Chile’s Patagonia was explored, founded and traversed by horse. So it seems only fitting for a visitor to discover this unruly and dramatic country by horse and ride shoulder-to-shoulder with the true Patagonian cowboy – the Baqueano (bac-e-ano). This ride leads you through Torres del Paine, Chile’s most prized national park. It’s 180,000 hectares of diverse scenery and wild landscapes on the edge of the southern ice fields and is one of the largest sources of temperate-zone glaciers in the world. The park was created in 1959 and was declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978. Before that, it was part of a huge sheep estancia.
The type of horses used on this ride are the Criollo breed. I have the utmost respect and admiration for these caballos. They are extremely willing, stocky and tough as old boots. The breed is one of the oldest registered horse breeds of South America and is known for its high threshold of discomfort, great immunity to disease and remarkable rate of recuperation. In short, direct one of these horses towards an impassable river crossing or a steep cliff climb and they will not hesitate – once their trust is earned, they will become a loyal friend.
- Horse Breed:Criollo, Criollo x German Warmblood and Criollo x Arabian.
- Pace:Whatever your heart desires! There will be periods of walking due to the terrain, but plenty of trotting and cantering as well.
- Weight Limit:A maximum of 95kg / 210lbs.
- Type of tack:Traditional Chilean tack - metal or wood-framed saddles onto which layered felt, sheepskin and leather are placed.
- Seasons:October through to March.
- Group size:A minimum of 2 and a maximum of 8 guests.
- Time in Saddle:Between 5-8 hours in the saddle each day.
- Riding Ability:Strong intermediate to advanced. This is a fast-paced ride with some very long riding days. Fitness and experience are important. Not suitable for beginner riders.
- Accommodation:Comfortable estancia accommodation.
- Ride Length:10 days, 9 nights with 8 full days riding *there is also a shorter 5 day, 4 night itinerary with 3.5 days of riding on offer as well.
The price includes transfers to and from Puerto Natales (10 day ride only), accommodation, meals and riding.
The price does not include international or domestic flights, or travel insurance (compulsory).
DEPARTURE DATES & RATESNEW! Secure your saddle seat NOW with just a 10% deposit.
The ride price will reduce based on the number of riders booked on each departure. For 10-day estancia rides, the pricing structure is as follows:
$6999 USD per person for 2-3 riders; $6599 USD per person for 4-5 riders; and $5999 USD per person for 6-8 riders
*A single supplement is available at $990 USD for guests not wishing to twin share.
For 5-day estancia rides, the pricing structure is as follows:
$4199 USD per person for 2-3 riders; $3799 USD per person for 4-5 riders; and $3599 USD per person for 6-8 riders
*A single supplement is available at $490 USD for guests not wishing to twin share.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?
The price includes transfers to and from Puerto Natales (10 day ride only), accommodation, meals and riding.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE?
The price does not include international or domestic flights, travel insurance (compulsory), or staff gratuities.
Accepted payment is by credit or debit card only. There is a 2% surcharge on all card payments. Click HERE to read our recommendations on which cards are best to use to avoid international transaction fees.
WHY IS THE PRICE QUOTED IN USD?
With our riding destinations, the currency is dictated by our ride partner in that country. Therefore due to fluctuating exchange rates we have to quote in the same currency.
ItineraryExpand AllCollapse All
*Please note, this is a suggested itinerary only and subject to change at the discretion of your guides due to weather and other influencing factors.
Woohoo – the wait for your horse riding adventure is finally over! If you’re flying into Punta Arenas today, you’ll need to ensure your flight arrives before 3:00pm in order to catch the complimentary transfer service from the airport (or the city centre, if you’ve arrived early) to Puerto Natales. If you arrive after 3:00pm, you’ll need to catch a bus to Puerto Natales. Once in Puerto Natales, you will have time to settle into your hotel before being escorted to dinner by your guide for the trip briefing. Night at Hostel El Establo. Dinner included.
At 7 in the morning, you will take a transfer to the pier in Puerto Natales, where a boat will be waiting to take you on a four-hour scenic trip across the fjords and into Bernardo O’Higgins National Park. Shared by the regions of Magallanes and Aysen, this is the largest national park in Chile and one of five of the most expansive in the world (over three million hectares). With access only via the water, the mountains or the southern ice field itself, it remains a remote and pristine corner of our planet. It also contains the third largest mass of ice on earth after Antarctica and Greenland, so the climate is understandably extreme.
Disembarking from the boat, you’ll be met by breathtaking views which combine old growth forests of evergreen and deciduous southern beech, fire bushes and cypresses – a stunning contrast to the snow capped peaks and glaciers in this region. Next you’ll take a one-hour walk to Serrano Glacier and back, a fantastic chance to learn about the forces of nature that have shaped this region. Once you’re back at the water, it’s just a five minute zodiac boat ride to the location where your Criollo horses patiently await your arrival!
After lunch and a quick briefing, it’s time to saddle up for two hours’ riding through thick forests, alongside pristine rivers and streams, and beneath the shadow of the Chacabuco and Balmaceda mountain ranges. Afterwards, you will be transported to Hostería Balmaceda for a welcoming Chilean meal. All meals included (excluding wine/drinks).
After breakfast, you’ll say goodbye to Hostería Balmaceda and begin a fairly slow but long ride that gives you the opportunity to find your stride and get to know your horse while enjoying the dazzling scenery. You’re making your way to Torres del Paine National Park, and towards the end of the trail, you will cross the Nutria River and come out onto the pampas. This marks the end of today’s ride as you approach your accommodation for the night, Hotel del Paine. This hotel offers comfortable rooms, great views of the Paine Massif, a large living/dining area with a log fire, a comfortable bar and a good restaurant. For early risers, it also offers some of the best sunrises in all of Patagonia! All meals included (excluding wine/drinks).
After breakfast you will meet your horses and prepare for the pampas ride to Lago Grey. The view will be dominated by the jagged peaks of the Paine Massif as you ride out along the Rio Grey to the largest glacier in the park, Glacier Grey. On reaching the trailhead, you’ll tether your horses and walk out across the swinging footbridge through the forest to Grey Beach. The view that awaits is memorable – the pebbly shores of the beach form an almost surreal contrast to the blue of the floating icebergs that have calved off the nearby glacier. Glacier Grey protrudes off the southern ice field and is quite simply a wonder of nature. Measuring 28 kilometres in length and covering a total area of 270 square kilometres with its frozen walls of blue ice towering almost 35 metres high, it never fails to impress.
After some time walking along the beach and enjoying a picnic lunch, you will walk back to your waiting horses for the ride back to Rio Serrano.
*Note The Glacier itself is 17 kilometres from the the Grey Beach, so for those who would like to get up closer to the face of this marvel of ice, we can arrange a trip out onto the lake in the Grey III boat. This is an optional excursion available at the cost of approximately US$140 per person. Those guests who take the excursion will return to the hotel by transfer, not by horse.
Another night at Hotel del Paine. All meals included (excluding wine/drinks).
Today, after breakfast in the hotel, you will pack up and start your ride eastwards towards the heart of the park. Riding directly towards the Paine Massif mountain range, the views are dramatic and beautiful. The trail skirts the southern edge of the mountains on a rarely trodden path as you pass azure and turquoise lakes with the huge granite mountain peaks standing behind.
After a picnic lunch taken in one of the pretty valleys, you’ll continue east onto the beautiful soft pampas of the Patagonian steppe. There will be an opportunity for some cantering as the light fades and the shadows lengthen, before you arrive at Laguna Amarga. If you’re lucky enough to arrive on a still afternoon, you’ll see the mountains reflected perfectly in the lake. Here you will find your lodgings for the night: charming but modern tiny houses! Your hosts will cook up a hearty dinner for you to enjoy as you sit back after the long day’s ride. All meals included (excluding wine/drinks).
This morning you’ll ride from Laguna Amarga to the north-east, close to the border of Argentina. You’ll ride alongside the lake at first, and hopefully you’ll see flocks of flamingos feeding in the water. The area is full of guanacos and the hills will ring with their alarm calls as you ride by. There will be chances for canters as you follow Las Chinas Valley downhill to reach the dramatic Las Chinas Waterfall, where a picnic lunch will be enjoyed. Afterwards, you will cross Las Chinas River and journey on to Estancia Tercera Baranca, where you’ll spend the night. This 6,454 hectare working sheep ranch offers fantastic views of the granite mountains and of the Paine Massif. There is a comfortable living area warmed by the welcoming log fire where you can read and relax before dinner, which is served in the nearby wooden quincho. A hot tub also awaits to soak away any aches! All rooms have private bathrooms. All meals included (excluding wine/drinks).
Once you’ve filled up with a hearty breakfast, you’ll take a 20 minute transfer to Estancia Cerro Guido, a large working estancia with approximately 110,000 hectares, 37,000 sheep, 2,500 cattle and 400 horses. After checking in to your rooms, you will meet your new horses. From the estancia stables, you’ll ride up the mountainside behind the estancia and into the surrounding hills. The Sierra Baguales mountains are a stark contrast to the rolling landscape of the pampas below.
After lunch you’ll ride on to an Indian burial site. Although no artefacts remain at the site, later, in the estancia, you will be able to see photos and learn about the burial site. Returning to the estancia, you’ll enjoy a much-anticipated dinner. All meals included (excluding wine/drinks).
Today after breakfast, it’s once again time to saddle up for a full day’s ride. This time, you will be heading south to Estancia Entro Lagos. This is a beautiful open ride across grassy meadows and welcoming pampas. Riding south with the dramatic Paine mountains to your right enables you to fully appreciate the distances that the original pioneers encountered, and which the estancieros still encounter to this day. There will also be opportunities for lots of canters on your responsive and comfortable horses. With the wind in your hair and a smile on your face, you will experience the sheer joy that is riding in Patagonia!
In the afternoon, after a leisurely picnic lunch and an afternoon’s riding, you will see the blue waters of Lake Sarmiento and have some time to photograph the Torres del Paine mountains from the lake’s edge.
Afterwards, you’ll ride back via Flemingo Lake to Estancia Cerro Guido. The huge roaring fire and big soft sofas will invite you to relax and reflect on your holiday experiences so far. All meals included (excluding wine/drinks).
After breakfast you’ll greet your horses, check your saddles and begin your last full day of riding. You’re headed to the Sierra Baguales mountain range, where the view of the vast valleys carved by the glaciers thousands of years ago is utterly awe-inspiring. You will be mesmerised by the huge skies and long stretches of pampas.
The journey starts with traversing the mountain behind Cerro Guido, along the track called ‘Paso Guitarra’. Then you will pass the lovely but deserted Estancia Las Flores, where you will see the only original adobe building left in the area. At lunch time the horses will rest while you savour a beautiful picnic in the middle of the valley. You may even be able to see condors soaring above.
After these lovely views, you’ll continue on to Vega Nash, where there will be opportunities to canter and enjoy the large flat ‘vega’, a typical pampa in this area. This route will bring you back to Estancia Cerro Guido, where a delicious Patagonian asado dinner will be cooking and you can enjoy your last night with your fellow globetrotters and guides. All meals included (including wine tonight).
This morning, you’ll take a transfer to Puerto Natales. The transfer to Punta Arenas airport leaves at 10:00 and will arrive at approximately 12:30. Here the tour ends and you can continue your onward journey. Breakfast included.
On the 10 day ride, return transfers between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales are included in the ride price. You’ll need to arrive in Punta Arenas before 3pm on day one and book departing flights from Punta Arenas after 2pm on the final day.
For guests arriving after 3pm on day one, there is a bus to Puerto Natales that you can catch for approximately US$13 per person. Your host can organise tickets if need be.
*On the 5 day ride, transfers to and from Puerto Natales are not included in the ride price and guests arriving in Punta Arenas will need to catch a bus (approximately US$13 per person each way). You will need to meet in the cafe Spacio Kau in Puerto Natales for the trip briefing mid-morning on day one. You can depart after 5pm on the last day.
What our valued Globetrotters say about the Estancia Ride
‘Torres del Paine was amazing! I loved it! Beautiful scenery all day every day. Being and feeling like you were on the edge of the earth was just amazing. The horses were fabulous – I wanted to take them home. So calm, smart and strong. It was great being able to go on such long rides, and galloping across the Patagonian pampas was just amazing, with the guanacos making their alarm calls and condors flying overhead. Having delicious packed lunches (with fabulous soup and Baileys) was just great after working up an appetite. The estancias were amazing as well. Some of them were the nicest places I have ever stayed, with the most incredible scenery to wake up to (and breakfast as well)! The group was just amazing as well. I did think that anybody who would want to ride for 10 days in Patagonia must be pretty cool, and I was right!’
“We had a wonderful time. The horses were great, the scenery amazing and each day different than the last. Just when we thought what could possibly top that, there was another incredible vista.”
“We just had such fun, we were very lucky with a) the weather, b) Kris our guide, who was an absolute delight, c) some fab experiences with condors and the gaucho grabbing an armadillo and d) great company, lots of laughs and vino tinto!”
‘The Gauchos were brilliant and Kris our guide was wonderful – so knowledgeable of the area, and he really looked after all of us.”
“The holiday has been the best one of all my holidays so far. I like the type of horses, they were in very good condition. Everybody was friendly and helpful.”