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 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.