Discover the beauty of Patagonian culture while riding horseback through the Chilean Andes on this six day Patagonia horse riding adventure.
You’ll experience an older way of life that still persists in the Rio Puelo Valley, deep in the pristine wilderness of Chile.
- Spend a week completely disconnected from cell service and the internet
- Enjoy the local cuisine in villages like Cochamo
- Fall in love with your Chilean Creole horse – your close companion for the week.
- Travel through an alerce or larch forest – a tree that is considered one of Earth’s oldest varieties
- Stay overnight with local families and enjoy home cooked meals
- When not riding, enjoy hiking, swimming, and relaxing
- Explore the town of Bariloche, surrounded by mountains and lakes, which lies in the heart of the Patagonian Andes
The adventure begins in Puerto Varas near the Reloncaví estuary. Before you meet the horses, you’ll travel by minibus through Cochamo village to Tagua-Tagua Lake for your first ferry crossing. In Puerto Urrutia, you’ll meet your local guides, or baqueanos, as well as the Chilean Creole horses that will accompany the group for the duration of the journey.
You’ll be assigned a horse that will be yours for the entire six days. The relationship the two of you will develop will be entirely personal and highly enjoyable. This breed is incredibly strong and hardy. With double hair coats, they are perfectly suited for the varying hot and cold temperatures of the Andes.
Most agree that there isn’t a more energetic horse to be found. Although widely unknown outside of South America, the Chilean Creole is the oldest registered Creole breed of the Americas and the third oldest for the entire western hemisphere. The first known registry was recorded in 1893.
Journey through the Río Ventisqueros valley over a wide variety of terrains. Ancient woods, river crossings, open fields, waterfalls, and undulating hills. You’ll love passing by small but self-sufficient farms in these remote areas. You’ll be greeted by curious smiles and a welcoming friendliness everywhere you go.
In Ventisqueros, get a great view of a hanging ice glacier before heading into the most technical part of the riding. On the way to the El Toro River, the valley narrows and the vegetation becomes quite dense. You’ll pass through an alerce, or larch, forest. The alerce is a protected millenary tree that is considered one of the most ancient varieties on Earth.
The adventure wraps up on your own private island – Las Bandurrias. After the longest day of the week, you’ll rest surrounded by the cordillera with plenty of time for reflection and relaxation. Las Bandurrias Island is a true haven deep in the heart of the cordillera.
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. Each day involves anywhere from 4-7 hours of riding.
Enquire today and reserve your spot on this northern Patagonia horse riding adventure.
Why We Love This Adventure
- A wonderful week long wilderness escape suitable for a range of riding levels
- Stay on the private Bandurrias Island with stunning views of Lake Las Rocas
- Ride beautiful well trained Chilean horses
This region of Chilean Patagonia is wonderfully diverse culturally and geographically filled with small farms, pampas, ancient woodland and clear fast flowing rivers.
The route takes you from Puerto Varas in Chile, passing through the Rio Puelo valley, across Tagua-Tagua Lake and into the Rio Ventisqueros valley with its ancient woods and fast flowing Ventisqueros River. Trails alongside the mountains will lead you to lake Las Rocas and the private island of Las Bandurrias before crossing over into Argentina where the trip finishes.
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
After a homemade breakfast we will take the motorboat and head to the east side of Lake Las Rocas. You will see the stunning beauty of Inferior Lake and the source of the Puelo River, a major river that flows into the Pacific Ocean. We arrive at customs and immigration post for Chile from where it is a short walk to reach Inferior Lake. Here, a motor-jet boat will take us across the lake and then down the river through a short rapid, the natural border between both countries.
Before Argentine border formalities we will arrive at Lago Puelo National Park. From the far end of the lake we will take a private transfer to El Bolsón where we will enjoy a nice lunch. It is possible, if the day matches, to make a quick overview of the traditional handy craft market. In the afternoon, arrive to the town of Bariloche.
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 services.
Ask for extra transfers and lodgings in Chile and/ or Argentina.
PriceFrom 2,900 USD dependent size of group (please make a booking enquiry for live availability and the number of travellers already booked)
- All In/out private transfers, transportation by minibus & motor jet boats, ferry crossing
- Full board meals (including ½ bottle of wine per person at dinner)
- Saddle horses, pack horses
- 5 night accommodation including 2 nights at a fabulous retreat on Bandurrias island
- Local guides, “Huasos” and tour leader (French & English)
- VHF radio communication equipment.
What's Not included
Articles that are not specified in the detailed description.
Trip Duration6 days
Start LocationPuerto Varas, Chile
End LocationBariloche, Argentina
Average Group SizeGroups from 2 to 10 people
Nights 1, 2 & 3
You 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 (one for the all group). In some places, 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 4 and 5
You will stay on a private island. Island Las Bandurrias has a woodland path circumnavigating the shore, small private beaches and two charming cottages. Guests will 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 “coigues” 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 décor up for 3 or 4 guests more. It is a very cosy and warm place where we will share dinner and appetisers 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.
Food key for above itinerary:
LB: Lunch Box
During the trip, the meals will be a special mix of fragrances and ingredients, consisting of a Chilean creole cooking ethnic variety. A traditional wood stove will grant the dishes a special flavour. You can taste the delicious brown rainbow trout. The creole or barbecue is served in several shifts. It consists on a delicious lamb, roasted on wooden carbon. It is prepared in different ways and accompanied by salads, potatoes and for sure a good Argentine or Chilean wine. Green vegetables and fruits are excellent and the diversity of the regional berries is impressive. Vegetarian meals also are a delicious option, but for this purpose we need to know that you prefer the vegetarian food at the moment you make your reservation. Water is transparent, good to drink and has an unequalled taste. At Las Bandurrias Island we also will find a very large wine variety.
In /out private transfers, transportation by minibus & motor jet boats, ferry crossing.
Daily flights depart either from Santiago international airport to Puerto Montt (Chile) or from Buenos Aires Jorge Newbery local airport into San Carlos de Bariloche (Argentina).
This Trip is Suitable For
The trip is an exciting but not demanding one, though some days the terrain will be more demanding and difficult. Also some days will be longer than others, especially when we have to cover a particular distance. Lots of river crossings, which are great fun and allow riders to experience the local way of travelling. Some steep up hills and undulating terrain could turn just a bit more demanding if the weather is not good.
This adventurous ride is an excellent way of managing lots of different terrain and being able to ride one of the toughest horse breeds in the world. Clients may canter on open ground, trot in the forest, or simply enjoy the ride at their own relaxing pace.
The itinerary might be modified due to exceptional weather circumstances.
Length of the trip: The expedition takes 6 days and 5 nights, including 6 days on horseback.
Departure / Arrival: Route from/to: From Puerto Montt in Chile on the shore of the Pacific Ocean across the Andes, ending in Bariloche Argentina.
The time on horseback varies from day to day: about approx. 4 hours in the morning and 3 to 4 hours in the afternoon.
The season runs from early November to late March.
You’ll be led by experienced guides with a great knowledge of the area. They are all friendly, great fun and highly passionate about the Puelo Valley. She or he would be able to be a step ahead to give you all the help and assistance in any unpredictable situation, ensuring the trip runs smoothly. Local Huasos or “Baqueanos” will be there at any time to help with saddles, horses and to look after you; they are a great support for the whole group and they even have an amazing ability to predict the weather! They also enjoy making wooden handcraft.
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
Please make a booking enquiry for full trip notes including packing list.
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!
From middle December to late January, horseflies proliferate in the whole southern part of Chile and Argentina. They do not harm but are a nuisance and are attracted to dark clothing. Take this into account when selecting your clothing. When the horseflies leave the area, Yellow Jackets come. If you are allergic to wasp bites, bring your medicine for it and please let us know so that we can also bring what it is required for it and take good care of you.
Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat type of horses do you use?
Chilean horses. 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 trip can be tailor made for your perfect travel dates. Please make a booking enquiry for more information.
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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