Campsite
Ride by the river
Ride with Lanin Volcano in background
Picnic
Riding out in the afternoon
Lodge at night
Tented accommodation
Lodge in daytime
Campfire at night
stop at gate
View of lake

This equestrian adventure offers an exceptional horseback riding experience in the heart of Patagonia - far from civilization. This point-to-point horseback trail has accommodation ranging from a luxury lodge to fully serviced walk-in tents with beds and hot showers.
Ride through Monkey Puzzle tree forests and ancient woodlands, across river plains and over steep climbs with scenic views of the snow capped volcanoes and the Andes mountains. Each scenic lunch spot is carefully chosen to give an exceptional view.

The terrain and the horseback riding pace is varied and the surefooted, responsive Argentinian Criollo horses make the trip a riding pleasure. Slower horseback ride options are also available. There a large herd, offering a choice of mounts to suit each rider.

The ride is vehicle-supported with plenty of staff to ensure riders have a great experience. Meals are tasty and plentiful, with traditional asados as well as vegetarian options. Alcoholic drinks are included with your stay. The inaugural trip, escorted by Mary Wright, starts with Christmas at the eco lodge and New Year's eve on the  Lumillas beach beside a huge lake.

While this location is a long journey from anywhere, the effort will provide a memorable equestrian riding experience.

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 TM of Horsham on 04/04/2024

Ride Summary
What was your overall impression of the holiday
Reflecting back on the whole experience, I can safely say it was one I very much enjoyed and pleased I did it.
Overall impression
Unicorn Trails sales staff

Riding tour leader

Additional Comments
Horses and Tack

Additional Comments
Accommodation

Miscellaneous

Would you recommend Unicorn Trails to your friends?
YES
Please give more details to explain your response:
Any other comments:
The scenery was absolutely stunning if you like mountains, lakes and forests, as I do. The area owned by Alejandro is vast ( 45,000 hectares ) and he and his family keep it very private so you feel like you are riding in a vast, pristine area the size of a small English county. There was no sign of litter anywhere and we rarely, if ever, saw anyone else; a true wilderness experience. The camps were in amazing locations and the tents big and comfortable.
The staff were all great, very cheerful, helpful and efficient. I rode 4 horses and really liked the one I had for 3 days ( fast walk, lively, and happy to move away from the group ); unfortunately he picked up an bit of an injury so I had to ride other horses. They were OK. Food was generally very good, although I found it too focussed on vegetarian ( not what I expected in Argentina ! ). On one day all courses of all 3 meals were entirely vegetarian.

By far the biggest drawback for me was the pace of the riding. The majority was at a walk and there was no trotting at all, only walk and canter. Finally, I think no-one was expecting the level of dust we experienced. Nothing Alejandro can do about this, but definitely worth emphasising on the itinerary. It is very fine dust which really kicks up and we all ended up with face fulls of it at the end of the day.
Unicorn comments: Thank you for your constructive comments on this exploratory ride, we have adjusted the itinerary (with more canter opportunities) and descriptions. Sadly trotting is not a big part of the gaucho pace.

Due to internal flight schedules we recommend arriving in Buenos Aires the day before and staying the night and flying on to CPC the following morning. The city of Buenos Aires has lots to offer, so you may wish to spend several nights there before continuing onto your riding holiday.

Day 1 - 24 Dec
Arrive at airport San Martin de Los Andes (CPC) and pick up the transfer to the stables (2hr drive). The group will arrive at Quillén River Lodge by the afternoon depending on the flight schedule. If there is time, guests can explore the surrounding landscape, appreciating the incredible views it offers. Enjoy a Christmas dinner prepared by the chefs. After dinner and a presentation about the upcoming days and planned activities

Day 2 - 25 Dec
In the morning, the group meet the horses and staff for a briefing and to allocate the perfect mount. After lunch the riders head out on a trial through the Quillén Valley to explore the flora and fauna, and the surrounding mountains. It is perfect terrains to canter. Return to the lodge for dinner and overnight. (2 hours)

Day 3 - 26 Dec
After an early breakfast, riders pack and head to the saddling area where the guides await. The group can choose between a faster ride with canters, or a leisurely one to enjoy the scenery. This is the start of the Araucaria Safari towards Mallin Escondido, passing through pine forests, ascending the southern slope, and reaching a forest of araucarias in Mallin Escondido. Stop for lunch and rest in the woods at midday. The group will arrive at the fly camp at about 4pm.  After refreshments the group can relax and enjoy the landscapes. After a hot shower enjoy dinner before heading to the rooms. (4hr) 

Day 4 - 27 Dec
After breakfast, the group  descend to Quillén Valley at their own pace, facing challenges on the northern side of the valley during the first 2 hours of the ride. Arrive at the Quillén river through typical pine forests. The group continues at a leisurely ride through Quillén Valley, reaching the main camp by midday for lunch. Spend the afternoon resting, or  resting, or having a flyfishing afternoon. Freshen up before dinner and early night. (3hrs)

Day 5 - 28 Dec 
After an early breakfast, cross the Malalco River to embark on a demanding 3-hour ride to the lagoon Rucachoroi, where a snack lunch is served. Those with enough energy can take a short walk to the summit of Rucachoroi, offering incredible views of Lanin and Chilean volcanoes. After lunch, the group continues riding through the Rucachoroi ridge, descending to the Rucachoroi Valley and heading to our camp on the shores of the lake..  Unfortunately, the terrain doesn't allow for free canter, prioritizing caution and care for the horses.  In the evening, after dinner, relax and overnight. (5hrs)

Day 6 - 29 Dec
Today, the group can decide either to ride to the Calfiquitra valley, or stay at the camp for a rest day. Those who decide to ride will prepare horses and begins the ride through the Calfiquitra Valley, fording a river and enjoying incredible views. This time, participants can canter freely through the terrain. After a 2-hour ride, the group reaches the bottom of the valley to rest and a light snack. Head back to the Rucachoroi camp for asnack by the lake before dinner. (4hr)

Day 7 - 30 Dec 
After an early breakfast, the ride begins with a steep ascent to a plateau where locals bring their animals during the summer months. After crossing Cerro Iglesias (4 hours) the group reaches the Pampa del Iglesias for a light lunch . After a short break, the group continues the ride through Mallín del Picudo and beautiful Araucaria forests. The descent through Loma de las Chivas leads to the Malalco camp, where, after a snack and a hot bath, dinner is served. (7hr) 

Day 8 - 31 Dec
Today, the group ride to the source of the Quillén River, with its view of the lake and the imposing Lanin Volcano in the background. Follow the Malalco Riverto the lake where riders can cool their hooves, wading in the eastern region of it, to reach the pier, where the horses rest while riders board a boat for a 30-minute journey to the lake's base. Enjoy lunch and rest before heading back to the horses at approx 4pm. Head back to main camp where new year dinner is being prepared. and return to the lodge to celebrate the new year together. (3hrs)

Day 9 - 1 Jan 
After a lazy morning enjoy brunch before transfers to the airport

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

In general, the horses are born and raised in the area, thanks to this, they have a great capacity to cover large distances and overcome the challenges of the mountains without major problems.  There are 24 beautiful and well looked after horses in total, including criollo crosses and part anglo-norman, of varying size. They are sure-footed and well behaved and will suit all levels of rider.



The saddles used are “montura de monte” which are similar to old English army saddles with a sheepskin on top. Following traditional gaucho methods, you will find only the stirrups have buckles on the saddles. The saddles are cinched using rawhide, a custom not forgotten from the days when gauchos, like the American cowboy, would ride into the wilderness unable to replace a broken buckle. The gauchos continue to practice this and you will see them fully equipped with their lassos, gaucho knives and boleadoras.



You will ride though forests of lengas, reedbeds, pinewoods, araucarias, lengas achaparradas and more, much of the trails are in walk, as they occur on mountains. Cantering is possible on all but 2 days (28 and 30 December) and is dependent on the riders ability (as judged onsite at the trial ride) and the suitability of the terrain i.e. valley trails, not mountain trails. 


Rider requirements

Riding fitness and being able to ride long hours in the saddle is more important than riding ability on this holiday and novice riders can be accommodated. Where cantering is possible, a slower ride will depart earlier to allow the journey at a slower pace.

When cantering is possible (all except 2 days), riders are encouraged to take advantage of these possibilities but you are under no obligation to do so and the ride can be adapted to suit all level of rider.

Weight Limit

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

The first two nights are spent in the beautiful Casa Grande Lodge.  This is a beautiful wooden lodge built in a clearing with a back drop of woodlands.  The lodge is well equipped and very comfortable.  It offers double rooms and all meals and beverages are included in your stay.  From day 3 you set out on the point to point trail portion of the holiday, during which you will stay in walk-in double tents at the following camps; night 3 at Caballadas camp, night 4 at Mallin Escondido camp, night 5 and and 7 are spent in the Malalco main camp and night 6 is spent at Rucachoroi camp.   On the last day after a short ride you return to the lodge to pick up the transfer back to San Martin de los Andes. 



A range of delicious and diverse meals are served to satisfy everyones tastes during your stay.  The menu features local meals cooked at the fire like asados, empanadas, salads, lamb and vegetables on the grill, risottos, stews and pasta, amongst others. 



For breakfast, there is a selection of fresh toasts, fruits and local options such as mate and medialunas on offer.



Vegetarian and most dietary requirements can be met with advanced notice, please notify us on booking if this is something you require. 


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

November to March are the summer months in Patagonia and give the best weather. Temperatures are warm reaching 17 degrees and rainfall is low. However even in the summer and spring seasons Patagonia can experiences cool winds, so pack extra layers and wind-resistant gear, so that the breezy chill factor doesn’t affect you.

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.



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

There is power at the lodge on the first two nights but not on the camp nights so we recommend you bring a power pack to charge mobile phones during the trip. There is limited signal on the trail and WIFI is only available at the lodge.

Packing List

• Riding Helmet (One can be provide, but we recommend you bring your own).
• Riding gloves.
• Clothing for horseback riding (resistant fabric pants, fast drying shirts, long sleeve shirts to protect from the sun)
• Hat or beret and a buff bandana (sometimes, especially when it is very dry, horses can kick up a lot of dust during the rides).
• Appropriate boots for horseback riding (boots with a small heal) not trainers.
• Sunscreen.
• At night, the temperatures can be low so warm jumpers and night clothes).
• Sleeping bag (one can be provided, but we recommend you bring your own).
• Small bag or backpack (soft material) to transfer the clothes to the camps.
• Power banks as there will be no where to charge phones/cameras.
• Torch for the evenings.
• Items of a personal nature (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.)
• Any medication or personal item that might be required (You are in a remote location no shops nearby)

Programmes

9 day, 8 night, 8 riding days on set dates. Private departures for groups of 6 or more can be arranged between 15 November and 15 April, please enquire.

Departure Dates

24 Dec 2024 - 1 Jan 2025

Pricing
No single supplement payable if willing to share with someone of same sex. Should you wish to book a single room, please see supplement price below.

Both the lodge and glamping camps can offer single accommodation (room or tent) for an additional charge.

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2024/20259d/8n8double pp 3,119
2024/20259d/8n8single supplement 1,045
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024/20259d/8n8double pp 3,645
2024/20259d/8n8single supplement 1,219
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024/20259d/8n8double pp 4,069
2024/20259d/8n8single supplement 1,365
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024/20259d/8n8double pp 43,099
2024/20259d/8n8single supplement 14,435
Other Activities

Fly fishing and hiking are available from the Lodge.

Wildlife

Patagonia is one of the largest and most diverse nature reserves in the world spanning an impressive 402,700 square miles. It stretches across the southernmost region of South America and is shared by Argentina and Chile. Separating the two countries, yet not dividing the nature reserve, is the impressive Andes mountain range.
If you are lucky you may get to see the Patagonian Puma or its prey the Guanacos. You may come across a variety of foxes, hairs and armadillo. One of the most impressive birds of prey is the Andean Condor. This large black vulture is recognizable by its contrasting white feathers along the base of its neck and wings and likes to feed on large carcases of deer or cattle.

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):
Chapelco airport, San Martin de los Andes
Transfer:
2024: Included - 2 hours by car from the San Martín de los Andes airport, 5 hours by car from Neuquén and Bariloche and 2 hours from the Border Pass.
Flight Guide:
London to Chapelco from £993 pp return
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