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.
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.
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.
The time on horseback varies from day to day: about approx. 3 hours in the morning and 3 to 4 hours in the afternoon.
The season runs from early November to late March.
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. Check full information here:
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:
- 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.
On the whole ride, temperatures can vary from -3°C up to 30°C.
- 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.
Important: 2 complete outfits are generally enough (one for the day and one for the night).
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.
- 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.
*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.
The itinerary described here might be modified due to exceptional weather circumstances, which may affect our expedition.
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.
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!
- It is also important to consider that once the trip starts until the end at Puerto Varas, 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.