Live the life of a true Patagonian cowboy on this relaxed, family-run Fundo where you'll be staying in the heart of the spectacular wilderness of northern Patagonia. This programme is designed for people who love the outdoors and are looking for a flexible programme of riding and enjoying the peace and tranquility. The Fundo, or agricultural estate, has been in the family for over 40 years and has been passed down the generations; so you can expect a warm welcome from enthusiastic hosts who are excited to teach you the history, traditions and native flora and fauna of Patagonia.
You'll be staying in shared rooms in the farmhouse and each day you'll join the family and sample their daily lives, perhaps working with cattle, taking care of sheep, learning to cook the typical cuisine, helping with young horses, or just enjoying guided horse rides with the most exhilarating views all around. If you fancy a day off that's no problem at all - enjoy the cosy sauna, read a good book on the terrace, swim in the river, fish or practice your archery and lassoing skills, the possibilities are endless!
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Day 1: Arrival
Transfer from the airport to the Fundo, depending on the arrival time you’ll be received with a welcome lunch or supper. If the arrival is early enough then you can hopefully enjoy a short ride and have an introduction to the Chilean tack.
The days are flexible at the Fundo; you'll spend from 2 hours to 5 hours a day in the saddle, gradually increasing the difficulty and the time of the ride each day to get you acclimatised.
Rides will start usually at 10am after a mate tea and breakfast. Depending on the ride or job in hand there'll either be a picnic lunch en-route at an iconic spot or the ride will be back in time for a delicious hot lunch around the table back at home.
Enjoy a final morning ride and in the afternoon there'll be a traditional Patagonian roasted lamb as a traditional farewell ceremony.
Breakfast and departure. You will be transferred back to the airport, arriving at around 12.30pm. Onward flights should therefore be booked for the afternoon.
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.
There are currently six horses suitable for novice riders onwards as well as a few more green horses. The family are also starting two youngsters. Your hosts are able to provide horses suited to all levels from novice to advanced riders.
The horses that are used for the rides are Criollos and Pura Raza Chilenos, all of them are working horses, so they are strong, agile and gentle. They are all used to the rough terrains of the Fundo. The saddles used are working Chilean saddles, which are ideal for long walks and the comfort of both horse and rider. Each day you will be riding out from the estancia in different directions. The pace is mostly slow since the main routes are into the mountains, passing through mud and native forest. There will be a chance to canter while riding through pastures, but this won't be everyday.
For this based stay, the estancia can accommodate novice to advanced riders. All riders should be confident and in control on a horse in open spaces so no beginners, however novice riders are very welcome.
This itinerary is suited to lovers of riding and the outdoors and those who like to get ‘off the beaten track’. Riders are not expected to help groom and tack-up their horse but are welcome to assist if they want to. Riding hats are not mandatory but there are some available to borrow if you do not want to bring your own. The farm also has chaps available to borrow.
The weight limit for this ride is 242 lb/110 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.
You'll be staying on a traditional family farm, deep in the heart of Northern Patagonia. There are 4 bedrooms (sleeping between 2-4 people in bunk beds) available to accommodate guests and 3 shared bathrooms. Towels and all bed linen are provided. You'll share in the family's daily life, from drinking mate in the mornings to playing cards at night. The farm is also equipped with a Quincho (grill shed or barbecue shed) and a sauna for relaxing after riding days.
The house is situated very rurally with electricity depending on a generator, which does not work 24/7, the family will only have it on for a few hours of the day. Mobile phone signal is limited or non-existant - this destination offers a rare opportunity to disconnect and experience the rural side of Patagonia.
The meals served at this destination are typical Patagonian dishes. You can expect homemade bread during breakfast alongside cheese, jam, ham, farm eggs and fresh milk. Lunch will be different each day, but meat is one of the main ingredients, organic and grass-fed sheep, lamb or beef which is served alongside freshly prepared vegetables and beans. Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advance notice. On some of the days lunch will be served in the house around the table. On other days if the ride is a bit long you'll take sandwiches or fruit to eat on the way and once returning to the farm the real lunch or supper will be served depending on the time of arrival.
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.
Visa are not required for U.K. or other European nationals staying for less than 90 days. In the UK the British Foreign Office gives travel advice on 0207 008 0232/0233 or at www.fco.gov.uk.
The Chilean Embassy in the UK is at 12 Devonshire Street, London W1G 7DS.
The British Consulate in Santiago is at Avda. El Bosque Norte 0125, Las Condes, Santiago. Telephone: +56 (2) 370 4100.
The climate in northern Patagonia is extremely unpredictable (similar to Scotland). So be prepared for sunny hot days (25ºC) and rainy chilly days (5ºC), and sometimes both during the same day! Average 24 hour temperatures are below for the area, but temperatures can vary considerably over short distances in Chile.
No special health precautions are required for visits to Chile but please see your local doctor for advice and further details. We do advise taking plenty of sunscreen! If you are visiting wetter regions, such as Patagonia, insect repellent could be useful for warm days after rain.
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 or visit the Department of Health's web site on www.dh.gov.uk
Voltage is 220V, so check this input is appropriate for your appliance before leaving. You will also require a plug adaptor, which you may purchase at most airports and travel shops.
There is limited phone signal at this destination and it is often non-existent. There is no Wifi. Electricity is also limited as the facilities depend on a generator, which does not work 24 hours a day. For this reason we advise you to bring spare batteries for your camera equipment.
- Clothes for layering and a windbreaker jacket are essential
- Casual wear for the evenings
- Warm good quality socks or slippers are recommended for indoors
- Water-resistant footwear
- Swimming gear
- Riding hats (not mandatory and available to borrow)
- Chaps (also available to borrow)
- All personal toiletries and medicines
- A torch/headlamp
- A copy of your passport and travel insurance certificate
- A camera and spare batteries
Towels and bed linen is provided.
This is an 8 day/7 night stay with 6 riding days. This programme is available as an exploratory ride on the 24th February. Riders will be accommpanied by a member of the Unicorn Trails team.
2021: Tuesday to Tuesday, all year-round
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.
The Heights of Macchu Picchu – Neruda,
House of Spirits – Isabel Allende (the late President’s niece),
Victor; An Unfinished Song –Joan Jara,
Crisis in Allende's Chile: New Perspectives – Edy Kaufman,
The Whispering Land – Gerald Durrell
In Patagonia (Vintage classics) – Bruce Chatwin
If you are not riding there is plenty to do. You can take walks, fish, go trekking, practice lasso skills, practice archery skills, have a day swimming in the river, cook, read books and spend time with the family doing the farm chores. This is a place to disconnect and enjoy nature and silence.
Northern Patagonia contains many distinct ecosystems. Each ecosystem contains widely diverse landscapes, which themselves enable different flora and fauna to flourish, some found nowhere else on earth. Patagonia is home to over 40 species of mammal and 100 species of birds. Among these, the protected guanaco, Patagonia’s largest land mammal, roams the plains in large breeding groups. Each group comprises a dominant male and a harem of females, each of which gives birth to one chulengo. They make for fascinating watching. The Puma, sometimes called the panther, cougar or mountain lion, also inhabits Torres del Paine in fair numbers. This is the southern-most inhabitant of the 27 recognizsd puma subspecies and one of the largest. It inhabits huge territories encompassing up to 40 square miles of rocky slopes, forests and open plains. It is a solitary, nocturnal hunter, feeding on small mammals, guanacos and sometimes, sheep owned by local ranchers. It has also been known to attack young or injured horses.
Often seen gliding in the huge skies in search of carrion the Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) flies as high as 15,000 feet and at speeds of up to 35 miles an hour. An unforgettable sight, it weighs in at 16 pounds, is four feet long and has a massive ten foot wingspan. Finger-like feathers at the end of these huge wings make for precision flying. It nests in rock cavities high in the mountains. Condors are bald-headed and the male condor is black with some white on its wings and a fleshy red or black crest about four inches long. The female has no crest. Young condors have fluffy brown feathers.
Chile stretches nearly 3,000 miles north to south, always bound by the Andes to the east and the Pacific to the west, yet is on average only 100 miles wide. The scenery is extraordinarily diverse, from the deserts and salt flats in the north to the lakes and sculpted peaks of the Torres del Paine in the south. With one of Latin America's most successful economies and political stability it is a friendly and safe place to explore, with a level of efficiency in services that many will find unusual in Latin America.
In the 1,630 square kilometres of the Torres del Paine National Park, sheer granite walls rise up to heights of 8,000 feet, glaciers and a sea of ice stretch into the distance and turquoise lakes are constantly replenished by water from the Patagonian Ice Cap. The park has a network of well marked trails, the trails are different routes for walkers and riders. Punta Arenas is the departure point for cruises along the southern fjords or flights to Antarctica, and there are several penguin colonies nearby.
Chile's boundaries are geographically well-defined: to the west is the Pacific Ocean; to the east the Andes mountains; to the north is the Atacama Desert, the driest in the World; and to the south are the icefields and glaciers of Chilean Patagonia. There are wide variations of soil and climate between these features. Its 4,500 km coastline includes an amazing assortment of archipelagos and channels south of Puerto Montt. Although Chile is 4,329 km long at no point is it wider than 180 km. Chile's sovereign territory includes some Pacific islands, among them Easter Island, and it has a claim to a sector of Antarctica.
Chilean territory was among the last to be populated in Latin America. Prehispanic Chile was home to over a dozen different groups of indigenous people. The three main cultural groups were Incan, Mapuche and Patagonian.
Northern Chile was an important centre of culture in the medieval and early modern Inca empire. Afterwards, their culture was dominated by the Spanish during the Colonial and early Republican period. Other European influences, primarily English and French, began in the 19th century and have continued until today, as in other Western societies.
The national dance is the cueca. Another form of traditional Chilean song, though not a dance, is the tonada. In the mid-1960s native musical forms were revitalized with the Nueva Canción Chilena, which was associated with political activists and reformers.
Chileans call their country País de Poetas which means land of poets. Gabriela Mistral, was the first Chilean to win a Nobel Prize for literature. Chile's most famous poet, however, is Pablo Neruda, who also won the Nobel Prize and is world-renowned for his extensive library of works on romance, nature, and politics. His three highly individualistic homes, located in Isla Negra, Santiago and Valparaiso are popular tourist destinations.
Chile is four hours behind GMT and 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 +56.