Day 1: Arrive in Patagonia. Night hotel. Arrive into Punta Arenas in southern Chilean Patagonia. Take taxi to the Hotel. Settle into the comfortable, centrally located hotel before meeting your riding guide and the rest of the group in the hotel lobby at 7:30 p.m. Dinner and trip briefing in one of the town's many fine restaurants. Meals not included today.
Day 2: Drive to Puerto Natales and Estancia Tres Pasos. Today we start 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. Our destination is the cute waterside town of Puerto Natales where we will be stopping for a stroll and lunch.
After lunch we will continue our drive north towards the inviting snow capped peaks of this southern range of the Andes mountains. The road takes us alongside the waters of Last Hope Sound with the bobbing heads of the black necked swans to our left to our first estancia for the night.
Estancia Tres Pasos, now a comfortable hosteria, is situated at the head of a magical flower filled valley. A working estancia the wooden, chalet-style property consists of a number of estancia buildings, pretty gardens and lovely views. 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.
You 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), (L) (excluding wine/drinks). Hours in the saddle: 3-4.
Day 3: Ride the classic pampas to Hosteria 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 soft, inviting pampas stretched out in front of us as we journey north towards the mountains of Torres del Paine and La Cumbre mountain range 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 gaucho for tea or mate. After 5 to 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 sheep 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.
Day 5: Horse round up day. After a filling and wholesome breakfast we will be going out to the coral to round up our horses and prepare for the day's adventure. With the help of the local cowboys (baqueanos) we will be moving between 40 and 60 horses to their winter grazing. Watching loose horses canter across grassy valleys or splash through rivers and streams with the incredible mountain backdrop of the Paine Massif is a sight never to be forgotten.
Because of the speed of this ride, we will be changing horses often - simply swapping our tack from one mount to another (note if we are moving a lot of young horses, sometimes changing horses is not possible). To the accompanying chorus of whistles and shouts from the local horsemen, we will be driving the horses forward whilst observing and rounding up strays and wanderers. A hard day's ride but what a privilege! Breathless from the day's adventuers we will be settling into our comfortable accommodation beside the Serrano River, the Hotel Cabanas del Paine. A well deserved dinner and rest for all! Hours in the saddle: 7-9. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (excluding wine/drinks).
Day 6: 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 those of you 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). Includes: (B), (L), (D) (excluding wine/drinks). Hours in the saddle: approx 5-6.
Day 7: Ride the Sierra del Toro, high above the Park. 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 tonight, this very comfortable converted Estancia situated beside this 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 bobbing in the water. Dinner will be in the restaurant offering an excellent variety of local foods and wine. Includes: (B), (L), (D) (excluding wine/drinks). Hours in the saddle: 4-5.
Day 8: Transfer via Penguin Colony 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. Arrive in Punta Arenas at approximately 6:00 p.m. Breakfast included. Driving time approx. 6 hours with penguins. Night Hotel Don Rey Felipe.
*Note: please be aware that after around mid March there are very few penguins in the area because they have migrated to Brazil. We will still visit the colony but if you are very interested in seeing a lot of penguins, please consider an earlier Estancia Ride departure.
Day 9: Take taxi to airport. Taxi to airport for onward flight. Breakfast only.
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