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Lake District

Overview

These spectacular trail rides journey through the beautifully remote valleys of the Chilean Lake District, where densely forested mountains meet crystal clear glacial rivers and flower filled meadows. The Andes Grand Traverse trail starts in Argentina before crossing the Andes at Lago Puelo and…

Highlights

  • Ride through beautiful hidden valleys and rainforest
  • Discover the local way of life in this remote corner
  • Watch the horses swim the glacial rivers
  • Ride with pack horses to get off the beaten track
  • Ride in both Argentina and Chile on the Grand Traverse

Essential Facts

  • 3 itineraries available
  • Max 10 riders per group
  • Average of 5 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 89kg / 196lbs / 14 stone.
    more info Heavier riders may be accepted on payment of a supplement.

Description

These spectacular trail rides journey through the beautifully remote valleys of the Chilean Lake District, where densely forested mountains meet crystal clear glacial rivers and flower filled meadows.

The Andes Grand Traverse trail starts in Argentina before crossing the Andes at Lago Puelo and continuing through Chile. This fantastic trail is supported by pack horses and includes nights camping in remote sites next to rivers as well as nights in comfortable but rustic farmhouses, staying with local residents. This is a ride for adventurous souls who relish the opportunity to get away from civilisation and modern technology.

The other trail rides stay within the Chilean Lake District, ascending steep paths to dramatic lookouts, fording glacial rivers and discovering the majestic Valdivian forests. These remote valleys have only a few inhabitants and the experience is akin to stepping back in time - you may meet local farmers using oxen to work the land or simply taking their produce to markets on horseback. There are very few roads and no mobile phone signals!

The Puelo Ride and Andean Crossing Ride follow similar routes, but the Puelo Ride is two days longer so allows more time to explore the wild and unspoilt beauty of this region. In November-January, both rides finish with a boat trip across Lago Puelo and a road transfer to Bariloche in Argentina, so you can continue your holiday in Argentina rather than returning to Chile, however, this boat trip isn't possible in Feb/Mar and so both trips return to Puerto Varas during those months.

The Huaso Trail follows a similar route to the Andean Crossing ride, but you return to Puerto Varas rather than crossing into Argentina, so that you can continue your holiday in Chile.

Your host in Chile is Cathy Berard - of French origin but born in Buenos Aires, Cathy has lived in Chile since 1997. Cathy owns the horses you ride in Chile and the exclusive private island Las Bandurrias, where you stay on all of these rides for two night, is owned by her family. She is ably assisted by her chief huaso Tito who was born in the Puelo Valley and is a knowledgable, friendly and experienced guide.

If you join the Andes Grand Traverse then you will also ride horses belonging to our Argentine partners - Tammy Robaina and her husband, Dominic.

Cathy from Far and Ride has been lucky enough to ride here and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Horses & Riding

Tack

Local Chilean or Argentine saddles, which consist of a basic frame over which sheepskins are layered for comfort. Bridles are rawhide leather, usually with snaffle bits but sometimes with shanks requiring light hands.

Horses

Criollo

Riding

There are 3 itineraries:

  • Andean Crossing Ride is a trail ride
  • Andes Grand Traverse is a trail ride
  • Huaso Trail is a trail ride

Ages

No age restrictions, but children must be confident on horses of 14hh or higher and accustomed to long hours in the saddle. Older riders may be asked to complete a medical questionnaire.

Health

No specific vaccinations are required but you must be fit and healthy and should declare any medical conditions to us before booking, as you will be in remote areas and a long way from medical help.

Weight

89kg / 196lbs / 14 stone. Heavier riders may be accepted on payment of a supplement.

Food & Accommodation

Food

The food is locally grown and produced so very fresh and delicious. Some meals will be prepared over an open fire. It is likely that you will sample a traditional "asado" barbecue, usually lamb, which is cooked on a wooden stick over the fire. Vegetarians can be catered for but must be happy seeing meat prepared and eaten; vegetarian meals must be requested at the time of booking.
Lunches are usually carried in your saddle bags to eat out on the trail.
Wine is provided, but as you are supported by pack horses there is only a limited supply - c. half a bottle per person per day. If you would like more than this, then it can be ordered in advance for extra cost.

Accommodation

Whilst out on the trails you are either camping in tents or staying in local farmhouses. For the first/last nights you may be in hotels where single rooms are available at a supplement, but for the rest of the time you should be prepared to share.

Tents are comfortable and large enough to stand up in. Cot beds with inflatable mattresses and supplied but you should bring your own sleeping bag. If you don't have one then you can hire a sleeping bag and blanket for USD 45 payable locally. There are no bathroom facilities as the camping sites are remote, but always situated near rivers.

The local farmhouses are clean and comfortable with twin or double beds and shared bathrooms. The owners are local people who love to welcome visitors to their homes.

Itineraries

Andean Crossing Ride Basic accommodation.

Andes Grand Traverse Basic / Tented accommodation.

Huaso Trail Basic accommodation.

Other Activities

There may be opportunities to go hiking on arrival at each destination, or swimming in the rivers (the water is cold!). Non-riders cannot be accommodated as the remote areas can only be accessed on horseback.

Travel

For the Andes Grand Traverse you will arrive into Argentina and depart from Chile. All flights into Argentina will first arrive in Buenos Aires - usually into the International airport - Ezeiza. You will normally have to transfer across the city to the domestic airport in order to connect onto a flight to Bariloche, from where you will be collected. This internal flight is c. 3 hours. You may be able to complete the whole journey in one day, but it is worth stopping for a night in Buenos Aires to explore this vibrant city. After the ride you will be transferred to Puerto Montt airport from where you can take an internal flight to Chile's main Santiago airport (c. 3 hours) and then an onward flight back to Europe. It is usually possible to do the entire journey straight through but you may prefer to visit the city before continuing your journey.
For the Grand Traverse, the following group transfer times apply:
Arrival: transfer vehicle departs Bariloche airport at 13:00 and 16:00.
Departure: transfer vehicle departs hotel at 09:00 and 12:00 (midday) to Puerto Montt airport.
If your flight does not fit these timings then you'll have to pay for a private transfer/taxi.

For the rides purely within Chile, you will either arrive and depart from Puerto Montt airport; or arrive into Puerto Montt airport and depart from Bariloche airport in Argentina. Please see individual ride details for more information, or ask us for help. Airport transfers are not included in the ride prices but we can book them for you on request.

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Puerto Varas - Llanada Grande - Las Rosas

Riding: 2 hours

You will depart Puerto Varas at c. 9am by minibus and should be able to view Llanquihue Lake as well as the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes as you leave town. Your journey traverses the Reloncavi estuary, which is the first fjord in southern Chile. Take a short break to appreciate the local gastronomy in the Cochamo village which is renowned for its agricultural and fishing industries. On arrival at Tagua-Tagua lake you stop for lunch in a local restaurant before boarding a ferry across the lake which takes c. 30mins. Continue by road for another c. 40mins until reaching your horses and baqueano in Puerto Urrutia. You cross the Puelo river as the locals do - in a boat with the horses swimming! Load up the packhorses, mount and set off riding along the edge of the Puelo river, passing through farmed fields and woodland. Overnight in a local farm.

Day 2 - Las Rosas - Ventisqueros

Riding: 6 - 7 hours

Set off riding towards the remote Ventisqueros valley. The morning ride takes you through local farmland where you may meet farmers tending the land with oxen. Stop for lunch and then cross the mighty Ventisqueros river on horseback. Continue through ancient forests, with the landscape getting more and more unspoilt before reaching your farmhouse where you will spend two nights.

Day 3 - Ventisqueros

Riding: 4 hours

Today you ride deeper into the valley, crossing the Ventisqueros river again. The valley is wild and uninhabited - eventually you reach a clearing from where you can view a hanging glacier high in the mountains. Stop for a picnic lunch beside the El Toro river amidst the Alerce forests before re-tracing your steps back to your farmhouse. There may be time to relax or take a hike around the farm on your return, before dinner with your hosts.

Day 4 - Ventisqueros - Las Bandurrias

Riding: 7 hours

Today you ride out of the Ventisqueros valley, crossing rivers and streams along the route. Eventually you reach La Pasarela del Rio Puelo - a hanging bridge over the Puelo river which is vital for local inhabitants. After crossing the bridge, stop for lunch and admire the waterfalls and rapids below. Continue riding through ancient forests until reaching Las Rosas lake. Here you leave the horses and board a small boat for a ten minute transfer across the lake to Las Bandurrias island, where you spend two nights.This remote island is surrounded by the cordillera and is a haven of peace.

Day 5 - Las Bandurrias - Lago Azul - Las Bandurrias

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

After a short boat trip, re-join your horses on the shore and set off riding through dramatic mountains to the crystal clear Lago Azul. Stop for lunch on the shores whilst admiring the majestic landscape. In the afternoon, ride around the lake to the southern shore, passing through Valdivian rainforests containing Alerce trees as well as giant Coihue and Arrayanes trees. Say goodbye to your horses and journey back across the lake to your island retreat for dinner and overnight.

Day 6 - Las Bandurrias - Lago Puelo - Bariloche/Puerto Varas

Riding: 2 hours

Oct-Jan: After breakfast transfer across the lake to meet your horses for the short ride to the Inferior Lake - the source of the Rio Puelo. There is a short walk to Chilean immigration for passport formalities, before saying farewell to your horses and boarding a boat on Lake Inferior. After a short boat trip which crosses the rapids which form the border between Chile and Argentina, you enter Lago Puelo national park. Complete Argentine immigration on the lake shore and then transfer by road to El Bolson. Have lunch in a restaurant in this small town, and if time allows, wander through the handicraft market. In the afternoon, transfer by road (c. 3 hours) to Bariloche and your hotel (hotel to own account). A farewell dinner is taken in a local restaurant.

Feb-Mar: After breakfast transfer across the lake to meet your horses for the short ride to meet the transfer vehicle. You return to Puerto Varas by the same route as you arrived. Farewell dinner in a local restaurant.

Accommodation

Two nights are spent on the beautiful private island of Las Bandurrias, in dormitory style rooms with shared bathrooms. There may be the possibility of a double room for couples, depending on group dynamics.
Three nights you stay with local families in their farmhouses, in double/twin or dormitory style rooms with shared bathrooms.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You need to be fit and well balanced in the saddle. Most of the riding is at a walk, so you do not need to be an expert rider, but the ability to mount/dismount unaided and from both sides would be useful. You may need to walk your horse over particularly tricky sections.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

Dec. 21, 2021 - Dec. 26, 2021  (ending in Bariloche)

Dec. 28, 2021 - Jan. 2, 2022  (FULL)

Jan. 21, 2022 - Jan. 26, 2022  (ending in Puerto Varas)

March 12, 2022 - March 17, 2022  (ending in Puerto Varas)

Pricing

2021/2022 £2475 $3500 €2880
Included 5 nights accommodation in shared rooms, 4.5 days riding, all meals from lunch on arrival day until dinner on departure day, drinks with meals on the trail.
Not included Flights, personal travel insurance, transfers, additional nights accommodation at start/end of the trail, sleeping bags, tips and other personal expenses.
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.

Day 1 - Arrival in Bariloche

Riding: No riding.

On arrival at Bariloche airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel in the centre of the town. This small town is situated in the heart of the Andes mountains and is a mecca for skiers in the winter season. Depending on your time of arrival you may be able to explore the city a little before meeting the rest of the group for a ride briefing at c. 6pm. You will be given your bags to pack for the first half of your journey - the rest of your luggage will meet you again when you cross into Chile. Dinner will be taken in a local restaurant as a group before heading back to your hotel for the night.

Day 2 - Bariloche - Cerro David

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

This morning you are transferred c. 45mins to Pichileufu where you will meet your gauchos who will introduce you to your horses and the style of riding.

Set off riding through the summer pastures of the large estancias - a landscape of gentle hills covered with grasslands. Your ride leads you into the heart of the pre-cordillera between steep mountain ranges and the infinite steppes. After lunch at one of the estancias 'puestos' you continue riding through wide landscapes towards the foothills where you set up camp for the night.

Day 3 - Cerro David - Foyel Arriba

Riding: 6 - 8 hours

After breakfast, ride through gentle hills and large valleys until reaching an old cattle path upon which you ascend to Paso sin Nombre at a height of 1,700m. The view opens up and you will marvel at the immensity of the area, where a large valley is situated amid a mountain chain called Alto Chubut. Continue riding before reaching a charming refuge situated in an idyllic spot amongst an ancient Nothofagus forest.

Day 4 - Foyel Arriba - Veranada Miranda

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Descend towards the Alto Chubut valley, following the tributaries of the Chubut river that build from mere streams into a substantial river. The landscape is wild, sometimes almost violent, but always impressively magnificent. Camp is set up on the banks of the river and you spend a night in this natural, pure environment.

Day 5 - Veranada Miranda - El Sapucai

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Leave behind the forests of the rocky mountain range and continue descending out of the Alto Chubut. Pass through an old, abandoned gold mine and meet the Miranda family who still inhabit this place and will tell stories of its past life. From here it's c. 2 hours of riding to a special mountain refuge where a delicious meal and hot shower await you.

Day 6 - El Sapucai - Las Lagunas - El Sapucai

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Today you will ascend to the top of the plateau to truly appreciate the skill of your Criollo horse. Cross marshlands, lenga forests and rocky terrains to be treated to a breathtaking panoramic view of the Andes from the top. Have lunch with this backdrop of mountain ranges topped with eternal snow before descending again through ancient forest back to your refuge.

Day 7 - El Sapucai - Isla Las Bandurrias

Riding: 2 hours

Today is your last day riding your Argentine horse. Follow the Chubut River across small cattle farms  until reaching an abandoned school where you leave your horses. Share a final picnic with your Argentine gauchos before transferring c. two hours to Lago Puelo. After immigration formalities you cross on a small turbo jet boat over the small rapids which form the border between Argentina and Chile. After more passport formalities to enter Chile, you take another boat across Las Rocas lake to Las Bandurrias island. You will be surrounded by an outstanding location of crystal clear waters and forested slopes. The afternoon is free to walk around the island, take a swim in the lake or to simply relax. Your luggage will meet you here so you can re-pack before embarking on your Chilean adventure.

Day 8 - Las Bandurrias Island - Azul Lake - Las Bandurrias Island

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

After a short boat trip to shore you are introduced to your Chilean horse. Today you ride a circuit to Azul lake and back to Las Rocas lake by a different route. Riding through ancient Valdivian forest, which is only found in small areas of Chile, you will climb up and down the mountainsides on narrow tracks, admiring the bright blue waters of the lakes against the green backdrop of the mountains. Lunch is taken on the shore of Azul lake, and dinner is back at Las Bandurrias Island.

Day 9 - Las Bandurrias Island - Las Rosas

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

After breakfast and the short boat transfer, re-join your horses and ride c. 1 hour to the source of the Puelo River, which is wide and deep. You will cross on a small boat whilst the horses swim across. This is a highlight for many, with the beautiful milky blue melt-water from the glaciers and the power and strength of your horses. Re-mount and ride to the remote mountain settlement of Segundo Corral. After ascending another mountain range you'll have lunch in front of the incredibly blue Las Mellizas lagoons (meaning "the twins") which are surrounded by mountains. In the afternoon you descend to the Ventisqueros river which you will ford on horseback. Eventually you arrive at Las Rosas, the home of a settler family, where you spend the night.

Day 10 - Las Rosas - Ventisqueros

Riding: 6 - 7 hours

Set off riding deeper into the Ventisqueros valley, crossing the river several times on horseback. This area is sparsely populated and residents are almost entirely self sufficient - with few roads, even the locals travel on horseback. After lunch on the shore of the river, continue riding to the end of the valley where you find a restful farm where you spend two nights with your host Bernadita.

Day 11 - Ventisqueros

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Today's ride is a shorter one as you visit a neighbouring valley, from where you can view a hanging glacier. The route leads through dense larch forest and you are unlikely to see another soul in this pristine natural environment. After lunch by the Raquelita river you return to your lodgings. The rest of the afternoon is free to walk, rest or just chat with your fellow riders.

Day 12 - Ventisqueros - Las Rosas

Riding: 6 - 7 hours

In the morning, depart back towards the Puelo river, crossing rivers, open meadows and ancient woodland. After lunch on the edge of the Ventisqueros River, you continue riding through a landscape which becomes more cultivated. Local peasants still cultivate the land as their ancestors did and you may see oxen at work in the fields. In places the vegetation is quite dense before you arrive at your local home to overnight.

Day 13 - Las Rosas - Puerto Varas

Riding: 1 hours

Today is your last riding day as you leave behind the farms and head to Puerto Urrutia. Your horses will once again swim across the river with you crossing by boat. A final lunch in the valley with your baqueanos.

After lunch you are transferred c. 1 hour to the Tagua-Tagua lake. Cross the lake by ferry, then continue by vehicle along a road which traverses the Reloncavi fjord. You will pass Llanquihue Lake and should see Calbuco and Osorno volcanos before arriving into Puerto Varas in time for a final dinner. Overnight in a hotel in Puerto Varas.

Day 14 - Puerto Varas - Puerto Montt airport

Riding: No riding.

You will be transferred to Puerto Montt airport for your flight to Santiago and onto Europe. It is usual to depart after breakfast, but there are two or three flights each morning.

Accommodation

In Argentina you either stay in refuges (mountain cabins) or camp in comfortable tents with camp beds and inflatable mattresses. You should take your own sleeping bag, with a comfort rating down to at least zero or minus 5 if you feel the cold. These can be hired for extra cost if required but must be booked in advance.
In Chile you spend two nights on Las Bandurrias island - this small, private island has two houses on it and you may be in one or both. The rooms are dormitory style and have shared bathrooms. Remaining nights are in local farmhouses with local families. Rooms are double/twin or dormitory style with shared bathrooms.
Single rooms are only possible for the two hotel nights; the first night in Bariloche and final night in Puerto Varas. A supplement is payable to request a single room.

Experience Experienced

You need be a fit, well-balanced and confident rider. A lot of the riding is at a walk due to the terrain and pack horses. You should be able to mount/dismount from both sides and fit enough to lead your horse on some trickier sections.

Minimum group size 4
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

Nov. 1, 2021 - Nov. 14, 2021

Nov. 29, 2021 - Dec. 12, 2021

Jan. 3, 2022 - Jan. 16, 2022

Pricing

2021/2022
per person sharing
£5165 $7300 €6010
Included 13 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from dinner on arrival day until breakfast on departure day, drinks with meals on the trail, 11 days of riding and set-time airport transfers from Bariloche & to Puerto Montt airport.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, drinks on first and last nights in the city, sleeping bags, tips & personal expenses.
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.

Day 1 - Puerto Varas - Llanada Grande - Las Rosas

Riding: 2 hours

You will depart Puerto Varas at c. 9am and should be able to view Llanquihue Lake as well as Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes as you head out. Your journey traverses Reloncavi fjord, until reaching Tagua-Tagua lake. You'll stop along the journey to appreciate the local gastronomy of Cochamo village which is well known for its agriculture and fishing industries. Lunch is taken at a local restaurant before boarding a ferry across the lake which takes c.30mins. Continue by road for another hour until reaching your horses and baqueano at Puerto Urrutia on the banks of the Puelo river. You cross the river as the locals do - in a boat with the horses swimming! Load up the packhorses, mount and set off riding alongside the Puelo river and through farmed fields. Overnight in a local farm.

Day 2 - Las Rosas - Ventisqueros

Riding: 6 hours

Set off riding towards the remote Ventisqueros valley. The morning ride takes you through local farmland where you may meet farmers tending the land with oxen. Stop for lunch and then cross the mighty Ventisqueros river on horseback. Continue through ancient forests, with the landscape getting more and more unspoilt before reaching your farmhouse where you will spend two nights.

Day 3 - Ventisqueros

Riding: 4 hours

After a relaxed breakfast, ride deeper into the valley, crossing the Ventisqueros river again. The valley is wild and uninhabited - eventually you reach a clearing from where you can view a hanging glacier high in the mountains. Stop for a picnic lunch near the El Toro river before re-tracing your steps back to your farmhouse. There may be time to relax or take a hike around the farm on your return, before dinner with your hosts.

Day 4 - Ventisqueros - Las Bandurrias

Riding: 7 hours

Today you ride out of the Ventisqueros valley, crossing rivers and streams along the route. Eventually you reach La Pasarela del Rio Puelo - a hanging bridge over the Puelo river which is vital for local inhabitants. After crossing the bridge, stop for lunch and admire the waterfalls and rapids below. Continue riding through ancient forests until reaching Las Rosas lake. Here you leave the horses and board a small boat for a ten minute transfer across the lake to Las Bandurrias island, where you spend two nights. A peaceful haven in the heart of the Andes.

Day 5 - Las Bandurrias - Lago Azul - Las Bandurrias

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

After a short boat trip, re-join your horses on the shore and set off riding through dramatic mountains to the crystal clear Lago Azul. Stop for lunch on the shores whilst admiring the majestic landscape. In the afternoon, ride around the lake to the southern shore, passing through Valdivian rainforests containing Alerce trees as well as giant Coihue and Arrayanes trees. Leave the horses in a safe place and journey back across the lake to your island retreat for dinner and overnight.

Day 6 - Las Bandurrias - Las Rosas

Riding: 7 - 8 hours

After breakfast you are taken across the lake to re-join your horses. Cross the river with your horses swimming alongside and reach Segundo Corral - the last settlement before Argentina. Stop for lunch facing Las Mellizas lagoons before continuing your ride. Eventually you cross the Ventisquero river on horse back to reach the local farmhouse where you stop for another cosy night and dinner.

Day 7 - Las Rosas - Puerto Varas

Riding: 2 hours

Today is your last riding day as you follow the Puelo river again until reaching Puerto Urrutia and the main road. Here your horses swim once again over the river. Remount and follow paths through the forest with spectacular views back towards the Puelo river until reaching Llanada Grande. Say goodbye to your horses and baqueanos before transferring c. 1 hour to the Tagua-Tagua lake. Have lunch in the first restaurant established in the area and then cross the lake by ferry, before continuing by vehicle along a road which traverses the fjord and returns you to Puerto Varas.

Farewell dinner and overnight in Puerto Varas (to own account).

Accommodation

Four nights in local farms (two nights at Tito's farm and two nights at Bernadita's farm). There are double, trip and dormitory style rooms and shared bathrooms.

Two nights on Las Bandurrias Island, with a main house and a cottage, each with a mixture of double, twin and dormitory rooms with shared bathrooms.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

You need be a fit, well-balanced and confident rider. A lot of the riding is at a walk due to the terrain and pack horses. You should be able to mount/dismount from both sides and fit enough to lead your horse on some trickier sections.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

Feb. 15, 2022 - Feb. 21, 2022

March 25, 2022 - March 31, 2022

Pricing

2022 £2670 $3780 €3110
Included 6 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals from lunch on arrival day until dinner on departure day, drinks with meals on the trail & 6 days of riding.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, airport transfers, hotel accommodation at start/end of the ride, sleeping bags, tips & personal expenses.
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.