Wilderness Experience Horseback Adventure in Argentina’s Backcountry

Discover the Patagonian Andes with NATUCATE

Your Packtrip in the Andean Cordillera

The Patagonian Cordillera is as unique a place as any to be encountered. It is incredibly vast, with ancient mountains, abundant water, fierce winds, stark shadows, and strong, large-hearted people. Become part of this fascinating Wilderness Experience and join a unique horse trekking excursion into this unparalleled landscape. Traveling on horseback is the best way to get an inside glimpse of this raw and wild land and the gaucho culture who spend summers tending their herds on the high ridges and valleys of the Andes. Besides exploring the magnificent landscape of the Patagonian Andes you’ll learn wilderness skills including backcountry horseback riding and the art of living confidently and respectfully in wild nature. Before and after your packtrip you will spend some time at a beautiful Patagonian horse ranch, nestled in the foothills of the Patagonian Andes and surrounded by nothing but pure nature.

Widen your horizon and get ready for a unique off-the-grid-adventure in the Patagonia. The program takes place in the precordillera and montane high elevation habitats of the northern Patagonian Andes in the Argentine province of Neuquén. Mountains, forests, and plateaus – the profound and enchanting landscape of Patagonia will take your breath away. The ranch, where you will spend some time before and after your packtrip, is a remote, 100,000-acre guest lodge and working cattle ranch nestled in the foothills of the Patagonian Andes. It is a vast expanse of land, stretching across leagues of high steppes, river valleys, golden grasslands, and jagged cliffs into the heart of the Argentine cordillera. Discover Patagonia and the Andes– Go NATUCATE!

Services Our Services

Included

  • Placement in the course
  • Course end: transfer from the ranch to Neuquén
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • All meals during the course
  • Assistance with selecting travel insurance
  • Accommodation during the course
  • Assistance with booking flights
  • Certificate
  • Pre-departure information pack
  • English speaking support by long-term experienced staff
  • Course start: transfer from Neuquén to the ranch
  • 24/7 support throughout the course

Not included

  • Flights
  • Course start: transfer from Buenos Aires to Neuquén
  • Travel insurance
  • Course end: transfer from Neuquén to Buenos Aires
  • Visa fees
  • Personal expenses and optional excursions

Argentina double room

Start DateDurationCostNATUCATE-ID W.ARG-002
8 Days 2.500 €

The prices stated in euros are approximate values. Due to sharp fluctuations in the exchange rate of the Dollar, all prices will be calculated at the time of enquiry.

Requirements

Requirements

To take part in this Wilderness Experience you must be at least 18 years old and have a good level of English. You should be in good physical condition since horse-riding can be very exhausting, especially at high temperatures. Therefore, we need a medical certificate as well as a certificate of vaccination from you. You also need to make sure to get travel insurance that covers horse riding activities before departing to Argentina. No specialist knowledge is required – it's far more important for you to be enthusiastic about the wilderness as well as living in the outdoors. In addition, you must be a team-player and have the flexibility to adapt to shifting circumstances and the cultural norms of this foreign country that is significantly different from the one that you may be used to.

Details Your off-the-grid-adventure in the Andean Cordillera

Your off-the-grid-adventure in the Andean Cordillera

You will fly to Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires. From there you will travel by bus or by plane to the town of Zapala, in Neuquén Province. You will meet your team in Zapala at 10:00 am, from where you will then drive 4 hours into the foothills of the Andes to a place called Buta Mallin. Here you will have a mid-afternoon lunch before you will have your first experience saddling and packing the horses for a 2 1/2 hour ride into the heart of the Estancia where the lodge is located. In the evening, all participants can settle into their cottage or room and relax at the ranch. The following two days you will spend at the ranch enjoying the recreational opportunities.

On day 4 of your packtrip adventure you and your group will pack up and head out into the Cordillera. The first day will be an all-day ride up to Laguna Negra, a high mountain valley surrounded by jagged peaks, waterfalls, and hanging meadows. You’ll ride about six hours this day – out of the Trocoman River valley, across a high plateau, and down a breathtaking trail into the valley. You will make camp at a gaucho’s puesto and enjoy dinner around the fire ring. The puesto in the Laguna Negra valley is a base camp day for exploring and enjoying.

 

After your first night in the midst of Patagonia’s nature you and your group will ride to the end of the valley and up to a ridge to see a spectacular view of the Cordillera stretching to the north and south, and the Chilean volcanoes to the west. On the way back to camp you’ll stop in to visit with the local gauchos who spend their summers in the mountains tending their herds. One cultural highlight: a stop at a twig hut and sip maté tea with these wonderful people. You will spend another evening at the puesto, sitting around the fire ring, enjoying dinner and looking back on what happened during the day.

The following day you’ll make your way back down to the ranch, following a different trail that takes you along the edge of the Picunleo Valley, experiencing sweeping views up the Trocoman River to the Copahue Volcano. You’ll spend another relaxing evening and following day at the ranch before – on your last day – you ride back to Buta Mallin, and drive back to Zapala from where you set off to your journey home or your next destination.


Accommodation

Accommodation

The ranch with its visitor’s lodge is a spectacular place in the unique landscape of Patagonia. It consists of several rustic, but comfortable buildings. The Casa Grande is home to the lodge's beautiful kitchen, dining room with a cathedral ceiling and handcrafted stone fireplace, and patio overlooking the river valley. There are different options for guests to stay – either attached to the main lodge or spread across the property in separate buildings. There is a two-room-suite with a queen bed, a three-room-apartment as well as a guest house with one double bed and one single bed and a guest room with a queen bed. All of them have private bathrooms.

Hot water for showers is heated in wood-fired hot water heaters. For a shower, wood must be gathered and chopped and a fire started – it takes about 45 minutes to get a full tank of hot water. Power is supplied by small hydroelectric turbines. Small loads like lights, laptops, and speakers work fine, but the system doesn’t support higher draw items like hair dryers. There is a washing machine available at the staff house. The ranch also has an own garden that provides staff members and guests with vibrant fresh greens for daily salads, as well several other vegetables. With the grass-fed beef, lamb and goat and the fresh dairy from the cow, much of what is eaten at the ranch comes right from the land. In the kitchen the chefs prepare a wide variety of foods ranging in style from California cuisine to traditional Argentine dishes for the guests.

 

During your actual packtrip you will be camping in remote backcountry locations, sleeping on your saddle blanket under the stars or in one of the tents. Please do not expect to have access to email, internet and telephone services. You and your group will be carrying and preparing your own meals. Your menus will mostly include bread, crackers, cheese, salami, honey, jam, and muesli or granola for breakfasts and lunches; and rice, lentils, pasta, polenta, and meat for dinners.

Everybody interested in a Wilderness Experience abroad should be able to adjust to entirely unfamiliar standards of living in their future host country. Therefore, we would like to point out the importance of being flexible and adaptable regarding the accommodation and sanitary facilities provided by the project. Those are very basic and – depending on the project – cannot be compared to European standards. The equipment and furnishings are limited to a minimum; air conditioning is not available. Depending on your host country occasional power blackouts or water outages are quite common. Please contact us if you have further questions about your accommodation. We are pleased to provide you with comprehensive information since we would like you to feel entirely prepared for your time abroad.

Leisure time

Leisure time

During your days at the ranch you will have loads of leisure time: You can go on a day ride, take part in riverside picnics, and enjoy evenings sipping wine on the patio. Moreover, you have the chance to go fishing in the Trocoman and Picunleo Rivers or swimming in the pool, or simply to relax in the riverside sauna.

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