Great Riding
Horses resting
Landscape
Break in the landscape
Big Rock
Stone house
horse riding holiday Argentina Inca Trails
Lunch Break
Rock Painting
Cattle work
town visit

Argentina is a land of horses and this trip explores the vast beauty of the varied landscapes while spending time with the local Calchaqui indians. Cross the Andes Mountains of Northwest Argentina the way it was done in Colonial times, (but keeping a few comforts from the 21st Century).

Follow ancient Incan trails on this unforgettable trip that takes riders to places only accessible on horseback. Experience tropical forests with crystal clear streams in the Lerma Valley, the Calchaquí desert with its multicoloured mountains, and to the Cafayate Creek with its wind eroded hills. These trail rides have been designed to show the breath-taking contrast in the landscapes divided by the Dead Lion (Puma) Mountain Range. 

Ride up to 3,000m. (9,000 feet) where the forest changes to high altitude grassland, home of the Andean condor. Camp under the night skies and enjoy the timeless spirit of nature while making new friends. Along the trail riders have chance to experience and absorb the local culture that is still alive high up in the mountains. 

The horses are the core of this trip and is suitable for riders who are fit and capable at walk, trot and canter. Novices and less confident riders can be accommodated with prior arrangement. 

This is either a nine day/eight night adventure which includes six full riding days and a bed each night, or a twelve day/eleven night adventure including nine full riding days. 
 

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 AL of on 15/04/2024

Ride Summary
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Brilliant
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
unbelievable horses !!
Meals

Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Was this trip accurately described to you beforehand?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Was there anything you should have known and were not told? NO
Please give more details to explain your response:
What could we do to improve this ride?
Nothing
How would you rate the difficulty of this ride out of 10 where 1 is very easy and 10 is very advanced?
7
Please explain why you scored it as you did:
Some very steep descents total trust in the horses required
Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
May we use you as a reference for other people wishing to go on this ride?
YES
Any other comments:
This was not a tourist trip but a tough real experience. Tatiana our gude was committed to an authentic real life experience for which all credit.
Unicorn comments: Thank you for the feedback, it sounds like you both had a real adventure So pleased you enjoyed your trip and hope it didn't rain too much :-)
8 day sample itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Salta any time before 4pm to meet the transfer. Visit the MAAM (Museum of High Altitude Archeology), with its exhibits showing items found at an Inca human sacrifice site on top of the Llullaillaco volcano (6730m - 18000ft). It holds the best preserved mummies worldwide. Check in at boutique hotel and enjoy a welcome dinner with the guide.

Day 2
After breakfast, the riders are driven to the stables to meet the horses. The drive follows the Cuesta del Obispo with breath-taking views and the Cardones National Park and a chance to spot guanacos (Andean camelidae). On reaching Piedra del Molino (3348 meters high) riders will meet the horses and gauchos. Lunch at the corral before starting the ride. The trail reaches Peñas Blancas (2760 meters high) before sunset and the group spends the night in comfortable, but basic cabins. On the way there are herds of wild donkeys that were set free by the Spanish Conquistadors.

Day 3
After breakfast the ride follows the lifeline that his valley has formed for centuries. On the way there are small houses and remains of ancient settlements. The ride heads west to the very steep Chilo slopes which divide the two valleys. The view is magnificent. Stop for lunch at a dry river bed (which is also a great spot for cantering). On the way, stop to see the ancient paintings left by local Indians centuries ago. Visit Isonza, a working ranch still practicing ancient methods. and Leuca Burgos to sample the local goats cheese. The practices employed in the region have changed little since Incan times.

Day 4
Today's ride heads south past Yaslaguala and its numerous giant cacti. After lunch, ride to the village of  Amblayo (2400m) to spend the night. On the way the group rides through archaeological areas where one can see pieces of painted pottery scattered around, Riders must agree not to remove anything from the area. Amblayo has only 150 inhabitants and is renowned for its goat cheese.The absence of cars makes a visit to this area special.

Day 5
After breakfast there is time to enjoy this picturesque town. Visit its ancient chapel with its 17th century paintings that were brought from Peru, After lunch the ride heads to the foothills of the Sierra Pelada though multi-coloured hills that are unique to the region. There is also a chance to canter in the Río Salado.Dinner tonight is a traditional goat barbecue

Day 6
Today is a day of contrasts Riding east, the route crosses the Dead Lion range. The desert gradually gives way to high altitude grasslands;the land of the condor. On reaching 3000m there is the chance of seeing some. The descent is through the dense forest of the Lerma Valley. At sunset, arrive at El Churqui mountain camp (1960 meters high) where the group will be awaited with a homemade meal. The night is spent inside a cabin sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags. Toilet available and cold running water.

Day 7
After breakfast, leave for La Viña along the Las Pircas river bed. These trails have been used for centuries and are still the only means of communication among locals. on reaching La Viña the minibus will be waiting for the two hour drive back to Salta city. Check in at boutique hotel and share a farewell dinner.

Day 8
Transfer to Salta Airport for the flight to Buenos Aires in time to connect with your flight home.

.
12 day sample itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires and check into hotel.

Day 2
Transfer to the domestic airport for the flight to Salta. Visit the MAAM (Museum of High Altitude Archaeology) (closed Mondays), with its exhibit of items found at an Inca human sacrifice site on top of the Llullaillaco volcano (6730m - 18000ft). It holds the best preserved mummies worldwide. Check in at the boutique hotel and enjoy a welcome dinner with the guide.

Day 3
After breakfast, the riders are driven to the stables to meet the horses. The drive follows the Cuesta del Obispo with breath-taking views and the Cardones National Park and a chance to spot guanacos (Andean camelidae). On reaching Piedra del Molino (3348 meters high) riders will meet the horses and gauchos. Lunch at the corral before starting the ride. The trail reaches Peñas Blancas (2760 meters high) before sunset and the group spends the night in comfortable, but basic cabins. On the way there are herds of wild donkeys that were set free by the Spanish Conquistadors.

Day 4
After breakfast the ride follows the lifeline that his valley has formed for centuries. On the way there are small houses and remains of ancient settlements. The ride heads west to the very steep Chilo slopes which divide the two valleys. The view is magnificent. Stop for lunch at a dry river bed (which is also a great spot for cantering). On the way, stop to see the ancient paintings left by local Indians centuries ago. Visit Isonza, a working ranch still practicing ancient methods. and Leuca Burgos to sample the local goats cheese. The practices employed in the region have changed little since Incan times. Night at Peñas Blancas (or similar)

Day 5
Today's ride heads south past Yaslaguala and its numerous giant cacti. After lunch, ride to the village of  Amblayo (2400m) to spend the night. On the way the group rides through archaeological areas where one can see pieces of painted pottery scattered around, Riders must agree not to remove anything from the area. Amblayo has only 150 inhabitants and is renowned for its goat cheese.The absence of cars makes a visit to this area special.

Day 6
After breakfast there is time to enjoy this picturesque town. Visit its ancient chapel with its 17th century paintings that were brought from Peru, After lunch the ride heads to the foothills of the Sierra Pelada though multi-coloured hills that are unique to the region. There is also a chance to canter in the Río Salado.Dinner tonight is a traditional goat barbecue

Day 7
Today is a day of contrasts Riding east, the route crosses the Dead Lion range. The desert gradually gives way to high altitude grasslands;the land of the condor. On reaching 3000m there is the chance of seeing some. The descent is through the dense forest of the Lerma Valley. At sunset, arrive at El Churqui mountain camp (1960 meters high) where the group will be awaited with a homemade meal. The night is spent inside a cabin sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags. Toilet available and cold running water.

Day 8
Riding west the route crosses the Dead Lion range again, but now through narrow trails of the Enchanted valley until reaching Ayuso (2500m). This is the small mud-brick home of a local family and has panoramic views of the Calchaquí Valley, and where the group put up tents for the next two nights. Toilet available and cold running water.

Day 9
As the past two days have been spent crossing high mountains, today the ride heads around the Cerro Bola (Ball mountain) to canter along the dry river beds of the Salado river and have lunch down the shade of the ancient algarrobo trees. It is only necessary to bring the essentials for the day as the group will ride back to the camp at Ayuso to spend the night.

Day 10
Leave Ayuso riding through narrow creeks and south into the Calchaquí Valleys towards the next stop at Rastrojitos (1900m). This is the area named the Cafayate Creek which has rock formations that similar to the Grand Canyon, and are an attraction of the region. At Rastrojitos mountain shelter riders set up camp up the tents for the night.before enjoying a traditional meal of goat meat cooked slowly in a mud oven. No bathrooms available.

Day 11
Today the ride starts downhill towards the Las Conchas River. Some parts of the trail are slow as it is quite steep in places and offers one of the best views in Salta. Las Conchas river is the end point of the ride. Say farewell to the horses at Puente Morales (1300m) before transferring back to Salta city to check in at a boutique hotel before a farewell dinner with your riding companions.

Day 12
Transfer to Salta Airport for the flight to Buenos Aires in time to connect with your flight home.


Transfers
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.

 

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.

Horses & Riding

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.


Rider requirements

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.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

8 day itinerary: 5 nights in mountain cabins (shared 'dorm-style' rooms with up to 6 bunkbeds in each room, showers available on some nights but hot water cannot be guaranteed), 2 nights boutique hotel in Salta. Please be aware that there is no heating in the cabins.



11 day itinerary: 8 nights camping or in mountain cabins (shared 'dorm-style' rooms with up to 6 beds in each room. Some locations do not have beds and guests sleep on the floor with sleeping bags. Showers available on some nights but hot water cannot by guaranteed), 2 nights boutique hotel in Salta.   Please be aware that on some nights there are no bathroom facilities, and there is no heating in the cabins. 



Breakfasts consist of a choice of hot drink, toast and preserves. When available eggs and fresh fruit will also be offered. Lunches: these are usually in the form of a picnic with bread, salads and cheese. Dinners: traditional homely dishes with a complimentary glass of wine.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements within reason can be accommodated with advance notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests before booking.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip.

NB: Be sure to check the COVID status of the country you plan to visit including entry procedures and requirements while travelling.

Visa requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate Consulate in your home country.

Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate should you need a visa.

When visiting Argentina your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/argentina

In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Argentina.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/argentina

Climate Summary

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

Climate Chart

Health

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travel to some parts of the country.

Health authorities have classified Argentina as having a risk of Zika virus transmission.

Dengue fever can occur throughout the year. You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Argentina and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.



Health (ride specific)

Sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended. Remember it is easy to burn at high altitudes even in weather which is not sunny.

Electricity

In Argentina the supply voltage is 220V. If the appliance is a single voltage rated appliance, it will need to operate at the same voltage as the supply voltage of the country i.e. 220V. If this is not the case it should be used alongside a voltage transformer or converter to allow the appliance to work safely and properly.

Mobile, WiFi and charging

In Salta and Buenos Aires you are likely to be able to stock up on camera or phone necessities. If you want to bring a GoPro please be advised that you will have to have permission from all other guests and guides that they are willing to be filmed.

Packing List

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
• Neckerchief
• Gloves (optional)
• Trekking shoes or riding boots
• Half chaps
• Sneakers (the ones that can get wet)
• Rain cape

Hygiene
• Personal hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, toothbrush, tooth paste, etc, in small packaging
• Small towel
• Larger towel
• Wet wipes (optional)

Health
• Personal medicine
• Sunscreen
• Insect repellent (optional)
• Sunglasses
• Prescription glasses or contact lenses
• Water bottle

Accessories
• Binoculars (optional)
• Camera and/or video camera and spare batteries
• Sleeping bag

Documentation
• Medical and accident insurance details
• Photocopy of documents

Programmes

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 8 days/7 nights/6 riding days (excluding Buenos Aires activities) or 11 days/10 nights/9 riding days

Departure Dates

2024 8 Day Programme: 7, 27 April; 2 June; 21 July; 25 Aug; 19 Sept; 10 Nov; 22Nov.
2024 11 Day programme: 25 Mar; 22 May; 9 July; 13 Aug; 7 Oct; 18 Nov.

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.


No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9double pp1,929
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9supplement for group of 2-3395
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9supplement for group of 4-5229
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9single supplement for hotels and individual tent155
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6double pp1,615
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6supplement for group of 2-3335
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6supplement for group of 4-5199
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6single supplement for hotels and individual tents155
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9double pp2,285
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9supplement for group of 2-3465
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9supplement for group of 4-5275
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9single supplement for hotels and individual tent179
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6double pp1,909
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6supplement for group of 2-3395
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6supplement for group of 4-5235
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6single supplement for hotels and individual tents179
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9double pp2,545
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9supplement for group of 2-3515
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9supplement for group of 4-5305
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9single supplement for hotels and individual tent195
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6double pp2,125
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6supplement for group of 2-3439
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6supplement for group of 4-5259
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6single supplement for hotels and individual tents195
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9double pp25,899
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9supplement for group of 2-35,255
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9supplement for group of 4-53,079
2024 - 11 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)11d/10n9single supplement for hotels and individual tent2,015
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6double pp21,655
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6supplement for group of 2-34,459
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6supplement for group of 4-52,655
2024 - 8 day programme (excluding Buenos Aires)8d/7n6single supplement for hotels and individual tents2,015
Additional Night Pricing
  No of days/nights Product item description £
2023/24 Buenos Aires Activitiesper nightdouble pp119
  No of days/nights Product item description
2023/24 Buenos Aires Activitiesper nightdouble pp139
  No of days/nights Product item description US $
2023/24 Buenos Aires Activitiesper nightdouble pp159
  No of days/nights Product item description SEK
2023/24 Buenos Aires Activitiesper nightdouble pp1,549
Recommended Reading

Rough Guide to Argentina - 2nd Edition - Danny Aeberhard

On A Hoof And A Prayer: Around Argentina At A Gallop  - Polly Evans

Footprint Argentina Handbook - Christabelle Dilks

‘Gauchos and the Vanishing Frontier’ –Richard W Slatta,

‘The Drunken Forest’ and ‘The Whispering Land’ – Gerald Durrell,

‘Saddled With Darwin’- Toby Green

‘In Patagonia’ – Bruce Chatwin.

For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com 

Also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com


Other Activities

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.

Wildlife

Condors are regularly seen on the trail as well as the typical wild and tame llama and alpacas.

Other Country Information

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 distinctly 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.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Salta Airport (SLA)
Transfer:
2024: Included from Salta Airport
Flight Guide:
London - Buenos Aires return from £840 pp. Buenos Aires to Salta flight from £55 ret pp
Riders who booked this ride also considered
Gallop in Moon Valley Oct 2011
Chile, Atacama Desert Trail

A trail for fit, adventurous riders over dramatic la...Read more >

from SEK45,339
Cotopaxi Volcano rising in the background
Ecuador, Avenue of Volcanoes Trail

Point-to-pointRead more >

from SEK22,495
riding into town
Mexico, Silver Mines Expedition

See the real Mexico on this Read more >

from SEK31,739