This trip is located on a remote estancia, deep in the heart of Patagonia bordering the Lanin National Park. Ride through the Andean-Patagonian forests, up to high plains of the Andes and along rivers and lakes.
The horses are Criollo crosses and part Anglo-Norman horses in beautiful condition, well adapted to ride across this varied landscape. Most of the ride is in walk due to the mountainous terrain, and it is not a fast ride, but there are opportunities to canter if you wish.
There are glamping and lodge based options or a combination of both can be arranged.

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Due to internal flight schedules we recommend arriving in Buenos Aires the day before and staying the night and flying on to Chapelco airport the following morning. The city of Buenos Aires has lots to offer, so you may wish to spend time there before continuing onto your riding holiday. The ranch is a 2h30min transfer from Chapelco Airport.

Example Itinerary based at the luxury lodge 4 nights
Day 1
After arriving at Chapelco airport, the group will be transferred to the lodge tucked in a valley bordering Lanin National Park. Tea and introductions.

Day 2
After breakfast at approximately 10:30 in the morning, the group will mount the horses and head up to Mallin Escondido. Riding through pine trees up the southern slope of the valley and then on to oak forests as the ascent continues. Finally, the ride will reach an araucarias forest for a campfire lunch. After a siesta, the descent begins into the valley. After crossing the Quillen river, with a chance to canter, the group will go to the lodge, for appetizers and drinks. Ride time: 4 hours.

Day 3
Todays ride is mainly in the river valley, with river crossings and chances to canter. Lunch is on higher ground with a panoramic view of the valley from the hillside. After lunch, ride back to the Lodge with more chances to canter. Ride time: 4 hours.

Day 4
After a relaxed breakfast, mount up and head towards Lake Quillén. Quickly ascend a small hill covered in a forest of pellín oak, coihue trees, and occasional cypresses, offering an impressive view of the Quillén River. After an hour and a half of riding, reach the Pino Huacho viewpoint and enjoy the expansive views of the lake 100metres below Next, descend to the source of the river, and enjoy a hot lunch, a rest and maybe a swim in the river, if the weather permits. The return journey follows the riverbank trail back to the main camp. Transfer back to the lodge for dinner. Ride time: 3.5 hours.

Day 5
Departure:After a light breakfast transfer back to the airport.

Example Itinerary based at the camp 5 nights

Day 1:

On arrival, enjoy a light lunch. After introductions, mount the horses and cross the Quillén Valley, fording the river, and traverse the "mallín de los patos" with views of the Lanin volcano. Arriving at the camp, an appetizer will be served, and there is the opportunity of a hot shower before dinner. Luggage will be brought to camp by vehicle. Ride time: 2 hours.

Day 2:
In the morning, after breakfast, saddle up and embark on a long day with far reaching views. After fording the Quillén River, begin the ascent of Cerro Iglesias, eventually reaching the Pampa del Correntoso, where lunch will be served by the creek. In the afternoon, after a rest, continue through the Picudo marshland and the surrounding araucaria forests, finally descending through the Loma de los Chivos on a steep slope with views of Lanín and Lake Quillén before reaching the main camp for tea and dinner later. Ride time: 7 hours.

Day 3:
Today's ride is to the source of the Quillén River, with views of the lake and the Lanin Volcano in the background. Following the Malalco River, the ride reaches the pier, where the horses board a boat for a 30-minute journey to the lunch spot. After lunch, relax and enjoy the lake view. Around 5:00 PM, the group moves on and returns to the pier, arriving back at base camp after a 1.5 hour journey. The chefs welcome the group with a drink to celebrate the journey before dinner.

Day 4:
Today ride up Rucachoroi. Ride through forests of bamboos and lengas, forests of araucarias, squat lengas and finally reach the lagoons formed in the old crater of the volcano. Once there, you will be served lunch and then, energy levels allowing, walk the last few meters to reach the summit and see from there the seven volcanoes that dominate the area and the mountain range of the Andes in all its glory. Return to the main camp, through the Iglesias hill and finally across the Loma de las Chivas. Tea and after a hot bath a dinner. Ride time: 7 hours.

DAY 5:
After breakfast at 10:30am, mount the horses and head to Mallin Escondido. Descend by Malalco River and head to old Quillen town, passing through pinewoods, then begin the ascent of the southern slope of the valley. Pass through oak forests continuing its ascent and enjoy the wonderful views. Finally reach an araucarias forest for a campfire lunch. After lunch and a short rest start the descent to the Quillen Valley, finishing the ride back at the barn. After leaving the horses, the group will be driven back to the camp. Ride time: 5 hours.

Day 6: Enjoy a final breakfast before heading back 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

Most of the horses are born and bred in the area and are well adapted to the distances and altitude. There are 24 horses including Criollo crosses and part Anglo-Norman, of varying heights. They are sure-footed with good temperaments. 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 from the days when gauchos 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.

Passing though forests of lengas, reedbeds, pinewoods, araucarias, lengas achaparradas and more, much of the ride is conducted at the walk, due to the mountainous nature of the trails. There are opportunities to canter on most days.


Rider requirements

Riding fitness and being able to ride long hours in the saddle is more important than riding ability on this trip and novice riders can be accommodated. Where cantering is possible, a slower ride will depart earlier to allow the journey at a slower pace for those who do not wish to canter. There is no pressure either way and the ride can be adapted to suit the group.

Weight Limit

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

There are two accommodation options on this ride: The comfortable glamping camp has six tents with two beds in each. It is equipped with two shared full bathrooms that have a shower with hot water, and a kettle with a fireplace where riders gather for breakfast and dinner. Generally, lunch is taken out on the trail in a scenic spot.

For a more luxurious stay we recommend being based at the main lodge. This is located on the top of a hill and has a wonderful view of the valley and its surroundings. The lodge has six bedrooms with six private bathrooms. It offers a large living room with fireplace, dining room and playroom. It is fully equipped including an excellent chef who is in charge of preparing typical Patagonian dishes. There is also a telephone, internet access and laundry service.

The menu features local meals cooked on the fire like asados, empanadas, salads, lamb and vegetables on the grill, risottos, stews and pasta. For breakfast, there is a selection of fresh toasts, fruits and local options such as mate and medialunas.


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.



Health (ride specific)

Sunscreen and insect repellent are recommended.

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. If using a GoPro ensure that you have the permission of the group to be filmed.

Packing List

- Riding Helmet - we strongly recommend that you wear a properly fitted riding helmet of the current standard which is PAS015 or BSEN1384 (One can be provided, but we recommend you bring your own)
- 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)
- Riding Boots - it is important to have correct shoes or boots for horse riding. Jodhpur or ankle boots with a rubber sole are recommended but sturdy shoes with a definite heel are acceptable (such as walking boots)
- Half Chaps - these are great when worn with ankle boots and help prevent the stirrup leathers rubbing against your legs
- Fleece - Although the weather is generally very warm, the evenings can be a bit cooler
- Warm layers - At times the evening temperature drops significantly
- Casual Clothes - for when out of the saddle
- Raincoat - although it rains very rarely it may be a good idea to pack a waterproof/ windproof jacket
- 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
- Sunglasses
- Sunscreen
- Refillable Water Bottle - it's very important to drink a lot of water when it's hot, especially when doing physical activities
- Personal Items - toiletries, any medicines you require and please be sure to take insect repellent
- Power banks as there will be no where to charge phones/cameras
- Torch for the evenings
- Camera, spare Batteries/Chargers - an absolute must! It is also a good idea to take a camera case you can strap around your waist or onto a belt for whilst you are riding
- A copy of your passport & travel insurance

Provided by hosts
Sleeping bag
Riding Helmet

Programmes

Minimum 4 night stays.

Departure Dates

Available all year round

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 per night Lodge stayper night1double pp415
2024 per night Lodge stayper night1Child under 12 sharing369
2024 per night Lodge stayper night1single supplement135
2024 per night glampingper night1double pp315
2024 per night glampingper night1Child under 12 sharing249
2024 per night glampingper night1single supplement105
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2024 per night Lodge stayper night1double pp495
2024 per night Lodge stayper night1Child under 12 sharing439
2024 per night Lodge stayper night1single supplement159
2024 per night glampingper night1double pp369
2024 per night glampingper night1Child under 12 sharing295
2024 per night glampingper night1single supplement125
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2024 per night Lodge stayper night1double pp559
2024 per night Lodge stayper night1Child under 12 sharing499
2024 per night Lodge stayper night1single supplement185
2024 per night glampingper night1double pp425
2024 per night glampingper night1Child under 12 sharing335
2024 per night glampingper night1single supplement139
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2024 per night Lodge stayper night1double pp5,809
2024 per night Lodge stayper night1Child under 12 sharing5,165
2024 per night Lodge stayper night1single supplement1,885
2024 per night glampingper night1double pp4,379
2024 per night glampingper night1Child under 12 sharing3,465
2024 per night glampingper night1single supplement1,455
Recommended Reading

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

‘Gauchos and the Vanishing Frontier’ –Richard W Slatta,

‘The Drunken Forest’ and ‘The Whispering Land’ – Gerald Durrell,

‘Saddled With Darwin’- Toby Green

‘In Patagonia’ – Bruce Chatwin.

For the equestrian traveller who would like to see what is possible on horseback visit www.thelongridersguild.com 

Also a fantastic place to acquire your equestrian travel books is www.horsetravelbooks.com


Other Activities

From the Lodge: Fly fishing. ($100 per day), Boating on the lake, Trekking on foot

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, hares 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 carcasses 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 than 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 (CPC)
Transfer:
2hours 30min by car from the San Martín de los Andes airport (US$360 per car upto 3 pax, return), 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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