For the truly adventurous come and ride the Aconcagua region amongst the most massive and immense mountains in America, including its tallest peak, the Aconcagua (23,200 ft.). On this horse riding holiday, you will be riding at heights over 10,000 ft. high, through small trails, past unspoiled valleys and colourful creeks. It is in these uninhabited places, which you can only reach on horseback, where huge herds of guanacos roam freely and the Andean condors nest. Only in places like this you can enjoy the privilege of watching them at ease.
This is also a place where history was written. In 1817, the Los Andes Army crossed through this exact same sport. They moved on from Argentina to liberate Chile from the Spanish Conquistadors. You will have a glimpse of the titanic efforts our Fathers of Independence had to overcome.
As the sun sets, the spectacular stars of the southern hemisphere will cover the sky. Relax at the mountain lodge with its peaceful atmosphere as you share a cup of coffee, tea or Argentinian mate. All this creates the ideal ambience to feel the timeless spirit of nature and make new friends.
Read David LO Smith's account of this journey (scroll past the Salta part).
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 AH of Schwelm on 15/01/2020
Day 1 - Arrive Buenos Aires/Uspallata
Flight to Mendoza out of Buenos Aires Domestic Airport. Arrive Mendoza city airport. Transfer to Uspallata town (1.30hrs drive), located right in the middle of the Andes Mountains and very close to Mount Aconcagua. Check in at Uspallata Hotel. This mountain lodge is like a throwback to the 30’s-40’s. Enjoy a welcome dinner.
After breakfast you will have the first chance to ride these massive mountains. You will be driven in an off road truck which is the only possible way to get to Chacay, well into the Tiger Range. There, your horses will be waiting for you for the ride to La Gloria (The Glory). Moving upwards with your horses to 3000 metres where you will reach viewpoints with great views of Uspallata Valley. Back to the hotel for dinner.
After breakfast you will begin a 9 hour day outdoors. Your off road truck will transport you to the Tiger Range. On horseback you will ride the Ranchillos Creek upstream to Cueva de la Bruja (Witch Cave). This is where you will have lunch. The massive rock wall in front of it houses condor nests. If you are lucky, you will have the chance to watch them close by. After lunch you will head downwards towards the Durazno stream to Uspallata. You will ride along dry river beds with perfect sand for cantering. It is an unforgettable experience to run your horse into town. Are you willing to give it a try? Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Today you will ride the Bonilla Range through the Quebrada de Santa Helena and towards Agua de la Cueva (7hrs ride including lunch outdoors). This is the same unspoilt trail used in 1817 by the army sent to free Chile from the Spaniards. On this virgin land, you will have a feeling of the titanic efforts of the task. When you reach Agua de la Cueva, you will have majestic views of the Aconcagua - 6962 metres, making it the highest peak in America. This was their camping ground two centuries ago. On your way, you will stop at the abandoned mine Rivadavia and explore its tunnels. You will have a barbecue dinner there. You will be transported back to Uspallata by vehicle for your overnight stay while the horses wait for us at Rivadavia.
The truck will take you back to Agua de la Cueva. Your last riding day will take you through Pampa de Canota (7hs ride including lunch outdoors). This area is known for its herds of guanacos and the Andean condor. At sunset you will reach Uspallata. Feel free to gallop back into town. You will say farewell to your horse and get ready for dinner.
Today will be very gourmet: wine making and tasting and a superb lunch. From Uspallata you will depart early to Luján de Cuyo. This area is now known worldwide for producing several of Argentina’s best wines. Each night during your ride you will have enjoyed a different wine from this terroir. Your visit to Mendoza would not be complete without a visit to the famous Club Tapiz boutique winery. During
this private visit, you will have the chance to taste their premium wines directly from the oak casks. Lunch will be at the winery.
Transfer to Mendoza city airport. End of programme.
NOTE: depending on your flight time back home, you might need to spend the night in Buenos Aires. We will be happy to assist you with hotel reservations.
Please follow this link for a map of the start point of this itinerary: Ceiling of America
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.
Buenos Aires: Arrive Buenos Aires. Pick up at International Airport and transfer to hotel. Lunch (not included). You will have time to visit the city and learn about its icons in a very special way: tango, Plaza de Mayo, Casa Rosada’s balcony, Eva Peron, etc. Dinner at Novecento Restaurante. It is located in the fashionable neighbourhood of Las Cañitas. Night at hotel of your choice (not included).
Buenos Aires: In the morning you will visit Evita’s grave and then the Museum. With a special invitation from the Argentine Polo Association, you will visit the Palermo polo fields, known as the “Cathedral of Polo”. You will then stop at Talabartería Aynié, the renowned saddle maker. You will have the chance to learn how saddles are made in Argentina. Lunch (not included). The evening is reserved for tango. You will attend a tango show with dinner and a tango lesson at Complejo Tango. Night at hotel of your choice (not included).
Buenos Aires: Time off to have a closer look at any specifics you might be interested in. Buenos Aires is a metropolis where almost anything can be found. We can point you in the right direction.
Adventure activities include:
- Rafting on the River Mendoza, the region’s best. 5-7 miles on the rapids surrounded by awesome scenery. The level of difficulty of this river is OK for everyone (level 2.5-3), thus combining adventure with safety. Night in hotel.
- Rappel a natural wall located in a deep gorge in the Andes. Before you start, the instructors will teach the basics that will help you enjoy the experience of climbing this wall using ropes. This activity does not need any previous training and there is no age limit. 4hs and 30 min. Night in hotel.
- Trekking towards the Cerro de la Cruz (6900 ft.). This is a trek of medium difficulty that can be done by everyone. Highly recommended for young people who are fond of nature and enjoy incredible mountain landscapes. Night in hotel.
- 4X4 Wheel drive with mining tour: You will stop by the 7 colours hill. There, the guide will tell you about the geography, geology, flora and fauna of the area. You will do a mini trek (15-20 min.) and then start a ride along the Santa Helena creek. You will reach the viewpoint called “ El Balcón” from where you can see the Uspallata valley from an altitude of 6900 ft. Here are the talcum and fluorite mines you will explore using safety helmets and lights. This activity takes 4 hs. Night in hotel.
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.
The horses are fit and responsive, ranging from 15hh to 15.3hh in height. They are ridden in the traditional style, which is similar to Western riding with neck reining and long stirrups. Instruction will be given on the first day for those not familiar with this style. It is very easy to learn and quite addictive!
The terrain is mountainous. The speed of the ride reflects the terrain and is mostly at a walk on the slopes of the Andes. There are opportunities for those who like to canter or even have a good gallop on the more open spaces or the dry sand river beds. The estancia has 20 horses available for the rides.
English speaking guides are first aid trained and carry satellite phones or radio communication equipment and they've been with the company for many years.
This ride is suitable for riders who are able to walk, trot and canter on a good horse. There is usually about 3 to 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 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Accommodation is in Hotel Uspallata or similar (basic mountain lodge) in Uspallata.
Meals consist of a continental breakfast at the hotel with a picnic style lunch out on the trail - chicken, roast beef, ham, cheese sandwiches, antipasti (salami, cheese etc), fruit.
Lunch at the winery is gourmet cuisine whilst dinner in town will be local traditional meals like barbecue, stew, “empanadas” or the a la carte menu. Wine, soft drinks and water are served with dinner.
Dinner outdoor on the trail: one evening an open fire barbecue will be served high up in the mountains after riding. You will be driven back to town for your overnight stay. Wine and water is available but spirits are not, however you are welcome to bring your own.
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.
At the time of going to print visas are not required for UK passport holders staying under 90 days, but please check before you depart.
In Argentina the high commissioner is Dr Luis Agote, 2412/52, 1425 Buenos Aires. Tel: +54 11 4576 2222, and is usually open 12.45 –17.00, hours extended during the Summer months (Jan –March).
In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on 020 7008 0232/0233 or see www.fco.gov.uk
Mendoza's climate can be characterized as arid however, with extensive irrigation the surrounding landscape sustains cultivation with Mediterranean characteristics. Most precipitation in Mendoza falls in the summer months (November–March). Average temperatures for January (summer) are 32 °C during daytime, and 18.4 °C at night. In July (winter) the average temperatures are 14.7 °C and 2.4 °C, day and night respectively. Despite the intensity of agriculture, made possible due to irrigation from major rivers, Mendoza's annual rainfall is only 223.2 mm.
There are no specific health requirements although do remember sun block.
For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website can be found at www.masta.org.
Need to advise blood group and emergency phone number at time of booking.
Sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended. Remember it is easy to burn at high altitudes even in weather which is not sunny.
Electricity: 220V, 50Hz as in the UK so electrical appliances can be plugged in with appropriate adaptors. These are widely available for purchase, including at departure airports throughout the UK.
In Mendoza and Uspallata 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.
• Medical and accident insurance details
• Photocopy of documents
There are set departure dates you can join for a 6 day/5 night trip. Tailor-made departures can also be arranged in the October to May season.
Dates upon request from October to May
The Rough Guide to Argentina - 2nd Edition by Danny Aeberhard (Paperback - 25 Nov 2004)
On a Hoof and a Prayer: Around Argentina at a Gallop by Polly Evans (Paperback - 1 Mar 2007
Argentina (Footprint Argentina Handbook) by Christabelle Dilks (Paperback - 1 Dec 2006)
There are plenty of other activities available in this beautiful area. We can arrange white water rafting, rappel (wall climbing), trekking in the Andes or Four Trax (2 hrs).
Buenos Aires pre or post tour.
Condors are regularly seen on the trail as well as the typical wild and tame llama and alpacas.
No dangerous wildlife in the area. Foxes, pumas live in the area but are more difficult to spot as they move around at night.
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.