Day 1: Arrive into Punta Arenas. Trip briefing. Arrival day into Punta Arenas airport in southern Patagonia. Take a taxi the short distance from the airport to the Hotel. Meet leader in hotel lobby at 7:30 p.m. to be escorted to restaurant for dinner. Trip briefing and welcome dinner. No meals included today.
Day 2: Drive to Estancia Tres Pasos. Afternoon Ride. Today we are going to be starting our drive across the wide open pampas and land belonging to some of the huge estancias in this area as we head towards the Torres del Paine National Park. After a short lunch stop in Puerto Natales, where clients can choose from a variety of restaurants and cafes, we will continue our drive north.
The road takes us along beside the waters of Last Hope Sound with the bobbing heads of the black necked swans to our left. Our first estancia for the night is Estancia Tres Pasos, now a comfortable hosteria situated at the head of a magical flower filled valley. A working ranch this wooden, chalet-style property consists of a number of barns and outbuildings, pretty gardens and beautiful views down the valley. There will be a chance to unpack and relax a little before meeting our horses for an afternoon introductory ride in the vicinity of the estancia.
Riders will get a chance to adjust to the style of riding and tack as we run through the paces and enjoy a relaxing afternoon's ride. We will then return to the hotel for dinner in the lovely restaurant. Most of the food in this delightful family run establishment is home produced. Includes: (B), (D) (excluding wine/drinks). All rooms en suite. Hours in the saddle: 3-4.
Day 3: Ride north to to el Pionero. Today after breakfast, riders will once again be saddling up for a full day's ride. This time, we will be heading north west to the outpost town of Cerro Castillo. This is a beautiful open ride across grassy meadows and welcoming pampas. Riding towards the dramatic mountain range of Torres del Paine enables us to fully benefit from the incredible mountain and lake views.
We will also have some opportunities for our first long canters on our responsive and comfortable horses. During late afternoon after a leisurely picnic lunch and an afternoon's riding we will see the welcome site of Hosteria el Pionero come into view. Surrounded by the customary layer of trees, the villa has the look and feel of an English country home and was built by European settlers to Tierra del Fuego at the beginning of the century.
Once home to one of the most important and influential estancieros in the region it offers comfortable accommodation and an excellent restaurant offering a variety of typical local foods and international cuisine. The fireside bar is an excellent place to enjoy a pisco sour whilst meeting your new friends and discussing the adventures to come. Comfortable en suite accommodation (some rooms with fireplaces). Dinner in the comfortable restaurant. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (excluding wine/drinks). Hours in the saddle: 6-7.
Day 4: Ride to Estancia Tercera Barranca. After a breakfast of home baked bread and cakes served in the bright dining room, we will be saddling up for the long ride north east towards Estancia Tercera Barranca. This is a classic Patagonian ride with the seemingly never ending pampas stretched out in front of us. Our journey takes us north towards the spectacular and dramatic mountain ranges of Torres del Paine and La Cumbre that makes up the natural barrier between Chile and Argentina. We will be crossing the land belonging to various local farmers and with luck may be invited to join a local for tea or mate.
After 5 or 6 hours riding with lunch taken in one of the many picnic spots en route, we will be riding onto the land belonging to Estancia Tercera Barranca. Our destination is the comfortable ranch house belonging to this working estancia. Comfortable and cosy accommodation in this authentic country house with fabulous views of the Towers from its large west facing windows. Fireside living room/bar and traditional quincho (wooden dining room with outside BBQ area). En suite rooms. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (excluding wine/drinks). Hours in the saddle: 5-7. Riding the Pampas
Day 5: Ride out in search of wild Criollos. After breakfast, we will once again be saddling up for our exciting ride west towards the Torres and Lago Paine. Just before Laguna Azul we head north towards Laguna Stokes where a large natural vega or pasture exists. This area attracts wild criollos from the surrounding hills to graze in the summer and with luck with will get to see them (the viewings are 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. Afternoon return to Estancia Tercera Barranca. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (excluding wine/drinks). Hours in the saddle: 5-6.
Day 6: Ride west past the Paine Massif to Serrano. After a wholesome breakfast and packing up we will be starting our ride westwards 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 turquoise lakes with the huge granite mountain peaks standing behind. After a picnic lunch taken in one of the pretty valleys we will continue west to the beautiful soft pampas beside the Serrano River.
Here we will have a chance for a nice long canter as the light fades and the shadows lengthen and we arrive at our destination hotel, the Cabanas del Paine. Situated by the emerald green waters of the Serrano River with river and mountain views this is our base for the next two nights. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (excluding wine/drinks). Hours in saddle: 5-6 depending on photo stops. All rooms en suite.
Day 7: Ride to Grey Glacier lookout. Optional boat trip. Today we saddle up for the fast ride to Mirador de los Hielos (iceberg lookout). Our view will be dominated by the huge granite peaks of the massif as we ride out along the Grey River towards the largest Glacier in the park, Glacier Grey. We will eventually arrive at a lookout with dramatic views of the iceberg choked waters of Grey Lake with the immense Grey Glacier in the distance (the largest glacier in the Park). After plenty of time to rest, take photos and enjoy our incredible lunch perch we will rejoin our rested horses and head back to our comfortable hotel Cabanas del Paine at the Serrano River.
*For clients who are interested, there is an optional excursion available which includes round trip transfers back to Grey Lake and a boat trip out across this iceberg-choked lake towards the face of this spectacular Glacier. Note the boat trip is weather reliant and the excursion with transfer costs $180 (potential volume discounts on the transfer element of this excursion depending on final number of clients wishing to join). Includes: (B), (L), (D) (excluding wine/drinks). Hours in the saddle: approx 5-6.
Day 8: Ride the dramatic ascent of the Sierra del Toro. Today after breakfast, we will once again be joining our horses and the baqueanos who have now become our friends for another full day's ride. This time, we will be heading south east to the Mirador del Toro and the beautiful Laguna Verde. The day starts with our final ride across the fabulous wide open pampas before crossing the much photographed Puente Weber and riding towards the Sierra del Toro.
After stopping to tighten girths and check our tack, we will make a steep ascent of this mountain climbing high above the national park and surrounding areas. Eventually we will arrive at the dramatic and often very windy lookout (Mirador del Toro) with its incredible far reaching views of the lakes, mountains and glaciers below. Depending on the weather, we will take a picnic lunch in this beautiful setting before continuing on through southern beech forests passing a myriad of pristine lakes and valleys as we approach the land belonging to Estancia Lazo.
Our base for 2 nights, this very comfortable converted Estancia situated beside the tranquil green waters of Laguna Verde offers splendid views, great food and comfortable accommodation. The lake shore is a great place to stroll spotting the wild geese and ducks who inhabit these waters. Dinner will be in the restaurant offering an excellent variety of local foods and wine. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (excluding wine/drinks). All rooms en suite. Hours in the saddle: 4-5.
Day 9: Ride above the snow line with far reaching views. After breakfast, we will pack our saddle bags with cameras, waterproofs and our picnic lunch and set off around the shores of this pretty lake through ancient southern beech forests behind the estancia for our climb up and over the Sierra del Toro. We will be making another steep ascent through forests to climb right up on top of this mountain. The last section of the ride will often be through snow as we stop to marvel at the views of the entire Park below us.
We will then wind down to a pretty authentic puesto (gaucho post) manned by one of the cattle ranchers from Estancia Lazo to take our lunch. After lunch, we will be riding back to our comfortable accommodation at Estancia Lazo where sadly we will be bidding our horses and baqueanos goodbye. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (excluding wine/drinks). Hours in the saddle 4-5.
Day 10: Visit Penguins. Transfer to Punta Arenas. After a leisurely breakfast of coffee and home made cakes/bread we will transfer to Punta Arenas via Puerto Natales. We will have time in Puerto Natales to shop for souvenirs or postcards before continuing on to the Magellanic penguin colony situated outside Punta Arenas. Late afternoon is a great time to visit these cute burrowing penguins before they return to their burrows. Time spent taking photos and wandering the trails which extend down to the beach where you can witness the penguins waterside. Arrive in Punta Arenas at about 6-7 pm depending on time spent at the penguin colony. Breakfast included. Driving time approx. 6 hours with penguins. Night Hotel Don Rey Felipe.
Day 11: Taxi to airport for onward flight. Taxi to airport for onward flight. Breakfast only.
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