Argentina is a land of horses and many of the natives spend their whole life on horseback. In this unique country you will be able to explore the vast beauty of its varied and impressive landscapes and discover its real spirit. Ride across the Andes Mountains of Northwest Argentina the way it was done in Colonial times, whilst keeping some of the luxuries of the 21st Century!
These are ancient Inca trails and the ideal setting for an unforgettable trip. This holiday will get you to places that you can only reach on horseback, places where you can see impressive landscapes and experience the diverse climates. Here there are tropical forests with crystal clear streams in the Lerma Valley, the Calchaquí desert with its multicoloured mountains and the Cafayate Creek and its water and wind eroded hills. Your hosts designed these trail rides to show this breathtaking contrast.
Groups go up to 3000 mts. (9000 feet) where the forest changes to high altitude grassland. This is the homeland of the Andean condor. As the sun sets, the spectacular stars of the southern hemisphere will cover the sky. Relax at the camp with its peaceful atmosphere and enjoy the campfire as it lightens up the darkness of the night and you share a cup of coffee, tea or mate. All this creates the ideal ambience to feel the timeless spirit of nature and make new friends. All along the trail, you have a chance to absorb from the locals, heirs of the ancient Incas, some of the culture still alive high up in the mountains. Your hosts' long experience in riding tours guarantee an unforgettable vacation.
The horses are the core of this riding program. It is suitable for riders who are fit and capable at walk, trot and canter. You will ride the horses at all gaits whilst you immerse yourselves in nature for a few days, enjoy camping activities and make new friends. A great option to enjoy riding while leaving behind the stressful city life…
This is either a nine day/eight night adventure which includes six full riding days or a twelve day/eleven night adventure including nine full riding days.
Read David LO Smith's personal account of this trip.
Please Note: The opinions expressed in these reviews are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Unicorn Trails Ltd. These reviews are "directly from the horses mouth" and unedited. Unicorn Trails may make additional comments for clarification clearly identified in red.
Review received from VP of Exeter on 29/08/2016
Day 2 - Arrive in Salta
Transfer to Domestic Airport (Jorge Newberry, AEP). Flight to Salta. We will visit the MAAM (Museum of High Altitude Archaeology) (closed Mondays). Recently opened to show the items found at an Inca human sacrifice site on top of the Llullaillaco volcano (6730 mts - 18000 ft. high). It holds the best preserved mummies worldwide. Check in at boutique hotel. Enjoy a welcome dinner with your guide.
Day 3 - Start of horseback ride
After breakfast, we will drive to meet our horses. The drive takes us along the Cuesta del Obispo and its breath-taking views and the Cardones National Park where you can usually spot guanacos (Andean camelidae). This is a programme in its own. When we reach Piedra del Molino (3348m) we meet the horses and gauchos. Lunch by the corral. We start our ride going south at this high altitude spot. We will reach Papachacra (2900 meters high) before sunset to spend the night in camp after crossing a small range of hills to our left. On the way there are herds of wild donkeys set free by the Spanish Conquistadors. We will have an Argentine barbecue on the open fire for dinner.
Day 4 - Horseback ride:
After breakfast we wrap up camp and get ready to ride. This day we ride the lifeline this valley has had for centuries. On our way we can see, here and there, the small houses made with mud and archaeological remains of ancient settlements. Our course is south for the most part in this creeky area. We will reach Peñas Blancas ( 2760m) for lunch. The riding in the afternoon is along a sandy river bed that is great for cantering and we will take advantage of that. On the way we will stop to see the ancient pictographs painted by local Indians centuries ago. We will visit Isonza which is a working ranch with its ancient way of life still intact and Leuca Burgos who makes goat cheese. Tonight we will put away the tents as there are rooms with beds to sleep on.
Day 5 - Horseback ride:
During this morning we will join the everyday activities of the ranch and its way of life. The way they milk the goats, make cheese, grow their crops like in Inca times. The ride takes us West at the beginning until we reach the very steep Chilo slopes which divide two valleys. The view is magnificent and makes us feel the power of nature. We move South. We will go past Yaslaguala. The giant cacti are all over and set the stage. After lunch we ride to Amblayo town (2400m) where we will spend the night. It has only 150 dwellers and its main means of transportation is on horseback. It is renowned for its goat cheese. Sense the feeling of arriving on horseback to this tiny town with almost no cars! An unforgettable experience. To get there we will ride first through archaeological areas where you can see pieces of painted pottery scattered around. We have a look with agreement not to remove any of the findings. Night at Amblayo. Rooms with beds, bathroom with hot water.
Day 6 - Horseback ride:
After breakfast enjoy this picturesque town. Visit its ancient chapel and its 17th century paintings brought from Peru, have a chat with its neighbours. After lunch we ride to the foothills of the Sierra Pelada. These multicoloured hills are unique. We will also ride the Río Salado which is a great place for cantering! Night at Amblayo. Traditional goat barbecue at dinner.
Day 7 - Horseback ride:
The riding will provide a day full of contrasts. Riding east we will be crossing the Dead Lion range. The desert gradually gives way to high altitude grasslands. This is the land of the condor. Once we reach aprox. 3000m. we will have the chance to see some. We start our descent into the dense forest of the Lerma Valley. At sunset, arrive at El Churqui mountain camp (1960m) where we will be awaited with an energizing homemade meal
Day 8 - Horseback ride:
Riding west we will cross again the Dead Lion range but now through narrow trails of the Enchanted valley until we reach Ayuso (2500m). This is the home of a local family in a place that ovelooks the Calchaquí Valley. These ancient mud bricks that make the small house will make you feel in a world so different from your own.
Day 9 - Horseback ride:
As the past two days have been spent crossing high mountains today is a bit different. This day we will go round the Cerro Bola (Ball mountain). It is a perfect day to canter along the dry river beds of the Salado river and have lunch down the shade of the huge and ancient algarrobo trees. We will spend the night again at Ayuso so we will just carry with us the essentials for the day.
Day 10 - Horseback ride:
We leave Ayuso riding through narrow creeks well South into the Calchaquí Valleys towards our next stop at Rastrojitos (1900m). We have now moved into the Cafayate Creek which has rock formations that resemble the Grand Canyon, only smaller and are the icon of the region. At Rastrojitos mountain shelter we will enjoy dinner with a typical goat cooked in the mud oven.
Day 11 - Horseback ride:
We ride downhill towards the Las Conchas River. Some parts of our trail will be done very slowly as it is very steep and fun. Today, we will have the chance to see one of the best views in Salta. Las Conchas river is our ending point. Say farewell to the horses at Puente Morales (1300m). Transfer back to Salta city. End of ride. Check in at boutique hotel. Farewell dinner.
Day 12 - Depart Argentina:
Transfer to Salta Airport. Flight to Buenos Aires on time to connect to flight home. End of programme.
A small group supplement is applied if the total number of bookings (including yours) is under 6 riders. Please see 'detailed prices' for supplement prices. These are fully refundable before departure once more people confirm.
Tango show with dinner and tango lesson: approximately $120 per person.
We're avid readers here at Unicorn Trails and have selected several books connected to this ride. If you're interested in reading more about the area before you travel, or want to get into the cultural background, here are some suggestions that may inspire you. Click on the links for more information.
Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.
Fit and responsive horses all in good condition, from 15hh to 15.3hh. Horses are ridden in the traditional style, which is similar to Western riding with neck reining and long stirrups. Instruction is given on first day for those not familiar with this style, it is very easy to learn and quite addictive. Terrain varies from mountainous to desert and the speed of the ride reflects the terrain and is mostly at a walk on the slopes of the Andes. There are plenty of opportunities for those who like to canter or even have a good gallop on the more open bits of terrain.
This ride is suitable for riders who are able to walk, trot and canter on a good horse. There is usually about 5 or 6 hours in the saddle each day, so a good level of riding fitness is recommended.
Due to the length of riding days this ride is not recommended for children under the age of 10 and there is a weight limit of 95kg/15 stone. There is no need to walk next to your horse and assistance can be given when mounting and dismounting.
The weight limit for this ride is 15 st/209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
9 day itinerary: 5 nights in mountain cabins (shared rooms shower each night except the first), 2 nights boutique hotel in Salta and 1 night hotel in Tribeca hotel (or similar) in Buenos Aires. 12 day itinerary: 8 nights camping or in mountain cabins (shared rooms with shower 2 nights), 2 nights boutique hotel in Salta and 1 night hotel in Tribeca hotel (or similar) in Buenos Aires. Breakfasts consist of a choice of hot drink; cold breakfast buffet and seasonal fresh fruit Lunches: these are usually in the form of a picnic, with salads, bread and wine. Dinners: three course cooked meals with wine.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Throughout Argentina, January is the warmest month and June and July are the coldest. North of the Río Negro, the winter months (May–August) are the driest periods of the year. Due to location, climate is regarded as tropical, average temperatures ranging, in the capital, from 21.5°C/71°F in summer, to 10°C/50°F in winter. Rainfall is more frequent near the mountainous regions, due to the advection of humid air causing more precipitation in summer, and dry winters. This tropical region features high temperatures and abundant rainfall in the second half of the year and a dry season in the first half of the year.
Summer High 86°F - Low 50°F
Winter High 70°F - Low 32°F
Sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended. Remember it is easy to burn at high altitudes even in weather which is not sunny.
In Salta and Buenos Aires you are likely to be able to stock up on camera or phone necessities.
During the ride it is much better to keep your personal clothing and items light! Normally, you only use half of what you take. As these are pack trips saddlebags are provided to place your personal items.
Clothing and Luggage
• Two changes of clothes: loose pants, long sleeve shirts which protect better from the sun than t-shirts. For the cold weather it is better to carry along a few thin warm clothes (t-shirts, undershirts, etc) than only one thick garment. Polar sweaters do well both in summer and winter
• Warm undershirt and underpants
• Waterproof jacket and/or poncho
• Hat (not a cap) and riding helmet
• Gloves (optional)
• Trekking shoes or riding boots
• Half chaps
• Sneakers (the ones that can get wet)
• Rain cape
• Personal hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, toothbrush, tooth paste, etc, in small packaging
• Small towel
• Larger towel
• Wet wipes (optional)
• Personal medicine
• Insect repellent (optional)
• Prescription glasses or contact lenses
• Water bottle
• Binoculars (optional)
• Camera and/or video camera and spare batteries
• Sleeping bag
• Medical and accident insurance details
• Photocopy of documents
There are set departure dates you can join. Tailor-made departures can also be arranged all year round. Depending on which programme is chosen, there is a choice of either 9 day/8 night or 12 day/11 nights.
2017: 9 day programme - 12, 22 Mar; 13 April; 7 May; 3 Sept (confirmed); 30 Oct (confirmed); 26* (confirmed) Nov
2017: 12 day programme - 23 Apr; 6**, 20** Aug; 15 Oct; 12* Nov
Tailor-made rides can also be arranged all year round (*Polo Open, **Tango World Cup).
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||double pp excluding Buenos Aires activities||1,295|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||double pp including Buenos Aires activities||1,399|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 2-3||305|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 4-5||139|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||single supplement for hotels and individual tents||205|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||double pp excluding Buenos Aires activities||1,559|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||double pp including Buenos Aires activities||1,655|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||supplement for group of 2-3||395|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||supplement for group of 4-5||199|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||single supplement for hotels and individual tent||205|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||double pp excluding Buenos Aires activities||1,435|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||double pp including Buenos Aires activities||1,555|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 2-3||339|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 4-5||159|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||single supplement for hotels and individual tents||225|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||double pp excluding Buenos Aires activities||1,709|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||double pp including Buenos Aires activities||1,815|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||supplement for group of 2-3||429|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||supplement for group of 4-5||219|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||single supplement for hotels and individual tent||225|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||double pp excluding Buenos Aires activities||1,655|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||double pp including Buenos Aires activities||1,789|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 2-3||389|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 4-5||179|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||single supplement for hotels and individual tents||259|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||double pp excluding Buenos Aires activities||1,969|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||double pp including Buenos Aires activities||2,089|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||supplement for group of 2-3||495|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||supplement for group of 4-5||249|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||single supplement for hotels and individual tent||259|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||double pp excluding Buenos Aires activities||13,469|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||double pp including Buenos Aires activities||14,569|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 2-3||3,175|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 4-5||1,465|
|2017- 9 day programme||9d/8n||6||single supplement for hotels and individual tents||2,119|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||double pp excluding Buenos Aires activities||16,035|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||double pp including Buenos Aires activities||17,009|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||supplement for group of 2-3||4,029|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||supplement for group of 4-5||2,035|
|2017- 12 day programme||12d/11n||9||single supplement for hotels and individual tent||2,119|
Condors are regularly seen on the trail as well as the typical wild and tame llama and alpacas.
There are plenty of other activities available in this beautiful area. We can arrange for
white water rafting, rappel, trekking in the Andes or Four Trax (2 hrs). A Salta city tour is also recommended if you have the time.
Argentina is the second largest country in Latin America after Brazil (almost all the countries of Western Europe and Scandinavia could fit inside Argentina's land mass). The country is diverse and includes rain forest in the north, vast areas of fertile farming land in the centre, the Andean mountain range to the west and the desolate plains of Patagonia in the south, leading down to glaciers at the southern tip. Argentina has the world's southernmost city (Ushaia).
Despite Argentina's recent economic woes, its pleasures - stunning natural wonders, an elegant capital and a passionate culture - are still as tempting as ever. Argentina has a dinstinctly European feel, Argentinians are much more European in temperament that their South American neighbours but their Latin spirit is still evident such as in their love of football and in the tempestuous dance of the Tango.
Argentina is three hours behind GMT. Remember in the summer the UK is one hour ahead of GMT and daylight savings is not in use in Argentina. They use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.
The international dialling code is +54.