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Horse Ride Across the Andes_Correntoso River

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  • Itinerary
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Horse Riding Across the Andes

This is one of our favourite trips – a true bucket list adventure for travellers that love the journey as much as the destination. 

Ride across the Andes during a six, eight, or 14 day (what is known as the Full Grande Traversée) adventure.  You’ll be riding through a remote and stunningly beautiful area of northern Patagonia.  Travel along old smugglers routes while you criss-cross rivers, explore ancient forests, skirt around brilliant blue lakes – stopping to fish or swim in the calm and crystal clear waters.horse riding across the Andes Patagonia Chile Argentina

This ride across the Andes is an incredible opportunity to horse ride through the mountain range via the pioneer trail in the quaint and rural Pueblo Valley – the very same route frequented by smugglers in the distant past.

Discover rural gaucho (cowboy) culture as you ride into the many hidden valleys in this region.  From the Chilean lake district to the beautifully preserved Argentine National Park you’ll be enjoying and remembering the adventure long after you’ve dismounted for the last time.

This can be a challenging ride and you’ll be expected to keep a steady pace.  There are relatively few places to canter along the winding tracks and the terrain does get steep.  You don’t need a great deal of riding experience though but you must be confident in the saddle.  Each day will consist of no more than seven hours of riding between morning and afternoon.  Accommodation is the cozy “communal” kind with shared bathrooms.

Because there are few options for a single room, you’ll bond not only with your horse, but with the rest of the group as well – creating a sense of team as you work your way through the mountains.

This is a stunning ride.  You will enjoy every turn around every corner.

  • Experience a peaceful and laid back life maintained by the mountain folk
  • Enjoy incredible view after incredible view.
  • Bond with a loving and well behaved horse
  • Be a guest at several farm stays and enjoy country cooking – South American style
  • Learn about gaucho culture and the legendary exploits of famous gauchos
  • Experience the local way of river crossing and the fun of your horse teaching you how it’s done

There are three different routes depending on the amount of time you have.  You’ll love the 14 day Grande Traversée if you have the time.  Enquire today to learn more.

“We had a wonderful, fantastic trip! Our group loved every bit of it …The scenery is incredible, horses so well behaved and surefooted, farmstays warm friendly and great food! … Culturally I felt that we observed a peaceful way of life for the mountain people.” Leelee

Horse Riding Across the Andes2

 

Itineraries

You have three options when thinking about this trip – the creme de  la creme is the 14 day Grande Traversée but if you have less time there are shorter options.

1) Andes Grande Traversée is 14 days, 13 nights including 11 days on horseback

2) Puelo Ride is 8 days and 7 nights

3) The Andean Crossing Ride is 6 days and 5 nights

Click on the tabs below for the full itineraries for each option. Note that these might be modified in the case of exceptional weather circumstances, which may affect the expedition.

“The trip was truly one of the travel high points of my life! ….I have taken some kind of a progressive horse trek every year since 1985, and this was one of the best ever.” Rick, past rider Across the Andes.

 

Andes Grande Traversée

14 days / 13 nights

This fascinating immersive adventure with local guides is a chance to experience the gauchos’ style and the cultural diversity of  Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia from the virgin steppe up to the Valdivian forests of Chile. The trip includes 11 days of riding on Creole and Chilean horses visiting ‘Estancias’ (farms), exploring the Patagonian pampas and green forests and crossing clear rivers.

Itinerary & Trip Notes

Day 1: Bariloche

On your arrival to the Bariloche International Airport, a driver will take you to your downtown hotel. The city of Bariloche, surrounded by lakes and mountains, is located in the very heart of the Patagonian Andes mountain range. We recommend that you arrive quite early to enjoy the city. At 6pm, you will have a meeting with your guide that will allow you to get to know the team and the following days’ activities. You will also receive some security instructions. Dinner will be at a traditional restaurant. (D)

Day 2: Bariloche / Pichileufú River

We will departure towards the Ñirihuau area, 30 km. from Bariloche, where we will find several family ranches. Their owners are mainly dedicated to the breeding of cattle, sheep and horses, as well as to forestation. Horses and equipment adjustments will be provided here.

We will continue to Las Buitreras hill with a panoramic view of the overall area can be appreciated. Our ride will lead us in the heart of the pre-cordillera between steep mountain ranges and infinite steppes. After a box lunch in front of the Pichileufú River, we will carry on our horses and continue our day through wide landscapes while we will start heading up the river to its source. Night camping. (B, LB, D, C)

Time: First day on horseback, 4 / 5 hrs.

Day 3: Pichileufú River / Alto Chubut

After having passed some hours riding through sweet hills and large valleys, we will start ascending on a path that is mainly used by local countrymen to move their cattle, until we reach Paso sin Nombre (unnamed Pass), 1.700 meters above sea level (ASL). Leaving this area surrounded by rocks, the view opens towards the immensity and a large valley in the middle of the mountains chain, called the “Alto Chubut”. The journey continues one more hour, to get to an idyllic place surrounded by an ancient native beech forest where we will camp. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 5 / 7 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 4: Alto Chubut / El Sapucai 

We will leave behind the forest and clear water streams to continue our ride along the Chubut River and then descend to the Patagonian Steppe, an area of dry vegetation where Coirón, Neneo, Calafate and some small Ñirres (local flora) still live. The river passes through rocky canyons and some farms. We will arrive on the afternoon at our special mountain refuge called El Sapucai. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 5 / 6 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 5: El Sapucai / Las Lagunas / El Sapucai

During this day, we will climb up the cordillera to contemplate the scenic view on the Andes around us. You will appreciate the skills of the Criollo horse on various terrains like: wetlands, forest and rocky lands. When we will be at the top, you will be charmed by a 360° view of lagoons where we will have lunch in front of the snowy peaks. Then we will reach our refuge El Sapucai by another trail passing through Ñirre forests (a small beech tree), large trees and old growth beech forests. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 5 / 6 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 6: El Sapucai / Puesto Viejo / Lago Puelo

This will be our last day with the Argentinean horses. We will follow the Chubut River stream up to Puesto Viejo. Then we will cross small cattle farms in the Alto Chubut area where people live the whole year round. These inhabitants are mostly descendants of the regional native people: the Mapuche, slightly forgotten today in the remote Patagonian lands. The abandoned school will be the meeting point with our transfer. We will leave the horses and share a last picnic with the Argentinian baqueanos (packhorse guides) before saying our farewell to the team.

A two-hour minibus trip and then, we will arrive to the small village of Lago Puelo. The area is surrounded by cypress (Austrocedrus Chilensis) and “maitenes” (Maytenus Boaria) woods with a micro-climate that fosters the production of berries such as raspberries and cherries, as well as hops for craft beer elaboration. Accommodation in a B&B and dinner in a local restaurant. (B, LB, D)

Time: 3 / 4 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 7: Lago Puelo / Las Bandurrias Island

Today, we will leave Argentina for Chile. Our last night’s accommodation is located 10 minutes from the Lago Puelo National Park where we will have to complete the customs procedure to get on the boat that cross the border. We will navigate along two lakes and cross the rapids between Argentina and Chile. Then, we will leave the boat for a 15-minute walk until we reach the Chilean border checkpoint.

After the customs procedure, we will take another motor-boat to Las Bandurrias Island on Las Rocas Lake. You will be surrounded by an outstanding landscape of crystal clear waters and a temperate forest that sits in stark contrast with the steppe. A friendly and warm welcome will wait for us at Las Bandurrias. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 10 minutes in a private minibus from Lake Puelo village to Lake Puelo ; Navigation with the motorboats: 45min + 20min.

Day 8 : Las Bandurrias Island / Azul Lake / Las Bandurrias Island 

Today we will leave the island to meet the horses and the baqueanos down by the lake. A quick stop at the farm La Colina, a first glimpse of the Chilean countryside in the heart of the cordillera. The journey continues to Azul Lake where we will stop to have lunch on a beach. After the picnic, we will follow our pathway on horseback towards Las Rocas Lake. We will pass through an ancient Valdivian type forest, with very diverse vegetation that’s found in very few Chilean regions. Wet and steep grounds, ancient trees as well as majestic mountains will be part of the scenery. Short boat trip to Las Bandurrias Island. Accommodation on the island in the guest house.

(B, LB, T, D)

Time: 5 / 6 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 9 : Las Bandurrias Island / Las Rosas 

We will ride one hour up to the source of the Puelo River. The river is deep and wide so, a boatman will help us cross. This will offer the horses an opportunity to swim, guided by the motorboat. The pathway goes on through the woods along the Puelo River to the west, to reach the Ventisqueros Valley. We will have a break for lunch face to the Las Mellizas lagoons (meaning the twins), surrounded by mountains. In the afternoon, we will cross the river on horseback to arrive to our lodging. In the evening, we will arrive to the local farmhouse where we are staying, a very peaceful environment. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 7 / 8 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 10: Las Rosas / Ventisqueros

Today, we will continue our ride into the Río Ventisqueros Valley. We will cross the river several times on horseback in the middle of a stunning landscape. In this sparsely populated place some inhabitants subsist on livestock breeding. We will enjoy breakfast on the river shore and thereafter continue our route up to the end of the valley, where we will spend two nights at a local inhabitant’s farm. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 6 / 7 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 11: Ventisqueros / El Toro

Today, we will visit a neighbouring valley, where we will enjoy the view of a hanging ice glacier. The route is technical. The narrow valley and the dense vegetation will lead us to an “alerce” (larch) forest, a native and protected millenary tree that is one of the world’s most ancient. It is a remote area with few inhabitants, in the middle of a pristine nature.

We will have lunch near El Toro River before descending mid-afternoon to reach our host’s home. This will allow us time to enjoy the remaining afternoon to hike, swim or rest. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 4 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 12: Ventisqueros / Las Rosas

Departure towards the Puelo River. Ancient woods, open spaces, crossing rivers, a long and great day in the middle of the mountains, waterfalls and isolated landscapes. We will enjoy a nice lunch at the Ventisqueros River’s edge. In the afternoon, we will continue our journey passing though different properties where the locals still use the same techniques to daily cultivate the land, just as their ancestors did.  At a certain point of the path, the vegetation becomes quite dense. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 6 / 7 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 13: Las Rosas/ Llanada Grande/ Puerto Varas         

For our last riding day, we will cross again properties along the Puelo River to Puerto Urrutia, the place of local crossings. Horses will swim one last time across the river before returning to the mountain path. We will enjoy this last stretch of the ride, crossing a few prestigeous forests on a path with sumptuous views over the Puelo River. Our arrival in Llanada Grande marks the end of our ride. It is time to say farewell to our fellow travelers. A last lunch in the valley will be prepared for us in the first restaurant established in the hamlet.

A minibus will take us to Tagua-Tagua Lake. After a 45-minute ferry crossing, we will get back on our long but wonderful journey along the Reloncaví estuary and fjords. We will be able to admire the Llanquihue Lake, as well as the Calbuco and Osorno volcanos alongside Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. Arrival at Puerto Varas. Farewell dinner and night at the hotel. (B, L, D)

Time: 4 hrs. of horseback riding. Transfer: Llanada Grande / Puerto Varas: 4 hrs. Ferry Tagua-Tagua Lake: 45 min.

Day 14: Transfer Puerto Varas / Airport

Breakfast at the hotel. A private transfer will take you to the airport.

End of our services

TECHNICAL REFERENCES

Food 

B: Breakfast

LB: Lunch Box

L: Lunch

T: Tea

D: Dinner

Length of the trip: The expedition takes 14 days and 13 nights, including 11 days on horseback.

Departure / Arrival: From San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina to Puerto Varas (Chile), at the edge of Llanquihue Lake, crossing the Andes mountain range.

Distances: 205 km on horseback in total.

Capacity: Groups from 2 to 8 people

Services included

All private terrestrial transfers as specified, transfers on motorized boat and ferry-boats, all meals as detailed in the itinerary, included one bottle of wine per 3 persons, only at dinner during the riding days. Dinner at restaurant on nights 1,6 and 13 (wine not included). Bilingual guides, local guides (baqueanos), VHF communication radio. Saddle horses; pack horses and additional horses according to the number of riders in the group.

Not included: Articles that are not specified in the detailed description.

Extra: The sleeping bag is not included for the 2 camp nights. We recommend that you bring one comfortable for temperatures down to -5°C.

If you don’t have a sleeping bag, you can rent one at Andesluna for USD $20, including an inner cotton bag liner and a fleece cover.

Accommodation

There are 13 nights’ accommodation, including 2 camp nights (in an area close to streams and rivers with a wood stove available and home cooking), 2 nights in the refuge El Sapucai, 4 nights in a local inhabitant’s houses (Days 9-12). It is an excellent occasion to share in their lifestyle. Houses are very cosy although rustic, with shared bedrooms and facilities. There’s 2 nights on Las Bandurrias Island and 3 hotel nights in Bariloche (1st night), El Bolsón (6th night) and Puerto Varas (13th night) (single room supplement available for USD $55 per person per night).

El Sapucai, mountain refuge (Nights 4 and 5)

This Patagonian refuge is located at the edge of the Chubut River, a remote area in the heart of the foothills. The house is provided with a traditional wood stove, two bedrooms for two persons each, a bathroom with a wood fuel water heater system and a living room with a fireplace. Everything is made in this place to make your stay a unique experience. Outside, a river separates two tepees, situated in front of the Chubut River. Every tepee has a wooden floor and comfy beds. Made from quality construction, this cosy refuge will allow you to enjoy a well-deserved rest.

Las Bandurrias Island (Nights 7 and 8)

A unique experience to live on an island that offers very nice services. The island offers a main house and a wooden cabin for guests (cabaña). From the cabin’s terrace, you will enjoy a scenic view over the lake. Inside this warmly decorated cabaña, there is a luminous dining room on ground floor, a living room and a bathroom. Upstairs, you will find a charming bedroom that has several single beds as well as a bathroom.

The main house’s decoration is a subtle combination of French and Chilean culture. You will appreciate the warm living-dining room on the first floor. Upstairs, bedrooms can welcome up to 4 persons. The house is surrounded by a pretty garden, which has a greenhouse on one side and a diverse flower garden on the other, where birds come to nest.

Battery charging

From day 2 to day 5, you will not have the possibility to recharge batteries.

From day 6 and the next night, you will be able to charge your devices at night at our hosts’ houses or at the hotel.

Internet and Telephone

Enjoy the complete disconnection from phones and Internet during this journey. (Communication only via VHF radio) except on day 6, where you would be able to get access.

Riding hours

The time on horseback varies from day to day: about approx. 3 hours in the morning and 3 to 4 hours in the afternoon.

Season
The season runs from early November to late March.

Degree of difficulty

You will be part of an exciting adventure. This expedition has few difficulties in general; the distances to be covered will be longer on some days than others. River crossings are considered as milestones in this journey and offer a range of contrasts while giving the opportunity to the rider to experience new terrain with the horses. It will also allow us to put ourselves in the “gauchos’” shoes who cross-valleys on horseback. Depending on weather conditions, some ascensions and descents as well as some hilly passages may be harder.

On days of diverse terrain, we will advance at a walking pace. We will follow the gaucho guide’s pace when riding between different estancias. The adopted pace is a long stride alternated with a sitting trot. In rain, the paths become more difficult and we might walk some stretches. Regardless of the situation, our specialized guides can always assist you at any moment of the crossing.

The itinerary might be modified due to exceptional weather circumstances.

Route

The route does not present great complexity but we will cross-mountain pass up to 1800 metres above sea level, as well as paths along rivers.

Puelo Ride

8 days / 7 nights

This ride takes us to one of the little known areas of the valley. Preserved as the early settlers knew it, we’ll cross narrow paths, virgin forests and encounter very few people on our way. The day to tayt life along the river Puelo will show us different faces, curious smiles and wonders of this place embraced in magic as we get lost in the mountains.

Itinerary & Trip Notes

Our meeting point will be at 6pm, the day before the ride, in your hotel with your guide that will allow you to know the team and the following days’ activities.

We recommend that you arrive quite early to enjoy the city of Puerto Varas, a remnant of the German colonialism. It is situated at the edge of the Llanquihue Lake, one of the largest lake in South America, a place that offers an impressive view over four volcanoes.

Day 1 : Puerto Varas / El Manso / El Traidor

We will leave Puerto Varas at 9AM in a minibus towards the Andes. We 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 arrived at the edge of the Reloncaví estuary, first fjord in the south of Chile, we will have a short break to appreciate the local gastronomy in the Cochamó village, well-known for its agricultural crop and fishing industry. On the way, we will pass through the Río Puelo valley near its river mouth in the sea before arriving to Tagua Tagua” Lake. Before crossing this lake by ferry, we will have a break for lunch at a local restaurant.

Once on the other side, we will be completely disconnected from the telephone network and from the Internet. After a 20-minute drive, our transfer will drop us off at the Río Manso.

Here, we will meet the baqueanos team and the Creole horses. As we will cross by motor boat, the horses will swim alongside, guided by a boatman. While the baqueanos pack the pack horses on the other site, you will get to know your horse for the whole ride. Once ready, our expedition starts passing by beaches of the Puelo River that go through farmed fields. Late in the afternoon, we will get to Nancy and Chindo’s house, one of our baqueanos, a place just in front of the Puelo River. (B, L, T, D)

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

Day 2: El Traidor / Santo Domingo

Today will be the occasion to get to know the horses’ skills and character on the Traidor’s trails. Then we will go back to the Puelo River to follow the watercourse from above as the pioneers used to do. A pristine cordillera, narrow trails and majestic forests will be part of the scenery. We will have a break for lunch at the edge of the Puelo River. And we will finally get in late afternoon to our hosts house, Juana and Zolio who is also one of our baqueanos. A couple that loves sharing its life experiences and their settlement in the region. Dinner and lodging. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 5 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 3: Santo Domingo / Las Rosas

Today will be a long day riding where you will be able to experience various terrains. The trail will lead us through plains and forests, sometimes getting down to white sandy and pebbly beaches. We will cross several tributaries of the Puelo River in almost inhabited areas. In the afternoon, we will get to a site at the edge of the river where we will leave the horses and the baqueanos team that guided us hitherto, to now meet a new one for the last part of our journey. The horses will cross the river swimming to meet us. Then, we will pursue our ride crossing typical lands of the region that surround the Puelo River until we reach Olivia and Tito’s house where we will be hosted for tonight.

(B, LB, T, D)

Time: 6 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 4: Las Rosas / Ventisqueros

Today, we will continue our 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 us. We will be crossing amazing forests and self-sufficient little farms in remote areas. Just as the locals do, we will cross riding the large Ventisqueros River and its fast-flowing water. We will enjoy a nice lunch on one of the Ventisqueros beach and then we will keep going on our path to the end of the valley in front of a glacier. Here, we will be hosted for two nights by Bernardita who lives in one of the most remote areas in the region. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 6 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 5 : Ventisqueros / El Toro / Ventisqueros

Today, we will visit a neighbouring valley, where we will enjoy the view of a hanging ice glacier. The route is technical. The narrow valley and the dense vegetation will lead us to an “alerce” (larch) forest, a native and protected tree that is one of the world’s most ancient. It is a remote area with few inhabitants, in the middle of a pristine nature. We will have lunch nearby El Toro River, before descending mid-afternoon to reach our host’s home. This will allow us time to enjoy the remaining afternoon to hike, swim or rest. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 4 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 6: Ventisquero / Las Bandurrias Island

This morning we will set off on a full-day ride with forests, river crossings, mountains and waterfalls towards the Puelo River. We will have a relaxing time for lunch near the Ventisquero River. After leaving the valley in the afternoon, we will cross the Puelo River by an important local hanging bridge. This place is particularly spectacular due to its huge waterfalls and rapids. Then we will take trails alongside the mountains until reaching the lake Las Rocas. At the end of the longest day of this expedition, a well-deserved rest will await us at our 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.

(B, LB, T, D)

Time: 7 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 7 : Las Bandurrias Island / Azul Lake / Las Bandurrias Island

Today we will leave the island to meet the horses and the baqueanos down by the lake. A quick stop at the farm La Colina, 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. We will stop to have lunch on a beach. After the picnic, we will follow our pathway on horseback towards Las Rocas Lake. We will pass through an ancient Valdivian type forest, with its very diverse vegetation, which is found in very few Chilean regions. Wet and steep grounds, very ancient trees as well as majestic mountains will be part of the scenery. Short boat trip to Las Bandurrias Island. Accommodation on the island in the guest house. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 5 / 6 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 8: Las Bandurrias Island / Bariloche

For our last riding day, we will leave the Bandurrias Island and head up to the frontier. This short trip will take us to the Inferior Lake, the Río Puelo’s source before arriving at the Chilean customs and immigration post Reten Paso El Bolsón where we must complete the customs procedure. A short ride to descent to the Inferior Lake, official harbour of the frontier which is a step marking the end of our ride. It is time to say farewell to our fellow travelers.

Once in the motor boat, we will navigate for 45 minutes along two lakes and cross the rapids between Argentina and Chile. After the customs procedure on the Argentinian side, we will meet our transfer that will take us to Bariloche passing by El Bolsón where we will have a short break for lunch. The city of Bariloche, surrounded by lakes and mountains, is located in the very heart of the Patagonian Andes mountain range. Farewell dinner at a traditional restaurant. (B, L, D)

Time: 2 hrs of horseback riding / Navigation on the lake Las Rocas : 15min ; 45min between the two lakes (Inferior and Puelo) / A private minibus transfer from the Puelo Lake to El Bolsón and then to Bariloche : 3hrs

End of our Services

TECHNICAL REFERENCES

Food 

B: Breakfast

LB: Lunch Box

L: Lunch

T: Tea

D: Dinner

Length of the trip: The expedition takes 8 days and 7 nights, including 8 days on horseback.

Departure / Arrival: From Puerto Varas (Chile) To Bariloche (Argentina).

Please contact us for more information.

Capacity: Groups from 2 to 10 people

Services included

All private terrestrial transfers as specified, transfers on motorized boat and ferry-boats, all meals as detailed in the itinerary, included one bottle of wine per 3 persons, only at dinner during the riding days. Bilingual guides, local guides (baqueanos), VHF communication radio. Saddle horses; pack horses and additional horses according to the number of riders in the group.

Not included: Articles that are not specified in the detailed description.

Accommodation

Nights 1 to 5: We will be invited in inhabitant’s houses. It is an excellent occasion to share in their lifestyle. Houses are very cosy although rustic, with shared bedrooms and facilities. These extremely charming houses offer basic accommodation mostly in twin, triple or dorm rooms with shared bathroom and hot shower. In some places, lodging will be in large rooms with mattresses on the floor. Food is organically grown and sourced from local gardens; dishes are cooked deliciously on fire stoves as well as the Chilean asado (BBQ).

Night 6 and 7: You will stay in our private island. Las Bandurrias Island offers a main house and a wooden cabin for guests (cabaña). From the cabin’s terrace, you will enjoy a scenic view over the lake. Inside this warmly decorated cabaña, there is a luminous dining room on ground floor, a living room and a bathroom. Upstairs, you will find a charming bedroom that has several single beds as well as a bathroom.

The main house’s decoration is a subtle combination of French and Chilean cultures. You will appreciate the warm living-dining room on the first floor. Upstairs, bedrooms can welcome up to 4 persons. The house is surrounded by a pretty garden that has a greenhouse on one side and a diverse flower garden on the other, where birds come to nest.

Battery charging

You will be able to charge your devices at night at our hosts’ houses or at the hotel.

Internet and Telephone

Enjoy the complete disconnection from phones and Internet during this journey. (Communication only via VHF radio).

Riding hours

The time on horseback varies from day to day: about approx. 3 hours in the morning and 3 to 4 hours in the afternoon.

Season
The season runs from early November to late March.

Degree of difficulty

You will be part of an exciting adventure. This expedition has few difficulties in general; the distances to be covered will be longer on some days than others. River crossings are considered as milestones in this journey and offer a range of contrasts while giving the opportunity to the rider to experience new terrain with the horses. It will also allow us to put ourselves in the “gauchos’” shoes who cross valleys on horseback. Depending on weather conditions, some ascensions and descents as well as some hilly passages may be harder.

On days of diverse terrain, we will advance at a walking pace. We will follow the gaucho guide’s pace when riding between different farms. The adopted pace is a long stride alternated with a sitting trot.

In rain, the paths become more difficult and we might walk some stretches. Regardless of the situation, our specialized guides can always assist you at any moment of the ride.

The itinerary might be modified due to exceptional weather circumstances.

Route

The route does not present a great complexity.

 

The Andean Crossing Ride

6 days / 5 nights

Immerse yourself in this adventure across the Andes, through remote valleys. Explore the cultural Patagonian Puelo River Valley pioneers sharing their old ways of life, immersed in a unique experience within pristine nature.

Itinerary & Trip Notes

Day 1 : Puerto Varas / Llanada Grande / Las Rosas

We will leave Puerto Varas at 9AM in a minibus towards the Andes. We 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 arrived at the edge of the Reloncaví estuary, first fjord in the south of Chile, we will have a short break to appreciate the local gastronomy in the Cochamó village, well-known for its agricultural crop and fishing industry. On the way, we will pass through the Río Puelo valley near its river mouth in the sea before arriving to Tagua-Tagua Lake. Before crossing this lake by ferry, we will have a break for lunch at a local restaurant.

Once on the other side, we will be completely disconnected from the telephone network and from the Internet. After a 40-minute drive, our transfer will drop us off at Puerto Urrutia, the place of local crossings. By the end of the road we will meet the baqueanos team and the Creole horses. As we will cross by motor boat, the horses will swim alongside, guided by a boatman. While the baqueanos pack the pack horses on the other site, you will get to know your horse for the whole ride. Once ready, our expedition starts passing by beaches of the Puelo River that go through farmed fields. Late in the afternoon, we will get to Tito and Olivia’s house, one of our baqueanos, a place just in front of the Puelo River. (B, L, T, D)

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

Day 2: Las Rosas / Ventisqueros

Today, we will continue our ride in the Río Ventisqueros valley. Ancient woods, open spaces and rivers, a long and great day in the middle of the mountains awaits us. We will be crossing amazing forests and self-sufficient little farms in remote areas. Just as the locals do, we will cross riding the large Ventisqueros River and its fast-flowing water. We will enjoy a nice lunch on one of the Ventisqueros beach and then we will keep going on our path to the end of the valley in front of a glacier. Here, we will be hosted for two nights by Bernardita who lives in one of the most remote areas in the region. (B, LB, T, D)

Time: 6 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 3: Ventisqueros / El Toro / Ventisqueros

Today, we will visit a neighbouring valley, where we will enjoy the view of a hanging ice glacier. The route is technical. The narrow valley and the dense vegetation will lead us to an “alerce” (larch) forest, a native and protected millenary tree that is one of the world’s most ancient. It is a remote area with few inhabitants, in the middle of a pristine nature. We will have lunch nearby El Toro River, before descending mid-afternoon to reach our host’s home. This will allow us time to enjoy the remaining afternoon to hike, swim or rest.

(B, LB, T, D)

Time: 4 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 4: Ventisqueros / Las Bandurrias Island

This morning we will set off on a full-day ride with forests, river crossings, mountains and waterfalls towards the Puelo River. We will have a relaxing time for lunch near the Ventisquero River. After leaving the valley in the afternoon, we will cross the Puelo River by an important local hanging bridge. This place is particularly spectacular due to its huge waterfalls and rapids. Then we will take trails alongside the mountains until reaching the lake Las Rocas. At the end of the longest day of this expedition, a well-deserved rest will await us at our 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.(B, LB, T, D)

Time: 7 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 5: Las Bandurrias Island / Azul Lake / Las Bandurrias Island

Today we will leave the island to meet the horses and the baqueanos down by the lake. A quick stop at the farm La Colina, 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. We will stop to have lunch on a beach. After the picnic, we will follow our pathway on horseback towards Las Rocas Lake. We will pass through an ancient Valdivian type forest, with its very diverse vegetation, which is found in very few Chilean regions. Wet and steep grounds, very ancient trees as well as majestic mountains will be part of the scenery. Short boat trip to Las Bandurrias Island. Accommodation on the island in the guest house.

(B, LB, T, D)

Time: 5 / 6 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 6: Las Bandurrias Island / Bariloche

For our last riding day, we will leave the Bandurrias Island and head up to the frontier. This short trip will take us to the Inferior Lake, the Río Puelos’ source before arriving at the Chilean customs and immigration post Reten Paso El Bolsón where we must complete the customs procedure. A short ride to descent to the Inferior Lake, official harbour of the frontier which is a step marking the end of our ride. It is time to say farewell to our fellow travelers.

Once in the motor boat, we will navigate for 45 minutes along two lakes and cross the rapids between Argentina and Chile. After the customs procedure on the Argentinian side, we will meet our transfer that will take us to Bariloche passing by El Bolsón where we will have a short break for lunch. The city of Bariloche, surrounded by lakes and mountains, is located in the very heart of the Patagonian Andes mountain range. Farewell dinner at a traditional restaurant. (B, L, D)

Time: 2 hrs of horseback riding / Navigation on the lake Las Rocas : 15min ; 45min between the two lakes (Inferior and Puelo) / A private minibus transfer from the Puelo Lake to El Bolsón and then to Bariloche : 3hrs.

End of our services

TECHNICAL REFERENCES

Food 

B: Breakfast

LB: Lunch Box

L: Lunch

T: Tea

D: Dinner

Length of the trip : The expedition takes 6 days and 5 nights, including 6 days on horseback.

Departure / Arrival: From Puerto Varas (Chile) to San Carlos de Bariloche (Argentina).

Please contact us for more information.

Capacity: Groups from 2 to 10 people

Services included

All private terrestrial transfers as specified, transfers on motorized boat and ferry-boats, all meals as detailed in the itinerary, included one bottle of wine per 3 persons, only at dinner during the riding days. Bilingual guides, local guides (baqueanos), VHF communication radio. Saddle horses; pack horses and additional horses according to the number of riders in the group.

Not included: Articles that are not specified in the detailed description.

Accommodation

Nights 1 to 3: We will be invited in inhabitant’s houses, which is an excellent occasion to share in their lifestyle. Houses are very cosy although rustic, with shared bedrooms and facilities. These extremely charming houses offer basic accommodation mostly in twin, triple or dorm rooms with shared bathroom and hot shower. In some places, lodging will be in large rooms with mattresses on the floor. Food is organically grown and sourced from local gardens; dishes are cooked deliciously on fire stoves as well as the Chilean asado (BBQ).

Night 4 and 5: You will stay in our private island. Las Bandurrias Island offers a main house and a wooden cabin for guests (cabaña). From the cabin’s terrace, you will enjoy a scenic view over the lake. Inside this warmly decorated cabaña, there is a luminous dining room on ground floor, a living room and a bathroom. Upstairs, you will find a charming bedroom that has several single beds as well as a bathroom.

The main house’s decoration is a subtle combination of French and Chilean cultures. You will appreciate the warm living-dining room on the first floor. Upstairs, bedrooms can welcome up to 4 persons. The house is surrounded by a pretty garden which has a greenhouse on one side and a diverse flower garden on the other, where birds come to nest.

Battery charging

You will be able to charge your devices at night at our hosts’ houses or at the hotel.

Internet and Telephone

Enjoy the complete disconnection from phones and Internet during this journey. (Communication only via VHF radio)

Riding hours

The time on horseback varies from day to day: about approx. 3 hours in the morning and 3 to 4 hours in the afternoon.

Season
The season runs from early November to late March.

Degree of difficulty

You will be part of an exciting adventure. This expedition has few difficulties in general, the distances to be covered will be longer on some days than others. River crossings are considered as milestones in this journey and offer a range of contrasts while giving the opportunity to the rider to experience new terrain with the horses. It will also allow us to put ourselves in the “gauchos’” shoes who cross valleys on horseback. Depending on weather conditions, some ascensions and descents as well as some hilly passages may be harder.

On days of diverse terrain, we will advance at a walking pace. We will follow the gaucho guide’s pace when riding between different estancias. The adopted pace is a long stride alternated with a sitting trot.

In rain, the paths become more difficult and we might walk some stretches. Regardless of the situation, our specialized guides can always assist you at any moment of the crossing.

The itinerary might be modified due to exceptional weather circumstances.

Route

The route does not present great complexity.

Guides

Opentravel and Andesluna are convinced that great guides are the key for a successful and memorable horse ride. All of our guides are bilingual, very experienced and most of all passionate about the region and its local culture. They are qualified with WFR (Wilderness First Responder) and First Aid courses in remote areas. Regarding to our Gauchos (ARG) / Huasos (CH) or “baqueanos” (local guides), they are people that were born and live in the valley and who are used to riding horses. They will be always watchful regarding your safety, the horses, the luggage and the overall equipment. They prepare the gear, get the horses saddled and check the mount. Reliable and experienced, they are essential to safe riding.

 

Custom Documents

A valid passport document and visa for both Argentina and Chile is required. Check the current advice for nationals of your country before you travel. If you are an Australian or Canadian citizen, you will need to pay a “reciprocity fee” before you enter Argentina. This fee may vary depending on your nationality.

 

Safety and communication

We use qualified staff with safety equipment. During our journey on the Argentinian side and in remote areas, we will have a satellite phone, which is the only means of communication in case of emergencies. On the Chilean side, we will always have an access to direct telephone lines through a VHF radio system.

On boat crossings, life jackets are provided. As a company, we have international adventure tourism insurance. However, clients are obliged to have their own travel insurance that covers them for the activities on the tour. We will always bring a first aid kit and guides with the necessary safety skills.

 

Health and vaccines

No special vaccine is required for this part of South America. Clients with special medication should bring enough for the whole trip since you will not have the possibility to buy medicine during our journey. It is very important that you state on the information sheet if you have suffered from heart disease; if you take diabetes medicine, if you have some kind of blood illness, etc.

 

Luggage and clothes

What we suggest you to take (note that during the ride, temperatures can vary from -3°C up to 30°C.) Two complete outfits are generally enough (one for the day and one for the night).

  • Trousers (for riding, jeans etc.) and mid-calf or high leather chaps for the best protection from dense and spiny vegetation.
  • Long sleeves shirts to protect from the sun
  • Shirts or short-sleeves t-shirts (useful if it’s hot or in areas where the temperature is highly variable).
  • Comfortable shoes or riding boots. They must be suitable and safe for riding as well as for walking and crossing rivers. Trekking or Timberland boots style (if not too large) or leather boots are perfect if you use them with chaps. Whatever the boots are, preferably choose those with anti-slip soles, as there will be several areas where you must get off your horse and walk. Riding boots are not recommended, as their boot soles are very smooth and the ground can be steep.
  • We recommend that you waterproof your boots before coming.
  • Remember that the weather can be very hot some days so rubber shoes or boots are not recommended.
  • A windbreaker and a sweater are perfect for the nights around the campfire.
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers. The temperature in the Andes is unforeseeable and very inconstant. On the Argentine side there is semi-arid terrain subject to strong winds, on the Chilean side there is thick vegetation and cold Valdivian rain forests.
  • A large brimmed hat (please ensure it has an adjustable strap, so as not to lose it during the trip because of the wind) or a riding helmet. *
  • Sunglasses with an adjustable security strap to hang around your neck (double strap for those who use prescription glasses).
  • A high sun protection (index 30 at least, the sun can be very strong because of the hole in the ozone layer).
  • A lip balm, to protect the lips against the wind and sun.
  • Riding gloves, should you consider them if necessary.
  • A waist pack for your personal belongings, to keep your money and passport. A sleeveless cotton vest with several pockets, frequently used by photographers, could be a good alternative and more comfortable as well. **
  • A scarf or a headscarf (sometimes it can be dusty).
  • Socks and underwear.

For the evening and night

  • Shorts or a cotton trouser.
  • One pair of riding boots or shoes and another one for the night.
  • One bathing suit and a towel, as well as plastic sandals, to swim in the rivers and lakes.

 

Additional items

  • Plastic bags to organize wrap up and protect your clothes.
  • An anti-mosquito (spray) of good quality.
  • Paper handkerchiefs / traveller towels.
  • A small alarm clock.
  • A camera and / or video camera as well as replacement batteries and additional memory cards.
  • Binoculars could be useful.
  • A personal hygiene kit (soap and biodegradable shampoo are necessary during camping, where we bathe in river).
  • Personal medicine if needed.
  • Contact lenses and prescription glasses.
  • A pocket lamp (headlamps are perfect for the campground).
  • Books / paper and a pencil.
  • Earplugs (they could be quite useful to block out undesirable sounds like wind, chatting people or barking dogs).
  • A Spanish dictionary with conversation sentences.
  • A personal first-aid kit.
  • A sleeping bag: The sleeping bag is not included for the 2 camp nights. Bring one rated for -5°C. It will protect you and keep you warm for camping days in the Argentinian side as the temperature drops quickly at night.

If you don’t have a sleeping bag, you can rent one at Andesluna for USD $20, including an inner cotton bag liner and a fleece cover. Tents and sleeping pads will be provided.

 

Comments
*Helmets: Although they are not compulsory, we recommend that all clients wear one for their own protection; these are not supplied and you will need to take your own.

Saddlebags are provided but they are not waterproof. However, we will give you plastic bags to protect your belongings in your saddlebags in case of persistent rain. Sometimes extracting small items from the saddlebag ‘on the go’ can be difficult. So, we recommend that you carry your personal items such as sun cream, sunglasses, small cameras etc. on you.

**To this end, you can use a waist pack or a cotton photographer’s vest or fisherman waistcoat alternative. You can buy this kind of vest in camping / outdoors shops or on some online shops. You will need your own water bottle for the ride – two half-litre bottles fit more easily into pockets.

Water from the cordillera or rivers is obtained at local places or streams. It is clean and drinkable – but if you are nervous about drinking the water you should take your own purification tablets that are available in specialized stores, as you would not be able to buy water bottles in the valley.

 

Distribution of the luggage

It is very important to notice certain points concerning your luggage:

You can take anything you like, as long as the airports and customs’ standards accept it.

At your arrival day in Bariloche and the day before the ride, your will have a briefing with your guide at 6PM at your hotel. He will give you a waterproof bag to choose and separate among your luggage, the 10kg maximum that you will bring with you for the ride. This bag will travel with us and will be packed on packhorses for the first 6 days of the trip. You will have your main luggage back on Bandurrias Island.

The guide will also provide you a saddlebag so you can take it as a daily pack.

For your primary luggage on the trip, we recommend a malleable and flexible bag (ie duffel). Indeed, your main luggage will have to travel on horseback, on an oxen cart or on a quad and in a motorboat. Obviously, hard suitcases are not suitable for these means of transport.

 

Weather

Please remember that temperatures in the mountains are highly variable. It might be cold (down to freezing) zero degrees or below early in the morning and in the evening, but up to 28 / 32° C at midday.

It can also rain at any time! To cope with changing temperatures, it is a good idea to wear layers, which you can gradually take off. Remember that several thin layers are warmer than one thick one. We recommend that you wear a wind-jacket. A special riding poncho for rain occasions, large enough to protect the saddle, is provided with the equipment. Silk or thin thermal underwear (or a close-fitting polo shirt/long sleeved T shirt and leggings) is a good idea if you feel the cold; it’s also useful for sleeping.

Please also remember to take a good waterproof jacket. Space for luggage during the ride will be strictly limited – please only bring essentials!

 

Important Notes

  • It is also important to consider that once the trip starts you will have no access to a money exchange office. Therefore, we recommend changing your money into Argentinian and Chilean pesos in Buenos Aires or in Bariloche.
  • You will have the opportunity to do your personal laundry in places where we will spend more than one night.
  • In January, “tábanos” (horseflies) hatch in Patagonia; they are harmless but very annoying. Dark colours, mainly blue and black, attract them. We recommend that you wear soft colours like white, rose, light blue, light green, yellow, etc. Please keep it in mind when choosing your garments for the trip.
  • When the horseflies disappear, a wasp species called “chaquetas amarillas” (yellow jackets) appears. If you are allergic to wasp stings, we suggest you to take the treatment required with you and warn us so that we can help in the case of an emergency with adequate medicine.

 

Flight connections

There are daily flights from Santiago to Puerto Montt (Chile) and vice versa, as well as daily flights from Buenos Aires to Bariloche (Argentina).

 

Regional gastronomy

During the trip, Chilean creole cuisine is the typical fare. A traditional wood stove gives the dishes a special flavour. Depending on the season, you will be able to taste delicious rainbow trout or brown trout. The creole or “on the spit” barbecue is served at several meals. It consists of delicious wood-fired lamb slow-cooked outdoors. As a typical dish, it is prepared in different ways and served with salads, potatoes and, of course, a good Argentine or Chilean wine. Green vegetables and fruit are excellent and the diversity of the regional berries is impressive. Vegetarian meals also are a delicious option; let us know your preferences when making your reservation.

The water is good to drink and has a crisp, clean taste.

 

The Argentine Creole horse                                                            

This breed descends from the Spanish horses introduced by the conquistadors in the XVI century. Since then, this specimen survived extraordinary conditions and became stronger. They are resistant and adapt perfectly to the environment. In addition to these qualities, we must add their great patience, their adaptability and docility. They have a short and large head, a sharp muzzle, a beefy neck, a large chest, powerful flanks and short and strong legs that make the Creole especially suitable to the hilly countryside. Horses are of a saddle horse variety; balanced and smooth, well muscled and well built, with a low gravity centre, steadfast, agile and fast in movement. This horse is known for its longevity, its physical resilience and its incredible capacity of recovery. The mount is specially designed to be adapted to an “endurance” saddle for long rides. Very useful to saddle and unsaddle. They are large and comfortable for horseback riding.

 

The Chilean horse

The Chilean horse is descended from horses brought by Spanish to South America during the colonisation. In every country horses managed to adapt and improve depending on the geography and uses. This animal has roots in Arabian and British horses. Like many other Creole breeds across Latin America, the Chilean Creole is medium size but extremely strong. Sturdy and fast, this horse has tremendous willpower, it is reliable and docile. Walking with a firm step, it is a kind of horse that is ready to respond to demanding situations when required. It also has its proper racial characteristics combining with its saddle abilities and its robustness. Our horses are born and bred in the region so that they are perfectly familiar with the trails. The saddle is a light wooden frame composed of a metal structure with two cantles (front and back). On the structure, there are overlapping sheep skins (pellón), which pad the saddle.

 

Riders over 90Kg/198lb are required to have an extra horse to allow alternation morning and afternoon due to the limited size of Chilean Creole horses. Riders over 90Kg/195lb extra horse price USD 210. 

 

Tipping

In South America, the usual practice is to tip when satisfied with the service. This happens in restaurants, with the luggage carriers, at the airport, with the hotel personnel, etc. The tips are not part of the services supplier’s salary. It is a gift for a granted service. We offer our customers some suggestions regarding this subject at the briefing.

 

For this purpose, please foresee to have some local money with you, Argentine as well as Chilean. Please keep in mind that there will be two teams, one Argentine and one Chilean. Some 150 dollars covers each passenger for the whole baqueanos group, the assistants, and the bilingual guides. The guide will redistribute the tips. Our suggestions are approximate here: the number of employees depends on the quantity of riding participants and the tip amount depends upon your satisfaction.

Note that for all 3 itineraries, an ‘inclusive’ option is also available which includes accommodation for day(s) either side of the trip. Please enquire for details and prices.

Standard itineraries

 

Andean Crossing Ride

6 days / 5 nights

Prices Please note – as this is a small group adventure the price is on a sliding scale so the more folk in your group the lower the cost is per person.

  • 2 Persons 4060 USD
  • 3 Persons 3685 USD
  • 4-5 Persons 3250 USD
  • 6-8 Persons 3090 USD
  • 9-10 Persons 2900 USD

Rides need a minimum number of 2 people to guarantee departure and max of 10 riders per group. The prices are based on a sliding scale getting lower as more people confirm their place. Rates per person in American dollars.

Departures 2017/18- please enquire for live availability and numbers booked for each departure.

  • 21/12/2017 to 26/12/2017
  • 06/01/2018 to 11/01/2018
  • 11/02/2018 to 16/02/2018
  • 23/02/2018 to 28/03/2018

 

Puelo Ride

8 days / 7 nights

Prices: Please note – as this is a small group adventure the price is on a sliding scale so the more folk in your group the lower the cost is per person.

  • 3 Persons 4470 USD
  • 4-5 Persons 3900 USD
  • 6-8 Persons 3800 USD
  • 9-10 Persons 3660 USD

Rides need a minimum number of 2 people to guarantee departure and max of 10 riders per group. The prices are based on a sliding scale getting lower as more people confirm their place. Rates per person in American dollars.

Departures 2017/18 – please enquire for live availability and numbers in each group

  • 22/11/2017 to 29/11/2017
  • 24/01/2018 to 31/01/2018

Andes Grande Traversé

14 days 13 nights

Prices per person in USD:
Please note – as this is a small group adventure the price is on a sliding scale so the more people in your group the lower the cost is per person. 

  • 2 Persons 7980 USD
  • 3 Persons 7640 USD
  • 4-6 Persons 6490 USD
  • 7-10 Persons 5880 USD

Rides need a minimum number of 2 people to guarantee departure and max of 10 riders per group. The prices are based on a sliding scale getting lower as more people confirm their place. Rates per person in American dollars.

Departures 2017/18 – please enquire for live availability and numbers in each group

  • 06/11/2017 to 19/11/2017
  • 04/12/2017 to 17/12/2017
  • 08/01/2018 to 21/01/2018
  • 05/02/2018 to 18/02/2018
  • 05/03/2018 to 18/03/2018

Riders over 90Kg/198lb are required to have an extra horse to allow alternation morning and afternoon due to the limited size of Chilean Creole horses. Riders over 90Kg/195lb extra horse price USD 210.

 

Tour Operator terms and conditions apply.

Our local partner for these trips are based in Chile. They are a small operator with over 30 years of experience running horseback adventures in the region.  Passionate about nature and travel and their main goal is to offer sustainable tourism which supports the rural economy. They put local community engagement as high on their list of importance as rivers, lakes, mountains, flora and fauna.

We love that they are true destination experts for journeys to the Rio Puelo valley, with its ancient forests, gorgeous lakes and rivers and hospitable rural inhabitants. Expect to experience remoteness just as they do, traveling on trails and waterways.

Enquiry Form

There are three epic rides in the Andes you can consider – a 6, 8 or 14 day option. Please specify which trip you are looking for more details for and we can send you the full trip notes and live availability.

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