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Across the Andes

Overview

This incredible and demanding journey takes you across one of the most impressive natural wonders in the world on horseback. Starting in Argentina, in the province of San Juan, you will ride up to the top of the Andes, past imposing mountains such as Mt Mercedario (6770m) or Mt Aconcagua (6,959m) t…

Highlights

  • Cross the iconic Andes mountains on horseback
  • Ride the same trail as San Martin's Liberation Army
  • Meet both local Peruvian Paso and Criollo horses!
  • Camp in remote and truly wild locations
  • Experience majestic snow-capped peaks & mighty valleys

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 10 riders per group
  • Average of 7 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 95kg / 209 lbs / 14 stone 13 lbs.
    more info It may be possible to accommodate one rider at 100kg - please enquire

Description

This incredible and demanding journey takes you across one of the most impressive natural wonders in the world on horseback. Starting in Argentina, in the province of San Juan, you will ride up to the top of the Andes, past imposing mountains such as Mt Mercedario (6770m) or Mt Aconcagua (6,959m) to discover glaciers, valleys and snow-capped mountains at every turn. You will follow almost the same route that General Jose de San Martin of Argentina took when crossing the Andes with his army to liberate Chile from the Spanish monarchy in 1817.

You will ascend and descend three mountain passes; Paso del Espinacito at 4,400m, Cordon Limitrofe at 3,500m and La Colorada at 3,500m. You will need to be physically fit and able to cope with the altitude, although you always sleep at lower altitudes to help prevent sickness.

Vegetation is generally sparse at such high altitudes, but you will cross marshes and wetlands on this journey, with a great variety of birdlife. These bright green "pastures" of adapted high-altitude flora will brighten the landscape. You may also spot herds of guanaco in the distance and curious condors cruising the thermals around you.

You will need to change horses at the border before descending into Chile so will ride two different horses - a Peruvian Paso on the Argentine side and a Criollo on the Chilean side. You will also be accompanied by a team of mules who carry all the equipment and luggage as access by vehicles is completely limited. The landscapes will change dramatically and the immensity of the Andes will make you feel small, but the experience is truly unforgettable.

Please note that you will be expected to care for your own horse and help to set up camp each day - everyone gets involved so that the workload is lessened and things progress quickly.

Horses & Riding

Tack

In Argentina, saddles are similar to gaucho saddles but have been specifically designed to provide comfort to both rider and horse during long hours. Numerous saddle pads are provided to ensure adequate cushioning and sheepskin coverings. Bridles are also gaucho style, made of leather and pelham bits with short shanks are used enabling soft aids to be applied.

In Chile, the saddles are Huaso style - consisting of a metal frame covered with a thick felt pad and sheepskin on top.

Horses

Argentina: Peruvian Paso horses. The Peruvian Paso is renowned for its extra gait - the paso llano - which is supremely comfortable and has earned them the nickname of the 'cadillac' of horses' Your hosts have been breeding these horses for over 20 years and have an immense experience with the breed as well as knowledge of their country.

Chile: Chilean Criollo horses. The Chilean Criollo is a workhorse traditionally used for herding cattle and is uniquely adapted to the landscape with particularly strong hooves and a double coat allowing it to cope with both cold and warm climates.

Riding

There is 1 itinerary:

  • Across the Andes: Argentina to Chile is a trail ride

Ages

Riders should be 16 years or older unless part of a private group.

Health

You must be physically fit and in good health - this is a remote trail into unforgiving landscapes at high altitudes. Those with underlying medical conditions should seek their doctor's advice before committing to the ride. We would recommend taking altitude sickness medication for this trail as you will be riding at altitudes in excess of 3000m for much of the route.

Weight

95kg / 209 lbs / 14 stone 13 lbs. It may be possible to accommodate one rider at 100kg - please enquire

Food & Accommodation

Food

Meals are included during the ride and are simple and mainly based on stews, carbohydrates, soups, salads and meat - anything that is filling and easy to prepare. One of the biggest challenges is keeping food at the right temperature as everything is carried with you on mules, therefore legumes are also commonly provided.

Breakfast: country-style to include cereals, cheese, cured meat, jams, coffee and tea
Lunch: light meals served as a picnic with soft drinks or mineral water. Lunch is light so that you can continue riding afterwards. Often carried as a boxed lunch in your saddle bags.
Dinners: typical local meals such as stews, hotpot or roast meats which can be cooked over the fire

When you dine in hotels/restaurants then choices vary depending on the menu.

Vegetarians and some specialised diets can be accommodated with advance notice.

Water during the trail is taken from natural water sources, so you should bring water purification tablets to ensure personal drinking water is clean. A small and limited selection of alcoholic drinks will also be available and these can be paid for locally.

Accommodation

You stay in hotels on the first and last nights when in Mendoza and Santiago, but the rest of the time you will be camping.

The usual hotel in Mendoza is the Premium Tower Suits which is 8km from the airport and within walking distance of the city centre. In Santiago, the Best Western Marina Las Condes is normally used, located in the new and sophisticated area of Las Condes beside the Andes mountains. If either of these hotels is unavailable for any reason, then you will stay in a different hotel in the city of a similar standard.

The camps consist of 3-person Igloo tents (one tent for two people). There is a supplement payable if you wish to have your own tent, otherwise, you will be expected to share with another rider. Sleeping bags and mats are also provided.

There is a central dining/kitchen dome tent as well, complete with folding tables and gas stoves to make things as comfortable as possible during the ride.

Itineraries

Across the Andes: Argentina to Chile Tented accommodation.

Other Activities

This trail is purely for riders as the only means of crossing this part of the Andes mountains is on horseback. Vehicles cannot access this area and it is, therefore, not suitable as an option for non-riders.

If you wish to add extra nights at the start/finish then the cities of Mendoza and Santiago are well worth a visit.

Mendoza is one of the great wine capitals of Argentina and there are many vineyards to explore as well as the cosmopolitan city itself.

Santiago de Chile is a dynamic city nestled at the foot of the Andes mountains and has a vibrant nightlife as well as being the stepping-off point for many outdoor activities and adventures. through this area.

Travel

You need to book flights that arrive in Mendoza in Argentina but depart from Santiago in Chile.

Some airlines such as LATAM offer "open jaw" tickets, which means you do not need to fly into or out of the same airports. For other airlines, you would need to book separate tickets to fly into Buenos Aires and then an internal flight to Mendoza and a local flight from Santiago back to Buenos Aires. Please ask us for advice on the best routes if you need help with this.

Transfers are included at set times on arrival and departure days.

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Arrival

Riding: No riding.

Arrive at Mendoza's Plumerillo airport and transfer into the city. The afternoon is free for you to relax or explore. In the evening you'll visit a Folklore and Tango Show in one of the best Dinner Theatres in Mendoza.

Day 2 - Mendoza - Las Hornillas

Riding: No riding.

An early departure by vehicle from Mendoza (750m) to Las Hornillas (2100m), which is a journey of 348km and approximately 7 hours. Along the way, you'll see Potrerillos, Uspallata Valley, Pampa del Leoncito and the town of Barreal where you'll stop for lunch. Eventually, you reach Las Hornillas at the foot of the Andes, in Alvarez Condarco, province of San Juan. Your muleteers will be waiting with the horses and pack mules. You'll have time to meet the horses and your companion for the journey but won't be riding today.

After a delicious Criollo-style dinner you'll spend your first-night camping.

Day 3 - Las Hornillas - Manantiales

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Early in the morning, you'll set off on your first day of riding. Cross the Aldeco river and head into the black pampa until reaching the plains of Manantiales at 3000m. Here you camp beside a stream.

Riding distance: 17km

Day 4 - Manantiales - Paso Espinacitio - Vega Larga

Riding: 9 hours

After breakfast you descend towards Las Lenas river, passing Penon de San Martin.

Today is the most intense leg of the expedition. You'll ride alongside the Las Lenas river gorge and the path will become increasingly rocky. You'll cross the river several times before climbing the spectacular Paso del Espinacito (mountain pass) at 4500m. The panoramic views include Mt Aconcagua and the immensity of the mountain range bordering Chile.

Descend into a valley where you ride across Vegas de Yeso to reach your camp at Vega Larga (3000m).

Riding distance: 31km

Day 5 - Vega Larga - Valle Hermoso

Riding: 8 hours

Set off riding across the Yeso hills until reaching the stunning Valle de Los Patos (Valley of the Ducks), passing by the Argentine Gendarmerie's "Ingeniero Sardinas" shelter.

Continue riding across the plains towards Valle Hermoso where you set up camp to spend two nights (2900m). During today's ride the highest mountain in the Americas, Mt Aconcagua (6962m) should be visible at all times. You'll also see the peak of Cerro La Mesa with its vast glacier at the top.

Riding distance: 22km

Day 6 - Rest day at Valle Hermoso

Riding: No riding.

Enjoy the sunrise as you are in no rush this morning and can enjoy a leisurely breakfast.

You can go fishing in the afternoon, the gauchos will teach you how to throw boleadoras (bolas) and you can go for a walk and take photos of the amazing surroundings. Unlike on the riding days, you'll enjoy a hearty lunch instead of a light meal as you don't need to ride in the afternoon. In the evening there'll be a typical gaucho Asado (BBQ).

Day 7 - Valle Hermoso - Argentina/Chile border - Vegas del Cienago

Riding: 6 - 7 hours

Set off riding west to reach the border with Chile at 1 pm (3518m). There you can visit a memorial that commemorates San Martin's heroic crossing and you can see the boundary marker between the two countries.

You will say farewell to your Paso horses and their gauchos before meeting your new Chilean Criollo horses and muleteers on the other side. Due to phytosanitary restrictions, it is not possible to ride into Chile on horses from another country.

After a snack and drink, you ride along the Rocin river to reach the Carabineros outpost at Vegas del Vienago (2700m). Here you complete passport formalities with the Chilean border control before continuing to ride for a further hour. Your camp at Lagunitas will be waiting for you with a delicious dinner.

Riding distance: 27km

Day 8 - Vegas del Cienago - La Colorada - Maiten Bonito

Riding: 7 hours

Early breakfast before you continue your journey alongside the Rocin river. After leaving the Lagunitas sector you will cross the river twice to reach the pass of La Colorado (3500m). From here you have magnificent views of the Andes mountains, the Coastal Range and the central valleys.

After a rest for you and your horses, you follow the Chalaco river downstream where you'll find typical vegetation of the high Andes with thorny bushes, goat horn and the colourful 'yareta'.

At about 5 pm you'll arrive at Maiten Bonito (2200m) where you'll camp and enjoy another dinner around the fire.

Riding distance: 28km

Day 9 - Maiten Bonito - Los Patos - Santiago

Riding: 6 hours

After a final breakfast in the Andes, you will mount up to continue descending alongside the Chalaco river until reaching Los Patos (1100m). During this morning you will start to see taller trees and the vegetation will become more verdant and lush. At Los Patos, the Chilean police will check your documents and baggage before you say a fond farewell to your horses. Transfer by road to Santiago (c. 2 hours) and check in to your hotel - you're sure to enjoy the hot shower!

Riding distance: 18km

Day 10 - Departure

Riding: No riding.

After a relaxing and slow breakfast at your hotel, where you can recount your adventure, you are transferred to the airport for your flight home.

Accommodation

First and last nights in a hotel with remaining nights camping. The first hotel will be Premium Tower Suits in Mendoza (or similar) and the final hotel will be the Best Western Marina Las Condes in Santiago de Chile (or similar).

Experience Experienced

You need to be an experienced rider who is fit for long days in the saddle and ideally riding regularly. The pace of riding is slow due to the terrain but this is a very technical landscape, so you must be capable, balanced and confident on horseback. You should also have adequate personal physical fitness to be able to walk and lead your horse across some rocky, uneven and steep sections whilst at altitude.

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

At any time during: Dec. 3, 2022 - March 31, 2023  (Tours can be requested for groups, usually starting on a Sunday, subject to availability - please enquire.)

Jan. 22, 2023 - Jan. 31, 2023

Feb. 26, 2023 - March 7, 2023

Pricing

2023
Per person sharing
£2880 $3485 €3240
Included 9 nights accommodation (2 in hotels and 7 in camps), transfers as described, riding and all equipment for the horses, pack mules to transport luggage, all meals from dinner on day one to breakfast on day ten, certified and experienced local guides, drinking water, as well as all camping equipment including sleeping bag and camping mats.
Not included Flights, insurance, transfer of any luggage left in Argentina to Chile, helmet, other drinks, tips and other personal expenses.

Extras

2023 - Single Supplement £196 $235 €220
Paid to Far and Ride
Single supplement for personal tent and private rooms in hotels
2023 - Single Supplement (hotels only) £133 $161 €150
Paid to Far and Ride
Single supplement to request single rooms in the hotels (first/last night) but share on the trail.
2023 - Small Group Supplement (2 pax in group) £755 $910 €850
Paid to Far and Ride
Supplement to confirm ride for only two riders.
2023 - Small Group Supplement (3 pax in group) £200 $245 €230
Paid to Far and Ride
Supplement to confirm ride with three riders. Supplement is removed once group reaches four riders.
Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding. All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.