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Chile to Argentina

The Patagonia Andes: Grand Traverse

Next ride date: 6-17 February 2015, fully booked
Additional ride added due to popular demand: 16-27 February 2015, fully booked
Additional ride added due to popular demand: 20 November - 1 December 2015, places available

Since the launch of the first British Horse Society Challenge Ride in 2000, our fundraising challenges have expanded to offer not just one destination, but eight life-changing rides that give you a unique travel experience while raising valuable funds for our work as well.

What is the Chile to Argentina Ride?

This is a brand new ride in the Patagonian Andes. This trail ride explores the Chilean Lake District following old smuggler’s routes that criss-cross rivers, skirt around lakes and lead through temperate forests. We ride way beyond any roads and although the pace is steady, the wilderness experience is second to none: Patagonia as few people (apart from the gauchos) ever experience.

Which horses will I ride?

The horses are of the Chilean Creole breed and are very gentle, strong and well-schooled. They have a sure foot, are in good health and well trained for the Andean terrain. Saddles are the same as the ones traditionally used in the region by locals, complete with a sheepskin cover. They are really comfortable and excellent for long distance riding.

What will I do on the trail?

Day 1
The flight departs from Heathrow at 7:20pm and goes via Madrid and onwards overnight to Santiago, capital of Chile. 
Day 2
On arrival in Santiago we change planes for the two-hour flight directly south to Puerto Montt on the edge of Patagonia. In Puerto Montt we meet our local guide and transfer to the hotel. Puerto Montt was founded as a German colony, first settled in the 19th Century. Today it’s an important port city with bustling fish markets and it is the centre of Chile’s salmon fishing industry.
Overnight at Puerto Varas on the shore of Lake Lanquihue. 
Day 3
To reach the trail head we start the day with a drive through wooded mountains to the shores of the Reloncavi Fjord. If the weather is clear we should get wonderful views of the surrounding volcanoes including the huge Osorno (2,600m) and Calbuco (2,100m). We head inland from the Fjord through a combination of dense forest, rivers, a huge waterfall and very steep mountains: we are now nearing the heart of the Andes. When the road reaches Lake Tagua-Tagua we pause for a picnic lunch before crossing by ferry. An hour beyond the far shore we reach the road head and meet the baquianos and Creole horses. 
We have time here to organise ourselves and match the horses to riders, pack the saddle bags and set off along the trail for our first ride, leaving the road and entering the wilderness of Patagonia. Our destination for the first night is a local farm where we overnight with the family.
Accommodation at a local farm (B, L, D).
Timing: five hours by car, 30 minutes by ferry and approximately two-and-a-half hours' saddle time.  
Day 4
Early homemade breakfast, while the baquianos tack-up the packhorses, sets us up for the first full day in the saddle. We skirt around the barn and head into the Ventisqueros valley.  This area is heavily wooded with isolate, self-sufficient farmsteads. Stop for lunch and relax. In the afternoon, cross the broad Ventisqueros River: the traditional way to cross rivers is for riders and saddlebags to load into a boat and have the horses swim alongside. The trail then leads to a remote farm, where the owner will lodge us for two nights (full board).
Saddle-time: six to seven hours. 
Day 5
After breakfast we begin riding at a gentle pace, which is the theme for the day. The terrain in this isolated corner of Patagonia is rough but the horses are sure-footed and reliable. We cross the Ventisqueros River once more and approach the foot of a huge glacier. The valley turns wilder and becomes even more remote; with an incredible flora, devoid of human inhabitants. We approach the Alerce (Larch) Forest where we pause for a picnic lunch before completing the circuit back to the ranch house. 
(B, L, D)
Saddle-time: four hours
Day 6
This morning we will set off on a full-day ride towards 'La Pasarela del Rio Puelo', a suspension bridge that allows communication between the local inhabitants and the outside world. This area is renowned for its huge waterfalls and rapids. Stop for a picnic lunch near the bridge. In the afternoon the ride crosses a wild and ancient forest before arriving to our cottage on the shore of 'Las Rocas'; Lake. The horses are corralled on the lakeshore and a 10-minute sail brings us to Las Bandurrias Island. Accommodation and a great dinner is at this enchanting, cosy cottage which is home for two nights.
(B, L, D)
Saddle time: six to seven hours. 
Day 7
Another fantastic adventure awaits us today. The day begins with a two-hour ride to Blue Lake “Lago Azul” with its crystal clear water and abundant fish life. Majestic peaks and stunning landscapes all around! Picnic and relax on the shore of the lake. After lunch the trail leads through dense forests and along mountain ridges to the southern tip of the lake. After leaving the horses in the corral we return to the island to enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
(B, L, D)
Saddle time: five to six hours.
Day 8
After breakfast, we bid farewell to our hostess and sail back to the lakeside corral where the horses spent the night. Today we ride just half the day. Having passports at hand we will reach the Mountain Police Station, 'Retén de Carabineros';. This leads to the border crossing, close to the edge of the Puelo River. After entering Argentina we cross the Puelo Lake by boat and ride into the National Park. This is where we say farewell to the baquianos and our horses. A minibus will rendezvous and take us to El Bolsón. Lunch is at a great local restaurant with time to buy some souvenirs and explore this small town. 
Travel by minibus to San Carlos de Bariloche where the trip ends. 
(B, L on the trail. D in San Carlos)
Timing: three-and-a-half hours in the saddle; 30 minutes motorboat. Private bus transfer to the town of El Bolsón, 20 minutes, and two-and-a-half more hours to the town of San Carlos de Bariloche.
Day 9
Fly from Bariloche to Buenos Aires and overnight.
Buenos Aires is in complete contrast to the previous week: one of South America’s most cosmopolitan and lively cities. We will have time to explore the city and have a final supper together this evening in a unique and charming Art Deco hotel. There is a treat tonight: we have arranged a private tango lesson for anyone who would like to participate. Dinner, dancing and overnight in the rhythmic heart of Buenos Aires.
Day 10
You simply can’t pass through Buenos Aires without taking a brief look around town; our guide will point out the hot spots and highlife during a leisurely tour of the city. Lunch isn’t included because there are so many options and it’s fun to divide into smaller groups and explore independently for an hour or two. Dinner and breakfast included.
Day 11
Depart from Buenos Aires and overnight flight via Madrid to London. 
Day 12
Arrive London.

Riding difficulty

The trip is exciting but not too demanding, although some days will be longer than others when we have to cover a particular distance. Some days there are several river crossings which are great fun and allow riders to experience the local way of doing things. Some steep up-hills and undulating terrain can make the going tougher than you might be used to, particularly if the weather is not good. This adventure ride is an excellent way of combining lots of different terrain and being able to ride one of the toughest horse breeds in the world. Clients may canter on open ground, trot in the forest, or simply enjoy the ride at their own relaxing pace. Max rider weight is 85kg.

How much does it cost?

All our Challenge Rides require a registration fee. This £300 fee is needed to secure your place on the trip and is non-refundable if for any reason you are unable to participate. Challengers are encouraged to fundraise to pay for their trip. The ground cost per participant is £2,956 plus approximately £1,200 for flights, plus £500 for BHS Welfare (Gift Aid is not included).

Group Size

Maximum ten riders.

What's Included?

All in/out private transfers, transportation by minibus and motor jet boats, ferry crossing, full board including half a bottle of wine per person at dinner), saddle horses, pack horses, all accommodation including two nights at a fabulous retreat on Bandurrias Island, local guides, ‘Huasos’ and tour leader (English- speaking), VHF radio communication equipment. Night in Bariloche (full board), two nights in Buenos Aires in a special Art Deco hotel; tango lesson for those who wish. City tour of Buenos Aires.

What's not included?

Visas, travel insurance, tips for Guide and team, lunch on day 10.

How much does it cost?

All our Challenge Rides require a registration fee. This £300 fee is needed to secure your place on the trip and is non-refundable if for any reason you are unable to participate. Challengers are encouraged to fundraise to pay for their trip. The ground cost per participant is £2,956 plus approximately £1,200 for flights, plus £500 for BHS Welfare (Gift Aid is not included).

Fundraising inspiration

Now you’ve read about the Chile to Argentina Challenge Ride, we’re sure you’ll want to know how to raise the money to get there. We’ve put together a list of fundraising tips to help you on your way.

How to apply

If you are chomping at the bit for an exciting and life-changing experience, check back regularly for new dates or email wendy.minor@bhs.org.uk.

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