- Pack horse supported on a number of nights
- Boat trip across Lago Puelo to cross from Argentina into Chile
- Experience very different landscapes - the steep sided and forested slopes of the Chilean Andes and the gently sloping pampas of Argentina
- Spectacular scenery
Day 1 1: LONDON - BUENOS AIRESDepart London on a flight to Buenos Aires - most flights are overnight flights, departing in the evening, but there are some day flights.
Note: you might have to switch airports at Buenos Aires.
Day 2 2: BUENOS AIRES - BARILOCHE - No ridingDepending on your flight times, it may be possible to connect straight through Buenos Aires to Bariloche - if this is not possible then you will need to depart the UK a day earlier and spend a night in Buenos Aires.
On arrival at Bariloche airport you will be met and transferred to your down town hotel. Please note transfers are included at set times: 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm. Other times can be scheduled at an extra cost.
Bariloche, located on Nahuel Huapi Lake’s shore, is a big touristic ski town surrounded by mountains. Depending on your arrival flight, you will have the chance to explore the area - perhaps appreciate the views from the Cerro Otto or do some last minute shopping before the ride. In the late afternoon you will meet your guides for a ride briefing and will be given a bag to pack your belongings into for the ride - these bags are a shape and size that can be carried by the pack horses - you can only take 10kg of luggage with you and the rest of your luggage will be transferred by vehicle to Puelo Lake (day 7) where you will have a chance to re-pack.
In the evening, head out for a traditional barbeque dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 3 3: BARILOCHE - PICHILEUFU RIVER - 4-5 hours ridingAfter an early breakfast, you will be transferred by minibus the 30 kms to the starting point of the ride. Estancia Ñirihuau is situated on a 180 hectare timber forest with 70 hectares more used for riding and training horses. Here you will be introduced to your Argentine horse and the local gauchos who will accompany you.
Set out riding and pass las Buitreras Hill and Arroyo la Mina from where you should see great panoramic views of the Alto Chubut Valley. After a lunch stop near the river, continue riding until reaching your campsite on the backs of the Pichileufu River. Distance: 23 km
Day 4 4: PICHILEUFU RIVER - ALTO CHUBUT - 5-6 hours ridingAfter breakfast and packing up the camp, you ride across the Pichileufú Valley to Carreras mountain high pass at 1800m - a good spot to watch for condors, eagles and other wildlife. After a picnic lunch from your saddlebags, you descend towards the source of the Alto Chubut River with dry vegetation and set up camp. Some nomadic shepherds still spend some time here. Dinner is prepared over an open fire.
Distance: 25 km
Day 5 5: CHUBUT VALLEY - LAS SERRUCHAS - 5-6 hours ridingStart the day by riding downhill through the Chubut Valley and the Patagonian steppe. There may be the possibility of stopping to visit a local family who live very close to an abandoned lead mine - this place shows the remnants of the past when adventurers came to find gold.
The afternoon ride is up tricky terrain to las Serruchas pass, from where there are stunning views of the Tronador Mountain, its glaciers and the endless steppe. Night in teepees with the amenities of a local refuge.
Distance: 30 km.
Day 6 6: LAS SERRUCHAS - TERNERO RIVER - 4-6 hours ridingAfter breakfast and dismantling the camp, the horses will carry you down onto the Patagonian steppe where the vegetation changes and you may find box-leafed barberry, fire bushes and fire tongue. The landscape gradually changes is you ride toward the river "Rio Las Orquetas" and the valley. After a steep ascent, you reach the Rio Ternero, in a valley that is home to a wide variety of plants and grasslands where herds gaze.
Day 7 7: TERNERO RIVER - PUELO LAKE - 3-4 hours ridingToday is your final day with your Argentine Criollo horse. After breakfast at the estancia, you follow a path that leads to a small aboriginal village called Ñorquinco. You will pass a number of other estancias on the way, before reaching the road where you say farewell to the horses and gauchos.
You are transferred by private minibus to El Maitén village where you have lunch and possibly visit the train museum if it is open.
In the afternoon you will be transferred to Lake Puelo where you will spend the night in a small and comfortable hotel. Your luggage will be waiting for you at your hotel.
Day 8 8: LAKE PUELO - LAS BANDURRIAS - No ridingBandurrias IslandAfter a leisurely breakfast at the hotel you will be transferred to Lake Puelo’s dock. After going through Argentine passport control you will travel by turbo-jet boat across a small rapids which marks the border for Chile. On the lakeshore a local guide will be waiting for you and will take care of your luggage. The Chilean passport control is a ten minute uphill walk and after completing customs formalities it's another 10 minute walk to Las Rocas Lake where a motorboat will take you to Bandurrias Island.
After lunch on the island amongst great views of the surrounding mountains the afternoon is at your leisure - perhaps walk around the island (c. 30mins) or take a dip in the cool lake waters. Bandurrias Island is a private retreat and you may well dine in the home of your guide's mother.
Day 9 9: LAGO AZUL - 5-6 hours ridingBandurrias IslandIn the morning, you are transferred by boat to the lake shore where you meet your Chilean horse. The morning ride takes you to Azul Lake with its crystal clear waters and abundant fish life. The majestic peaks and stunning landscapes will not escape your attention! Picnic and relax on the shore of the lake. After lunch you ride on steep passes across the forest which covers the mountainsides, passing through typical cold jungle or Valdivian-type rainforest. You should see ancient Alerce trees (Fitzroy Cupresoide) as well as other local “giants” such as the “Coihue” and “Arrayanes” (the cold tree). Leave your horses at the lakeside and take the boat back across the lake for a second night on the island.
Day 10 10: LAS BANDURRIAS - LAS ROSAS - 6 hours ridingAfter breakfast, the motor boat takes you back to the other side of the lake where the horses will be waiting. It's a short ride to the source of the Puelo river, where the horses either cross by swimming or by using a traditional raft method which is powered by men! Here is “Segundo Corral” the last closest settlement to the border.
Continue riding along a trail alongside the Puelo River to a fantastic hanging bridge, “la Pasarela del Rio Puelo”, an important hanging bridge which is crucial for communication between the local inhabitants and the outside world. Spend the night at a local farm.
Day 11 11: LAGO VERDE - VENTISQUEROS VALLEY - 6-7 hours ridingAfter breakfast, you mount up and cross the Hanging Bridge to follow the west side of the Ventisqueros Valley. This is a really remote and green landscape, where the inhabitants have only horses with which to travel. After lunch in the valley, continue riding util reaching a little house which you will share with the owners for two nights. It is likely that you will experience another asado here.
Day 12 12: VENTISQUERO VALLEY - 3-4 hours ridingAfter breakfast, embark on a gentle ride, crossing the river once more to join the other valley and approach its glacier. This little Valley turns wild and remote, with incredible flora and devoid of inhabitants. You will ride past Alerce forests before stopping for a picnic lunch at a viewpoint for the glacier. Retrace your steps back to your guest farmhouse. As this is a short riding day, there is a chance to go for a walk around the area or to simply relax.
Day 13 13: VENTISQUERO VALLEY - RIO PUELO - 6-7 hours ridingAfter breakfast, it's time to load the pack horses again and head out of the valley. This morning the trail takes you across beautiful ancient forest, clean pampas and the unique opportunity to cross the Ventisqueros River several times. A picnic lunch will be taken on the shore of the river.
In the afternoon you will start to ride through lands where you may see farmers working on their land, looking after the cattle and making a living through family agriculture. It is amazing to see how fertile these mountains can be! At the end of the day you cross the Rio Puelo just as the locals do: on a small public motor boat with the horses swimming behind. Your final night in the mountains is spent at a cozy farm cottage.
Day 14 14: LLANADA GRANDE - PUERTO VARAS - 3 hours riding + 4 hours driveFor your final mornings ride the horses will take you through the forest and along the Puelo River to the hamlet of Llanada Grande where your minibus will be waiting for you. After an hours drive you reach the ferry that will you across Tagua – Tagua Lake (40 minutes transfert). Here you will have a picnic lunch before the drive to Puerto Varas. The road goes alongside the Reloncaví Fjord offering a beautiful view of the river mouth flowing into the sea. During your journey you will skirt Vicente Perez Rosales National Park and Lake Llanquihue and hopefully see both Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. Your accommodation for the night is in the beautiful little town of Puerto Varas.
Day 15 15: PUERTO VARAS - PUERTO MONTT - SANTIAGO - No ridingAfter breakfast you will be transferred to Puerto Montt airport for your flight home (30 minutes drive). Depending on flight times it may be possible to connect all the way through Santiago and back to the UK, or you may need a night in Santiago.
Transfers are scheduled at 09:00 am and 12:00 noon. Other transfers can be arranged but will be at an extra cost.
Day 16 16: LONDONArrival back to London in the afternoon.
Dates & prices
- Rates are based on double occupancy.
- International flights are not included.
- Group sizes are a minimum of 4 people and a maximum of 8 people, plus guides.
- Airport transfers are included at set times (see itinerary).
- Single rooms/tents are not possible throughout the ride, but it is possible to request a single room for the nights in Bariloche and Puerto Varas (at extra cost of approx. £80 per person per night).
- For those who don’t have a sleeping bag or don’t want to bring one, they can rent a sleeping bag including polar fleece and a blanket. Please contact us.
- There is a usual weight limit of 90kg. If you weigh 90 kg or more then it may be possible for you to join the ride on payment of a supplement - this is so that a second horse can be provided for you each day.
The itinerary may be modified at anytime for security reasons, meteorological or events beyond our control such as blocked roads, rivers in flood, drought, strikes and local holidays. Equus Journeys, our local partners and their local guides will always strive to find the best solution and will alter the itinerary as needed.
The names of the hotels and accommodation are given for information only and depending on availability, they may be modified without notice and replaced by another of a similar standard.
1 team of baqueanos during the trek
Pack horses and extra horses
All inland transfers described in the itinerary
1 night in a teepee
2 nights in a 5 persons (or more) private cabin on the private island Las Bandurrias.
3 nights in shared room in local farms
3 nights in a 2 person tents. Floor mattress
Wine included in all meals during the trek
Price doesn't include
Small group supplement. For price list see above in price details
In Chile you ride Chilean Criollos - these horses also originated from horses brought over by the Spanish. They are generally a little smaller than their Argentine cousins, but strong and sure-footed. The Chilean saddles are similar as well but some of the horses are ridden in bitless bridles.
Minimum riding ability
Minimum riding ability
Rider weight limit: 90 kilos / 14,1 st / 198 lbs
Tacking ability and participation
If you can help with the camp and various chores, it will be much appreciated.
Trip conditions and Requested experience
In January the southern parts of Chile and Argentina can experience horse-flies - whilst they do not cause harm they are a nuisance.
Riders who are not riding regularly are asked to get fit prior to joining the ride. Although the Andes are not particularly high in this area you are asked to familiarise yourself with the signs of Altitude Sickness and notify your guides if you feel unwell (headaches, sickness, dizziness etc).
On the trail you are camping or staying in basic lodgings. Two man tents are provided but you need to take your own sleeping bags (or hire locally for a fee). When camping the only washing facilities are rivers; when staying in basic lodgings there are is usually one bathroom which is shared by the whole group.
2 nights camping, 2nights at Estancia, 4 nights at local farms, 2 nights at Las Bandurrias Island and 3 nights at hotels in Bariloche (1st night), Lago Puelo (6th night) and Puerto Varas (13th night). Single supplement is available only at Bariloche and Puerto Varas.
Wine is provided with evening meals, but limited to a couple of glasses each night as it also has to be carried on the pack horses.
You collect your own water from the rivers you pass along the route - the water is clean and pure. Camps are always situated near to fresh water and you cross rivers during the day where you can also re-fill your water bottles. You may wish to take water purification tablets such as Micropur for the water if you are worried.
On the Argentine side of the Andes it rarely rains and is a dry area, however, the weather is unpredictable and can change quickly. It is possible to experience all seasons in one day and it can always be windy in Patagonia!!
The Chilean side of the Andes is always wetter, and therefore greener. Temperatures are similar, but there is more chance of rain. You should ensure you keep waterproof clothing with you just in case, but it is also possible to experience beautiful, sunny days.
Guide and local team
It is usual for one guide to accompany you for the entire ride, but the local team/horsemen will change at the border when you also change horses.
Groups of 6 or more will have an extra guide.
Please note: there are sometimes horse flies in Chile and these are more attracted to dark clothing, so you may prefer to bring lighter coloured clothing for the Chilean half of the ride.
- Equus Journeys strongly recommend that you wear a riding helmet and that you take your own to ensure a correct fit.
- Sunhat for when not riding
- Sunglasses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana for protecting your neck and face from the sun and dust
- Warm hat if visiting during the winter months of June-August
- Thermals in case of cold weather during the winter months of June - August
- Down jacket or warm coat for the cold evenings
- Long sleeved shirts provide protection from the sun
- Lightweight fleece or jumper
- Warm polar fleece or equivalent (plus a spare in case one gets wet)
- Waterproof jacket - rain can be difficult to predict and it's better to be prepared.
- Lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- Waterproof over trousers
- Casual clothes for the evenings (jeans or walking trousers)
- Thermals in case of cold weather during the winter months of June - August
Hands and Feet
- Comfortable riding boots. We recommend short boots with half chaps but you may wish to take long chaps. We don't recommend taking your favourite long leather boots in case they get damaged
- Lightweight shoes or trainers for the evenings
- Good walking boots (or hybrid walking/riding boots)
- Several pairs of warm socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun, wind or rain whilst riding
- Sleeping bag with a comfort rating of at least minus 5c, preferably minus 10c. We also suggest adding a liner, such as silk or fleece for extra warmth. (It is possible to hire a sleeping bag if you prefer, for USD 45 payable locally)
- Thermarest pad or similar self-inflating mattress
- You should take a soft sided suitcase which can easily be transported - we recommend a large backpack or rucksack of c. 60-80 litres. Remember you will need to re-pack for the pack horses.
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. We recommend a small bumbag or a coat with pockets so that you can carry small items with you during the day (camera, sunscreen, lipbalm etc)
- We recommend travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes in your hand luggage - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!
- Please be aware that internal flights in Chile may have a lower luggage allowance than your international flight and you should pack according to the lowest limit.
Other useful items
- Swimsuit - for swimming/bathing in rivers
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- Bumbag for carrying your camera and small items whilst riding
- Headtorch or small torch for moving around camp at night - bring spare batteries and bulbs
- Ear plugs (for light sleepers)
- Water bottle - 2 x 1 litre, or equivalent
- Wet wipes for when washing water isn't available
In your luggage
- Any liquids, such as shampoo, moisturiser, deodorant unless they are less than 100ml and all bottles can fit in a small, clear, plastic ziplock bag.
- Swiss army knife or equivalent
- Lighter for burning toilet paper
In your hand luggage
- Any valuables, such as your camera, ipod, ipad etc.
- Your riding hat
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent
- Any medication you regularly take
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc...
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Eye drops
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhoea medication
- Micropur or similar water purification tablets
- Re-hydration sachets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel
- Toilet paper
- Plastic bags/dry bags to keep your belongings dry in the saddle bags
Visa & Health
Passports issued to children must contain a photo and state the nationality.
On arrival in Chile the immigration authorities will issue you with a ‘Tarjeta de Turismo - Tourist Card’, an A5 sized white form. You must retain this document and present it to immigration when you leave.
Visas are not required by the nationals referred to above for stays in Chile of up to 90 days. Nationals of Greece may only stay for up to 60 days without a visa. Nationals from Australia (US$95) and Canada (US$132) must pay a reciprocal tax at the airport.
As of 2014, US nationals no longer need to pay a reciprocal tax.
Addresses of consulates
- British Embassy in Chile
Avda. El Bosque Norte 0125
Tél. : +56 2 2370 4100
- Consulate of the Republic of Chile
1736 Massachusetts Ave NW
DC 200 36 WASHINGTON
Tél. : +1 202 530 4104
- Embassy of Chile in UK
37-41 Old Queen Street
SW1H 9JA LONDON
Tél. : +44 20 7222 2361
- Ambassade du Chili en France
2, Av. de la Motte-Picquet
Tél. : 01 44 18 59 60
- Consulat du Chili en France
64, boulevard de La-Tour-Maubourg
Tél. : 01 44 18 59 60
- Ambassade de France au Chili
Avenida Condell 65
Tél. : +56 224 708 000
Budget and money
Visa and MasterCard are commonly accepted; American Express slightly less so - in towns and cities, where ATMs are also largely available. Outside of the larger, more tourist-centred towns, currency exchange can be tricky.
Telephone and jetlag
Standard time – 4.00 GMT
Did you know?
Did you know?
Mate is a traditional caffeine-rich drink of South America. It is pronounced as though there is an accent on the e (mar-tay), but it is spelt without an accent.
Mate is prepared by steeping dried leaves of yerba mate in hot water in a traditional hollow calabash gourd. The mate is drunk though a silver straw called a bombilla, which contains small holes so that the liquid can pass through whilst leaving the leaves behind.
Mate is a social drink and the same gourd and bombilla is used by everyone drinking. Traditionally the person who brews the mate takes the first drink to check that it is good. He then passes it to the person on his right, who takes a drink and passes it on without saying Thank You. The gourd will be refilled up to ten times before the yerba is replaced. Once you have had your fill of mate you say Thank You when you pass the gourd on, and you will not be offered it during the next round.
It is likely that you will be offered mate to try whilst horse-riding in Argentina and Chile - it is quite bitter and has an acquired taste.