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Plateaux and Canyons of Rio Grande do Sul

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Plateaux and Canyons of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

7 days; 5 days riding; 6 nights.

A 7-day exploration on horseback of the stunning canyons and high plateaux of the Aparados da Serra Mountains, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state.

Brazil is a huge country and remarkably varied: inland lies the Amazon rainforest with pristine sand dunes lining the Atlantic coast; mighty Iguaçu Falls and the wetlands of the Pantanal; sophisticated Rio and the remote savannah of the Deep South. The landscapes are diverse and as beautiful as a film’s backdrop.

The state of Rio Grande do Sul is Brazil’s best-kept secret: it’s seldom visited and tricky to get to, but once you’re there it’s absolutely glorious. Flat-topped mountains divided from one another by a network of deep, hidden-away canyons which are every bit as impressive as their more famous counterparts in North America, or the Colca Canyon in Peru. The lower slopes are forested, the uplands open grassland, perfect for a forward-going horse with rider to match.

Looking out across the canyons, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Looking out across the canyons, Rio Grande do Sul

Day 1: Getting there

The overnight flight goes via Sao Paulo, where you will need to change planes. The flights are not included, but Venture Co is ATOL bonded and can make all necessary arrangements.

Day 2: Reaching the ranch

We’ll meet you upon arrival in Porto Alegre (don’t worry! No-one’s ever heard of this place, but it’s actually a very pleasant little market town) and drive you nearly 200 Km due north into the heart of the National Park, to the ranch, or “fazenda” which is the Portuguese word for farmhouse (Spanish “hacienda”). This is a working cattle farm and we’ll be spending each night in a fazenda.

The drive takes about five-and-a-half hrs and the countryside becomes ever more remote and beautiful as the miles go by; stunning scenery complete with glimpses of a very traditional way of ranching. Our destination is São José dos Ausentes and our first fazenda. Time to draw breath and relax; wander around the farmyard and cast an appraising eye over the horses in the corral. Dinner this evening is served in the farmhouse and we’ll hold a briefing on the ride, the region, the gaucho culture and most importantly, the horses and tack.

Canyons Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

You can see all the way in to Uruguay

Day 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7: Exploring the canyons and high plateaux

After breakfast we’ll walk over to the corral and you’ll meet your horse. We ask you to complete a form during the booking process that describes your riding likes and dislikes, and last night, over dinner, you will have discussed with your host and guide, Paulo, the kind of horse you prefer. From this information he will match horse and rider, and he generally gets it right first time! We’ll leave the yard around 09:00 and head off into the mountains. There aren’t really any set trails here, you go where you wish, enjoying the freedom and open area.

We ride for about 4 ½ hrs in the morning and 2 ½ hrs in the afternoon, with a generous siesta in between. Lunch is sometimes a picnic which we carry in saddle backs (supplied) and on other days we’ll call in at a fazenda for a cooked lunch – it all depends on the route and the weather, so a degree of flexibility is taken as read for this trail ride.

Some days we’ll ride a loop trail and return to the same fazenda, other days we’ll ride a progressive trail leading through open fields, rolling hills, Araucaria forest and along the edge of one of the canyons. There will also be valley crossings with steep ascents/descents and three rivers to ford. We
average 30 to 35km per day (6 to 7 hrs in the saddle). No two rides are precisely the same and they vary with the season and prevailing weather conditions, but the scenery is always stunning! Check out the pic’s:

Day 8: heading home

After breakfast we retrace our steps to Porto Alegre (5h30 driving).

Canyons & clouds, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Canyons & clouds

Note for riders

On-the-spot changes to the route can occur due to unforeseen circumstances, as is the case with all our rides around the world. And just like all our rides in Latin America, this is a sporty and adventurous holiday!

Horse riding holiday Brazil

Approaching the plateaux; fording one of several rivers

The Horses.

The “Criollo” horse is legendary! The breed in Chile has a separate stud book to the breeds in Argentina and Brazil. A Latin American breeder is able to tell t’other-from-which, but to my eye they look and ride remarkably similarly. They are an intelligent breed with outstanding stamina; they’re fast and agile and a joy to ride. All the horses in the herd are geldings 1.4 to 1.5 m. If you are dreaming of a unique equestrian experience and a thoroughly authentic riding holiday, well, this is it!

The tack

The foundation is a combination of robust numners; an endurance saddle comes next and the cinch goes around the entire ensemble. On top of this is a sheepskin and a second cinch secures the whole thing firmly in place. Amazingly comfy for both horse and rider! The bit is a snaffle and some horses go better with levers. The riding style is ‘Western’ and the reins are held in one hand. Creoles go well off your leg and there’s no need to use the reins much as at.


$250 per day x 5 days = $1,250 per person
Twin share accommodation
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included from dinner on day 2 to breakfast on day 8.
Airport transfers $xxx

BEVERAGES AND SNACKS: can you supply a snack each evening before dinner? Nothing fancy, just crisps or olives – something like that? Drinks: can each person sign for what they drink (beer, wine, gin – I think that is all that required, plus local spirits) and we will settle the bar bill in cash at the end of the ride, at dinner on day 7.

Horse riding holiday Brazil

I spy the group