Head to the high Andes mountains in north west Argentina and join the gauchos on one of the few remaining authentic cattle drives left in the world. You'll be herding cattle the way it was done in colonial times, riding along perfectly preserved Inca trails and driving cattle to ancient corrals. You'll assist in sorting, branding and doctoring the cattle. This destination involves lots of teamwork and adrenaline, taking part in a once-in-a-lifetime trip. The trail will take you to areas only accessible by horseback where you'll ride among impressive landscapes; 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.
You'll be joining a small group of experienced riders, who all want to experience the authentic, essential and unspoilt life of the gaucho and cattle drives in the Andes. You will be required to ride your horse off track in steep mountain terrain on this unique adventure that runs just once a year. You'll travel up to altitudes of 3000 mts. (9000 feet) where the forest changes to high altitude grassland visiting the homeland of the Andean condor. As the sun sets, the spectacular stars of the southern hemisphere will cover the sky while you relax at camp enjoying the peaceful atmosphere and warming campfire.
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Optional additional nights
You can easily add up to 3 additional (non-riding) days onto this programme . Activities for the additional nights are:
Salta city tour: We walk and drive the city with a guide. Its colony buildings bring to life the way the city was at the time of the Spanish Conquistadors.
Quebrada de Humahuaca: Trip to Humahuaca Creek. Walk the ancient indian fortress in Tilcara. We reach Purmamarca and the 7 Colors Hill. Lunch. See a few of the small and picturesque towns along the creek.
Cafayate and its wineries: The road to Cafayate shows us very curious rock shapes (the amphitheater, the toad, the Titanic, etc.). In Cafayate we will visit the world renowned vineyards and wineries for wine tasting. The Torrontés variety is regarded as best in class and exported all over the world.
Small group supplement
A small group supplement is applied if the total number of bookings (including yours) reaches less than 6 riders. This is fully refundable before departure once more people book the holiday.
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 6 hours and more in the saddle on riding days, so a good level of riding fitness is recommended. A head for heights and a sense of adventure is recommended for the mountainous riding and basic accommodation during the drive.
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 as long as you are a solid rider.
The weight limit for this ride is 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
Six nights in basic mountain cabins (shared 'dorm-style' rooms with up to 6 bunkbeds in each room), there are no showers available in the cabins, there is only a toilet and cold water available for washing. Please be aware that there is no heating in the cabins.
There are two nights at a boutique hotel in Salta with private bathroom.
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 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
The cattle drive takes place in the Calchaquí Valleys which are desertic and at an altitude around 2600 m high. So expect sunny and nice days with temperatures dropping significantly at night. The rainy season is from December to March.
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.
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 Salta and Buenos Aires you are likely to be able to stock up on camera or phone necessities. During the first 4 days of the ride you will have 12 V DC provided by solar panels which is appropriate to recharge phones and some batteries. On the last two nights full 220 V AC electricity will be available.
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 that you need while on the ride and your main luggage will be transported via truck.
Clothing and Luggage
• Two changes of clothes: loose trousers, 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
This is a 9 day/8 night/6 days riding programme on one set departure a year.
2021: 1 May; 2 Oct
2022: 30 Apr; 1 Oct
Single supplement is for a single room when staying in a hotel (2 nights). No single rooms are available while on the trail.
|Riding days||Product item description||£|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||double pp||1,339|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||single supplement; hotel nights only||75|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 4-5||135|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 2-3||295|
|Riding days||Product item description||€|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||double pp||1,549|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||single supplement; hotel nights only||87|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 4-5||155|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 2-3||339|
|Riding days||Product item description||$|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||double pp||1,789|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||single supplement; hotel nights only||99|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 4-5||179|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 2-3||389|
|Riding days||Product item description||SEK|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||double pp||15,889|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||single supplement; hotel nights only||889|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 4-5||1,599|
|2021 - 8 nights||9d/8n||6||supplement for group of 2-3||3,465|
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.
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
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 and winery tours are also recommended if you have the time.
Condors are regularly seen on the trail as well as the typical wild and tame llama and alpacas. Eagles, foxes, hares, armadilllos and chinchillas also live in the area. The largest predator in the area is the puma who is rarely seen as cats move around only 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.