Horse drive Argentina. Drive horses to new pasture in Patagonia, Argentina. Spring and Autumn drives each one week long..Venture Co Worldwide Horse drive Argentina. Drive horses to new pasture in Patagonia, Argentina. Spring and Autumn drives each one week long..

Horse Drive

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Horse Drive, Argentina

The Criollo Horse Drive, Argentina

Have you ever dreamed about working alongside Patagonian gauchos on a horse drive, Argentina? Twice a year our herd of Argentinian Criollo horses is driven to fresh grazing: up to the highland pasture in the Spring, and brought back down to the more sheltered paddocks around the home farm in the Autumn.

Here are two unique opportunities to ride alongside gauchos and experience for yourself how they ride, handle the herd and camp each evening on the Pampas. In the heart of the Andes Mountains riding Argentine Criollo horses, learn to use a lasso and how to make the “sapulcai” the gaucho call that carries far across the rolling grassland.

Horse drive Argentina

In the foothills of the Andes

Summary
Duration 6 days, 5 nights, 4 days riding.
Start & end Bariloche in the heart of Patagonia’s Lake District.
Riding level: confident rider; intermediate and advanced.
Accommodation summary: hotel (2 nights); estancia (1 night) camping (2 nights).

The Spring Itinerary (October)
Taking the herd to summer grazing.

Day 1: Bariloche
We’ll meet you at Bariloche airport and drive you to the hotel in the town centre. Bariloche is surrounded by mountains and sits right on the lakeshore, a perfect spot to begin the ride. Depending on your flight time, there should be time to walk around the small town and explore the chocolate shops for which it’s famous. There’s a vibrant café culture and lots of live music in the evenings. In the last couple of years several micro-breweries have been established in town indicating that Bariloche really is a lovely place to spend time.

In the evening we’ll have a detailed briefing about the coming days and then adjourn to a nearby restaurant.

Overnight: hotel; dinner, B&B.

Day 2: drive to the estancia. Horse drive, Argentina
You’ll set off from the hotel after breakfast and drive out to the estancia Puerto Marino which is about 2 hrs out of town. Meet the horses and we’ll run through the tack and riding style that these horses are accustomed to. Riding as part of a group of horses may be new to some riders, so we’ll go through the dos and don’ts and make sure everyone is settled with their horse; there are plenty of horses to choose from, so we’re sure to be able to make a good match for you. We’ll explain how a horse drive works and what each rider is expected to do. Finally, we’ll run through the basics of using a lasso.

The first task is to gently bring the herd together, before moving them into the corral for the night, ready for the next morning.

Riding time: 4 hrs
Overnight in camp. All meals

Horse drive, Patagonia. Horse drive Argentina

Bringing the horses into Sapucai Hacienda, Patagonia

Day 3: on the trail.
This morning the herd leaves the security of the corral and sets off on the trail for the high pasture. The land here is quite dry and typical savannah land: lots of scrub plants and tough grass that the horses like to browse, but few trees. A top performing dairy farm in England would expect a stocking rate of 2 ½ to 3 ½ cows per Ha. That’s to say that one Ha will yield enough grass, hay and silage to feed 2 ½ to 3 ½ cows for the year. On the Argentine pampas the stocking rate is 0.1 or put another way, 1 cow requires 10 Ha to find enough grazing. The point is that cattle farming here is ultra-un-intensive and extensive: horses are left to their own devices for most of the time, when they’re not working.

This morning we ride through the foothills of the Andes, crossing several private estancias and across the “Altiplano” or high plateaux with panoramic views in all directions including back to Bariloche and the Lake Nahuel Huapi. Crossing these remote tracts of land, absolutely devoid of human footprints, gives an appreciation of the stark beauty of the high Pampas. We’ll see small herds of deer, including the introduced Red Deer from Scotland, with occasional condors overhead.

We’ll reach the estancia in the early evening and corral the herd. Enjoy a second evening with the gauchos around the campfire.

Riding time: 6 hrs
Overnight in camp. All meals

Day 4: reaching the summer pasture.
The goal for today is to reach the La Costa Estancia and the summer pastures. The soil type is different here and contains a higher clay content, which produces better grass. The trail leads across several shallow rivers and gullies, but nothing the horses can’t handle easily. We’ll stop for a picnic lunch on the riverbank before reaching the summer pasture. The horses will be glad to spread out across the grass and rest after their long walk. We make our way to the estancia (farmhouse) which is a traditional log cabin that sits on a flat grassy area overlooking the busy river below. All around are high mountains and Sapucai (the name of this estancia) seems to be part of the landscape, so well does it match the surroundings. It’s an unsophisticated farmhouse with eating room cum kitchen, shower-room and two bedrooms. Just across the small stream there are two tipis which provide snug and cozy sleeping for four more riders. It is a charming spot, far from the trappings of civilisation.

Riding time: 6 hrs
Overnight Sapucai. All meals

Day 5: return to Bariloche
This morning we ride out across the grassland towards Cerro Buiteras from where you get one of the most spectacular panoramas of the area. Stop for a picnic lunch on the bank of the Rio Pichileufu. Then ride across a couple of small rivers and, bizarrely, passed an ancient oil well (abandoned) which is a relic from the 19th century. We’ll reach the Zone du Nirihuau Arriba by mid-afternoon which is just 30 Km from Bariloche. This is where we say goodbye to the horses and gauchos and jump into a 4X4 for the transfer into town and the hotel.

Riding time: 5 hrs
Overnight in hotel. Breakfast and lunch.

Day 6: depart
A private vehicle will run you out to the airport in time to check-in for your flight.
End of services

Riding time: 0 hrs
Breakfast.

Join the gauchos on the grasslands of Argentina. Horse round-up Argentina

Join the gauchos on the grasslands of Argentina

The Autumn Itinerary (May)
Bringing the herd home.

Day 1: Bariloche
We’ll meet you at Bariloche airport and drive you to the hotel in the town centre. Bariloche is surrounded by mountains and sits right on the lakeshore, a perfect spot to begin the ride. Depending on your flight time, there should be time to walk around the small town and explore the chocolate shops for which it’s famous. There’s a vibrant café culture and lots of live music in the evenings. In the last couple of years several micro-breweries have been established in town indicating that Bariloche really is a lovely place to spend time.

In the evening we’ll have a detailed briefing about the coming days and then adjourn to a nearby restaurant.

Overnight: hotel; dinner, B&B.

Driving horses across one of the shallow rivers in the Andes, Patagonia

Driving horses across one of the shallow rivers in the Andes, Patagonia

Day 2: drive to the estancia.
You’ll be collected from the hotel after breakfast and driven out to the estancia La Costa which is about 45 mins out of town and is one of several family farms in this area. Meet the horses and we’ll run through the tack and riding style that these horses are accustomed to. Riding as part of a group of horses may be new to some riders, so we’ll go through the dos and don’ts and make sure everyone is settled with their horse; there are plenty of horses to choose from, so we’re sure to be able to make a good match. We’ll explain how a horse drive works and what each rider is expected to do. Finally, we’ll run through the basics of using a lasso.

Ride out across the grassland towards Cerro Buiteras from where you get one of the most spectacular panoramas of the area. Stop for a picnic lunch on the bank of the Rio Pichileufu; each rider is given a pair of saddle bags, and your picnic is carried within. Ride on across a couple of small rivers and, bizarrely, passed an ancient oil well (abandoned) which is a relic from the 19th century. We’ll reach the chalet at La Costa by late afternoon. [Tatiana, do you use Sapucai for the first 2 nights?]

Riding time: 5 hrs
Overnight estancia. All meals.

Day 3:
After breakfast we ride back to meet the gaucho who has guarded the herd overnight and ensured they remain where they were supposed to. We gentle nudge the herd into action and set off on the trail. During the day you’ll develop the feel of handling horses and encouraging them to move in the right direction; gradually you’ll become familiar with local customs and the way the gauchos work.

Return to the chalet for one last night.

Riding time: 6 hrs
Overnight estancia. All meals.

Ride criollo horses in Argentina, Patgonia

The horse respond to the lightest of touches

Day 4:
After breakfast we re-join the gauchos who have guarded the herd overnight and set off for the winter pastures. The herd moves quite slowly and at this time of the year the peaks of the mountain range that can be seen on the horizon are snowy. The trail that we follow leads through the foothills of the Andes, alongside rivers and streams and through country that rarely contains a human footprint.

Stop for a picnic lunch on the bank of the Pichileufu River. In the late afternoon we’ll reach an idyllic spot where we establish camp for the night.

Riding time: 5 hrs
Overnight camp. All meals.

Day 5: the end of the trail
The goal today is to reach the winter pastures, not far outside Bariloche. During the day we cross several family estancias and cross the plateau that gives superb panoramas in 360° including the Andes, Bariloche and Lake
Nahuel Huapi. Crossing these remote tracts of land, absolutely devoid of human footprints, gives an appreciation of the stark beauty of the high Pampas. We’ll see small herds of deer, including the introduced Red Deer from Scotland, with occasional condors overhead.

At the end of the day we’ll reach estancia Puerto Morino and the winter pasture where we leave the horses. A final meal and cup of maté with the gauchos before saying goodbye to the horses and driving back to Bariloche and the overnight hotel.

Riding time: 6 hrs
Overnight hotel. Breakfast and lunch.

Day 6: depart
A private vehicle will run you out to the airport in time to check-in for your flight.
End of services

Riding time: 0 hrs
Breakfast.

Horse ride holiday in Argentina

Criollo horse at work in Argentina

Included in the price

Saddle horse
Transfers and road travel in private vehicle
Meals as described and dinner on the first night.
Bi-lingual guides (Spanish and English)
Assistance from the team of gauchos
Accommodation: 2 nights hotel; 3 nights on the farm/camping.

How difficult is this ride?
Trails through the foothills of the Andes are very varied: in places they are flat and easy, in other places the gradient is steep and the trail can be rocky, and care is required. The days can be quite long, remember that we are a long way south and daylight can last about 20 hrs out of 24. It’s possible that Spring or Autumn weather can turn against us and snow in not unknown (though unlikely). A great deal of the time we will be walking to make the trail as easy as possible for the herd, but there are inevitably times when faster paces, including canter and gallop, will be required. The horses are very well-mannered and responsive. They also have incredible stamina.

We carry a VHF radio phone and can communicate via a satellite phone if/when required. The guides are “Wilderness First Responder” trained.