Location: O’Higgins #965, Puerto Natales, Chile - Cel: +56 9 77318157

This ride will give riders a great Patagonian experience from Puerto Natales in the south, crossing the Torres del Paine National Park further north and then riding southwards back towards Puerto Natales. They will experience the lush green areas through to the typical dry, flat pampas, camping throughout and eating and drinking with the people whose families originate in this region. The last night will be in a rustic refugio.

Main highlights

  • Tour starts and finishes in Puerto Natales, camping throughout with the last night in refugio
  • Includes a boat trip up Last Hope Sound
  • Includes four, full-day rides on Criollo-mix horses with Chilean tack
  • Ride to the Glacier Grey beach, with optional boat trip
  • Experience breath-taking views of the Torres del Paine mountains
  • Ride through woodland, over mountains, through rivers and around lakes
  • Spectacular views every day of the mountains, glacial rivers and lakes
  • Ride to Glacier Dickson viewpoint - a very special vista which few experience
  • Eat typical Patagonian food and wine and meet some of the people who live in this beautiful place
  • See many local birds, animals and plants

Brief day-by-day itinerary

Day 1
Arrive Puerto Natales. Dinner with guide for trip briefing. Night at Hotel If. Briefing dinner included.

Day 2
Transfer to Estancia Perales. Ride around Estancia Perales. Night in Estancia. All meals included. Hours in the saddle: 5.

Day 3
Take cutter across fjords to Balmaceda. Meet horses for ride to Serrano. Night Camping Astorga. All meals included. Hours in the saddle: 8-9.

Day 4
Ride to Glacier Grey viewpoint. Optional boat trip. Ride or transfer back to Serrano. Night Camping Astorga. All meals included. Hours in the saddle: 3 with boat trip, otherwise 6.

Day 5
Ride the Up and Over across the heart of the park to Laguna Amarga. Transfer to Estancia Laguna Amarga. Night camping. All meals included. Hours in the saddle: 7-8. 

Day 6
Ride out of Laguna Amarga and onto Lago Paine. Night camping. No facilties. All meals included. Hours in the saddle: 5-6. 

Day 7
Ride to Dickson. Camping Lago Paine. No facilities. All meals included. Hours in the saddle: 5-6. 

Day 8
Change horses. Ride to Estancia Tercera Baranca via Laguna Azul. Camping. Basic facilties. All meals included. Hours in the saddle: 6.

Day 9
Change horses. Transfer from Tercera Barranca to Laguna Sofia. Full-day ride. Refugio Laguna Sofia. Goodbye asado dinner. Basic facilities. All meals included. 6-7 hours.

Day 10
Transfer to Puerto Natales for onward travel.

Note: Hours in the saddle are approximate and largely depends on the group size and pace of riding.

 

Dates:

2nd – 11th of each month starting October 2016 – March 2017.

Suitability:

This trip suits experienced riders wishing to combine some local flavour and camping with their riding adventure. It is designed for those who prefer to have a more intimate experience with nature and who enjoy a mixture of riding, from technical to some fast riding. There are some days of approximately 8 or more hours in the saddle. 

During long days riders will be asked not to ride their horses overly hard. We strive to be a humane company and keep our horses fairly treated. The holiday is a joint experience of the place and the riding. We expect the riders to treat the horses as though they were their own at all times.

Riders will experience a first-hand view of Patagonian nature and life, which includes the joys, threats and difficulties posed by farming cattle and sheep in the area. The route offers plenty of diversity with rides across open pampas, rides to wild glaciers and ice-berg filled lakes and peaceful rides through valleys and ancient beech forests. Throughout these long days in the saddle, the snow-capped mountains are never far away.

Accommodation:

The accommodation is camping. Most campsites have facilities although these are usually basic. The last night is in a very comfortable refugio.

Riding Experience:

Intermediate – Advanced. This holiday has some fast sections and some technical sections and some long riding days. Fitness and experience are essential. No beginners please.

Age Limit:

We can accept clients between the age of 12 – 70. Younger riders must be experienced and accompanied by an experienced adult. Older riders are welcome to join us on completion of a medical suitability questionnaire.

Trip Length:

10 days / 9 nights – 8 days of riding.

Group Size:

2 – 10 riders. Custom groups of any size: details available on request.

Detailed day-by-day itinerary

Day 1 / Arrive Puerto Natales. Dinner and briefing. Night in Hotel If or similar.

Arrive into Puerto Natales. Clients will arrive today and in the evening will be escorted to dinner by their guide for the trip briefing. Night in the Hotel If or similar.

Day 2 / Transfer to Estancia Perales. Ride around land of Estancia Perales. Night Estancia Perales.

In the morning clients will leave Natales and take a transfer of approximately 40 minutes to Estancia Perales where they will have their first encounter with Criollo horses. This Estancia is still the home of the Alvarez family who have much history in Magallanes. From this lovely Estancia clients will ride along the fjord, up mountains with fabulous views of Last Hope Sound, cross rivers and ride through Magallanic forests. After the ride guests will enjoy a welcoming meal and be able to relax next to the waters of Last Hope Sound. Night in camping at Estancia Perales. All meals included with wine while camping.

Day 3 / Boat to Balmaceda. Ride from Balmaceda to Río Serrano. Camping Río Serrano.

Clients will take the boat from the small pier at Estancia Perales to Balmaceda. This fabulous boat trip travels up the Last Hope Sound passing cormorant nesting crags, dolphins and the Balmaceda Glacier before docking at the Serrano Glacier. Guests will enter the 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.

We will disembark our boat here and enjoy the stunning 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.

After a short zodiac ride (RIB) we will meet our new horses and have some lunch before setting out on a beautiful trail through thick forests passing pristine rivers and streams in the shadow of the Chacabuco and Balmaceda range of mountains. A fairly slow ride today gives us the opportunity to find our riding stride while enjoying the dazzling scenery on our route into the Torres del Paine National Park. Towards the end of the trail, we will cross the Nutria river and come out onto the pampas which marks the end of today’s ride, as we approach our campsite for the night. Our cook will be preparing our dinner and we can enjoy a glass of Pisco Sour while we wait.

This campsite belongs to the Astorga family who are still farming a few sheep and cattle and working in the traditional manner. For early risers, it also offers some of the best sunrises in all of Patagonia! All meals included with wine while camping.

Day 4 / Ride to Grey Beach. Walk to see Glacier. Optional boat ride. Return to RÍo Serrano. Camping Río Serrano.

After breakfast we will be meeting our horses and preparing for the pampas ride to Lago Grey. Our view will be dominated by the jagged peaks of the Paine Massif as we ride out along the Rio Grey to the largest glacier in the park, Glacier Grey. On reaching the trailhead we will tether our horses and walk out across the swinging footbridge through the forest to Grey beach. The view that greets us 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 28km in length and covering a total  area of 270 square km with its frozen walls of blue ice towering almost 35 metres high, it never ceased to impress.

After some time walking along the beach and enjoying our picnic lunch, we will walk back to our waiting horses for the ride back to Rio Serrano.

*Note The Glacier itself is 17 kilometers 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.

Return to Camping Río Serrano for the night. All meals included with wine while camping.

Day 5 / Ride across the heart of the park to Estancia Laguna Amarga. Camping Estancia Laguna Amarga.

After breakfast we will pack up and start our ride eastwards towards the heart of the park. We will now be riding directly towards the Paine Massif mountain range so the views are dramatic and beautiful. Our trail skirts the southern edge of the mountains on a rarely trodden path as we pass azure and turquiose lakes with the huge granite mountain peaks standing behind. After a picnic lunch taken in one of the pretty valleys we will continue east onto the beautiful soft pampas of the Patagonian steppe. Our final destination for the night is the Estancia Laguna Amarga with spectacular views of the Towers of Paine. All meals included with wine while camping.

Day 6 / Ride from Laguna Amarga to Lago Paine. Camping Lago Paine.

After packing up camp we will set off on our exciting ride towards the famous Towers and Lago Paine. We will be heading north towards Laguna Stokes where a large natural vega or pasture exists and which attracts wild criollos from the surrounding hills to graze in the summer. With luck we may get to see these horses but please note the viewing is not guaranteed! There will be many excellent photo opportunities on this route as we pass through forests, pastures and the lake where Lady Florence Dixie first camped having sighted the Towers. Eventually we arrive at our remote campsite with beautiful mountain views, soft flower filled meadows and the mirror clear waters of Lago Paine close by. No showers. All meals included with wine while camping.

Day 7 / Ride from Lago Paine to Dickson Glacier viewpoint. Ride back to Lago Paine.

After breakfast, we will be riding out to Lake and Glacier Dickson. Dickson is one of the more remote and rarely visited glaciers in the Park due to its inaccessibility – in our opinion it is also one of the prettiest. Our rides takes us past the northerly peaks of the Paine chain where one of the peaks is topped by a black, craggy rock in the shape of a Tuhuelche Indian Face where the ‘headband’ is decorated with snowdrifts even in summer. The trail then heads north passing ancient southern beech forests and scattered lakes before reaching our solitary perch and viewpoint above this beautiful lake and glacier. This will be our picnic spot for lunch – a truly memorable destination. In the afternoon we ride back to Lago Paine. No showers. All meals included with wine while camping.

Day 8 / Ride to Laguna Azul. Change horses. Ride to Estancia Tercera Barranca. Camping Tercera Barranca.

After breakfast, we will ride from our campsite towards Laguna Azul. The trail takes us across pampas, past lakes and the River Paine. Meadows of flowers and maybe foxes, upland geese, magallanic woodpeckers, hares and a plethera of flora can be seen. Riding up Sierra Masle where clients have a view of the Torres del Paine Massif and eventually arriving at the beautiful Laguna Azul, where the views are breathtaking. After lunch clients will be say goodbye to the horses from Río Serrano and change to new, fresh horses from Estancia Tercera Barranca. From here we will follow the Río Las Chinas towards the final destination of Estancia Tercera Barranca. 

Typical of the estancias of the area, Estancia Tercera Barranca is a working sheep ranch situated in an enviable position on the park border offering fantastic views of the granite mountains and of the Paine Massif. With land extending to 6,454 hectares it offers quality accommodation close to Torres del Paine National Park in addition to its continuing work as a Patagonian ranch. All meals included with wine while camping.

Day 9 / Transfer to Laguna Sofia. Full day ride. Night in comfortable refugio. Asado dinner.

After breakfast we say goodbye to Estancia Tercera Barranca and their wonderful horses and take an early transfer to Laguna Sofia. Alongside this stunning lake we will be able to choose our comfy bed in the refugio before meeting our horses for the last day of riding. A full day of riding to the Gaucho hut in Vega Señoret. Along the way we go around Laguna Sofia, bordering the Sierra Señoret, with great views of the mountains around us. Once we get to Vega Señoret we will see views of the Torres del Paine mountains one last time and Cerro Ventana (Window Hill).

By lunchtime we will let the horses rest and we will have a nice lunch at the Gaucho hut, a small puesto located in the middle of the valley where gauchos stay during the summer time to look after their cattle. Depending on the time available, and the weather, we may go for a further hour and half to a condor area, where we will be riding at the same altitude they are flying.

After these lovely views we are ready to return to Laguna Sofia where a typical Patagonian asado dinner will be cooking and we can enjoy our last night together. All meals included with wine while camping.