This horse riding through northern Patagonia will take you through one of the little-known areas of the Río Puelo valley. Ride on narrow trails preserved since the first settlers, through pristine forests and clear blue lakes.
Deep in the lakes region of the Andes lies the little known Rio Puelo Valley. Still preserved as the original settlers first found it, the valley is a display of all that is gorgeous about Chile. On this group adventure, you’ll ride horseback through virtually untouched forest on narrow trails and enjoy Rio Puelo at the pace it was meant to be enjoyed. Along the way you’ll meet farmers, receive lots of curious and genuine smiles, and experience the magic of life in this tucked away valley.
- Get an impressive view of four volcanoes from Llanquihue Lake
- Explore Puerto Varas and its remaining German colonialism
- Enjoy the local cuisine in villages like Cochamo
- Ride across the Ventisqueros River – just like the locals
- Stay overnight with local families and enjoy home cooked meals
- See a South American hanging ice glacier
- Travel through an alerce or larch forest – a tree that is considered one of Earth’s oldest varieties
- When not riding, enjoy hiking, swimming, and relaxing
- Discover the ancient Valdivian forest – a very rare occurrence in Chile
The adventure begins in Puerto Varas with spectacular view of the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes – which are located in the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. You and the group will make your way to the Reloncaví estuary and the first fjord of the trip. On the far side of the fjord, all phone and internet connections abruptly cease and it’s just you and the natural splendour of the Andes.
In Rio Manso, you’ll meet the baqueanos team as well as the Creole horses that you’ll be riding for the duration of the trip. This trip is wonderful because you’ll really come to develop a personal relationship with your horse over these eight days.
Once on horseback, you’ll cross the beaches of the Puelo River as well as the cultivated fields of local farmers on your way to Traidor’s Trails. These are the same trails used by pioneers and they don’t disappoint. A pristine cordillera and majestic forests dominate the landscape.
As the week progresses, you’ll be able to challenge your horse riding skills with a variety of terrains. Everything from plains, forests, sand, pebble beaches, and more. Several times you’ll cross rivers on motor boat while the horse swim across to meet you. You’ll pass through almost uninhabited tributaries and see wonderful waterfalls as well.
One of the reasons we love this operator is because they rely on local baqueanos or huaso guides. Safety is always a priority and these experts are tuned in to the region, the weather, and the terrain changes. Their nose for changing weather is uncanny.
You’ll find that the trip is exciting and challenging, but not overly demanding. There are a few steep hills, many river crossings, as well as undulating terrain. The Chilean Creole horse is one of the hardiest breeds and you’ll love the process of relationship building. Each day involves anywhere from 4-7 hours of riding.
Enquire today to learn more about this horse riding in Chile adventure.
Why We Love This Adventure
- A remote horse riding trail through a stunning part of Patagonia
- Overnight stay on a remote island between Chile and Argentina
- A chance to experience real Gaucho culture
This region of Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia rises from the virgin steppe up to the Valdivian forests of Chile. A wonderfully diverse region culturally and geographically filled with “Estancias”, endless pampas, green forests and clear rivers.
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.
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
Timing: 4 hrs by car and approximately and 1,30 hrs 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
PriceFrom 3,660 USD dependent on how many riders. Enquire for full details.
- 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.
What's Not included
Articles that are not specified in the detailed description.
Trip Duration8 days
Start LocationPuerto Montt, Chile
End LocationSan Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina
Average Group SizeGroups from 2 to 10 people
Nights 1 to 5
We are invited into the home of local pioneers 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 bathroom and hot shower. Sometimes, great room with mattresses. 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. Island Las Bandurrias has a woodland path circumnavigating the shore, small private beaches and two charming cottages. Guests stay in a comfortable and well-equipped 2-story cottage heated by firewood; the same system heats water for showers. The bathrooms offer a splendid view of a southern “coigue” forest while from the living, the dining areas and the great sundeck you can see the small beach next to the quay. Here you will find stunning views of Lake Las Rocas and the surrounding peaks. The cottage offers accommodation for up to 6 people and
the main house features two further guest rooms with original French country decor up for 3 or 5more guests . It is a very cozy and warm place where we will share dinner and appetizers with our island hostess. The main house is surrounded by a flower garden that includes butterfly bushes, fuchsia and camellia and it is adjacent to the main house..
The food on the trip will be a mix of a special blend of flavors and ingredients consisting of an ethnic variety but mostly Creole-Chilean cuisine. A traditional wood stove gives a special flavor to the dishes. Depending on the season, it will be possible to taste a delicious rainbow trout or fontinalis. Vegetables and fruits are superb and the variety of the region’s berries is impressive.
Vegetarian dishes are also a great delicious option but we do need to know if you prefer this option at the time of making your booking. Drinking water is crystal clear, safe to drink and tastes delicious. The island also has a personal collection of a good variety of wines.
The route starts in Puerto Montt in Chile on the shore of the Pacific Ocean across the Andes, ending in Bariloche Argentina.
All In/out private transfers, transportation by minibus and motor jet boats and ferry crossing are included.
This Trip is Suitable For
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.
Length of the trip: The expedition takes 8 days and 7 nights. 8 days riding.
Departure / Arrival: The route starts in Puerto Montt in Chile on the shore of the Pacific Ocean across the Andes, ending in Bariloche Argentina.
LB: Lunch Box
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.
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.
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.
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.
Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat type of horses do you use?
Argentine Creole and Chilean horses
The Argentine Creole 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 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.
Dates & Availability
- 23 Mar 2019 – 29 Mar 2019
This small local operator based in Chile has 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.
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