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Argentina and Chile - Grande Traversée
An adventurous ride which begins near the ski town of Bariloche in Argentina, travel 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 you get a feeling for how tough their life must have been. Leave behind your Argentina horse, cross the border into Chile by boat across 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, 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 four hours in the morning and up to four hours in the afternoon.
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, sure-footed, strong and well-suited to 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.
There are occasional opportunities to canter on open ground, particularly on the Argentinian side or to trot through the shady forests. But the terrain and the fact you have pack-horses with you dictates that much of the ride is at a walk.
The accommodation varies from hotels and local guesthouses, to basic camping.
On the first and last nights you stay in hotel accommodation in Bariloche and Puerto Varas, where it is possible to request and pay extra for single accommodation. But you must be prepared to share for the rest of the trip.
Your first night is in hotel accommodation in Bariloche.
Then follows two nights of basic camping, when the facilities are simple – washing in cold water or a river and leaving the wilderness as clean as you find it.
For the next two nights you stay at the remote mountain refuge of El Sapucai in two tepees (3 beds per tepee) or in guest rooms in the main house, with shared bathroom facilities.
The sixth night is spent in B&B accommodation at Lago Puelo, with dinner in a local restaurant.
Nights seven and eight at 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 and from the sundeck there a 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 opportunity to experience their way of life. These rustic houses offer basic accommodation in twin, triple or dorm rooms (made up beds on mattresses) with shared bathrooms and shower facilities.
Your final night is in hotel accommodation in Puerto Varas.
The scheduled dates are set out below. Additional dates may be possible for private groups, so please enquire.
INCLUDES Accommodation; meals; drinks (except in Bariloche, Lago Puelo and Puerto Varas); wine with dinner during the ride; horses; guides; transfers; ferry crossing; camping equipment.
SMALL GROUP SUPPLEMENTS apply which depend on the total number of people booked:
2 riders in group: £1,612.57
3 riders in group: £1,351.48
4-6 riders in group: £468.41
There is a supplement of £161.26 for riders weighing over 90kg so you can be provided with a second horse.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT It is not possible to guarantee single accommodation on the ride so you must be prepared to share. It is possible to request a single room in the hotels in Bariloche & Puerto Varas (2 nights total) at an extra £93.85.
PAYABLE LOCALLY Drinks in Bariloche, Lago Puelo 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.
Argentine and Chilean Patagonia.
The weather is changeable. Warm clothing and good rain gear is essential. On the Argentine side, it will hopefully be dry 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 a little 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.
The scenery in this part of Chile and Argentina is spectacular so this ride is a must for lovers of mountains, crystal clear rivers and lakes.
Plan to wear layers; there is a big difference between the day time and night time temperatures.