This horseback riding itinerary is a perfect combination of the wild deserted coastlands of Lagoa do Peixe National Park with its Lagoa dos Patos, the largest lagoon in Brazil, and the dramatic mountain scenery of canyons, waterfalls and small fazendas of Rio Grande do Sul. 

Start with a 3-day trail of horseback riding through  marsh, coastal dunes and lagoons, arboreal habitat, sandbanks, ocean and lagoon beaches. There is a great diversity of flora and fauna, most of which remains untouched. This area is considered a Ramsar Site (a wetland of international importance), is a part of The Mata Atlântica Biosphere Reserve and has been recognized by BirdLife International. Ride beautiful Lusitano horses, bred at a local stud farm which also serves as the accommodation for the first 3 nights, while the horses stay out on the trail.

Over the next 4 riding days explore the spectacular mountainous scenery of the Rio do Sul highlands with massive canyons and bottomless waterfalls to take your breath away. We transfer inland, meet our Criollo horses and head out along the escarpments of the Aparados da Serra, an area of outstanding beauty.  The Atlantic rain forest is visible in the lower part of Canyons, fields stretch across the plateaux, and ferns lilies and bromeliads that sprout in lush green slopes. Accommodation is at different fazendas, the authentic working ranches in the area. You are sure to have the chance to enjoy a traditional gaucho barbecue and some excellent food.

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Day 1
You will be met at the airport and transferred to a Lusitano stud farm, located 225 kms south east of Porto Alegre near the Lagoa dos Peixes National Park. 

This area is an ecological paradise. Lagoa dos Patos (literal translation: Ducks Lake) is the biggest lagoon in Brazil. It is 174 miles (280 km) long, has a maximum width of 44 miles (70 km). It is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a sandbar about 5 miles (8 kilometers) wide. The National Park was created to protect a wintering zone for migratory birds along the lagoon.

In the afternoon meet the horses and have a short introductory ride. Overnight at the stud farm.

Day 2
After breakfast we saddle up and head towards the Atlantic Ocean, crossing Lagoa dos Peixes National Park on the way. The afternoon ride will take us through deserted beaches. We leave the horses in a local field and return by car to the stud farm (around 20 min). Overnight at the stud farm.

Day 3
After breakfast we head to our horses and today we ride across the northern side of Lagoa dos Peixes National Park, between the lagoon and sand dunes.  We stop for a picnic lunch in an open field en route. In the afternoon continue riding towards our accommodation. Overnight at the stud farm.

Day 4
This morning we have an opportunity forsome last canters through the deserted beaches of the lagoon.

After lunch we drive inland (6 hours) to a ranch (fazenda) located in the highlands, where we are welcomed with the great hospitality and delicious food by the gauchos. After a tasting session of a local drink (made with cachaca and fruits), you will be introduced to Paulo, who owns the horses and will be your guide throughout the rest of the ride. After dinner thre is an orientation sessions for the group around the bar at the fazenda where the guide will outline the trip to come. Overnight at the fazenda.

Day 5
After breakfast we mount our horses and start our journey along the escarpments of the Aparados da Serra National Park, covering an area of outstanding beauty. We admire the typical scenery of Campos de Cima da Serra (Highlands), with Atlantic rainforest in the lower part of Canyons, fields stretching across the plateaux, and ferns lilies and bromeliads that sprout in rich slopes.

This entire area was formed by intense volcanic activity that happened millions of years ago. Successive lava flows created the Planalto Sulbrasileiro, a plateau covered by clean fields, forests of araucarias and countless of crystal clear rivers. There are many canyons distributed throughout the region, some very impressive with enormous rocky cliffs outlining the undulating landscape of the sloping foothills, giving the feeling of surprise and fascination when approaching their edge.

The sharp vertical hillsides of basalt, present a striated coloration with water, vegetation of herbs and small bushes and bare rock.

In the late afternoon we might ecounter the mysterious fogs (called viracão by the locals), drifting in the local rivers. We will have a picnic lunch on the field.

Today is approximately 5 hours on horseback. Overnight at the fazenda.

Day 6
After a good breakfast we start riding towards the peak of Monte Negro, at 1,403 meters it is the highest point of our ride. From here a view of majestic landscapes stretches at our feet engendering a vast feeling of freedom. 

Today's lunch is a barbecue with canyon views or on the bank of a local river, while our horses rest in the shade of a forest nearby. After a short siesta we continue riding to see more canyons, cliffs or as the locals call them, “the peirais of the Aparados”.

Today is approximately 5 hours on horseback. Overnight at the fazenda.

Day 7
After breakfast we will begin our ride towards Fazenda Potreirinho. Today we traverse many rolling hills, with opportunities for long canters. We will see some beautiful waterfalls on the way. We pass the Lopes family Ranch, where the famous Serrano cheese is produced. This Gaucho family work and live the same way as  their ancestors did more than 100 years ago.

After a few hours we will reach Fazenda Potreirinho, a typical ranch with a warm Gaucho atmosphere. Today we will likely spend about 5-6 hours in the saddle. Overnight at the fazenda.

Day 8
After a good breakfast we start to ride towards Cachoeirão, the biggest waterfall of the area. It's very impressive and there will be an opportunity to take good pictures. After our stop at the waterfall, we will continue our ride going up and down many hills,  with fantastic panoramic views. We will trot, canter and enjoy the sense of freedom that comes from riding in vast open country. 

Around 5 hours on horseback. We reach the fazenda for our last dinner and overnight.

Day 9
After breakfast  transfer to Porto Alegre (5 hours).

Please note that the program is subject to change due to weather conditions and availability at the fazendas at the time of booking.

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

During the first 3 riding days of the trip you will ride beautiful purebred Lusitano horses, bred and trained at the stud farm you will be staying at. They are well schooled, sure footed and with excellent natures. There are approximately 50 horses at the farm.



Horses used on the second part of the ride are Criollo, purebred and crosses. There are approximately 25 horses to choose from. They are forward going, sure footed and very obedient and well mannered. They respond to neck reining and are used to be ridden with a loose rein wherever possible.



The riding style is the relaxed Gaúcho style, similar to western riding and trail riding. Saddles are typical Gaúcho saddles with sheep skin on top. They are very comfortable.



You will be accompanied by an English speaking guide and a local guide. Both guides have good knowledge of the local area.


Rider requirements

This ride is suitable for riders who are able to walk, trot and canter on a good horse. There is usually about 5 hours in the saddle each full riding day, so a good level of riding fitness is recommended to make the most of this. Riders are not required to help with grooming and saddling but are welcome to if they wish to.

The maximum weight for this ride is 100kg/15.7lbs.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 220 lb/100 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The accommodation for the first 3 nights is in a guest house at a local stud farm in double, twin or triple rooms with private bathrooms. There is no extra cost on single supplement (subject to availability). The farm has approximately 50 purebred Lusitano horses, most of them born at the farm. 



During the other 5 nights of the trail, you will stay at two different fazendas (ranches). Here you will get to experience the way of life of the Gauchos and their families. At the end of each day you will be transferred back one of the fazendas.




Food at this trail is full board. Below some examples of what you can expect to be served:

Breakfast - bread, yoghurt, jams, cakes and other treats are all made at the farm.

Lunch and dinner - typical Brazilian dishes (both regional and national). Beef and some of the vegetables and fruits are produced seasonally at the farms. There is a lot of variety and vegetarian dishes are always included. 

Once you are in the land of gauchos, the meat will be plentiful and tasty. During the first few days on the coast, fish and shrimp can also be included in the meals. On this trail meals are plentiful and varied, always include salads and desserts.



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.

Oct 2023 - Brazil reintroduces visa requirements for tourists from US, Australia, Canada, and Japan

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Brazil.

You can travel to Brazil without a visa as a tourist for up to 90 days; however 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.

In the UK the British Foreign Office gives advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/brazil

In the US: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/Brazil.html

In Canada: https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/brazil

Climate Summary

Porto Alegre is in the southern hemisphere. The climate here is mild, and generally warm and temperate. There is significant rainfall throughout the year in Porto Alegre. The summer months are: December, January, February, March. The month with the highest relative humidity is June, the lowest December.

Rio Grande do Sul lies within the south temperate zone and is predominantly humid subtropical. The climate is subtropical highland in the highest areas. During the month of February, March, April, October, November and December you are most likely to experience good days with pleasant average temperatures.

Climate Chart

Health

At Unicorn Trails, the health and safety of our customers is of paramount importance.

COVID: Be sure to check the latest COVID regulations for travelling in any country you visit.

Tap water is heavily treated giving it an unpleasant chemical taste but is safe to drink in most urban areas providing it has been passed through a charcoal filter system; you should check with your hotel/restaurant management before drinking tap water. Tap water in remote areas can be unsafe even if filtered; stick to bottled mineral water, which is available virtually everywhere.

UK health authorities have classified Brazil as having a risk of Zika virus transmission and chikungunya, yellow fever and dengue are present.
Cases of dengue fever have increased, especially in the north, south-east and central-west of Brazil.
You should take steps to avoid mosquito bites.

Please refer to your country’s latest health guideline for travel in Brazil and contact your own GP for up to date advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis prior to travel.

Electricity

Brazil is one of the very few countries that do not have a standard mains voltage, but at the same time it has only one official type of socket. In other words, you cannot tell the difference between a 220 V and a 127 V socket. Most states use 127V electricity, but a couple of them are on 220 V. Make sure to check with your hotel or hosts when checking in.

Mobile, WiFi and charging

We recommend that you bring all required equipment, including batteries with you when you arrive. You should contact your network provider for mobile phone coverage. There will be a chance to charge your electronic devices at the farm. If you want to bring a GoPro please be advised that you will have to have permission from all other guests and guides that they are willing to be filmed.

Packing List

It will be hot during the day and possibly cool in the morning or evenings depending on the time of year you travel.

Clothes:
Riding hat, riding boots and chaps
Trousers
Long sleeved and comfortable shirts
T-shirts
Swimming Costume
Cotton socks
Sun hat
Walking shoes and sandals
Sweater or pullover / warm clothes for mornings and evening
Raincoat and a windbreaker

Other:
Water bottle
Insect Repellent - we recommend at least 50% DEET
Sunscreen and sunglasses
Binoculars
Camera on a shoulder strap with a pouch which can be secured to your belt and batteries/chargers

*Medical Travel Insurance is mandatory

Programmes

This is a 9 day/ 8 night programme with 7 days riding. There are set dates and further dates are available on request all year round for 2 or more riders.

Departure Dates

2024: Rides available all year round starting on a Friday. Dates on request.

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.

No extra cost on single supplement (subject to availability).

No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2023 9d/8n9d/8n7double pp2,155
2023 9d/8n9d/8n7small group supplement for 4 pax319
2023 9d/8n9d/8n7small group supplement for 3 pax429
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2023 9d/8n9d/8n7double pp2,515
2023 9d/8n9d/8n7small group supplement for 4 pax369
2023 9d/8n9d/8n7small group supplement for 3 pax505
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description US $
2023 9d/8n9d/8n7double pp2,795
2023 9d/8n9d/8n7small group supplement for 4 pax399
2023 9d/8n9d/8n7small group supplement for 3 pax545
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2023 9d/8n9d/8n7double pp27,799
2023 9d/8n9d/8n7small group supplement for 4 pax4,139
2023 9d/8n9d/8n7small group supplement for 3 pax5,639
Other Activities

Wildlife watching, photography.

Other Country Information

Around 156,000 British nationals visit Brazil each year.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Porto Alegre International Airport Salgado Filho (POA)
Transfer:
2024: Return transfers from Porto Alegre – US$ 700 (up to 3 passengers), payable on site. (subject to change)
Flight Guide:
London to Porto Alegre from £650 return
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