Saddle Up: The Top Riding Destinations
The horsemen of South Americathe gauchos of Argentina and the huasos of Chilecarry on a heritage of Latin horsemanship dating back to the age of the Spanish conquistadors. On a riding tour of the great estancias (ranches) of Chile and Argentina, you can join these able riders on one of the truly great equestrian adventures: a trek from the pampas to Patagonia.
Although you can make your own arrangements with private estancias , you should consider a package tourif your a first time visitor to South America. Hidden Trails (888.987.2457. www.hiddentrails.com) markets a host of excellent rides in southern Chile and Argentina. For the most spectacular scenery, take the Torres del Paine trek through Chilean Patagonia. On this seven-dayn, $1,760 journey, you'll ride between remote inns, crossing high passes and enjoying breathtaking views of Grey Glacier, the Towers of Paine, Laguna Azul, and other natural wonders.
Farther north, in the Lake District, Hidden Trials offers a ride across the Andes following the paths of outlaws Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The adventure begins on the famous Gaucho Trail, which lead through the Valdivian rain forest into the Andean wilderness, and after a few days of climbing, you reach the pass of Valle Leon ("lion's vally"), the pass from Chile to Argentina. The trip ends with a ride on the Patagonia Express steam train and a visit to the historic homestead of Butch and Sundance near Lago Cholila. The cost of this challenging 11-day tour is $2,975 per person.
Equitor (800.545.0019. www.ridingtours.com) has also put together a flexible riding program in Argentine Patagonia. You stay a minimum of four days at 15,000-acre Estancia Huechahue in the foothills of the Andes. Adventurous types can add a four-day pack trip to Lanin National Park to see Huanquihue Volcano, the thermal springs at Epulaufquen, and the towering Lanin Volcano. The cost is $240 per day, all-inclusive, and trips are offered Novemeber through April.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication