HORSEBACK RIDING IN PATAGONIA
If you come to Patagonia you should consider making at least one horse-riding trip. Why? Very simple.
It offers the possibility of crossing great extensions of land or following winding paths on the brink of precipices or even visiting places impossible to reach any other way. And, of course, visiting the region aboard a vehicle is not the same as closely interacting with such a noble animal.
Undoubtedly, one of the favorite rides. It includes climbing the ashy slopes and reaching the crater with its lagoon, vapors, smell of sulfur and the loud noises from within.
El Bolsón: Azul River Canyon
For those who have never felt the sensation of riding a horse, the trip to the Azul River Canyon, in El Bolsón, offers an extraordinary opportunity. It is an excursion which makes an impact on those who make it. The view of the blue river flowing along a small canyon is beautiful. The trip is done with a guide.
Ushuaia: Tierra del Fuego National Park
The particular feature of this National Park is that within its area there are long extensions of sea shores. In order to get to know it in depth, nothing better than on the back of a horse.
A small town between the plateau and the mountains in Tierra del Fuego, it is a starting point for various horse-riding excursions to different spots in the area.
Andacollo: Mt Corona
Access gate to the essence of northern Neuquén, with its stripped valleys and mountain range, with its lands devoted to low scale cattle-breeding and agriculture.
Villa Traful: The Vantage Point
One of the most spectacular views of Patagonia. Departing from Villa Traful, one can reach this vantage point on horseback, as well as on foot, by car or by bike.
Villa La Angostura: "Arrayanes" Forest
One of the most beautiful places in Patagonia. A fable-like "orange" forest. The ride is 12 kilometers long. You can there on horseback as well as on foot, by bike or by catamaran.
HORSEBACK RIDING IN CALAFATE
Calafate Adventure Travel & Tours...
Riding a horse through the different Patagonian landscapes is, without any doubt, one of the most rewarding pleasures a traveler can find in El Calafate. The itineraries and possibilities offered are varied and the journeys can be free or organized.
According to time availability, the tourist who arrives in El Calafate can choose between a short ride (lasting from one to several hours) or a longer one (taking up to five days).
Among the short routes are the tours to Redonda Bay (two hours), skirting Lake Argentino up to Del Gualicho Caves, or the tour to Nimes Lagoon. You may also go to some of the nearby peaks or the area close to Perito Moreno Glacier or El Chaltén. During the journey it is possible to enjoy a typical Patagonian "country" lunch, and even spend the night in some corner of this wonderful territory.
These shorter horse-rides also offer an excellent opportunity to watch the bird species characteristic of the area (Black-necked Swans, flamingos, ducks, seagulls, herons) and enjoy the panoramic views of El Calafate and Lake Argentino from the hills that protect them.
Other rides may take up to five days, including meals, visits to ranches and camping grounds as you ride across mountains, rivers and forests. Among the most popular ones, the ride to Lake Roca area is undoubtedly a favorite.
HORSEBACK RIDING IN PUERTO MADRYN
Madryn Adventure Travel & Tours...
No trip to Patagonia can be complete without the indescribable experience of wandering along beautiful mountain tracks, over endless plains or along the sandy beaches of the jagged coastline on horseback.
The different areas in Chubut province offer options at varied levels of difficulty in different natural scenarios.
Riding along the plains, for example is one of these options. These are the plains along the 30 kilometers or so of coastline, totally cut off from civilization, enhanced by long and beautiful sunsets.
There is a wide choice of excursion length. They can last from a few hours up to several days. In every case, horseback riding is the only way of getting from point to point.
Private organizations and clubs hire out the horses, and over the summer, circuits led by experienced tracker guides are available.
The excursions include all the vital ingredients for an unforgettable day: the eager preparations for the outing, the enjoyable ride, a fairy-tale sunset and, at the end of the trip, by the campfire, the peerless flavor of Patagonian mutton.
HORSEBACK RIDING IN SAN MARTIN DE LOS ANDES
San Martin de los Andes Adventure Travel & Tours...
Whoever arrives in this place meaning to get a closer look at nature should ride along one of the innumerable trails crisscrossing the mountainsides in the area. There are many circuits to try, some shorter for enjoying with your family, and others much longer.
There are many different options and establishments offering this type of excursion and in every one we will find specialized guides that offer programs for the whole family, whether they are beginners or expert riders.
Besides, one can penetrate the naturally wooded areas along trails and tracks, cross streams and rivers, and get to know your mount, valuing its "horse sense" when it fords a river with carefully placed steps, or trots confidently on a mountain slope.
Horse riding is definitely an activity that brings us into direct contact with nature.
It can be programmed for the whole family, beginner and expert alike. It is an option enabling one to explore the enchantment of the woods, riding along shady trails, fording rivers and streams and discovering waterfalls.
Among possible circuits are those that take up two or three hours, or those that involve a full day's travel, with a camp-style barbecue included.
For the more daring, there is a two-day horse trek, camping out in a dreamlike environment.
One of the shorter circuits is that of Laguna Rosales.
Located north of San Martín de los Andes, to get there one has to go through the inhabited forests of Roble Pellín and Radales. The visitor will ford streams and go through open forests, festooning beautiful mallines, before arriving at the lake, which is part of the Lanín National Park reserve.
Bird watching is also a popular activity, and as you return you can enjoy the spectacular view of the Chapelco Range, Los Rayos Canyon, Mt Casa de Piedra and the Trompul rock.
The silence that greets your entry in the woods is punctuated by the clip-clop of hooves and the murmuring of the river.
The time you spend sipping a mate at the end of your tour makes a good excuse to find out more about the history of this city, the cradle of Patagonian pioneering settlers.
PATAGONIAN HORSE RIDING TREKS
Pampa Los Radales
This is a two-hour circuit spent fording the Culrani river upstream, going through the woods, wading across rivers and all the while discovering the native species and natural beauties offered by San Martín de los Andes.
This is north of the city and is a three-hour circuit starting through the forests of Roble Pellín and Radales. Then you will go by watercourses and thinner woods up to the lake (part of the Lanín National Park Reserve). This is a good spot for bird watching. On your return you will have a marvelous view of Chapelco Range, De los Bazos Canyon, Mt Casa de Piedra and the Trompul rock.
It is north of San Martín de los Andes, between Lake Lácar and Lake Lolog. Experience is necessary, as the trek lasts seven hours and you spend this time negotiating slopes, woods and cane forests up to an altitude of 1,800 m.
We should also mention that on all the different circuits it is possible to hire horses. This includes Quila Quina, Lake Lolog, Hua Hum, Lakes Hermoso and Huechulafquen.
Five kilometers from the city, on the territory of the Curruhuinca Mapuche Community, you can ride up Mt Abanico to obtain a beautiful panoramic view of San Martín de los Andes and the deep Lake Lácar, with the imposing Chapelco Range as a backdrop.
Your expedition will be led by a former Mapuche lonco (chief) and a "huinca" (white scout), who will tell you the history of San Martín de los Andes and about all the changes in the traditional customs of the Mapuche community that were necessary to adapt to city life.
Once everything is ready, the quality of the riding gear you will use is thoroughly checked. Your saddle, stirrups and reins, and your horse's backcloth and leather apron will make both of you comfortable and safe enough to enjoy the experience to the full.
The horses of "Lazos Patagónicos" are docile, and used to mountain treks by tourists who want to admire the local scenery.
At the beginning you have a steady climb. The important thing here is to let the beast find a good steady pace for the ascent; the best idea is to get him in his stride so that midway he doesn't falter or stall.
The horses will start the climb on the slopes of Mt Abanico, through a leafy forest of roble pellín, raulí and cypress.
The guide will explain to us that the lichen on the trees is a local fungus species known as "Old Man's Beard" or "Devil's Beard", which is only found in unpolluted areas, and that its presence indicates pure air and abundant oxygen. Take a deep breath of this heady, life-giving fluid!
Further on, our guide will show us the "Cueva del León" (Lion's Cave). We will learn that in the winter, pumas come down the cold mountainsides searching for stray livestock and that they spend the night in this cave, using it to protect their newly-born cubs.
The trek goes on. As from about 750 meters above sea level, we will begin to notice the horses breathing heavily and slowing their pace somewhat, a sign that the altitude is beginning to affect them. After a few minutes, we will get to a lookout with a stunning view of the region. This is a unique panoramic view. The stillness and hush of our surroundings add to the magnificence of this experience, telling us that our trek was definitely worthwhile.
After spending a few minutes under the spell of this view, we continue on our way until we reach an immense meltwater waterfall known as La Cascada.
There we will dismount to do a low-difficulty mini foot-trek up to the source of the waterfall. On the way we will be accompanied by the din of water splashing from a great height onto the rocks below.
After duly recording these moments with our cameras we return to the horses, to find a succulent repast of fried cakes and mate awaiting us.
After this snack, we will start on our return journey with the memory of our sensations still fresh in our minds.
Duration: 3 hours.
From Pichi Curruhe to Lanín Volcano
Day 1: Departure from our lodgings in San Martín de los Andes to the park ranger's cabin on Lake Pichi Curruhe; at our camping ground we will enjoy a criollo barbecue and will check our gear and horses. After lunch we will trek up to the Valle de Veranadas mountain lodge; this is a lodge typically used by hunters and veranadores (summer cattle-tenders); there we will share a snack and set up camp. After that, activities include exploring the camping ground on horseback or on foot, setting up a campfire and having dinner. Later, if we wish, we can sleep out in the open, gazing at the stars.
Day 2: The following day, after breakfast and leaving for Lake Huechulafquen, we will ride through a transition area between forest and steppe, within the grounds of a private ranch, up to the area known as El Contra, a major settlement of Mapuche communities, where we can chat with the locals and buy craft products from them, such as jams, textiles, ropes or wooden crafts. We will camp and spend the night in the establishment of Martín Barriga, who settled in the area 85 years ago, on the shores of Lake Huechulafquen and near its juncture with Lake Epulafquen, facing Lanín volcano and at the foot of Mt Los Angeles.
Day 3: We leave, skirting Mt Los Angeles, on the shores of Lake Huechulafquen, admiring the southern face of Lanín Volcano with its ageless glaciers, heading towards Lake Epulafquen, where we will visit the park ranger's cabin, located in the remotest area of the National Park. We will lunch at the waterfront, and those who wish can take a dip. From there we will proceed to the volcanic lava slag "tip" of Huanquihua Volcano, resulting from its eruption 5 ½ million years ago, where we will take a short walk or enjoy a dip in thermal waters. Our horses, that were taken 8 km along Provincial Route Nº62 by gaucho baqueanos await us at the thermal springs. Here we will camp for the night by the light of a campfire.
Day 4: We leave the springs along Route 62 towards Carirriñe international pass to Chile, then after about 8 km we will branch off on the forest trails again, now closer to Chile, and surrounded by exuberant Valdivian forest and, on the west, the Lanín volcano, that will begin to show through the foliage and steadily approaches as we get to Lake Paimún, where it presents an imposing spectacle: Here we will have lunch, to continue our trip skirting the lake, where we will see the remains of a once flourishing timber industry establishment. In the evening we will arrive at the Aila family residence, where we will set up camp with the best view of Lanín volcano. Campfire, dinner, etc.
Day 5: An early rise to watch the dawn on the shores of Lake Paimún, and the sun's rays gradually lighting up the majestic Lanín volcano. After breakfast, we ride along some valleys that surround Mt Cántala heading towards the meeting point of the Paimún and the Huechulafquen, an area known as Puerto Canoa. Here, no more than 4000 m from the base of Lanín volcano, we will have our lunch to later cross by raft (the horses will swim over) the narrow neck of water joining the lakes. Here a company transport vehicle is awaiting to take us back to San Martín de los Andes.
HORSEBACK RIDING IN USHUAIA - TIERRA DEL FUEGO
Ushuaia - Tierra del Fuego Adventure Travel & Tours...
Horse-riding in Ushuaia allows tourists to discover unforgettable paradise-like places. During the tour it is common to travel from a wonderful mountain range to an impressive path that enters into a lengas wood, after having gone along the vast peat bogs.
There are several circuits of different duration. Tourists can choose to ride on their own, following a pre-determined circuit, or to make a tour, accompanied by a guide, that will enable them to get to places of highly-difficult access.
For instance, the tour to the mountain range leaves from "Haras Matilde" (a stud farm), situated 10 km to the west of the city. Tourists ride along the base of the Mt Alfa/Beta and De la Oveja Canyon; to go then through woods that were once cut down by prisoners at the beginnings of the century. After having traveled through the countryside for some time, one reaches narrow paths lined with young woods and then returns to the stable. This tour lasts three hours.
Another circuit is the "Faldeo al Monte Susana" which leaves from "Centro Hípico Fin del Mundo" (an equestrian center) and takes riders along narrow paths through lengas and coihues woods near Tierra del Fuego National Park until they reach the shore of the Beagle Channel and, once there, the return journey starts. This tour lasts two hours and is suitable for any public.
Undoubtedly, reaching Mitre Peninsula is the main attraction in this activity. This place remains in primitive conditions and allows tourists to watch shipwrecks remains that take us back to Tierra del Fuego's former times.
The equipment is driven along National Route Nº3 up to "Estancia María Luisa", 150 km from the city of Ushuaia. Here begins the tour that reaches Thetis Bay, in Mitre Peninsula, to start then the return journey. The tour lasts from 8 to 10 days and requires previous riding experience.