Argentina is a land of horses and many of the natives spend their whole life on horseback. Explore the vast beauty of varied and impressive landscapes and spend time with the local Calchaqui indians. Cross the Andes Mountains of Northwest Argentina the way it was done in Colonial times, whilst keeping a few comforts from 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: from tropical forests with crystal clear streams in the Lerma Valley, through the Calchaquí desert with its multicoloured mountains and to the Cafayate Creek and its water and 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.
We ride up to 3,000 mts. (9,000 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 (12 day itinerary). 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.
The horses are the core of this riding program. It 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. 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 and a bed each night or a twelve day/eleven night adventure including nine full riding days.
ESCORTED RIDE - 9 day programme with a 2 day cattle drive, contact us for the full itinerary.
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 EB of Golders Green on 18/11/2019
Approx transfer time is 30 minutes in Beunos Aires 12 day programme. Included from hotel to domestic airport for internal flight on Day 2. Transfer included to Salta airport at the end of the ride. Transfer not included between international and domestic airports on departure if required.
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.
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
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 209 lb/95 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
9 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 and 1 night hotel in Tribeca hotel (or similar) in Buenos Aires in double/twin room with private bathroom. Please be aware that there is no heating in the cabins.
12 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 and 1 night hotel in Tribeca hotel (or similar) in Buenos Aires in double/twin room with private bathroom. 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 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
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
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 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.
Tailor-made rides can also be arranged all year round
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 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.
Condors are regularly seen on the trail as well as the typical wild and tame llama and alpacas.
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.