Day 1: Transfer to Punta Arenas Hotel. Guide briefing
Arrive into Punta Arenas in southern Chilean Patagonia. Take taxi to 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 Torres del Paine via penguin colony. Morning collection from the Hotel Don Rey Felipe to start the day's drive towards the penguin colony to see and photograph the cute burrowing Magellanic penguins. After plenty of time photographing the antics of these cute animals we will continue in our comfortable transfer vehicle across the Patagonia Steppe where you will have your first opportunity to see some of the unusual plant and animal life that exists in this area.
After a short lunch stop in Puerto Natales we will continue on to our campsite situated close to a working estancia on the edges of the beautiful Laguna Verde. Facilities include: small refuge for indoor shelter and basic bathroom facilities. No showers. Nearby hosteria with bar.
Chance to stroll down to the lakeside and enjoy the variety of bird life that exists in this area. Relax and enjoy the spectacular views of the Horns while dinner is prepared. Drive approx. 6.5 hours including penguins. Includes: (B), (D) (with wine at dinner).
Day 3: Ride up onto Sierro del Toro and on to Serrano. Today we will be meeting our horses and the dedicated baqueanos who care for them. After assigning horses to riders, we will have a safety check and short familiarization with western riding before packing our saddle bags with cameras, waterproofs, and our picnic lunch and setting off around the shores of this pretty lake through ancient southern beech forests towards the Sierra del Toro.
After a couple of hours riding, we will make a steep descent of the Sierra del Toro to the pampas below. Lunch will be taken in the valley and we will have a chance to visit the Park Headquarters to look at their relief map of the park. Now used to our horses, we will continue with some faster riding across the pampas to the Serrano River where we will camp beside the emerald green waters of this beautiful river with its dramatic mountain views. Facilities include: showers, bathrooms, some shelter and fire pits. Hours in the saddle: 4 - 4.5. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (with wine at dinner).
Day 4: 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 pretty campsite 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 US$180 (potential volume discounts on the transfer element of this excursion depending on final number of clients wishing to join).
Facilities as above. Hours in the saddle: approx 5-6. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (with wine at dinner).
Day 5: Ride across the heart of the Park to Laguna Azul. Today we will be enjoying some beautiful trails which cross the heart of the Park . Known as the 'up and over' our trail cuts through some incredibly diverse scenery from verdant green valleys and beech forests to azure lakes and wide open plains. We will see magnificent condors hovering high above mountain peaks while down on the plains herds of guanaco scatter as we approach. We will be surprised at every turn of our path as we cross over 30 kilometres of this amazing Patagonia riding country dominated by the Paine Horns and Towers after which the park is named.
Finally, after a truly memorable ride we take a short vehicle transfer to our beautiful campsite beside the startlingly azure waters of Laguna Azul. This is one of the prettiest campsites in the park with camping lakeside on the sandy beach or among the beech tress on the soft grassy ground. Fire pits and indoor dining in case of inclement weather. Hot showers, bathrooms, small shop. Hours in the saddle approx 7-8. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (with wine at dinner).
Day 6: Ride west to Lago Paine. After packing up camp and loading up the pack horses we will set off on our exciting ride towards the Torres and Lago Paine. After skirting the lake, 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. We will be camping riverside at Lago Paine. Facilities: none. Hours in the saddle: 4-5 - 5. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (with wine at dinner).
Day 7: Ride out to Dickson Glacier. 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. Facilities as above. Hours in the saddle: 6-7. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (with wine at dinner).
Day 8: Ride by different route to Puesto Tercera. Today we will be riding eastwards towards the La Cumbre mountain range and the land belonging to Estancia Tercera by a different route. This is a beautiful ride through forests, flower filled meadows and southern beech forests. Lots of opportunities for long canters before once again riding onto the wide open pampas that surround the estancia. Our destination is the wooden refugio nestled in a small valley with beautiful views of the Towers and a very remote and charming Patagonian feel. Hot showers, bathrooms, accommodation in bunk beds in refugio. Hours in the saddle: 7-8. All meals included (wine/drinks with dinner extra).
Day 9: Ride out into the Sierra Contreras. After enjoying breakfast in our stunning location we will set off on an exciting and unique adventure into the hills and forests of the Sierra Contreras. Our destination is the pretty waterfall known as Cascada Zamora. After lunch we will ride out to a remote puesto mercardo riding up high over the pampas with views off to the Las Chinas Valley with the Sierra Baguales in the distance. Return to our camp at puesto Tercera for night. Facilities as above. Bunk bed accommodation. Hours in the saddle: 4-5. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (wine/drinks with dinner extra).
Day 10: Tranfer to Punta Arenas. Night Hotel. Pack up camp for our transfer back to Punta Arenas to arrive late afternoon. We will once again make a lunch stop in Puerto Natales and this will give clients an opportunity to purchase any souvenirs/books/postcards etc. Clients will be dropped off at the Hotel in Punta Arenas at around 6:00 p.m. Transfer time: 5 hours. Includes: (B).
Day 11: Taxi to airport. Taxi to airport for onward travel. Breakfast only included.
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