Wilderness Experience in Argentina –
Discovering the Andes on horseback

Huge mountain chains, snowcapped glaciers, and endlessly wide valleys – visiting Patagonia is breathtaking even for far-travelled visitors. Daniel returned home deeply impressed: in March 2017 he participated in our eight-day Wilderness Experience and discovered the Argentinian Andes on horseback. In the following review he describes his impressions.

Review

Arrival

Daniel’s journey started at the airport of Frankfurt and first of all led him to Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. By coach he then travelled to the city of Zapala, located in the province Neuquén. This is where he was picked up by a driver and was brought to Buta Mallin which can be described as a medium-sized cattle post. After he received a little lunch, he finally made acquaintance with “his” packhorse that would safely bring him through the Andes in the following days. The present guide showed all participants how to saddle and pack their horses in order to be prepared for the upcoming ride to the course's base station: a horse ranch amidst the foothills of the Patagonian Andes. As soon as the luggage was tucked away and the horses were prepared, they started their three-hour ride to the ranch. “Without any doubt: The arrival itself is already an adventure. Out of the airport into the bus, out of the bus into the car, and out of the car on horse – not really a walk in the park but incredibly worthwhile if you think about what you are about to see. Already the ride up to the ranch was great.”

Accommodation

After about three hours on horseback, the group could spot the ranch amidst the high-altitude wide grasslands of Patagonia. The ranch consists of several buildings that are built very rustic but are all the more comfortable: in the Casa Grande you can find the large kitchen and the dining room with a self-constructed fireplace. The veranda allows you an incomparable view over the river valley of the Trocoman and Picunleo rivers. The guest accommodation are either immediately next to the main lodge or spread over the area in several buildings. These are either a lovingly furnished two-room or three-room apartment, a single room, or a guesthouse with private bathrooms. Since Daniel announced his visit to the ranch at short notice, all rooms were already occupied so that he was accommodated in a log cabin a bit off from the other ranch buildings. “Being accommodated in the log cabin was excellent. I guess the accommodation in the common guest rooms must be at least as good.” Daniel was also blown away by the food. All of the course participants are provided with three meals a day that get prepared with fresh food – partly from the own garden – by the ranch’s cook. Dairy products and meat are also processed on the farm. In short: The quality was excellent and every meal a delight.

The Andes adventure

The participants usually spend the first three nights on the ranch and can relax there. On the fourth day they finally pack their bags, store them safely on the horses, and start their pack trip adventure. “I only had very little riding experience. But that wasn’t a problem. The team members and the guide ride slowly in a row and everyone enjoys the view on the landscape.” And this landscape is incredible: endless, wild, and simply breathtaking. In the following three days you enjoy the breadth and remoteness of the region, ride out of the Trocoman river valley, over a plateau and into a high mountain valley. You eat your meals while you are on the way; the group carries the necessary food. Because of the weight, the selection is of course limited, but they are no less delicious than they are on the ranch. You sleep in the middle of the Patagonian wilderness. “If you want to you can sleep in a tent though I recommend to sleep on the saddle cover under the sky – I have rarely seen a starry sky like this one”, says Daniel. After departing on the second day, the group marvels at the Andes cordillera and the volcanoes on the Chilean side before making a quick stop in a small wooden cabin. “This is where we drank maté tea together with some Gauchos who reside there. Incredibly nice and interesting people!” The following day they made a last spectacular ride back to the ranch and Daniel’s pack trip adventure ended after another day on the ranch.

Daniel’s conclusion

Daniel’s conclusion is consistently positive. Wild nature, a maximum of remoteness, the ranch that is run with enthusiasm, and the passionate and experienced team impressed him a lot. “I hope that I have the opportunity to participate in this pack trip again. The landscape of Patagonia is something that you have to see at least once in your life. And as a participant of this course I was lucky to discover this region on horseback! I advise any outdoor fan who wants to feel real freedom to visit this course.”

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