Riding the Puelo River roads

Destination : Patagonia
Program Type : Horseback
Duration : 8 days / 7 Nights
Price : from $3,660
(Per Person) Taxes included
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Puerto Montt – Puelo River Valley – Bandurrias Island – Bariloche

We can either organise your adventure so that it starts in the Argentinean or Chilean Patagonia. We don’t have frontiers. What we offer here is just a suggestion of what you can do on your trip. If you would like to make any changes to the itinerary just get in touch with us and we can put together a tour tailor-made to suit you.

Journey deep into the valleys upon your Creole horse in a magical experience that only intensifies as you pass through the Puelo River. Crossing the landscapes that are preserved in time, its virgin forests and narrow paths are scarcely traveled, You will meet its many different faces, its welcoming people and the unparalleled nature that it offers as you go exploring its mountainous corners.

A brief, still to be written preface to this story, will be given to you the afternoon before your departure when you will be met by your guide in Puerto Varas at 18:00 p.m. This first meeting with your guide will be to brief you about the conditions and requirements of the trip as well as clear up any doubts you may have so that your adventure may be a pleasant one over the next few days.

We suggest you arrive in Puerto Varas early to have time to visit the city, characterized by its German style, a legacy of the immigrants who built and inhabited it more than a century and a half ago. The Llanquihue Lake, magnificent in itself, is one of the largest in South America and will offer you an incredible panorama of the four volcanoes that accompany this tranquil and beautiful city.

 

Day 01: Puerto Varas – El Manso – El Traidor

Breakfast is made with a special ingredient! The excitement of knowing that you are about to embark on an eight-day crusade which will leave its mark in your history. At nine o’clock you will make your way to the Andes which border the Llanquihue Lake and pass between two awe inspiring mountains, the Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. These will give you an indication towards the type of impressive geography of the region. Continuing onwards, you will arrive at the first fjord in the south of Chile, Reloncaví Estuary, which will receive you in all its splendor and whose waters will guide the route towards the town of Cochamó. The trip continues until you reach the Puelo River Valley located near the mouth of the sea and shortly after, the Tagua Tagua Lake, where you can enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in front of the majestic panorama that the place offers you. After lunch you will cross the ever-impressive turquoise waters of the lake by ferry. On the Manso River just a few kilometers from the opposite shore, and free of the ties of internet and telephone connectivity, you will meet the horse that will accompany you in the next three days. Here you will begin your first expedition: two hours of horseback riding through the beaches of Puelo, crossing livestock fields, lush forests and clear water springs. After arriving at the Traidor River, a boat awaits you to take you to the other shore whilst your horse and guides swim alongside. On the other side of the river there is a house belonging to Nancy and Chindo. Reaching this house is the goal of this first days trip. The doors will be opened to you as you are welcomed to enjoy a delicious dinner and a peaceful night, relaxing amongst the energetic nature of Puelo.

Day 02: El Traidor – Santo Domingo

The day begins with an energizing southern breakfast as the horses get ready to start the new crusade. Traversing the trails of El Traidor Valley, you will reach the house of the only inhabitant of this area and a reminder of the remoteness of this area. You will then return to the Puelo only to advance along the trails upstream just as the pioneers did centuries ago. The stage will be nothing less than a virgin mountain range and dense forests among which the narrow roads that will allow you to advance will appear. Halfway through the journey, after roughly five hours on horseback, you will stop for lunch on the banks of the Puelo River and then continue your journey until you arrive at the house of Juana and Zoilo who will be your hosts on this day. Whilst enjoying a magnificent homemade dinner together you will share your impressions of this day and hear little about their life experiences in this particular area. Finally, you can go to rest under the shelter of the quiet Patagonian night.

Day 03: Santo Domingo – Las Rosas

Breakfast this morning will be essential as you will face along and intense journey that will last approximately six hours. On this day, your four-legged friend will show you his skills advancing along the roads of pampas and forests, and at other times along the beaches that vary from fine white sands to stones polished by powerful waters. The ride takes you across important tributaries of the Puelo River where you will notice that in this area the presence of man is almost incomprehensible. Around noon you will make a break for lunch and resume your journey which continues into the afternoon. At a point on the river, you’ll say goodbye to your loyal traveling companion and let him rest while you take up your new horse who swims to meet you and guide you until you reach the house of Olivia and Tito after an hour or so. A comforting dinner awaits you as well as lodging offered by the couple so that you can spend a relaxing night with the waters of Puelo running in the background almost like music.

Day 04: Las Rosas – Ventisqueros

The fourth day kicks off with a strong Patagonian breakfast after which you will undertake the course towards the valley of the Ventisqueros River. Here you will notice that the landscape becomes more open as you continue crossing the cordilleran forests. In this area the inhabitants are dedicated to raising cattle, as well as planting and harvesting their own crops which allows them to survive away from the city, totally self-sufficiently. A beautiful white sandy beach facing the Ventisqueros will welcome you halfway where break briefly to enjoy lunch. In the afternoon, you will continue riding for another three hours through the native forests, crossing streams and enjoying the view of the waterfalls that accompany the route, bringing you closer and closer to the magnificent glacier, in front of whose imposing image, you will wake up to in the following days to come. Finally, you will arrive at the house of Bernadette. This is one of the few settlers in the area who will receive you and with whom you can share anecdotes and your life stories while enjoying a delicious dinner prepared with products from the area and in the purest Patagonian style.

Day 05: Ventisqueros – El Toro – Ventisqueros

This day, after having breakfast as is necessary for every rider, you will start walking along trails full of typical vegetation of the area, surrounded by pristine nature and spectacular views, until you reach a neighboring valley that will give you a panorama that can not leave you indifferent: a dazzling glacier hanging in the middle of the mountains. After immortalizing the moment with your camera, you will follow the passage through the narrow valley and the density of the flora, until you find nothing less than in the middle of a larch forest, a protected native species and characterized by the great height they reach. Here, your lungs will be filled with the purest air and you will feel in all your body the spirit of this remote and virgin land. After a lunch on the banks of the charming Rio Toro, you will undertake the return to the home of your hosts, completing four hours of travel. You will have the rest of the afternoon free to take a refreshing swim in the river, walk around the place or rest under the paradisiacal sky, waiting for the delicious dinner you have won after another long and exciting journey.

Day 06: Ventisqueros- Bandurrias Island

This day will be extensive and exciting! As soon as breakfast is over, you will continue your journey towards the Puelo River, going deep into the woods and delighting yourself with the wonderful views that the waterfalls and mountains have to offer. Halfway along the trip you will break for lunch beside the Ventisqueros River and replenish your energy needed to continue traveling. In the afternoon, the adventure will include crossing the Puelo River Walkway, which allows the inhabitants of these remote valleys to connect with the nearby cities. Once on the other side, you will skirt your horses on the slopes of the mountains and on the way, you will be able to admire a great waterfall that presents itself to you as you advance towards Las Rocas Lake and sail across. After seven hours on horseback and sailing across the lake, you will arrive at your final destination of the day: the magical Island of Las Bandurrias where you will be received with a delicious dinner and accommodation for the next two nights.

Day 07: Bandurrias Island – Blue Lake – Bandurrias Island

Surrounded by crystal clear waters you will have breakfast, admiring the view that the island offers you and after which you will shortly leave to cross the lake and meet your horse. With him, you will cross this day’s majestic mountains, lush forests and landscapes that will fill your senses after two and a half hours of travel to arrive at the Blue Lake intensity for color will evoke your emotions. In this ideal place for fishing, you will have lunch and then continue southwards for another three hours. You will cross an old native virgin forest of the Valdivian jungle where you will delight in the flora almost unique in its species, diversity and antiquity. After an unforgettable day you will return to Las Rocas Lake. There you will sail back to Las Bandurrias Island, to eat and rest in your cabin.

Day 08: Bandurrias Island – Bariloche

This will be your last breakfast on Chilean soil during this adventure. After a short journey to again meet with your travel companion where it will be time to present your document or passport at the Paso El Bolsón checkpoint in order to continue the expedition and reach Argentinian soil. From here a place located on a hill, you can see the Lower River and you will also appreciate the birth of the Puelo River. Once the procedures are completed, the cavalcade will continue skirting the Lower Puelo and tread the footsteps left by the pioneers on their trips to Argentina in search of merchandise. After a short tour, you will find yourself within the trans- Andean territory and it will be time to say goodbye to Chile and the horse that accompanied you faithfully up to this point. From here a boat that will take you to the Argentine gendarmerie.
There you will dock at the Lago Puelo National Park and where transfer will be waiting for you to go to El Bolsón. In this magical town of the Río Negro province, you will have time to have lunch and go in search of a souvenir for someone special. After two and a half hours, you will arrive in the city of Bariloche where you will reach the ultimate goal of this extraordinary and unrepeatable Patagonian experience.

Notes:

  • You can add additional nights in Bariloche City
  • You can also fly back to Buenos Aires or Santiago (Ask us for availability and fares).
  • From Bariloche to Puerto Varas, ask for Lakes Crossing Expedition.
Value of the program per passenger
2 Passengers 3 Passengers 4 Passengers 5-8 Passengers 9-10 Passengers
USD 4,850 USD 4,470 USD 3,900 USD 3,800 USD 3,660

Rates subject to the variations of the market

Accomodation

The first 5 nights you will sleep in the homes of locals and you will be in touch with their way of life. The houses, sometimes rustic and with shared bathroom, but with their particular charm, have double, triple and dormitory rooms where several people share. In some cases, you may sleep on mattresses on the floor. The dishes you will enjoy these days are made with ingredients grown organically in the kitchen gardens and prepared in wood-burning kitchens. The last two nights you will stay at the island Las Bandurrias, where there are two rustic cabins with two floors, well equipped, cozy and heated with a wood stove. The bathroom offers a splendid view of an oak forest, while from the terrace you can admire the beach and the pier, which offer a view of the Las Rocas lake and the Andes mountain range that can take your breath away. Some travelers can sleep in a colonial house, with a refined French decoration.

Season

November and runs until the end of March. In some cases, it is possible to organize short horseback rides before the first half of April. To find out about availability, contact Girovai.com.

Degree of difficulty

Although some days the ride can be more demanding, in general it does not require great physical effort. Every day, between 6 and 7 hours of riding can be expected however at a good pace or trot. In more open spaces you can gallop. In any case, it is an excellent opportunity to try the Creole horse, which is one of the strongest and most resistant breeds in the world.

Visa

A valid passport document with visa for both Argentina and Chile is required. Check the current advice for nationals of your country.

Safety

We use qualified staff provided with safety equipment including a portable radio with available connections to radiotelephone networks; in case of emergencies we have access to direct telephone lines through 2-way radio links. Life jackets are provided for river and Lake Crossings and while sailing. We use international adventure tourism insurance but clients are obliged to have their own travel insurance that covers them for the activities on the tour.

Health And Vaccinations

No special vaccinations are required for this area of South America. Clients with special medication should bring enough for the trip. It is advisable to get your own first aid kit. No chemists after day 1.

Packing And Clothing

We suggest bringing a daypack, where you will put a few personal belongings plus a lunch box and water bottle. These can be put inside the saddlebags to access throughout the day. Please bear in mind that we do not accept any type of rigid cases; a good quality duffel bag with strong zips will do. We provide strong quality bags just to protect your own and to make things easier. Comfortable trousers, waterproof pants, fleece, jacket, hat, some warm pairs of socks, sun block, insect repellent, personal medicines, personal knife, flash lamp and riding boots or trekking shoes and sandals (teva stile). Using plastic bags as a waterproof for your clothes is the cheapest way of keeping things dry in case of rain! The maximum weight of your luggage during the first five days is 15 kilograms per person. At your arrival at Puerto Varas, you will have to separate your luggage into two bags. What you do not wear during the first five days will be taken by transfer to Bandurrias Island where you will stay nights six and seven.

Important Notes

  • During January, horse flies proliferate in the whole southern part of Chile and Argentina! They do not harm but are a nuisance and are attracted to dark clothing. Take this into account when selecting your clothing.
  • You can review with us any points that will affect your travel plans – for example where the trip starts or whether it includes a Pre-Trip Option or Post-Trip Extension.

Chilean Horses

The horses chosen for the cavalcades are Chilean and descendants of the horse brought by the Spaniards. Each country has been adapted, mixed and improved these horses based on geography and their use. They are a cross between the Arab horse and the English. It is medium sized and robust animal, willful, safe and docile. These horses are born and bred in this valley are therefore great connoisseurs of these trails. The saddle is made of light wood and is covered with a soft layer of sheep’s wool which makes for a comfortable seat.

Travelers of 90kg / 195 lbs and more should consider renting an extra horse to alternate during the day, since the Chilean Creole horse is not large. The value per extra horse is US $ 210

Delicatessen

The cuisine on the trip will be a mix of a special blend of flavours and ingredients consisting of an ethnic variety of gastronomic Creole-Chilean style. A traditional wood stove gives its special flavour to the dishes. Depending on the season, it is possible to taste the delicious rainbow trout, fontinalis, or salmon trout. The Creole barbecue “Asado al palo” or “Asado al Asador” is served during several meals. It consists of delicious lamb cooked with plenty of embers and firewood. As the main local dish, people cook it in different ways, usually accompanied with salad, potatoes and, of course, Chilean red wine. The vegetables and fruits are superb and the variety of the region’s berries is impressive. Vegetarian dishes are also a great delicious option but we do need to know if you prefer vegetarian options at the time of making a booking. The drinking water is crystal clear, safe to drink and tastes delicious. The island also has a personal collection of a good variety of wines.

Included

  • Private, land and maritime transport, as indicated in the program
  • 7 nights accommodation
  • Meals as indicated in the program
  • 1 bottle of wine at dinner per three people, during the ride
  • Baquiano bilingual guide
  • Equipment with VHF radio
  • Riding and pack horses according to the number of riders

Not Included

  • Domestic or international flights
  • Insurance
  • Tips
  • Those not mentioned in itinerary
  • Extra night