Type of horses:
Criollo and Criollo crosses
Nature of horses:
Sure footed, responsive and well mannered.
Height of horses:
110kg / 242 lbs
Traditional gaucho tack - simple saddles with sheepskins over the top, and rawhide bridles.
Imagine a huge Canyon covered in lush vegetation, cascading waterfalls and thriving biodiversity. Nestled along the southern Atlantic coasts of Rio Grande do Sul, is 28,000 hectares of conservation area and National Parks which are home to Brazil's most expansive canyons. The area is comprised of two parks; Aparados da Serra and Serra Geral.
You will ride along these steep mountains and canyons, sometimes in sight of the Atlantic coastline, whilst staying in authentic fazenda accommodations. Eat typical home cooked meals and ride with Gaucho guides and their intelligent Criollo horses which have plenty of stamina and agility. Staying on these traditional ranches allows you to discover the typical southern Brazilian gaucho culture, including some of the region’s famous culinary delights, like the Gaucho barbecue.
Gauchos are the cowboys of the South American pampas and are found in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil. The Criollo is the traditional Gaucho horse in all of these countries, although each country has their own slightly different variations within the breed. The Criollo horse is as legendary as his rider and they make a formidable combination in the environment where they live. The gaucho way of life is one of the liveliest equestrian cultures in the world.
You stay in local fazendas (ranches) where you experience traditional gaucho life. Some are run as small hotels whereas others are family-run.
You spend two nights at Pousada Fazenda Monte Negro (http://www.fazendamontenegro.com.br/)
One night at Potreirinho (http://www.fazendapotreirinhos.com.br/)
Two nights at Fazenda Sao Goncalo (http://www.flordeacucena.com.br/)
One night at Pousada Fazenda Baio Ruano
Please note that depending on availability it may be necessary to change some of the accommodation to that of a similar standard.
Traditional gaucho meals will be served which are hearty and filling for a day in the saddle. There are usually some good meaty stews with rice, and at least one gaucho barbecue, where large strips of meat or racks of ribs are cooked over an open fire.
The local drink of cachaca liquor will be served on most nights, and local beers are available with meals. Some of the fazendas also have bars where you buy additional drinks.
This ride is not suitable for non-riders. The gaucho culture is strong in this area and it will be presumed that everyone was born on a horse and wishes to spend all their time riding!
Languages: English, Portuguese
Health requirements: General good health and fitness as you are riding at heights over 1,000m. You should also not be afraid of heights or suffer from vertigo.
Age limit: 8 years or older
Included: Accommodation; airport transfers; meals; pre-dinner drink (typically cachaca liquor); soft drinks, beer or water with meals; riding
Not included: Flights; insurance; drinks outside of meals
There are no direct flights from the UK to Porto Alegre and so you will transfer through another hub city - most likely Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. Some flights will also have a second stop over in Europe, so you may fly from the UK to Madrid, then onto Rio de Janeiro and then to Porto Alegre. However, there are flights with just one stop - LATAM and British Airways both offer routes from London Heathrow to Rio de Janeiro and onwards to Porto Alegre.
On arrival at Porto Alegre, you are transferred to your accommodation. There is no riding scheduled on the arrival or departure days to allow some flexibility in flight timings, but bear in mind that your road transfer time is c. 3-4 hours and so late arrivals and early departures should be avoided.
Airport: Porto Alegre
Explore on horseback, the canyons and waterfalls of this dramatic and beautiful corner of Brazil where gaucho traditions are strong. Ride local Criollo horses across open fields and through rainforests, whilst discovering vast steep canyons and glistening rivers and waterfalls. Return each night to comfortable fazendas and meet the families of your gaucho guides.
You will be met on arrival at Porto Alegre airport and transferred c. 4-5 hours to the ranch, which is situated at 1,400m and one of the highest points within the state of Rio Grande do Sul. You will be welcomed with a local drink made from cachaca liquor and fruits whilst being introduced to the gauchos who will guide you during the week. After dinner with the group, migrate to the bar and listen to the gauchos singing and playing accordion. Overnight at Pousada Fazenda Monte Negro.
After breakfast you will be introduced to your horse and will set off riding to the peak of Monte Negro - at 1,403m high, this is the highest point of the ride and offers great views across the majestic landscapes. Return to the ranch for lunch.
After a short siesta, set out riding again along the cliffs, canyons and fields. This whole area was formed by intense volcanic activity millions of years ago. Successive lava eruptions created the landscape which is now covered by clean fields, forest of araucaria's and countless crystalline rivers. There are many canyons throughout the region - some are very impressive with enormous rocky cliffs amongst sloping foothills and they offer an element of surprise and fascination as you come upon them. The sharp vertical hillsides are composed of basalt and their many colours are caused by lichens, herbs, small bushes and other vegetation which clings to the nude rock.
Return to Pousada Fazenda Monte Negro for dinner and to overnight.
After breakfast, re-join your horse and start riding on high altitude trails towards Potreirinho - a typical fazenda beside a beautiful river. During the ride you will ascend and descend many hills which offer fantastic panoramic views across the whole area. There are many opportunities for trots and canters before stopping for a picnic lunch under a tree beside a waterfall.
After a restful nap, re-mount and continue riding along an old tropeiro route. Over 200yrs ago, the Troopers (tropeiro) moved thousands of cattle and mules between Rio Grande do Sul and Sao Paulo. The route covers many hundreds of kilometres across the southern states and was surrounded by stone walls which had been built by slaves.
After passing a small village you reach a wide river which you will cross in order to reach Potreirinho. This typical ranch has a warm atmosphere and Nilda, the owner, is a well-known cook who will serve a delicious meal to the group, along with more traditional cachaca liquor. Overnight at Potreirinho.
Today's ride takes you to Cachoeirao (Big Waterfall) which is the biggest waterfall you will see on this trail. After a photo stop you continue riding on trails through beautiful and biodiverse forests. Some slopes will invite you to canter too. After around 6 hours of riding you will reach the fazenda belonging to your gaucho guide Eliseu. His family will prepare a late lunch for you where you can sample a famous cheese that they produce. This gaucho family have lived and worked in this same way for over 100 years and the family, horses and cattle all live together in a way that is difficult to imagine in Europe.
After saying goodbye to Eliseu and your horses, you are transferred c. 1.5hrs by car to Fazenda Sao Goncalo where you will spend the night. This traditional cattle fazenda will have a delicious gaucho barbecue waiting for you over the fire.
After breakfast you meet your new horses and ride out to see more canyons and cliffs, known to the locals as "the peirais of the Aparados". The Mata Atlantica runs along the lower portion of the canyons whilst fields are spread across the plateaus, interspersed with damp areas which contain peat bogs rich in moss, lichen and bamboo. Vegetation such as ferns, lilies and bromeliads sprout from the slopes and the curious "Bigsting Nettle" which has enormous leaves up to 1.5m attaches itself to rocks.
After a lovely canter on your new horse you arrive at Cachoeira das 7 mulheres (Waterfall of 7 women) which was named after being the filming site for a TV series. There is an opportunity to swim in the pool of the waterfall before riding back to the fazenda for lunch. Your new gaucho guide, Alencar, is a cattle rancher with much experience and over the next few days you will have the chance to see how real gauchos go about their daily work.
In the afternoon you may see the mysterious fogs, called "viracao" by the locals, drift in. Your afternoon ride passes Araucaria trees and crosses a few pristine rivers before heading back to the fazenda for dinner.
After breakfast you are transferred c. 30mins to where your horses are waiting for you. Set off riding across canyons, fields and forests. Today you will see many waterfalls and have a picnic lunch on the banks of a river whilst the horses rest in the shade of the nearby forest. After lunch, continue riding through this area of outstanding beauty which is typical of Campos de Cima da Serra. The Atlantic rainforest in the lower parts of the canyons, fields stretching across the plateaus, and ferns, lilies and bromeliads sprouting on the rich slopes. As you are riding through land within your gaucho guide Alencar's neighbourhood you may have the chance to help local gauchos with rounding up their cattle.
Eventually you arrive back at Alencar's ranch where you say goodbye to your horses and are transferred c. 45mins to Pousada Fazenda Baio Ruano. Your special farewell dinner is taken in a typical restaurant within the small village of Cambara do Sul.
Depart after breakfast for the airport (c. 3 hours).
Please note that the itinerary may vary depending on local conditions such as the weather, but always with your best interests at heart.
|Minimum group size:||2|
|Maximum group size:||10|
|Ability description:||Intermediate to experienced riders. There are opportunities for trots and canters so you should be happy in all paces. There are also some steep ascents and descents.|
|Type of ride:||Trail ride|
|Total riding time:||6 nights / 5 days riding (5-6 hours riding each day)|
6-12 March (Confirmed with no small group supplement), 3-9 May, 21-27 October
Other dates possible from March to June and from August to November - please enquire.
Prices vary depending on the number of riders confirmed in the group and we will advise you of this when you book and update you nearer your departure:
2 riders: £2093 per person sharing
3-4 riders: £1543 per person sharing
5-6 riders: £1412 per person sharing
7+ riders: £1354 per person sharing
Single supplement: £171