Patagonian Cordillera Riding Adventure

About the Experience

Venture by horseback into the rugged heart of the Andes into the cordillera chain of mountain ranges, by way of your strong and surefooted Argentine Criollos. 

Sturdy, dependable, and familiar with the passages of the longest mountain range in the world, you will be paired with a horse companion that is suited to your ridership level. Deep into this region you will go, with your trusted guides and fellow Wild Women there to experience it all with you.

Let fresh meals of garden vegetables, homegrown meat, and whole wheat sourdough baked daily sprinkle your stay at both cozy lodging and backcountry camping. Travel among springs at the edge of lovely meadows, aside endless rivers, and on the shores of an alpine lake. And, in the evenings, as the horses graze nearby, enjoy bathing in nearby streams, and sharing stories around the campfire before settling in for serene nights under the stars.

By day and by night, by horse and by foot, you will come to know the valleys, vistas, and mountain passes of Argentina. And you will come to never forget the well-being it brings you.

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Patagonian Cordillera Riding Adventure

About the Experience

Venture by horseback into the rugged heart of the Andes into the cordillera chain of mountain ranges, by way of your strong and surefooted Argentine Criollos. 

Sturdy, dependable, and familiar with the passages of the longest mountain range in the world, you will be paired with a horse companion that is suited to your ridership level. Deep into this region you will go, with your trusted guides and fellow Wild Women there to experience it all with you.

Let fresh meals of garden vegetables, homegrown meat, and whole wheat sourdough baked daily sprinkle your stay at both cozy lodging and backcountry camping. Travel among springs at the edge of lovely meadows, aside endless rivers, and on the shores of an alpine lake. And, in the evenings, as the horses graze nearby, enjoy bathing in nearby streams, and sharing stories around the campfire before settling in for serene nights under the stars.

By day and by night, by horse and by foot, you will come to know the valleys, vistas, and mountain passes of Argentina. And you will come to never forget the well-being it brings you.

DAY ONE: WELCOME TO ARGENTINA

The driver will meet you at the Neuquen Airport (NQN) at 10 am and bring you to the ranch outpost, Buta Mallin – the end of the road for most vehicles. A hearty lunch of homemade bread, fresh garden vegetables, salami and cheese will be prepared for you. Your Wild Women guides will introduce you to your horses and offer some basic riding instruction before the 3-hour ride into the heart of the estancia where the lodge is located. Wine and appetizers will be served to you on the patio followed by a welcoming dinner and full trip orientation at the main lodge, Casa Grande.

  • Riding Time: ~ 3 hours

DAY TWO: RANQUILCO LODGE

Breakfast at Casa Grande including homemade bread and granola, milk and yogurt from our cow, eggs, coffee, tea, and mate. After breakfast, your guides will introduce you to the tack and provide saddling instruction, if desired. Go for a morning ride, where you’ll learn about trail safety, extended horse travel, and the local geography, weather, and culture. Return to the lodge for lunch before spending the afternoon relaxing by the river and taking part in a walking tour of the property that highlights Ranquilco’s off-the-grid homestead systems and way of life. Regroup in the late afternoon to discuss gear and packing tips in preparation for riding off into the mountains the following day. Enjoy some evening drinks on the patio followed by dinner.

  • Riding Time: ~ 2 hours

DAYS THREE TO SIX: THROUGH THE ANDES

We’ll head out into the “cordillera” (mountain range) to spend the next 7 days riding mountain trails deep into the Andes. This is the longest mountain range in the world, and this particular loop takes us right into the heart of it. We begin by traveling up the Trocoman River and ascending into high steppe land.

Each day, the number of hours in the saddle ranges from 4-7 hours per day as we explore the valleys, canyons and ridgelines of this massive range. We will be following animal trails, which are not maintained and are often quite steep and rocky. These trails may change from season to season and your guides will occasionally need to find the best route for the given conditions, and will sometimes take the pack train off the trail if needed. While the riding can sometimes be extreme, the horses are strong, sturdy, calm, sure-footed, and are very familiar with these rugged mountain trails.

Each night, we’ll camp in campsites of our choosing. Camping in the Andes is WILD. It’s remote, beautiful and vast. Our rugged, backcountry campsites will feature zero amenities but are positioned in beautiful locations such as by springs at the edge of lovely meadows, alongside rivers, and on the shores of two alpine lakes. In the evenings, we unload the pack mules, set up our tents, build a fire, stake the horses out to graze, bathe in nearby streams, and settle in for delicious backcountry meals and nights under the stars.

You’ll then head into the Picunleo River valley and follow it up to a glacially carved bowl at the headwaters. Climb up and over several high mountain passes with massive vistas and views of active Chilean volcanoes. From the high point, drop down into the Cerro Negro valley, home of the beautiful high mountain lake, Laguna Negra, and the summer cattle outpost. The outpost has a few simple huts (where the gauchos live) and other basic, but welcomed, luxuries such as benches and an outhouse! It makes for a wonderful camping spot for 2 nights!  Here you have a chance to spend time with the local gauchos that tend the herds of cattle, sheep, and goats in these beautiful summer grazing lands.

  • Riding Time: 4-7 hours per day

DAY SEVEN: LAYOVER DAY

You’ll have a relaxing morning followed by a lovely ride around the lake and spend the afternoon lounging at the beach, fishing, and swimming. In the evening you’ll return to the outpost camp for a traditional asado (roast whole goat or lamb), a fun night to share with the neighboring gauchos.

  • Riding Time: 1-2 hours

DAYS EIGHT AND NINE: OVERLOOKING THE ANDES

Pack up and ride over a mountain pass into another high valley, home of the gorgeous 5-mile lake, Lago Lauquen. On the pass, you’ll have spectacular views of Chilean volcanoes to the west, the Andes stretching to the north and south, and the Trocoman Valley back to the east. The next day is a full day ride back to the Ranquilco lodge, with vast views of the Cordillera Del Viento in the north. Upon returning you’ll be reunited with the wonderful luxuries and hospitality at the lodge – hot showers, cold beers, and clean sheets, followed by an excellent meal.

  • Riding Time: 4-7 hours per day

DAY TEN: LOUNGING AT THE LODGE

A day of rest and relaxation. You can enjoy a swim in the river and relax on the beach, with glorious meals throughout. In the evening you’ll have your farewell party – a feast featuring a goat asado – attended by local gauchos and the entire Ranquilco community. Traditional gaucho dance late into the night.

DAY ELEVEN: FAREWELL

Breakfast this morning will be followed by your morning departure. Ride back to Buta Mallin and enjoy a picnic lunch on the way.  Meet the driver for your return trip to Neuquen Airport for evening flights to Buenos Aires.


Horse Info:

Ranquilco horses are primarily Argentine Criollos. Over the years we’ve had quarter horse, Arabian, and Criollo stallions whose bloodlines are in the mix. Our horses are born and raised in these mountains and are very much at home in the rugged terrain. They are strong, calm, level-headed and sure-footed, and fun, easy-to-ride adventure partners.

Ranquilco has a horse to complement every riding level – from first-time to advanced riders, we will match you with a horse to suit your experience. Guests have the opportunity to care for their own horse if they please, from catching it in the corral or nearby pasture, to grooming and saddling.

Our saddles are similar to endurance saddles, with the addition of a comfortable sheepskin seat. We use safety stirrups brought from the U.S. that can accommodate a variety of boot types without danger of getting stuck. There are plenty of long leather ties for jackets, and canvas saddle bags for trail gear. The riding style is western, with a loose rein. We use rope halters, and western style bridles with leather reins. All of our horses neck rein and follow the standard cues for the walk, trot, canter, and stop.

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