in the saddle for seven hours

be comfortable at the walk, trot and short canters

be able to ride up and down steep hills

be physically able to walk at high altitudes ( 9,000 – 13,000 ft )

Accommodations & Food

Nights 1 through 5: 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: 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.

The Creole barbeque “asado al palo” or “asado al asador” is served during several meals. It consists of delicious lamb cooked in plenty of embers and firewood. As the main local dish, people cook it in different ways, usually accompanied with salad, potatoes and, of course, Chilean red wine. Depending on the season, it is possible to taste the delicious rainbow trout, fontinalis or salmon trout.

The vegetables and fruits are superb and the variety of the region’s berries is impressive. Vegetarian and other specific diets can easily be catered for with prior notice.

Lunches will be carried in your saddle bag each day. Dinner and breakfasts will be at your accommodations.

Ride & Horse Details

  • 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 to fast
  • Tack:
    South American
  • Weight limit:
    195 lbs (Age limit 16)

Meeting Point

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.

With first-hand knowledge of the exciting tours we offer, the ride consultants at Equitours look forward to answering any questions you might have about this ride. We want to help make sure that you select the trip of your dreams. Please call or email and get ready to pack your bags for a wonderful adventure!

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