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Pampas and Andes Crossing

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Pampas and Andes Crossing

Patagonia: Pampas to Andes Crossing
8 days, 7 nights, 6 riding

This ride is the perfect introduction to riding in Patagonia. It begins in the Pampas that surrounds the town of Bariloche and progresses into the foothills of the Andes, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and glaciers. The sheer scale of the scenery will take your breath away. The creole horses are bred to this country and perform outstandingly. Overhead you’ll see condors and in the higher meadows guanacos (one of the llama family) grazing alongside red deer (introduced from Scotland in the 1850’s). Ride the untouched trails in the company of gauchos.

Pampas and Andes Crossing

Complete with rawhide headcollar! Ride authentic gauchos horses in Patagonia

Pampas and Andes Crossing

Day 1: Bariloche
Arrival at the international airport of Bariloche where a private transfer will take you to your downtown hotel. This charming city, surrounded by lakes and mountains, is located in the heart of the Patagonian Andes. Depending on your arrival time there should be enough time for a city tour to orientate yourself. Late afternoon your guide will meet the group at the hotel and give a briefing on the coming adventure.

Dinner at a traditional Argentine restaurant, well known for its steaks.

Dinner, Hotel

Pampas and Andes Crossing

The view from beautifil Bariloche where we spend the first and last night

Day 2: Bariloche to Rio Pichileufu
1st riding day (4 – 5 hours)
Transfer to the Ñirihuau area 30 km from Bariloche where there are several small family farms. The people who live here are mainly shepherds but have cattle and horses as well. There is a also a fair amount of small-scale forestry and farmers cut their own planks to build their homes from local trees.

Meet the horses, get everyone settled and set off in a SW direction. Follow the Buitreras Hills and the river La Mina which lead, bizarrely, past ancient oil rigs, now rusting away. Leave behind the last road and ride into the first valley of the Pampas heading towards the Andes.

After a box lunch, which is carried in the saddlebags, continue towards the Ñirihuau River and end the day after 5 hours riding. The tents are already assembled and in front of a comfortable camp fire. Dinner and overnight in camp.

Breakfast, Lunchbox, Dinner; camping in tents

Pampas and Andes Crossing

Ready for the morning ride. Note the sheepskin seat-saver.

Day 3: Rio Pichileufu to Alto Chubut
2nd Riding day (6 – 7 hours)
The trail begins to rise this morning, heading out across open country towards distant beech forests. The way is difficult to discern but leads steadily up to the “Paso sin Nombre” at 1,700 m asl. Leave the exposed country behind and enter an idyllic forest of ancient Southern Beech trees to discover a hidden away grassy spot, close to an old shepherd’s hut, where we make camp.

Breakfast, Lunchbox, Dinner; Camping in tents

Day 4: Alto Chubut to Veranada Miranda
3rd Riding day (5–6 hours)
Descend through the beech forest to the Chubut River that we crossed yesterday as a small stream. Here it’s a broad, babbling trout stream. There is no visible sign of human activity in this remote country. Camp on the bank of the Chubut.

Breakfast, Lunchbox, Dinner; Camping in tents

Pampas and Andes Crossing

Heading towards the snowline, Patagonia.

Day 5: Veranada Miranda to El Sapucai
4th riding day (5–6 hours)
Ride passed long-abandoned silver and gold mines. We’ll stop outside one at mid-day and hear the stories of the early goldpanners: it must have been a tough, lonely existence. Continue to “El Sapucai” the homestead of your guide. The name ‘sapucai’ is the call the cattlemen used to make as they approached home – comparable to the yodel of Switzerland. Sapucai is a cosy ranch house which always has a warm fire, hot showers and fantastic, thick duvets! Expect a warm Argentine greeting.

Breakfast, Lunchbox & Dinner; night at country ranch-house

Day 6: El Sapucai to Las Lagunas and return to El Sapucai
5th riding day (5-6 hours)
Out the back of the ranch the hill rises steeply, and you’ll be amazed how easily these creoles make their way to the top. The view just gets better and better as you gain height; the trail continues through wetlands, forest and rocky lands as you climb into the Andes. Emerge at a flatter piece of land that contains a logoon with snowy peaks all around. Return to El Sapucai by another trail passing through Ñire forests (a small beech tree) and old growth beech forests.

Breakfast, Lunchbox, Dinner; night at country ranch-house

Pampas and Andes Crossing

El Sapucai: a dream location, tucked away in the sheltered foothills of ther Andes, Patagonia

Day 7: El Sapucai to Puesto Viejo and drive back to Bariloche
6th riding day (5 – 6 hours)
The last riding day: follow the Chubut River to Puesto Viejo, zigging and zagging between small cattle farms in the Alto Chubut valley. Here, in this remote landscape, we share our last picnic with our Argentine guides and say goodbye to our horses.

Return to Bariloche (2 hrs) by road and check-in to the same hotel that we used on day 1.
Dinner and overnight in hotel.

Breakfast, Lunchbox, Dinner; Hotel

Day 8: Bariloche and departure.
After breakfast private transfer from the hotel to the airport (15 mins).

Pampas and Andes Crossing

Heading home


Pampas and Andes Crossing

Min 2 and max 8 riders

The horses
The horses are all bred on the host’s farm. The brood mares are Creole and the stallion is a Quarter Horse. The progeny is a robust riding horse ideally suited to the Patagonian terrain. They a full bodied; 15 to 16 hh with incredible stamina. All horses are trained on the estancia and introduced into the herd from birth. The tack is based on the McLellan saddle but with a sheepskin draped over the top – very comfy! Most horses wear a snaffle and are ridden one-handed.

Pampas and Andes Crossing

Big country.

Riding distance.
The average distance covered is between 25 and 30 Km per day. However, the trails are quite challenging through the pre-cordillera (‘foothills’) with ascents and descents adding to the adventure. The average time in the saddle is between 6 and 8 hours.

Challenge of this trail
Patagonia is a long way south! At the height of summer (December) the day length approaches 22 hours. Even in December there can be storms which are generally short but sharp, so you need to have suitable rain-gear with you. Paths through the Andes Mountains, the Patagonian Pampas and through the old beech forests, long-since abandoned to nature, offer a wide range of challenges, but nothing that a confident rider can’t handle. This ride isn’t suitable for a novice or nervous rider.
The weather in the Andes is always unpredictable and a sudden storm can add an element of excitement.

Food is locally sourced and almost always organic (occasional items can’t be sourced locally). We actively support local orchards and smallholdings which means menus vary with the seasons. Rainbow and Fontinalis trout are available from the streams we cross during the right season. Local lamb “Chivito al asador” with salads and wine of the region are always available. You will also have the chance to taste the famous and tender Argentinean beef in Bariloche and El Bolsón. Argentinean wine is world famous and available throughout. Drinking water comes from the many local springs which are proven pure and taste excellent. Picnic boxes are prepared each morning and each rider carries lunch in the saddlebag (sandwiches, juice, fruit, chocolate, cereal bars etc).

Included in the price.
Transfers from Bariloche airport to hotel (return)
All meals, as detailed above
Saddle horse and pack horses
Twin saddlebags for each horse
Spare horse accompany the group
Bilingual guides (English and Spanish)
Riding guides (Known as gauchos in Argentina)
Emergency VHF or satellite phone coverage
All camping equipment except sleeping bag

Accommodation summary
2 nights hotel (single supplement): £70 p/night)
2 nights Sapucai ranch house
3 nights camping (tents)

Not included
International fights
Sleeping bag