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Patagonia

Overview

The Anglo Chilean family who run this fabulous riding operation have over 40 years experience working with horses, cattle and sheep at Rio Serrano. They have over 15 years working in tourism organising rides and they have a vast knowledge of Torres del Paine and the surrounding areas. The magnifice…

Highlights

  • Ride below the spectacular towers of Paine
  • Marvel at Glacier Grey and its icebergs
  • Canter across the pampas and wade across rivers
  • Stay in a variety of comfortable estancias each night
  • Spot the local wildlife - guanaco, nandu, condor etc

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 10 riders per group
  • Average of 5 - 6 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 95 kg/ 210 lbs / 15 stone

Description

The Anglo Chilean family who run this fabulous riding operation have over 40 years experience working with horses, cattle and sheep at Rio Serrano. They have over 15 years working in tourism organising rides and they have a vast knowledge of Torres del Paine and the surrounding areas. The magnificently located family estancia has spectacular views of the Paine Massif. On the estancia the family raise beef cattle which are rounded up twice a year and taken to Puerto Natales for sale. Until six years ago the cattle were taken to town, some 90 kilometres away in the old fashioned way - by horseback. As the family is Anglo-Chilean they have an appreciation of local culture in addition to understanding the expectations of foreign guests and, of course, fluent in the English language.

This superb Chilean destination is suited to adventurous types, looking to ride "off the beaten track". The diversity of rides takes you across open pampas, across mountain ranges and to wild glaciers and iceberg filled lakes.

The ten day itinerary is the ultimate Patagonian experience, as you ride through the national park and under the towering granite "towers" and "horns", before opening up the horses across the open pampas of estancias which border the park.

It is sometimes also possible to just join the first five days of the longer estancia ride, so that you experience the glory of the park, but don't get the working estancia experience at the end. Please enquire for details.

The Criollo horses offer strength, willingness and honesty whether they are carrying clients or their supplies - these horses are fairly small by European standards but are extremely hardy and regularly checked for injury, lameness or fatigue (and swapped if necessary). Horses are swapped at various times throughout the trips.

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

The tack is Chilean 'huaso' and comprises of metal framed saddles onto which is layered felt, sheepskin and leather. Rope, rawhide and leather form the bridles, girths, straps etc. Most of the horses are ridden in simple snaffle bridles.

Horses

The Chilean Criollo horses offer strength, willingness and honesty whether they are carrying clients or their supplies - these horses are fairly small by European standards but are extremely hardy and regularly checked for injury, lameness or fatigue (and swapped if necessary). Horses are swapped at various times throughout the trips.

Riding

There is 1 itinerary:

  • Ten Day Estancia Ride is a trail ride

Ages

12-70

Health

You must be fit and healthy.

Weight

95 kg/ 210 lbs / 15 stone

Food & Accommodation

Food

You can be assured of plentiful, fresh and wholesome meals on these rides. Meals in the estancias are usually home-cooked Chilean dishes.

Meat, especially lamb is the staple diet for most people in the area and guests are very likely to enjoy a lamb or meat asado during their trip. We respect that it may be difficult for vegetarians to travel in a very meat based culture. Although alternatives for vegetarians are available this trip may not be suitable for those who are offended by the sight of meat being prepared (as this is not easy to disguise).

Breakfast usually consists of hot and cold cereals, toast, jams, marmalade, coffee, tea and juice. Occasionally a cooked breakfast is served. Packed lunches are provided to guests at lunchtime and consist of sandwiches, (ham, cheese, tuna, salami), fresh fruit, chocolate biscuits and snacks.

Meals served in the estancia restaurants consist of lamb, beef, chicken, or salmon and are served with fresh vegetables or salad and accompanied by rice or potatoes. Wine and beer is available at a reasonable cost (payable locally).

Accommodation

Accommodation on the Estancia Ride is comfortable, authentic, cosy and welcoming. All the estancias having been chosen for their beautiful location, great views and cultural appeal.

For groups of 4+ it is also possible to organise camping rides following a similar itinerary - please contact us for details.

Itineraries

Ten Day Estancia Ride Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

As well as the amazing riding, this is an area famed for hiking and kayaking. There is an opportunity to take some fabulous boat rides. This is a great place for the photographer - the spectacular sunsets, the granite monoliths, the turquoise blue lakes, the condors and the guanacos and nandus which you can photograph from the back of your horse.

Travel

Chile's International Airport is in the capital Santiago de Chile. Flight times are about 13 hours from Europe and 11 hours from the US. To get to Patagonia from Santiago, you take a domestic flight into Punta Arenas which takes three to four hours. It is possible, if you fly into Santiago in the morning, to continue with the domestic flight the same day but a stop over in this remarkable city is worthwhile.

2021/22 season: Airport transfers from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales are available provided you arrive before 15:00 on arrival day and depart after 15:00 on departure day. Outside of these timings you should take a bus at a cost of c. 15 USD, which we can book in advance for you. These airport transfers are included for the ten day ride, but an additional cost for the five day ride. Please enquire.

Testimonials

Linda J., Feb. 4, 2019

I thought the trip was exceptional. It was very much a truly authentic riding holiday - the focus was on excellent horses and challenging riding rather than just a normal holiday with a few hacks thrown in - but Patagonia had the added bonus that the scenery we were riding through was just astonishing. Every day was different, the terrain varied throughout making the riding interesting and technically tricky, there was a good balance of riding at all paces including some very long canters/gallops, the gauchos were knowledgable about the area and all the wildlife, the accommodation was consistently very good and the food was outstanding.


Marjorie R. (Glacier), Feb. 3, 2016

I really enjoyed my holiday, the horses were very good, so sure footed and so easy to ride. Very comfy saddles. The scenery was spectacular. It didn't rain once, it was just windy. The trip exceeded my expectations.


Peter Van M., Dec. 29, 2014

Not for the faint-hearted! Challenging and tiring riding but worth every ounce of pain and drop of sweat. Riding like we've never experienced before, in some of the most magical and remote settings on earth. Really takes everything back to the bare essentials and you quickly realise that is the best way for it to be. Excellent company, excellent horses. Christian was the best guide - gave you a real sense of the culture and history of Chile. Was perfect to share a bottle of wine with and listen to his stories. Very competent rider and guide to boot.


Mark S., July 3, 2009

Good length of rides through beautiful and variable terrain, back to basics in terms of accommodation (camping), but this allowed us to access areas that could not otherwise be seen. My favourite memory was the ride through the forest to Dickson lake.


Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Arrive Puerto Natales

Riding: No riding.

Arrive into Puerto Natales today and in the evening you will be escorted to dinner by your guide (dinner not included) for the trip briefing. Tonight you will stay in Hostel El Establo or similar.

Day 2 - Boat to Balmaceda

Riding: 2 hours

After breakfast you will transfer c. 10mins to the pier and hop onto a boat which will dock especially to take you for a great ride up the Last Hope Sound. You will enter the Bernardo O'Higgins National Park. Shared by the regions of Magallanes and Aysen this is the largest National Park in Chile and one of five of the most expansive in the world (over three million hectares). With access only via the water, the mountains of the southern ice field itself remain a remote and pristine corner of our planet. It also contains the largest mass of ice on earth after Antarctica and Greenland so the climate is understandably extreme. You will disembark the boat here and enjoy the stunning views which combines old growth forests of evergreen and deciduous southern beech, fire bushes and cypresses - a stunning contrast to the snow capped peaks and glaciers in this region.

First you will walk to the Serrano glacier, which is a circular trip of c. 1 hour. Then you hop into a zodiac boat for a short, 5 min journey to reach your horses. Have some lunch before mounting up for your first introductory ride of about 2 hours. Follow a beautiful trail though thick forests passing pristine rivers and streams in the shadow of the Chacabuco and Balmaceda range of mountains. Dinner and overnight at Hosteria Balmaceda.

Day 3 - Balmaceda to Rio Serrano

Riding: 6 - 7 hours

Todays ride is a fairly slow but long one which gives you the opportunity to find your riding stride while enjoying the dazzling scenery on your route into Torres del Paine national park. Towards the end of the trail you cross the Nutria River and come out onto the pampas to approach your hotel for the night - Hotel del Paine. This hotel offers comfortable rooms and great views of the Paine Massif. A large living/dining area with a log fire and a comfortable bar and good restaurant. For early risers it also offers some of the best sunrises in all of Patagonia!

Day 4 - Ride to Glacier Grey & Lake

Riding: 3 - 6 hours

After breakfast you meet your horses and prepare for the pampas ride to Grey Lake. The view will be dominated by the jagged peaks of the Paine Massif as you ride out along the Rio Grey to the largest glacier in the park, Glacier Grey. On reaching the trailhead you will tether your horses and walk out across the swinging foot bridge through the forest to Grey beach. The view that greets you is memorable - the pebbly shores of the beach form an almost surreal contrast to the blue of the floating icebergs that have calved off the nearby glacier. Glacier Grey protrudes off the southern ice field and is quite simply a  wonder of nature. Measuring 28 km in length and covering a total area of 270 square km with its frozen walls of blue ice towering almost 35 metres high, it never ceased to impress. After some time walking along the beach and enjoying your picnic lunch you will walk back to the waiting horses for the ride back to Rio Serrano. You will return to the Hotel del Paine for the night.

Note for those who would like to get up closer to the face of this marvel of ice, we can arrange a trip out onto the lake in the Grey II boat. This is an optional excursion available at the cost of approximately US$140 per person. After the boat trip you are transferred back to the hotel.

Day 5 - Ride to Laguna Amarga

Riding: 7 - 8 hours

After breakfast in the hotel you will pack up and start your ride eastwards towards the heart of the park. You will now be riding directly towards the Paine Massif mountain range; the views are dramatic and beautiful. Your trail skirts the southern edge of the mountains on a rarely trodden path as you pass azure and turquoise lakes with the huge granite mountain peaks standing behind. After a picnic lunch taken in one of the pretty valleys you will continue east onto the beautiful soft pampas of the Patagonian steppe. Here you will have a chance for some cantering as the light fades and the shadows lengthen until you arrive at Laguna Amarga. Here you will find some charming but tiny houses which are your accommodation for the night.

Day 6 - Ride out to Salto Las Chinas

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Today you ride from Laguna Amarga to the north-east. You may spot flamingoes that reside on Laguna Amarga and the area is full of guanacos - the hills ring with their alarm calls as you ride by. There are chances to canter until reaching the dramatic Las Chinas waterfall where you stop for lunch. After lunch cross Las Chinas river and onto Estancia Tercera Barranca for the night. 

Typical of the estancias of the area, Estancia Tercera Barranca is a working sheep ranch situated in an enviable position on the park border offering fantastic views of the granite mountains and of the Paine Massif. With land extending to 6,454 hectares it offers quality accommodation close to Torres del Paine National Park in addition to its continuing work as a Patagonian ranch. Sleeping just 21 guests in 7 rooms, the ranch house has a lovely intimate feel. There is a comfortable living area warmed by the welcoming log fire where you can read and relax before dinner which is served in the adjacent wooden quincho. A hot tub also awaits to soak away any aches! All rooms have private bathrooms.

Day 7 - Cerro Guido

Riding: 5 - 6 hours

Today you will hop into the van for a 20min transfer to Estancia Cerro Guido - a large working estancia of approximately 110,000 hectares, 37,000 sheep, 2,500 cattle and 400 horses. After checking into your rooms you meet your new horses and head up the mountains behind the estancia and into the surrounding hills. The Sierra Baguales are a stark contrast beside the rolling landscape of the pampas below. After lunch continue to an Indian burial site - no artifacts remain at the site, but later at the estancia you will be able to see photos of the site and learn more about it.

After your ride you return to Cerro Guido for a welcome dinner.

Day 8 - Ride to Lake Sarmiento

Riding: 7 - 8 hours

Today after breakfast, riders will once again be saddling up for a full day’s ride. This time, you will be heading south to Estancia Entro lagos. This is a beautiful open ride across grassy meadows and welcoming pampas. Riding south with the dramatic Paine mountains to your right enables you to fully appreciate the distances that the original pioneers encountered and which the estancieros still encounter to this day. There will also be opportunities for lots of canters on your responsive and comfortable horses. With the wind in your hair and a smile on your face you will experience the sheer joy that is riding in Patagonia! 

During late afternoon after a leisurely picnic lunch and an afternoon’s riding you will see the blue waters of Lake Sarmiento and take some time to photograph the Torres del Paine mountains from the lake's edge. After, ride back via Flamingo Lake to Estancia Cerro Guido where the huge roaring fire and big, soft sofas will invite you to relax and reflect on your holiday so far.

Day 9 - Ride to Estancia Las Flores

Riding: 7 - 8 hours

After breakfast you find your horses, check your saddles and begin your last, full day of riding to the Sierra Baguales mountain range. Today will give you a view of the vast glacial valleys carved by the glaciers thousands of years ago. You will be mesmerized by the huge skies and long stretches of pampas. Start by traversing the mountain behind Cerro Guido, along the track called Paso Guitarra. Pass the lovely but deserted Estancia Las Flores where you will see the only original adobe building left in the area. Stop for lunch in the middle of the valley where you may be able to see condors soaring above you.

After lunch continue riding to Vega Nash where there are opportunities to canter across this large vega - a typical pampas of the area. This takes you back to Cerro Guido where a farewell asado dinner will already be cooking. Wine is included with dinner tonight.

Day 10 - Departure to Puerto Natales

Riding: No riding.

Transfer to Puerto Natales. Breakfast included.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

Intermediate to advanced. Must be fit and experienced. Definitely no beginners.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 10
Departure windows

Oct. 1, 2022 - March 31, 2021  (Exact dates to be confirmed - please contact us)

Pricing

2020/2021
Sharing, based on group size of 6-10 riders
£4310 $5995 €5055
Included Accommodation, meals, set-time airport transfers,
Not included Flights, drinks, airport transfers outside set times, additional optional activities, tips, insurance

Extras

2020/2021 - Single Supplement £710 $990 €830
Paid to Far and Ride
Payable unless a sharer is found
2020/2021 - Small Group Supplement £715 $1000 €840
Paid to Far and Ride
If only 2 - 3 pax in group
2020/2021 - Small Group Supplement £430 $600 €505
Paid to Far and Ride
If only 4 - 5 pax in 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.