An 8-day horseback adventure in the southern wilderness of Brazil; the ultimate trail blaze for riders looking for a truly exciting experience living the gaucho way of life and riding gaucho style.
Brazil offers a landscape diverse and beautiful as a backdrop, and the chance to sample the real gaucho world, and make no mistake, this is for real! The hardened gauchos and their agile beloved “Criollo” steeds make a formidable combination in the environment of their work. The “Gaucho do Brasil,” the legendary South American cowboy, refuses to break with tradition which makes for; dixit UNESCO: the gaucho way of life the liveliest equestrian culture in the world. The “Criollo” horse is just as legendary, an intelligent animal with unequalled stamina as well as being fast and highly manoeuvrable and a joy to ride. If you are dreaming of a unique equestrian experience and a thoroughly authentic riding holiday...... Well, this is it! The locals of Santa Catarina will welcome you in traditional style!
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Your “Gaúcho do Brasil” tripleader Paul will be waiting for you upon arrival at the airport of Florianopolis. Transfer (2:30 drive) to Coxilha Rica and Fazenda Barreiro near Lages. You will be welcomed with a local drink upon arrival at the fazenda. Yo will be introduced to the Gauchos who will accompany you throughout the trip and will even get acquainted with the horses. Installation in the cozy and comfortable double rooms of the fazenda. After a delicious dinner, we can socialice at the bar of the fazenda. Local gaúchos will perform music and folklore of the region. It’s a great first evening!
After breakfast, we saddle our horses early and leave around 08:00 direction Fazenda Ferradura. After the first few minutes you will notice already how beautiful the region is, we ride through wide and rolling green countryside dotted with Araucaria trees and cross pristine rivers. You will never forget your first canter with your criollo horse. After a ride of 4 hours we arrive at a typical fazenda where lunch is waiting for us. After a good meal and a siesta we mount our horses again around 14h. We continue towards fazenda Ferradura through the beautiful landscape of Coxilha Rica. Here we find the well-preserved colonial Tropeiro Route. This 250 years old tropeiro route was the route of cattle and mules between Rio Grande do Sul and Argentina to Sao Paulo. Gauchos drove herds thousands of kms beeing awy for months via this route. Goods on livestock traveled along the route, so the tropeiro became also a trade. The route, consisting of an approx 4m wide corridor made of stone was built by slaves. The corridor runs hundreds of kilometers through Coxilha Rica and the State of Santa Catarina. Tropeiro means Trooper. (The route of the troops).
We follow a few miles this historic route and arrive around 17:30 at Fazenda Ferradura. We are welcomed by the owner Gaucho Benjamin Krüzen. A hearty and delicious dinner is beeing prepared for us. We spent the night at this traditional Gaucho fazenda.
08:00, after a hearty breakfast we mount our criollos and trek through a rugged Coxilha landscape towards direction fazenda Ferradura. We climb and descend, trot and canter, crossing rivers and seeing waterfalls. On top of a green mountain you have a fantastic panoramic view of the landscape, just you and the great outdoors! Coxilha is since colonial times a great cattle region. Most cattle ranches (fazendas) consisting of thousands of acres are already over 200 years old. We arrive at the colonial fazenda São João where a fantastic lunch is prepared. In the afternoon we ride another 3 and half hours until we arrive at fazenda Limoeiro. After a refreshing shower and a delicious dinner, a soft bed awaits for you at this typical colonial fazenda.
We leave on horseback at 08:00 hidding for the high pampas of Coxilha Rica, the views are wonderful. The group of horses, the Gauchos, the landscapes, the atmosphere in the group, the sense of freedom, ... nobody wants to travel back home after this trip. After a lunch in the field we continue our ride to the next fazenda. Rancho Amigo is where we stay tonight. We make it cozy with a drink and friends and are having a good meal and a good rest.
After breakfast we saddle our horses. Today is a real gaucho day, and who is in to it, can give the gauchos a helping hand rounding-up the cattle on horseback. Driving the herd is always fun! We drive the herd to the corral, where they are either vaccinated or receive a decontamination bath. Here you see the Gaúcho perform his daily job. Those who prefer not to participate in the activities can easily watch. Want to learn how to rope? Our Gauchos teach you the tricks of the trade! Today we are supposed to do what we want to do. Free riding on the fantastic estate?.. everything is more or less allowed today.
After an active Cowboy-Gaúcho day we pull off our boots, take a shower and are called to the table for a good meal, a cool beer or a warming Pinga (local rum).
Today we sleep a little longer ... no rush to saddle the horses and to trot the wide nature. We regularly ride into other gauchos whom are busy at work. These South American cowboys still live and work the same way as roughly 100 years ago. Gaúchos and horses matching great together, living as we can only dream of .. Climbing and descending, one slope steeper than the other, the ride regularly invites us for a nice canter. The horses are really fun to ride with. We arrive at Fazenda Limoeiro and feel ourselves back at home. Dinner at the fazenda.
The morning the sun invites us to relax in the hammock with a cup of coffee. We have a pleasant morning at the fazenda and stay here until lunch. After lunch we depart for a nice ride until we arrive at Fazenda São João.
The lady of the house makes us a delicious dish while the musical talented gauchos bring their best songs, guitar and accordion into the livingroom. The bottle of Pinga is eagerly passed around and sometimes we dare to dance!
It's always such a pleasant evening, we enjoy the warm gaucho atmosphere and forge friendship with the locals. Overnight at the fazenda.
After our last breakfast around 08:00 we say goodbye to Fazenda São João, the guides, gauchos and horses and drive around 09:00 (depending the flight) direction Florianopolis. People staying longer can have a drop of downtown Florianópolis, for the others the holiday comes to an end at the airport of Florianopolis. End of the program. Brazil is a huge and very diverse country,...staying longer in the country is without doubt a good idea!
See the classic hightlights of Brazil, Foz do Iguaçu waterfalls, go for a samba to Rio de Janeiro, discover the 70 Islands and colonial beachtown of Paraty, go for a jungle adventure to the Amazone, meet the colonial towns and cities along the Estrada Real in Minas Gerais or stay some time more in Santa Catarina and relax at one of the 40 beaches of Florianopolis.
We will do everything possible to follow the indicated itinerary, although spot changes can occur due to unforeseen circumstances. Rides are subject to change depending on weather, location and difficulty of terrain In the unlikely event that this happens on your trip, we ask you flexibility and understanding. This is a sporty and adventurous vacation!
Staying some more days in Brazil?
Feel like having a break on the beach after a week of riding? Only 200 km away from Coxilha Rica you will find Florianopolis, the most splendid coastal city of southern Brazil. We will be glad to help you to arrange an optional extension to the coast. Rather go somwhere else in the country?…You can fly from Florianopolis to all mayor cities in Brazil. Flying time to São Paulo: 40 minutes, to Foz do Iguaço waterfalls: 40 minuntes, and only 1 hour from Rio de Janeiro and Argentina.
The start point of this itinerary: Santa Caterina Trail
A particularly nice time to go here is the spring (Oct/Nov) and autumn (March/April).
There is an option to pay US$110pp on day 1 for all drinks to be included for the week (alcoholic & soft beverages).
This includes beer, caipirinha, guarana, Coca Coca, Fanta, Sprite, coffee, tea, milk, water etc. Wine is not included but you can buy this at each farm (price dependent on brand).
US$60pp for soft drinks included all week.
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.
We have 35 well trained criollo horses for you. The Criollo (Crioulo in Portuguese) is the native horse from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. It may have the best endurance of any horse breed in the world next to the Arabian. In fact, due to the crioulo's low basal metabolism, it may be a better long-distance horse than the Arabian in prolonged races over a week in duration with no supplemental feed. The breed is most popular in its home countries, and is known for its hardiness and stamina. The terrain consists predominantly of large lawn type fields, for both rider and horse a real dream terrain. There is daily sufficient time and space to enjoy a good trot and canter. The riding style is the relaxed Gaúcho style, similar to western riding and trail riding. Are you a classically trained rider? Do not worry, the gaucho way of riding is easy to pick up and very comfortable.
The ride is suitable for intermediate to experienced riders. You should be confident on a horse at all paces. The pace is varied to include walk, trot and canter.
We have horses for all levels. Together with the guide you will choose according to your riding level, your height, weight, and preference the right horse in the stable.
Is this your first riding holiday? Do not worry, as a rider you know that both rider and horse cannot trot or canter 8 hours a day. Every ride is always a relaxed ride. You ride with loose reins, and enjoy the fantastic nature, once in a while a trot and a good canter. On average we are about 6 hours per day in the saddle
The weight limit for this ride is 275 lb/125 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Our trail-riding holiday is not a dude ranch vacation where you stay in a tourist ranch-hotel and where you're just a number. But a riding holiday where you stay on authentic working fazendas (ranches) whithout any fancy hotel service. So we will stay in guest rooms at the house of gaucho families. One fazenda might be more simple than the other, but all fazendas are authentic, colonial, cozy and very clean. The fazendas do not all have a standard type of room. Most have double rooms, some fazendas also have 4 bedded rooms with connecting bathroom. There always awaits you a soft bed and a good shower. Brazil has a rich cuisine. The country is a mixture of European, Indian, African and Asian cultures and is reflected in the way the Brazilians cook. Especially the Italian and African cuisines have great influence on Brazilian cuisine. Not only the population is mixed, also their habits and customs. Already well before Europe spoke about fusion cuisine, Brazil was combining ingredients found from different continents to a new, typical Brazilian cuisine. They also often serve dishes from different countries on one table. The Brazilian cuisine is very good, varied and serves many naturally made dishes. The main dishes are mostly rice and beans (Feijão) and sauces, with lots of meat or fish and salads. From region to region one has its own traditional dishes. Along the coast you will find more fish and shrimp dishes, in the south the tasty meat grill's (Churrasco) will surprise you. In Santa Catarina real healthy country meals are often prepared on wood stoves, what gives a special extra flavor. During our holiday we eat delicious homemade Santa Catarina dishes at the fazendas. Breakfast, lunch and dinner at the fazendas.
Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If Visa’s are required the 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 on request.
British nationals are normally admitted to Brazil without a visa as tourists or business visitors for an initial maximum stay of 90 days. You should retain your immigration landing card (green) and enough cash to pay the US$38 or R$ 115 airport tax, if this has not been paid with the airline ticket; both the landing card and payment of the airport tax are required to leave Brazil.
In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on 020 7008 0230/ 0233 or www.fco.gov.uk
In the UK the Brazilian Embassy Consular Sectioncan be found at: 3rd and 4th Floor, Samuel House, 6 St Alban's Street, Haymarket, London SW1Y 4SQ, tel: (020) 7930 9055 web site: www.brazil.org.uk
In Brazil the UK Embassy can be found at, Setor de Embaixadas Sul, Quadra 801, Conjunto K, CEP 70200-010,Brasilia – DF, Brazil Telephone: (55) (61) 3329 2300, local opening hours Mon-Fri: 0830-1730, Website: www.uk.org.br
This region consists of the southern states of Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul. Both along the coast and in the plateau districts inland, the climate is warm-temperate rather than tropical, and is similar to that found in Uruguay and northern Argentina. Even on the coast there is a distinct cooler season when frost can be expected in the winter months. Here winter has a real significance and the difference between the seasons is determined by temperature rather than rainfall. During the warmer summer months temperatures reach similar levels to those found farther north in the tropical regions of Brazil. This region has a generally healthy and pleasant climate with an average of eight to nine hours' sunshine a day in the summer months.
Inland, where the land is higher, frosts are quite common in winter but snow is very rare. Inland the wettest months are during the summer, in contrast to the coastal district.
At Unicorn Trails, the health and safety of our customers is of paramount importance.
Tap water is heavily treated giving it an unpleasant chemical taste but is safe to drink in most urban areas providing it has been passed through a charcoal filter system; you should check with your hotel/restaurant management before drinking tap water. Tap water in remote areas can be unsafe even if filtered; stick to bottled mineral water, which is available virtually everywhere.
As a preventative to Dengue fever you are advised to minimise exposure to mosquito bites by covering up and using repellents. Malaria is also a risk in some northern parts of Brazil. You may need to take anti malarial medication, depending on the areas to be visited. Take medical advice before travelling.
You are recommended to have good medical insurance.
Electricity 110/220V 60HzHz. Electric Plug Details: European plug with two circular metal pins, American-style plug with two perpendicular flat blades above a circular grounding pin, Japanese-style plug with two perpendicular flat blades.
We recommend that you bring all required equipment, including batteries with you when you arrive. You should contact your network provider for mobile phone coverage.
• Valid international passport
• Travel Insurance
• Pocket money (you can change EUR/£/USD in the airport)
• A sweater and a jacket
• 4 or 5 T-shirts and minimum 1 a shirt with long sleeves.
• jodhpurs or jeans to ride with
• Riding shoes or boots / riding shoes with mini-chaps or long chaps. (Gaucho boots can be bought on location)
• A second pair of shoes for the evening
• Comfortable clothing + a Hat
• One towel
• Sun Cream
• Water canteen
> we have raincoats and saddle bags available for you
> It is recommended to put your luggage in travel bag instead of a hard suitcase. 10 bags are easier to get in the backup vehicle than 10 suitcases. (thanks!)
This is an 8 day/7 night programme with 6 days riding available on set dates.
2022: 20 November.
2023: 25 February; 15 April; 23 September; 1 November.
Guests should be prepared to share with someone of the same sex. Due to the nature of the accommodation on this ride single rooms are not always possible, but may be arranged subject to availability. Please enquire.
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There is plenty of time for wildlife observation and photography, swimming in the rivers, fishing, etc.
There are many species of animals and plants living of this part of the tropical highlands. Birds such as red-headed macaws, trogons, siriemas and corucacas and many others, are often seen. The area is also the habitat of the puma and you may be lucky to discover its trail, while he is far ahead or...behind you. There are also azur blue jays, black birds (Gnorimopsar chopi) and coatis,capibaras (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) , crab-eating foxes (also interpreted as wild dogs, Pseudalopex gymnocercus ).
Allergic to horses?
Here we also offer riding holidays for people with allergies!
Curly Horses are horses with curls. Not only the mane and tail but also the coat, fetlocks, hair in the ears and eyelashes are curled. The curly coat is not the only thing that makes these horses unique. For people who are allergic to horses Curly's offer a great solution, because they are hypoallergenic. This means that allergic people do not or hardly react to a Curly horse. Under the microscope, the hair of a Curly looks more like mohair (wool) than on plain horsehair. The fact that these horses do not give allergy to people who are allergic, makes this horse really interesting. There are many people allergic to horses who would love to go riding but can not without taking a bunch of pills. Gaucho do Brasil has some Curly horses so that also the allergic rider can go for an unimpeded riding holiday!
Around 156,000 British nationals visit Brazil each year.