Patagonia Frequently Asked Questions

Airports, Asado, & More

Everything You Need to Know Before You Go

Wondering about where we’re going and what we’re doing? Check out our frequently asked questions to learn everything you need to know before booking our Cowgirl Yoga & Hiking Patagonia retreat.

Check our General FAQs for info on payments, policies and packing.

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Patagonia Frequently Asked Questions

What’s included in the Cowgirl Yoga & Hiking Patagonia retreat?

  • 7 days/7 nights at our own private lodge in the Arelauquen Golf and Country Club.
  • All meals starting with dinner on the first day and ending with breakfast on departure day (8th day).
  • All airport transfers between our lodge and the Bariloche Airport. All transfers to outdoor activities.
  • Open bar (includes mineral water, drinks, juices, wines and drinks from the house).
  • 6 days of activities: 3 guided hikes and 3 horseback rides (see below for details).
  • Daily yoga classes.
  • Daily housekeeping service.

What's not included?

  • International and Domestic flights.
  • Transportation from Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE) to Jorge Newbury (AEP) Airport.
  • Guide and staff gratuities – we would suggest $100 per person for the guides, and $50 for the chef/housekeeping. 
  • Extra nights at a suggested hotel, if needed.

Where exactly are we going in Patagonia?

Located in Northern Patagonia, San Carlos de Bariloche is the outdoors capital of South America, situated in the foothills of the Andes on the southern shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake. We’ll be staying, riding and hiking in the spectacular Nahuel Huapi National Park.

What airport should I fly into?

From the US, you will fly to Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini International Airport (EZE). IMPORTANT: You have to change airports in Buenos Aires to get to Patagonia! We highly recommend coming in a day early to break up the trip, and to spend a little time in Buenos Aires too. You will book a separate, domestic flight from Jorge Newbury domestic airport (AEP) to Bariloche (about 2 hours from BA).

Once you arrive in Bariloche, we’ll meet you at the airport to take you to our lodge, which is approximately 30 minutes from the airport.

This is a badass active retreat with 6 full days of activity ahead of you, so if your schedule allows it’s worth coming in a day early. We will provide a list of hotels in Bariloche. We also recommend a few days in Buenos Aires before or after the retreat (you came all this way, why not make the most of it?), and are happy to offer our suggestions for food, shopping, hotels, and more! Just ask.

What travel documents do I need, and do I need any shots?

Make sure your passport is valid for six months after the last day of your trip. No visa is required for US citizens, but other nationalities should check with their local consulate. No inoculations are required to enter Argentina, but make sure you are up to date on all boosters (i.e., tetanus). Please be sure to let us know if you have any health conditions, and are taking any medications.

What will the weather be like?

The seasons are opposite in North and South America – it’s early fall in Patagonia in March. We can expect temperatures in the 60s and 70s during the day, and between 30s and 40s at night. The sun is strong during the day, but the wind chill can have a dramatic effect. High SPF is recommended, as are layers. Pack for Patagonia like you would for Montana! And check out our packing list here.

Who are our guides?

Our guides are born and raised Patagonians who have created partnerships with companies like ours, to offer outdoor fitness and adventure trips in their beautiful part of the world. You can find out more about them at Far Away Fly Fishing.

Margaret Burns Vap from Big Sky Yoga Retreats will be your US trip leader and yoga teacher. She also leads international yoga retreats in Costa Rica, France and Italy.

Where are we staying?

We’ll be staying at a lodge specially selected for the needs of our group. It has a spacious living room attached to the dining room, plus a tv room, play room and library. It has a total of 8 spacious rooms, each of them with different characteristics. The lodge has a very nice garden, and is surrounded by  breathtaking views of the Andes. Our own personal Patagonian playground! 

What's the food like?

Foodie Argentina: think meat. Superlative meat! And dulce de leche, yerba mate, empanadas, and Bariloche chocolate that can easily compete with the Swiss. Our in-house chef will pamper our palettes with fresh, local Patagonian fare, and lots of yerba mate. To begin the day we will fuel up for our hikes and ride with granola, locally grown berries, yogurts, cheese, toasted wholemeal bread, and more…but first, there will be coffee before yoga! 

Lunch – Hiking lunches will be “on the trail” and provided by our guides, usually something light in order to keep going. Riding day lunches are leisurely, in between riding at the gorgeous estancias we are visiting. 

Dinner – All meals will be served with vegetables and/or salads. Main dishes will include the following options: empanadas, veggie lasagna, tacos, sushi, whole wheat pizza, Patagonian trout, Argentinian lamb, seafood papillote.

*Check out What to Eat in Argentina on Epicurious.

What does a typical day look like?

Coffee. Meditation and Yoga. Breakfast. Ride and enjoy a leisurely lunch made by our estancia hosts, or hike with lunch on the trail. More yoga. Relax. Dinner. Sleep well under the Southern Cross, rinse and repeat. This is a very active vacation! We will start each day with a strong yoga practice before breakfast, and we’ll alternate horseback riding days with hiking. We’ll unwind with more restorative yoga, a glass of Malbec on the patio, time to relax and a leisurely dinner, when we can recap the day’s adventures and plan for the next day’s.

What hikes will we do?

Brazo Tristeza Sail on private Catamaran + Cascada Frey Hike

This is a truly unique experience. In 2018, it was our own private boat ride and hike; we had everything to ourselves in this gorgeously remote area.

The trip starts at Bahía López harbor, located on the Circuito Chico. During our sail, we’ll explore the Brazo Tristeza of Nahuel Huapi Lake; this is a deep glacial fjord or lake sound, surrounded by mountains and waterfalls, only accessible by boat. From Bahía López we go west, heading towards Brazo Blest, and then around the Llao Llao Peninsula to reach the mouth of Brazo Tristeza, where the water becomes calm and protected by the mountains. Navigating deeply into the lake, between López Hill and Capilla Hill, numerous waterfalls will start appearing (especially during thaw season or after rainy periods). The woods will slowly transform into Valdivian rainforest, that average 9 feet of rainfall per year. Enormous trees like the coihue and alerce or larch grow in this jungle. Thanks to the humidity, a proliferation of herbs, ferns, moss, and fungus can be found. The western area of Brazo Tristeza is a Strict Natural Reserve for numerous species, one of the most important being Huillín, an otter only found in central and southern Chile and in Argentina. It is also Nahuel Huapi’s National Park’s symbol. We would be very lucky if we had the chance to see a Hullín, but we will probably observe many bird species, from condors to aquatic and woods birds. Coasts of the Brazo are rocky and rough, with few beaches. The rounded rocks are signs of the presence of glaciers from 5,000 years ago. If the sky is clear, we will see the majestic Mount Tronador (11,320 feet), which dominates the landscape with its glaciers and eternal snows. At the end of the Brazo a marked path awaits; it’s an easy hike to the Arroyo Frey waterfall, in the heart of the woods – an idyllic place, where nature expresses herself well. After the hike, we head back to enjoy lunch on board the boat, the perfect end to this exploration around one of the most beautiful and wildest areas of Nahuel Huapi National Park.

Refugio Frey Hike

Great pictures and info here about one of the most popular hikes in the Andes!

Cerro Campanario Hike

A Baroloche Must-Do. So, we’re doing it!

What rides will we do?

The horseback rides were selected to showcase the varied geography of Patagonia. One of our rides will take place in the Andean Mountains that are mainly covered by high-mid altitude forest with incredible hilltop views. Our second ride will take place in a transition zone where the Steppe meets the Andes, and we will ride in trails through a mix of low-mid altitude forest and steppe (semi desert with slopes). The third environment will be the Patagonian steppe, that boasts of wide open views and the chance to see wildlife and the immensity of the non-populated areas. This way you will be able to enjoy 3 different rides run by families of original settlers, who are going to be our hosts and guides. All the ranches we have chosen for the horseback rides have “Mestizo” horses, which are the pefect choice for endurance on our rugged terrain. Mestizos are a mix of Fresians, Quarter horses, Percheron and Appaloosa. The saddle we will use is the “Chilean Saddle”. This wood-framed saddle is layered with blankets and leather that can serve as bedrolls, and are covered with layers of sheepskin on top for comfort. Rope, rawhide and leather form the bridles, girths, and straps.

Patagonia Steppe and Plateau

Estancia La Taba is an 8,000+ acres working ranch where sheep, cattle and horses are raised, and occasionally shearing, branding and other slices of ranch life may be watched or shared with the gauchos. Estancia La Taba stands on the Patagonian plateau with a view of the snow-capped Andean range, close to the Pichileufu river which runs through 10 km of its rough land, canyons and native woods of Ñires, chacayes and willow trees. We will ride on various trails crossing the river, going close to the condor nest areas and also over the plateau for spectacular views of the valleys and rock formations. After the first couple of hours we will take a break to have lunch and continue exploring the area. People are scarce, but we may see guanacos, puma, red fox, skunks, armadillo, condors (that breed on the high rocks), chimango, carancho, ibis, teros, ducks, wild geese and more.

Forest – Steppe Transition

We will enjoy an authentic day in the Patagonian countryside, where the forest meets the Patagonian steppe. We will depart from Cabalgatas Haneck, where we will be able to appreciate the famous hills “las buitreras” and “Carbón”, the valley of the river Ñirihuau, and the Andes Mountains. We will cross large mallínes (wetlands) and ride through a mixed forest that features many varieties of local flora such as the Ñire, Palo Piche and Radal trees. We will then ascend to a ridge to take in the breathtaking views. We will be able to observe large Andean Condors that inhabit the area, and other local fauna. This is a typical day on an authentic Patagonian family-owned ranch. After our ride, we will enjoy some roasted meat (classical asado), salads and vegetables served by the Haneck Family, our hosts.

Water division and Mount Pontoreros

This ride with Los Baqueanos is named “La Divisoria”. We will ride for the first hour through flat spots, mallines (wetland) and pampas (grassland) to reach the water division, where the waters of Lake Mascardi go towards the Pacific Ocean, and those of Lake Gutierrez towards the Atlantic Ocean. After we will climb a section of the southern slope of Cerro Catedral (40 minutes) and return along the coast of the lake (20 minutes). At noon, we will take a lunch break to enjoy baked meat and vegetables, homemade salads,  and home baked bread. After dessert and some rest, we will begin another two-hour ride where the Pontonero ascent begins, an incredible viewpoint where you can see where we were on the first ride and the magnificent landscapes that the area offers. The trail rises and falls through forest and the a stream crossing (the river flow depends on the time of the year). After the ride, the warm lakeside lounge awaits with hot chocolate, coffee, tea and homemade pastry.

What’s the yoga like?

We often get asked what kind of yoga, how many times a day, what if I haven’t practiced in awhile – all valid questions. You will be fine. We offer straight up vinyasa flow, with a twist of restorative. We accommodate all levels of yoginis, but highly recommend some pre-retreat yoga experience, even if you start a practice with the retreat in mind. Some days will have one yoga practice, some will have two. We promise to get in as much yoga as we can, and balance it with our outdoor activities. Most mornings will begin with yoga (after coffee, but before breakfast!) to start the day off right, on the yoga mat.

Am I in good enough shape for the hiking?

Your cardio fitness should be good enough to hike 4-5 hours at a time in varied terrain with altitude gain. We suggest you start a training or workout program at least 3 months beforehand so you can get the most out of the hiking. It does not need to be a hard-core program, just get out, play and be active a few days a week. Let us know if you would like suggestions! It’s a great opportunity to get in kick ass shape, to get the most out of this active trip.

What horseback riding experience should I have?

This retreat is not for beginner riders; we recommend riding experience and/or riding lessons to prepare. If you have been with us on Cowgirl Yoga before, you are qualified! NEW for 2019, we will have both an advanced and a more intermediate riding group on this trip. You will be amazed at how much your seat improves after a week of riding like a gaucho!

We will spend between 4-6 hours a day in the saddle on the three days dedicated to “gaucho” riding, usually with a relaxed lunch in between rides. For the advanced riding, we ask that you be comfortable with all gaits, including walk, trot and canter. We also ask that you pack appropriate riding gear, detailed in the packing list. PLEASE NO TENNIS SHOES! Use this as an opportunity to buy some good riding boots! Please contact us if you would like to further discuss if your riding abilities are a good fit for this retreat. (And trust us – yoga gives you a better seat!)

Do I have to participate in everything on the schedule?

You do not need to participate in everything; you can pace yourself to find the perfect amount of activity for you. We support you in doing as much or as little as is right for you, depending on how you are feeling. However: remember this is an active vacation, and we are giving you as much as we can of what you signed up for! (Personally, we wouldn’t want to miss a thing.) The schedule gives you a sense of the flow of each day. It’s always subject to change, depending upon the needs of the group, weather, etc.

What if I’ve never been to Argentina?

Embrace the opportunity to experience a new place! And remember: there are many things that are not like the US. Some of it will push your comfort zone, most of it will expand your horizons. We don’t travel to have things be just like at home. We encourage you to do your “homework” – that’s part of the fun. Read about the history, the culture, the most recommended places to see and things to do. Learn a few Spanish phrases. We will share lots of resources with you as well.

Recommended reads:

Away & Aware: A Field Guide to Mindful Travel

Lessons from the road: what travel taught me about love

Destination Earth: A New Philosophy of Travel by a World-Traveler 

Women Are Becoming More Adventurous Travelers – and Doing It Alone

Bon Appétit’s Highly Subjective but Very Smart Guide to Traveling

Jetsetter Guides’ 8 Things to Know Before Traveling to Patagonia

How can I connect with other women on my retreat?

We set up a private Facebook group for everyone on this retreat. Yes, that means you have to be on Facebook. Trust us, it’s worth it just for this. It’s a great way to discuss travel plans, share links to articles, and for us to keep you updated on all trip info. And it’s much easier and faster than email.

Upcoming Retreats

Check out our calendar to see when your desired retreats are running—and reserve your spot. Retreats typically sell out, often several months in advance. So, stake your claim now!