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An adventurous ride which begins near the ski town of Bariloche in Argentina. Travel on horseback to the south and west, and finish at Llanquihue Lake near Puerto Varas in Chile.
In Argentina you ford rivers and climb mountain passes as you ascend ever higher into the Andes.
Early settlers came to this area to find gold, others to establish estancias, and so you get a feeling for how tough their life must have been.
Leave behind your Argentinean horse and cross the border into Chile by boat over the waters of Lago Puelo.
Meet a new set of horses in Chile and set off across a greener landscape, with dense forests. There are some exciting river crossings, where the riders travel by boat and the horses swim alongside.
The ride continues for six days in Chile as far as Tagua Tagua Lake, which is famous for its floating islands of vegetation.
You should be a competent rider, confident enough to try out a different style of riding and fit enough for long days in the saddle.
On the longest days you could ride for up to seven hours in total.
You ride two sets of horses – one set in Argentina and another after you cross the border into Chile.
The horses are Argentine and Chilean Criollos. They are sure-footed and strong, so perfectly suited to negotiating the terrain.
There are lots of river crossings as well as some steep climbs and descents – all of which can be more demanding if the weather is unkind.
The terrain and the fact you have pack-horses with you dictates that much of the ride is at a walk.
The bridles are made from rawhide or leather, with curb bits. You ride in saddles with simple frames, with layers of sheepskin laid over the top.
The accommodation varies from hotels and local guesthouses, to basic camping.
On the first and last nights you stay at hotel accommodation in Bariloche and Puerto Varas, where it is possible to pay extra for single accommodation. But you must be prepared to share for the rest of the trip.
Your first night is at a comfortable hotel in Bariloche.
Nights two and four are basic camping, so the facilities are simple – washing in cold water or a river and leaving the wilderness as clean as you find it.
The third night is spent at a mountain cabin, which is located on the edge of a beech forest.
For the next two nights you stay at the remote mountain refuge of El Sapucai in two tepees (three beds per tepee) or in guest rooms in the main house, with shared bathroom facilities.
The following two nights are spent on the private island of Las Bandurrias, where there is a main house and a wooden cabaña for guests. The house is surrounded by a beautiful flower garden. From the sundeck, there are stunning views of Lake Las Rocas and the surrounding peaks.
For the following four nights, you are invited into the homes of local people for a unique insight into their way of life. These rustic houses offer accommodation in twin, triple or dorm rooms (made up beds), with shared bathrooms and shower facilities. The homestays may be basic, but are often the most memorable overnight stops of the whole trip, because your hosts are so generous and warm.
Your final night is in hotel accommodation in Puerto Varas.
It is not currently possible to run this ride as the land border between Argentina and Chile is closed. If the Grande Traversée cannot run at all this season, then we hope the border will be open again in time for the 2023-2024 season.
INCLUDES Accommodation; meals; drinks (except in Bariloche and Puerto Varas); wine with dinner during the ride; horses; guides; transfers; ferry crossing; camping equipment.
There is a supplement of $290.00 for riders weighing over 90kg so you can be provided with a second horse.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT It is not possible to guarantee single accommodation during the trail, so you must be prepared to share. It is possible to request a single room at the hotels in Bariloche & Puerto Varas (2 nights total) at an extra $122.22.
PAYABLE LOCALLY Drinks in Bariloche and Puerto Varas; tips.
NEAREST AIRPORT San Carlos de Bariloche is the arrival airport; Puerto Montt is the departure airport.
TRANSFERS Included from San Carlos de Bariloche and to Puerto Montt at set times.
The collection point is Bariloche airport in Argentina and at the end of the ride you are dropped off at Puerto Montt airport in Chile.
It will depend on your plans before and after the ride, but the usual route is to fly to Bariloche via Buenos Aires. Ordinarily flights would go from Puerto Montt via Santiago on the way home. There are various airlines that fly this route including LATAM, Iberia and Air France.
On arrival day your flight should reach Bariloche by mid-afternoon or before so as to allow time to be transferred from the airport and check-in to your hotel before the ride briefing, scheduled for 18:00. There are two collections from Bariloche airport, one at 13:00 and one at 16:00.
At the end of the trip there are two transfers from Puerto Varas, one departing at 09:00 and arriving at Puerto Montt around 10:00. Then a later one departing at 12:00 midday, arriving at Puerto Montt around 13:00.
If your flights arrive or depart outside of the transfer times outlined above, then we can arrange private transfers for you (at extra cost).
You may want to consider arriving in Argentina a day or so before the start of the ride so as to relax and recover from the long journey before commencing your ride. If you plan to arrive a day or so in advance of your trip, then your flight can arrive at any time.
Argentine and Chilean Patagonia.
The weather is changeable, so warm clothing and good rain gear is essential.
On the Argentine side, it will hopefully be dry and could be hot (up to the high 20's or even low 30's °C). You could burn easily and so we recommend a high factor sun-screen. At night, there could easily be a frost on the ground. It can also be very windy!
The Chilean side is likely to be wetter, so you should be prepared for this. It should also be warmer at night.
The riding met my expectations - I knew in advance the terrain resulted in limited chances for faster riding but this was more than compensated for by the variety of landscape throughout, friendly people and lovely horses.
Jacqui ,SurreyOverall rating: 5/5
The scenery in this part of Chile and Argentina is spectacular. This ride is a must for lovers of mountains, rivers and lakes.
Plan to wear layers; there is a big difference between the day time and night time temperatures.