Explore the Andes on a Horseback

  • Chile - Horse Back Safari

  • Trip ID: 1292

6 Day Trip
Per Day Price Level $$$$
Per Day Budget $ 657
Per Day USD ranges:
$$$$ < $250
$$$$ $250-500
$$$$ $500-750
$$$$ $750+
  • Start at the Tagua Lake, and get acquainted with the unique Creole horses that will be your transport from here on.
  • Enjoy the outstanding landscapes and cross the Puelo River just as the locals do: by public boat while the horses swim. 
  • Ride across pioneer trails in the rural Puelo Valley, home to the huasos, bang in the middle of the Andes Mountains, and in the midst of the pristine Patagonian wilderness.
  • Discover the verdant Ventisqueros Valley, riding through serene, ancient forests and ride across the wide Ventisqueros River.
  • Experience a magical full-day ride towards "La Pasarela del Rio Puelo", particularly spectacular with its huge waterfalls and rapids. 
  • Visit the Blue Lake, Lago Azul, with its crystal clear water and abundant fish life, with majestic peaks and stunning landscapes stretching away to the horizon.
  • Ride through an unique Patagonian ‘cold jungle’, a Valdivian-type rainforest with its ancient Alerce trees.

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  • Itinerary Summary

    Day 1 : Depart from Puerto Varas

    The trip begins at your hotel (Puerto Varas, near Puerto Montt), where you will meet your tour leader and driver, load the minibus and then, start a three hours drive, crossing the Valdivian forests along the Reloncaví Fjord.
     

    Arrive at the Tagua Tagua Lake. Here, time for a great picnic lunch before crossing by ferry. Once we get off the ferry, we drive for another hour or so. At the end of the road we will meet the baqueanos and the Creole horses.
     

    Enjoy the outstanding landscapes and cross the Puelo River just as the locals do: by public boat while the horses swim. Load the packhorses and off we go!
     

    Timing: 4/5 hrs by car, 30 minutes by ferry and approximately 1.45 hrs horseback.
     

    Accommodation: Local farm.

    Meals: All

    Day 2 : Local Farm

    Today, after a homemade breakfast, we (the “baqueanos” – local horsemen) will prepare the packhorses. Around the barn we will be fixing the last details of our saddle and stirrups to adapt it to our needs and making our ride comfortable and safe. Our direction today, is into the Ventisqueros valley. We will be crossing amazing, ancient forests and self-sufficient little small holdings during the morning. Stop for lunch and relax. In the afternoon, we will ride cross the wide Ventisqueros River, we will explain how to safely cross beforehand and the baqueanos are alongside to help. The ride takes us to a remote farm, where the owner will lodge us for 2 nights.
     

    Timing: 6 to 7 hrs horseback riding.
     

    Accommodation: Remote farm

    Meals: All

    Day 3 : Local Farm

    After breakfast and packing, we will embark in a gentle ride up the valley, crossing the river once more to approach a glacier. The Valley turns wild and remote, with an incredible flora and devoid of all settlement. We will ride to the Alerce forests on this occasion. Box lunch here and then, ride back to our guest farmhouse. Later, there is a chance to walk around the area or simply relax. Another unforgettable day.
     

    Timing: 4 hrs horseback riding
     

    Accommodation: Remote farm

    Meals: All

    Day 4 : Las Bandurrias Island

    This morning we will set off on a full-day ride towards "La Pasarela del Rio Puelo", an important local hanging (suspension) bridge crucial for communication between the local inhabitants and the outside world. This area is particularly spectacular due to its huge waterfalls and rapids. Stop for a picnic lunch near the bridge. In the afternoon, guests will cross a wild, old primary forest before arriving at our cottage. We will reach “Las Rocas” Lake and sail 10 minutes to Las Bandurrias Island.
     

    Timing: 6 to 7 hrs horseback riding.
     

    Accommodation: Cozy cottage

    Meals: All

    Day 5 : Las Bandurrias Island

    Another fantastic adventure waits for us today. We will enjoy a 2 hrs ride and visit the Blue Lake "Lago Azul" with its crystal clear water and abundant fish life. Majestic peaks and stunning landscapes will not escape your attention! Picnic and relax on the shore of the lake. After lunch our ride takes us deep into the forest along the mountain slopes. We will reach the southern part of this lake passing through the typical ‘cold jungle’, Valdivian-type rainforest with its ancient Alerce trees (Fitzroya Cupresoide) as well as other local giants such as the "Coihue" and "Arrayanes" (the ‘cold tree’).
     

    After leaving the horses in a safe place we will return by boat back to the Island to enjoy the rest of the afternoon there.
     

    Timing: 5 to 6hrs horseback riding
     

    Accommodation: Cozy cottage

    Meals: All

    Day 6 : Depart

    After breakfast, say goodbye to our hostess and depart to the shore of the lake. The launch will take us to where the baqueanos and horses spent the night.  Today we will ride just half the day. Having passports at hand we will reach the Mountain Police Station, "Retén de Carabineros". This leads to the border crossing, close to the edge of the River. There are great views of the Inferior Lake. Then we will leave the horses and cross the Puelo Lake by boat into the National park after going though the Argentine border formalities. A vehicle will be waiting to take us to El Bolsón.
     

    Lunch at a great local restaurant and time for to buy some souvenirs or explore the town. Travel by minibus to San Carlos de Bariloche where the trip will end.
     

    Timing: 3 ½hrs horseback riding, 30 minutes sail on motorboat. Private bus transfer to the town of El Bolsón, 20 minutes, and two and a half more hours to the town of San Carlos de Bariloche.
     

    Meals: Breakfast And Lunch

  • Duration
    6 days
    Difficulty
    Moderate
    Primary Activities
    Horse Back Safari
    No. of travellers
    Min. 1
    Other Activities
    None
    Children Allowed
    No
  • Comfort
    Learn more
    Super luxury

    Our highest-end category of accommodation, Super Luxury is defined by top quality customer service and premium amenities. Hotels in this exclusive category include the Aman resorts, Oberoi Vilas hotels, and certain independent purveyors.

    Luxury

    Luxury Hotels meet the standards of most well-known 5-star hotel brands around the world, and include premium accommodations and amenities. In some cases our Luxury category overlaps with the "boutique" hotels, many of which are equally luxurious and accommodating.

    Boutique

    Boutique hotels are typically smaller, or independently owned hotels that offer top-end service and amenities equivalent to luxury providers. Boutique hotels often differentiate themselves from bigger hotel brands through their unique character, location, or history.

    Glamping

    Glamping (short for “glamorous camping”) and lodges denotes outdoor-focused accommodations that combine the best of nature with a designer / comfort angle in mind, so customers can get the best of both worlds.

    Camping

    Camping refers to a wide range of tented accommodation, which will most likely apply to outdoor / adventure trips like trekking, hiking, etc.

    Others

  • Price Details (per person)

    High Season Jan to Mar $ 3,940 $ 657 per day
    High Season Nov to Dec $ 3,940 $ 657 per day

    * All Prices are per person based on double occupancy. Some savings may be available for larger groups.

Cost Includes
  • 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 the private Bandurrias island
  • Local horsemen (guides & helpers)
  • Tour leader (Spanish, French & English spoken)
  • VHF radio communication equipment
Cost Excludes
  • Anything not mentioned in the programme from day 1 to day 6
  • Transfer and lodging the day before day 1 of  the itinerary, nor the last night at Bariloche (day 6).  Please let us know if we can help you to organise these services (hotels, airport transfers, hikes, Santiago/Buneos Aires services- city tours etc…)
  • Tips for guide and team (discretionary)
  • In case of emergency, evacuation –for example, if a helicopter is needed, is not included (appropriate  medical insurance mandatory, we are in a remote area. Radio contact during most of the ride, first aid  kits carried)
Day 1 : Depart from Puerto Varas

The trip begins at your hotel (Puerto Varas, near Puerto Montt), where you will meet your tour leader and driver, load the minibus and then, start a three hours drive, crossing the Valdivian forests along the Reloncaví Fjord.
 

Arrive at the Tagua Tagua Lake. Here, time for a great picnic lunch before crossing by ferry. Once we get off the ferry, we drive for another hour or so. At the end of the road we will meet the baqueanos and the Creole horses.
 

Enjoy the outstanding landscapes and cross the Puelo River just as the locals do: by public boat while the horses swim. Load the packhorses and off we go!
 

Timing: 4/5 hrs by car, 30 minutes by ferry and approximately 1.45 hrs horseback.
 

Accommodation: Local farm.

Meals: All

Day 2 : Local Farm

Today, after a homemade breakfast, we (the “baqueanos” – local horsemen) will prepare the packhorses. Around the barn we will be fixing the last details of our saddle and stirrups to adapt it to our needs and making our ride comfortable and safe. Our direction today, is into the Ventisqueros valley. We will be crossing amazing, ancient forests and self-sufficient little small holdings during the morning. Stop for lunch and relax. In the afternoon, we will ride cross the wide Ventisqueros River, we will explain how to safely cross beforehand and the baqueanos are alongside to help. The ride takes us to a remote farm, where the owner will lodge us for 2 nights.
 

Timing: 6 to 7 hrs horseback riding.
 

Accommodation: Remote farm

Meals: All

Day 3 : Local Farm

After breakfast and packing, we will embark in a gentle ride up the valley, crossing the river once more to approach a glacier. The Valley turns wild and remote, with an incredible flora and devoid of all settlement. We will ride to the Alerce forests on this occasion. Box lunch here and then, ride back to our guest farmhouse. Later, there is a chance to walk around the area or simply relax. Another unforgettable day.
 

Timing: 4 hrs horseback riding
 

Accommodation: Remote farm

Meals: All

Day 4 : Las Bandurrias Island

This morning we will set off on a full-day ride towards "La Pasarela del Rio Puelo", an important local hanging (suspension) bridge crucial for communication between the local inhabitants and the outside world. This area is particularly spectacular due to its huge waterfalls and rapids. Stop for a picnic lunch near the bridge. In the afternoon, guests will cross a wild, old primary forest before arriving at our cottage. We will reach “Las Rocas” Lake and sail 10 minutes to Las Bandurrias Island.
 

Timing: 6 to 7 hrs horseback riding.
 

Accommodation: Cozy cottage

Meals: All

Day 5 : Las Bandurrias Island

Another fantastic adventure waits for us today. We will enjoy a 2 hrs ride and visit the Blue Lake "Lago Azul" with its crystal clear water and abundant fish life. Majestic peaks and stunning landscapes will not escape your attention! Picnic and relax on the shore of the lake. After lunch our ride takes us deep into the forest along the mountain slopes. We will reach the southern part of this lake passing through the typical ‘cold jungle’, Valdivian-type rainforest with its ancient Alerce trees (Fitzroya Cupresoide) as well as other local giants such as the "Coihue" and "Arrayanes" (the ‘cold tree’).
 

After leaving the horses in a safe place we will return by boat back to the Island to enjoy the rest of the afternoon there.
 

Timing: 5 to 6hrs horseback riding
 

Accommodation: Cozy cottage

Meals: All

Day 6 : Depart

After breakfast, say goodbye to our hostess and depart to the shore of the lake. The launch will take us to where the baqueanos and horses spent the night.  Today we will ride just half the day. Having passports at hand we will reach the Mountain Police Station, "Retén de Carabineros". This leads to the border crossing, close to the edge of the River. There are great views of the Inferior Lake. Then we will leave the horses and cross the Puelo Lake by boat into the National park after going though the Argentine border formalities. A vehicle will be waiting to take us to El Bolsón.
 

Lunch at a great local restaurant and time for to buy some souvenirs or explore the town. Travel by minibus to San Carlos de Bariloche where the trip will end.
 

Timing: 3 ½hrs horseback riding, 30 minutes sail on motorboat. Private bus transfer to the town of El Bolsón, 20 minutes, and two and a half more hours to the town of San Carlos de Bariloche.
 

Meals: Breakfast and lunch

Cost of the entire itinerary

High Season Jan to Mar $ 3,940 $ 657 per day
High Season Nov to Dec $ 3,940 $ 657 per day
Months not available Apr to Oct
Cost Includes
  • 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 the private Bandurrias island
  • Local horsemen (guides & helpers)
  • Tour leader (Spanish, French & English spoken)
  • VHF radio communication equipment
Cost Excludes
  • Anything not mentioned in the programme from day 1 to day 6
  • Transfer and lodging the day before day 1 of  the itinerary, nor the last night at Bariloche (day 6).  Please let us know if we can help you to organise these services (hotels, airport transfers, hikes, Santiago/Buneos Aires services- city tours etc…)
  • Tips for guide and team (discretionary)
  • In case of emergency, evacuation –for example, if a helicopter is needed, is not included (appropriate  medical insurance mandatory, we are in a remote area. Radio contact during most of the ride, first aid  kits carried)
Climate

Please remember that the temperatures in the mountains can fluctuate a great deal and it might be cold (down to freezing) in the early mornings and in the evenings, 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, remembering that several thin layers are warmer than one thick one. Silk or thin thermal underwear (or a close fitting polo neck jumper / long sleeved T shirt and leggings) is a good idea if you feel the cold and is useful for sleeping in. Please also remember to take a good waterproof and that space for luggage on the ride will be strictly limited - please only bring essentials!

Visas, Travel Documents and Special Permits

A valid passport document with visas for both Argentina and Chile is required. Check the current advice for nationals of your country on the embassy websites.

Immunizations / Medical Requirements

No special vaccinations are required for this area of South America. Clients with special medication should bring enough for the trip. It is advisable to carry your own personal first aid kit. No pharmacies after day 1. There are a lot of bees & wasps in the area, the area is remote, evacuation is not easy therefore this trip is not advisable for anyone with a severe allergy to bee/wasp stings.

Recommended Packing List

You may need:

  • Jodhpurs OR full length leather chaps trousers underneath OR comfortable jeans or trousers preferably with leather half chaps
  •  Long sleeved shirts for sun protection, t shirts (useful if it is hot and to wear as layers for changing temperatures)
  •  Comfortable riding shoes / boots - these should be suitable & safe for both walking & riding - an ankle length jodhpur or 'Timberland' style (if not too wide) boot is ideal, worn with half chaps for riding; boots should have soles with good grip as there will be several occasions where you dismount to lead the horses - smooth soled riding boots are not advisable; remember also that it can be hot so long rubber boots are not ideal)
  • Warm windproof fleece and / or jumper particularly for evenings around the campfire, good waterproof jacket - the weather in the Andes is unpredictable and varied, and you should be prepared. Whilst the Argentine side of the range is semi-desert, the Chilean side is a rainforest.
  • Waterproof trousers, wide brimmed hat (which stays on - make sure it has a string!) or hard hat if preferred
  • Sunglasses with string to attach around your neck (wrap-around for contact lens wearers), sun block / high factor sun cream (the sun is very strong), lip protection 
  • Riding gloves if required, small day pack / money belt / bum bag / cotton photographer’s waistcoat, scarf / bandana (it can be dusty), socks and underwear

NB Two full changes of clothes are usually enough.

 

For afternoon /evening/ night

  • Shorts / cotton trousers
  • Change of shoes / gym shoes / deck shoes
  • Swimming costume & towel (sandals / plastic shoes for bathing in rivers / lakes)
  • Warm wind proof fleece / Jumper

 

Other items

  • Plastic bags for organising / packing clothes / sun creams etc.
  • Good insect repellent
  • Tissues / ‘Wet-Ones’ or similar travel wipes
  • Small alarm clock
  • Camera, film and spare battery / memory card
  • Binoculars can be useful
  • Washing kit (bio-degradable soap/ shampoo etc), personal medicines****, contact lenses etc. if  required
  • Torch (head torches are ideal when camping)
  • Books / reading / writing material
  • Spanish dictionary / phrasebook
  • Basic first aid kit for personal use
  • Microfiber towel

 

Notes:

 

If you ride in jeans or loose trousers, we suggest you also wear knee length half chaps (or long chaps) to stop rubbing and for protection when riding through bamboo and bush.

 

We strongly advise that all clients bring and wear a riding helmet for their own protection (these are not supplied and you will need to bring your own).

 

Saddlebags are provided but are not waterproof. You are requested to bring plastic bags (such as bin bags or dry bags available at camping and sailing shops) to protect your belongings in your saddlebags in case of persistent rain. Sometimes extracting small items from a saddlebag ‘on the go’ can be difficult and it can be useful to have something more easily accessible in which to carry personal items such as sun cream, sunglasses, small cameras etc. You can use a small daypack, ‘bum bag/fanny pack’ or money belt but may find a cotton photographer’ waistcoat a useful and more comfortable alternative.

 

If you plan to carry any medicines that are not easily recognisable or are available only on prescription, it is wise to take a letter / prescription from your doctor confirming what they are. This is also important if you plan to carry homeopathic medicines / tablets which may not be commonly recognised - to avoid any potential problems taking these through customs you should check requirements with the relevant consulate before you travel.  You will need your own water bottle for the ride - two half-litre bottles generally work better than one larger one as they fit more easily into pockets etc. Water is from local supplies and streams, rivers etc. It is clean (very close to the source) and perfectly safe to drink - but if you are nervous about drinking the water you should take your own purification tablets, as bottled water is not available.

 

The day before the ride, your guide will visit you at 6 p.m at your lodge to give you a briefing and explain you how the next days will be. He will bring you a waterproof bag and will ask you to separate luggage for the first day from your main luggage. Please check the packing and clothing list for choosing the luggage you will separate for the first 3 nights. The main luggage will go with you but will continue direct to Isla Las Bandurrias.  You will meet it in the 4th night. The guide will also give you some saddlebags so you can fill them like a daily pack. Please pack luggage in a soft ‘hold all’ or roll - a good quality duffel bag with strong zips (waterproof ideally) will be best. Hard suitcases cannot be carried by packhorses and rucksacks with frames are not ideal. Your bags will be packed into protecting sacks / bags that make up the pack. There is a weight limit of 10kg for the separate luggage you will take for the first 3 nights. It is possible to do laundry if you are staying in any one place more than one night.

Meals provided

The food on the trip will be a mix of a special blend of flavours and ingredients consisting of an ethnic variety but mostly Creole-Chilean cuisine. A traditional wood stove gives a special flavour 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 that you can buy at a very good price.

Other useful tips

Riding Difficulty

 

The trip is an exciting but not demanding one, although some days will be longer than others when we have to cover a particular distance. Some days, lot 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 adventure 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 - but there are few opportunities, we trot in the forest, the ride is generally a relaxing, steady pace.

 

Guides

 

We believe that tour leaders and host/hostess are the key for a successful and memorable trip; we use only experienced guides with great knowledge of the area. They hold a certificate in WFR (wilderness first responder) and highly passionate about the Puelo Valley. Guides are trained to offer all the help and assistance to ensure the trip runs smoothly.

 

Local horsemen (“Huaso” guides or “baqueanos") will always be there to help and look after you and your horses. They are a great support for the whole group and well attuned to the regional climate. They have an uncanny sense of predicting weather!

 

Flight Connections

 

Daily flights from Santiago international airport to Puerto Montt (Chile) and Buenos Aires to Bariloche (then cross the Andes on a very easy/safe bus route to Puerto Varas to start the ride (we can help with these logistics).

 

Important Notes 

 

See health section above regarding wasps & bees. In January, horse flies 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. You can review with us any points that will affect your travel plans – for example where the trip starts or whether it includes a Pre-Trip Option or Post-Trip Extension.

 

Chilean Creole Horse & Tack

 

The horses are of the Chilean Creole breed and are very gentle, strong and tame. They have a firm step, are in good health and well trained for the Andean terrain. Saddles are the same as the ones traditionally used in the region by locals, completed with a sheepskin cover. They are really comfortable and excellent for long distance riding.

 

Tipping

 

In South America it is customary to tip if you feel that the services given were great. This is common in restaurants (10% of the bill), to hotel and airport porters, hotel staff, etc. This tip is not the salary of the services providers. It is a gift that shows your gratitude to them for all of those services they give you in a very special way.

Operator ID

3898

Operator Profile

Over 20 years and counting in the business, this British-owned outfit meshes a deep-rooted passion for horse riding with the less-traveled routes of the truly spectacular Andean landscape. All levels of riding ability are catered to, with superbly trained thoroughbred horses to match your personality, and all of this supervised every inch of the way by a highly skilled, efficient and friendly staff of horsemen, guides and top-notch cooks.

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Explore the Andes on a Horseback