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Gaucho Experience


Brazil offers diverse landscapes and makes for a beautiful backdrop to these horse riding adventures. This is a rare chance to sample the real gaucho world, and make no mistake, these trails are the ultimate in authentic gaucho experiences. The hardened gauchos and their agile beloved “Criollo” ste…


  • Experience the Brazilian Gaucho life!
  • Help work the cattle on traditional fazendas (ranches)
  • Enjoy canters and gallops through miles of open country
  • Live like the locals, with tasty meals around the fire
  • Enjoy the company of knowledgable guide Paul Coudneys

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 12 riders per group
  • Average of 6 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 120kg / 265 lbs / 18 stone 13 lbs


Brazil offers diverse landscapes and makes for a beautiful backdrop to these horse riding adventures. This is a rare chance to sample the real gaucho world, and make no mistake, these trails are the ultimate in authentic gaucho experiences. The hardened gauchos and their agile beloved “Criollo” steeds make a formidable combination whilst working their lands. The “Gaucho do Brasil,” the legendary South American cowboy, refuses to break with tradition. This is part of what makes the gaucho way of life the liveliest equestrian culture in the world! The Brazilian gaucho lives in the southern states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul and many are descended from the large numbers of immigrants who arrived in the 18th & 19th centuries, most of whom were pioneers from Portugal, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, Holland and Belgium. The locals of Santa Catarina will welcome you in traditional style.

The “Criollo” horse is as legendary as his rider - an intelligent animal with unequalled stamina, great turns of speed and agility and one who is a joy to ride. If you are dreaming of a unique equestrian adventure and a thoroughly exhilarating riding holiday... well this is it! Thousands of acres of rolling hills are the ideal playground to test the temperament of your horse. There are a choice of well trained mounts to suit your needs. The Criollo (Crioulo in Portuguese) is the native horse from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. It may have the best endurance of any horse breed in the world next to the Arabian and is most popular in its home countries, being known for its hardiness and stamina.

Your primary guide on these rides, Paul, was born in Flanders and in a previous life was a farrier. He has travelled the world leading trails and shoeing horses in many countries including Singapore, Australia and South America. Paul has ridden horses in fifty two different countries and is perhaps one of the most experienced trail riders in the world. Paul first came to Brazil in 1989 and it was love at first sight. The beauty of the country, the great horse culture and the hospitality of the Brazilians proved too great a draw and he now lives and works in the southern state of Santa Catarina, home of the South American gaucho. After years of experience in organising and guiding equestrian holidays and riding expeditions around the world, he now only concentrates on his own Brazilian trail rides. He usually guides the riding trips himself, ably supported by his trusty gauchos, and assures you of the best horse trek in South America. Paul speaks six languages and has a great sense of humour, his love for life is evident if you take up one of these trails.

Here you will ride in real gaucho saddles. Gaucho saddles are designed so that you can spend comfortable hours on your horse and on the seat is a thick sheepskin. The terrain consists predominantly of open grassy fields which is a dreamy landscape for both horse and rider. There are opportunities everyday to enjoy a good trot and canter and the riding style is the relaxed Gaucho style, similar to western and trail riding.

Much of Santa Catarina is covered in rich forests. There are many spectacular sights such as the Catarinese mountain range - the only place in Brazil where it snows every year. The sighting of the Right whales which visit the coast between July and November is not to be missed, not to mention the great festivities that are on offer such as the Oktoberfest - the world's second largest beer festival. Now also on offer is the spectacular Pantanal Safari where you can explore this ecological paradise on horseback. This truly is a breathtaking Brazilian adventure, one which leaves amazing memories with all those who experience it.

Horses & Riding


Gaucho saddles (similar to western riding) with sheep skin covers and saddle bags available for your use.


Criollo and Pantaneiro (depending on programme). There are also hypoallergenic Curly Horses available if you suffer from an allergy to horses.


There is 1 itinerary:

  • Santa Catarina Gaucho Trail is a trail ride


Minimum age 12 years (accompanied by an adult).


Fit and healthy - the rides require good health, fitness and stamina!


120kg / 265 lbs / 18 stone 13 lbs

Food & Accommodation


Brazil has a rich cuisine inspired by a mixture of European, Indian, African and Asian cultures. Often dishes from different countries are served on one table. The Brazilian cuisine is very good, varied and they serve many local organic dishes. The main dishes are mostly rice and beans (Feijão) and sauces, with lots of meat or fish and salads. Each region has its own traditional dishes. Along the coast you will find more fish and shrimp dishes, in the south the tasty meat grill's (Churrasco) will surprise you. In Santa Catarina real healthy country meals are often prepared on wood stoves, ensuring a special extra flavour. During the holiday you eat delicious homemade Santa Catarina dishes at the fazendas. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are taken at the fazendas.


Here you stay on authentic working fazendas (ranches) without any fancy hotel service. You will stay in guest rooms at the house of gaucho families. One fazenda might be more simple than another, but all fazendas are authentic, colonial, cosy and very clean. The fazendas do not all have a standard type of room. Most have double rooms, some fazendas also have 4 bedded rooms with connecting bathroom. There will always be a soft bed and a good shower at the end of the day.


Santa Catarina Gaucho Trail Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

This is a holiday for riding and enjoying yourself, it is not suitable for non-riders or for those looking for a variety of other activities.


On arrival at Florianopolis International Airport you will be picked up by one of the team (transfer included in price). There is a shared transfer from the airport to the first fazenda, usually around noon so your flight should arrive in the morning.
Return flights should not be booked before 2pm.

The transfer is a drive of around 3 hours. If it is more convenient, then it is possible to arrive a day early and we can recommend some hotels about 15 minutes from the airport.

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Fazenda da Chapada

Riding: No riding.

Your trip leader, Paul, will be waiting for you upon arrival at the airport of Florianopolis. Transfer (3hr drive) to Coxilha Rica and Fazenda da Chapada near Lages. You will be welcomed with a local drink upon arrival at the fazenda. You will be introduced to the gauchos who will accompany you throughout the trip and you will have a chance to get acquainted with the horses. After a delicious dinner, you may socialise at the bar of the fazenda. Local gauchos will perform music and folklore of the region. It’s a great first evening!

Day 2 - Fazenda da Chapada - Fazenda Rodeio Bonito

Riding: 6 hours

After breakfast, you will saddle the horses early and leave around 09:00 in the direction of Fazenda Rodeio Bonito. After the first few minutes you will notice already how beautiful the region is, you will ride through wide and rolling green countryside dotted with araucaria trees and cross pristine rivers. You will never forget your first canter with your criollo horse. After a ride of 4 hours you will arrive at a typical fazenda where lunch will be waiting for you. After a good meal and a siesta you will mount the horses again at around 2.00 pm. You will continue towards Fazenda Rodeio Bonito through the beautiful landscape of Coxilha Rica. Here you will find the well-preserved colonial Tropeiro Route. This 250 year old tropeiro route was the route of cattle and mules between Rio Grande do Sul and Argentina to Sao Paulo. Gauchos drove herds thousands of kilometres, being away for months at a time. Goods on livestock travelled along the route, so the tropeiro became also a trade. The route, consisting of an approximately 4m wide corridor, made of stone, was built by slaves. The corridor runs hundreds of kilometres through Coxilha Rica and the State of Santa Catarina. Tropeiro means Trooper. (The route of the troops).

You follow a few miles this historic route and arrive around 5.30 pm at Fazenda Rodeio Bonito. being welcomed by the owner Lucia. A hearty and delicious dinner is being prepared for you. You spend the night at this traditional Gaucho fazenda.

Day 3 - Fazenda Rodeio Bonito

Riding: 6 hours

At 9am, after a hearty breakfast, you will mount your horse and trek through a rugged Coxilha landscape. You will climb and descend, trot and canter, crossing rivers and seeing waterfalls. On top of a green mountain, you will have a fantastic panoramic view of the landscape, just you and the great outdoors! Coxilha has been a great cattle region since colonial times. Most cattle ranches (fazendas), consisting of thousands of acres are already over 200 years old. You will arrive at a little farm where Dona Vera has prepared a fantastic lunch for you. In the afternoon you will ride another 3 and half hours until you arrive back at Fazenda Rodeio Bonito. After a refreshing shower and a delicious dinner, a soft bed awaits for you at this typical colonial fazenda.

Day 4 - Fazenda Rodeio Bonito - Fazenda Lua Cheia

Riding: 6 hours

You will set off at 9am, heading for the high pampas of Coxilha Rica, the views are wonderful. The group of horses, the gauchos, the landscapes, the atmosphere in the group, the sense of freedom... nobody wants to travel back home after this trip. After lunch in the field, you will continue to ride to the next fazenda. Lua Cheia is where you will stay tonight and your hosts Dido and Donia prepare some of the best roasted lamb in the world. Dido is a vet and loves to BBQ. In the evening you can enjoy a drink with friends, a good meal and some live gaucho music.

Day 5 - Fazenda Luca Cheia - Fazenda Sao Joao Rancho

Riding: 6 hours

After breakfast you will saddle up the horses. This morning you can give the gauchos a helping hand at the farm, perhaps rounding-up the cattle on horseback, driving them to the corral, where they are either vaccinated or given a decontamination bath. Here you see the Gaucho perform his daily job. Those who prefer not to participate in the activities can easily watch. Want to learn how to rope? The Gauchos will teach you the tricks of the trade!

After lunch you continue your ride to Colonial Fazenda Sao Joao. Upon arrival at this Portuguese style fazenda you can pull off your boots, take a shower and will be called to the table for a good meal, a cool beer or a warming Pinga (local rum).

Day 6 - Fazenda Sao Joao - Fazenda Ferradura

Riding: 6 hours

After breakfast you saddle up and head out for another great day on horseback. The group regularly ride into other gauchos who are busy at work. These South American cowboys still live and work the same way as roughly 100 years ago. Gauchos and horses matched perfectly, living as we can only dream of... Climbing and descending, one slope steeper than the other, the ride regularly invites you for a nice canter. You arrive at Fazenda Ferradura where you're welcomed by the owner Gaucho Benjamin Kruzen for a hearty and delicious dinner.

Day 7 - Fazenda Ferradura - Fazenda da Chapada

Riding: 3 - 4 hours

After breakfast you depart for a final day in the saddle - a good ride back to Fazenda da Chapada. Daniel, the owner will welcome you with cairpirinha's and hugs; the ladies of the house will prepare a delicious meal while the musically talented gauchos bring their best songs, guitar and accordion into the living room. A bottle of Pinga will be eagerly passed around and you can dare to dance! It's always such a pleasant evening, you can enjoy the warm gaucho atmosphere and the company of the locals. Overnight at the fazenda.

Day 8 - Fazenda da Chapada - Florianopolis

Riding: No riding.

After the last breakfast at around 8am you will say goodbye to Fazenda da Chapada, the guides, gauchos and horses and be driven in the direction of Florianopolis. Guests staying longer can have a drop off in downtown Florianopolis, for those who are not, the holiday comes to an end at the airport of Florianopolis. 

Brazil is a huge and very diverse country, staying longer is, without a doubt, a good idea! See the classic highlights of Brazil, Foz do Iguazu waterfalls, go for a samba to Rio de Janeiro, discover the 70 Islands and colonial beach town of Paraty, go for a jungle adventure to the Amazone, meet the colonial towns and cities along the Estrada Real in Minas Gerais or stay some time more in Santa Catarina and relax at one of the 40 beaches of Florianopolis.

This an example programme (fazendas may change) and routes may change slightly due to prevailing circumstances.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Intermediate to experienced riders who are confident at all paces, riding in large groups and over open countryside.

Minimum group size 5
Maximum group size 12
Departure windows

Oct. 12, 2024 - Oct. 19, 2024

Nov. 9, 2024 - Nov. 16, 2024

Feb. 14, 2025 - Feb. 21, 2025

March 22, 2025 - March 29, 2025

Oct. 15, 2025 - Oct. 22, 2025

Nov. 12, 2025 - Nov. 19, 2025


Rider, sharing
£2295 $2980 €2725
Single rooms cannot be guaranteed but will be offered to single travellers at a supplementary charge, if available (payable locally).
Rider sharing
£2450 $3180 €2910
Single rooms cannot be guaranteed but will be offered to single travellers on request, if available
Included 7 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from dinner on arrival day until breakfast on departure day, drinks with meals, 6 days of riding, guides and gauchos, all drinks, Florianopolis airport transfers.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, tips and personal expenses.


2024/2025 - Small Group Supplement £615 $800 €730
Paid to Far and Ride
If only 3 in a group
2024/2025 - Small Group Supplement £500 $650 €595
Paid to Far and Ride
If only 4 in a group
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.