One of the best ways to experience Northern Patagonia is on horseback. On this adventure, you’ll enjoy a combination of estancia accommodation and comfortable camping. Each day you will ride to a different area of the 20,000 hectar estancia. Set within the northern section of Lanín National Park, in the most secluded and spectacular area of the Patagonia Lake District, you’ll explore canyons and valleys, climb mountain tops on the quest for the best views, and relax lake- or creek-side enjoying delicious picnic lunches. Camping not only allows you enjoy the heart and soul of this beautiful country, unencumbered by mankind’s edifices, but will also let you explore great distances through the estancia and national park.
Your lodge is located at the heart of the estancia, set on top of a hill, with a breath-taking view of the entire valley below. Our campsite is located at the far end of the ranch, in the Caballadas Valley (caballo means horse in Spanish). Whether camping or coming back to the lodge after long day’s on horseback, you’ll welcome the four daily meals (yes, four!) served by your personal chef.
Throughout your trip, you’ll have ample opportunity to take in one of the world’s most peculiar trees – the ancient Araucaria Araucana, or Monkey Puzzle tree. Dating back to prehistoric times, this tree has been around for more than two hundred million years. The ones you will see on this trip are descendants of those that survived the great volcanic eruption that flattened most of Patagonia 150 million years ago.
As one of the last truly wild places on earth, a ride through Northern Patagonia, across arid plains, through monkey tree forests, ford lakes and rivers, is the adventure of a lifetime.
Arrive on a morning flight from Buenos Aires to San Martin de los Andes/Neuquen/Bariloche airport.
Arrangements can be made for private transfers to the ranch.
The road trip from the airport to the ranch is simply magnificent, following the Alumine River Basin. Throughout the drive, you will see spectacular natural changes - ranging from the arid plateau to the subtropical woods of the northern Andes.
That night you will enjoy a nice dinner and go over plans for the days ahead.
(Please note: You will need to schedule your departure from Buenos Aires on mid morning flight the first day of the trip, so you will likely need to arrive in Buenos Aires the day before. Please let us know if you would like help arranging accommodation in Buenos Aires on arrival.)
D... Valley Lodge
Our first day on horseback! Today is all about getting comfortable with your horse and your gear in preparation for the days that lie ahead.
Set out this morning after a nice breakfast. You ride through the Valley and enjoy a nice lunch at Las Tordillas barn. After lunch, you will resume your ride and finish the day at the Valley Lodge where a hot shower and delicious meal await!
Today the horse-pack trip begins! The trail leads us deep into the Andes. Enjoy lunch at the beautiful “Mallin Largo Valley,” a hidden valley surrounded by ancient trees and the famous millenary Monkey Puzzle trees. Conclude today’s ride by passing through Las Caballadas Valley located at the far end of the ranch next to the Chilean border.
The campsite will be prepared by the time you arrive. Our personal chef will have a nice bonfire going along with a traditional Patagonian dinner and a welcoming glass of wine.
B,L,D... Caballadas Campsite
Following a delicious breakfast, you will get back on horseback. Today, the trail leads you through spectacular scenery not least the mighty Lanin Volcano and the towering Andes Mountain Range. Weather permitting, you will ride to the top of “Cerro Ventana” (1,957m / 6,421'). Return to the campsite in the afternoon.
B,L,D... Caballadas Campsite
Today the trail will lead us to “Cerro Ponom” (1,865m / 6,119'), cross through “Mogotes Grises,” and heading down to the gorgeous “Tres Lagunas Valley" before returning to your campsite through the Magdalena and Caballadas Valley.
B,L,D... Caballadas Campsite
After breakfast, pack your things and ride back to the ranch. Expect to arrive back at the house around 5pm. After a relaxing shower, afternoon tea will be waiting, followed by a delicious dinner to celebrate the conclusion of your trip!
After breakfast, pack your things and say goodbye to the ranch. Upon request, arrangements can be made for airport transfers. During the journey back to the airport, you’ll have time to reflect on your amazing trip to Northern Patagonia!
Expect to ride for five-to-six hours each day, covering approximately 40 kilometers (24 miles). You will set out each morning after a nice breakfast, stop for lunch at a nice spot somewhere in the mountains next to a river or creek. After lunch, you resume your ride and finish the day at the lodge. The trip itinerary may vary based on weather conditions, fitness levels and riding abilities of participants, and/or the recommendations of your guide.
The Valley Lodge is located at the heart of the ranch, set on top of a hill providing panoramic views of the entire valley and surrounding area. It can sleep 18 people in 8 spacious double and single bedrooms, with 5 shared bathrooms. A large communal living room with a fireplace, dining room, and a large playroom for the kids with a ping-pong table are also available throughout your stay.
The lodge includes:
Our campsites are set in spectacular locations across our 55-acre estancia and are only accessible on foot or horseback, and only to our guests. On camping nights, your campsite will be up and running when you arrive. Your personal chef will have a nice bonfire going, along with some traditional Patagonian food and a glass of wine waiting for you. After a hearty meal, you’ll sleep under the stars (we provide the tent and the mat, you provide your own sleeping bag). Nights can be cool, so warm clothes and a hat are advisable (we’ll send you a clothing and equipment list when you reserve your trip).
Caballadas is home to about 60 beautiful horses that roam free on our 55,000-acre ranch. You will ride well-schooled, local stock horses mixed with anglo-normando, criollos and polo ponies. We have a large selection of horses, which allows us to cater to all riding abilities and confidence levels. They are neck-reined, sure-footed and usually well behaved, making our riding trips safe and enjoyable.
The horses of Patagonia are different. They are a rare breed. What makes them unique is their strength, endurance, and, most importantly, their ability overcome obstacles. A “regular” horse would struggle when confronted with the challenges of the Patagonian terrain. They would hesitate and perhaps become flightly and dangerous for both itself and its rider. But the horses in Patagonia, our horses, stay calm. They look at any obstacle, and, whether it be dense brush on a steep climb or deep water during a river crossing, they move through it slowly and surely, delivering the rider safe and sound.
Caballadas has a large selection of saddles and tack. Our saddles include Chilean saddles (designed with comfort in mind for long days in the saddle), “pato” saddles (similar to a U.S. Western-style saddle with a horn), old army saddles, and polo saddles. To ensure you have a more comfortable experience, they all have sheepskins on top, secured with a rawhide over-girth.
Our bridles, halters, and over-girths are handcrafted from rawhide leather. At Caballadas, we care very much for our horses, which is why all our girths and pads are made from braided sheep wool, handcrafted by local Mapuche Indian women.
We ask our guests to provide us with details of their riding experience before each visit. This way we can begin thinking about which horse would be best suited to you.
The riding pace in Patagonia varies as much as the terrain. Some routes are rugged, steep, and narrow, with thick vegetation that requires a slow pace. Other areas are open pampas with plenty of opportunities for long, fast canters for those who are interested, or leisurely and relaxed for those who prefer to take things easy.
We can tailor trips from intermediate to advanced riding levels. The more comfortable you are in the saddle, the more terrain we will be able to cover, and the more you will see and experience of this incredible landscape!
We recommend you have some riding experience, and are secure in the saddle at a walk, trot and fast canter. This is because Patagonia includes widely varied and sometimes steep terrain, as well as river crossings, so you need experience of riding across varied terrain.
This is not somewhere you come to learn to ride, and you will get a lot more out of it if you are “riding fit.” Therefore, if you do not currently ride regularly, we recommend you get in some “saddle time” before your trip in order to accustom yourself to the long hours you will spend in the saddle at Caballadas.
The Northern Patagonian landscape offers a wide range of riding opportunities, from wide open pampas to steep Andean mountains, with forests, rivers and valleys between. From our estancia, we will take you deep into the mountains - be aware that the steep hillsides may challenge those who are not comfortable with heights but the views are breath-taking and well worth the climb! Our horses are adept at covering this terrain, but they will respond to you so you do need to be confident. At times, you may be asked to get off your horse to lead it up or down steep hills, so you should be comfortable walking on uneven and steep ground.
Length: 7d / 6n
Start / Finish: Caballadas Northern Patagonia, Argentina
This trip is available as a custom, private departure on dates of your choosing, from November to mid-December and March to mid-April.
For everybody in good and active physical health. You should have riding experience, and be secure in the saddle at a walk, trot, and fast canter. The more comfortable and relaxed you are in the saddle, the more terrain we will be able to cover, and the more you will be able to see and experience of this incredible landscape!
Cost: on request
Airport transfers available on request.