Wilderness Experience FAQ Wilderness Experience Argentina

Packtrip in the Patagonian Andes

Prior to departure

Do I need specific requirements or abilities to apply for this project?

To take part at this project you need to be at least 18 years old and have sufficient English skills. Furthermore, you need to have a valid medical certificate which states your health status: You are going to participate in long day rides around the Argentinian Andes; sudden changes in weather conditions and extreme temperatures between 0°C and 40°C can surprise you. This is why it is important for you to be physically fit. You should also be flexible, be enthusiastic about nature and living in the outdoors and like to work and live in a team. Possibly you may need a visa for your stay in the project. You can talk to the NATUCATE team about this topic. The application process does include an application form and an interview.

What services are included?

Prior to your departure we will support your organization. We will help you with the visa procedure and to arrange a flight. After your arrival in Argentina you will be picked up in the City Neuquén and brought to the ranch. After the course ends you will be brought back to Neuquén. During your course, you will stay at a guesthouse or in tents. At the ranch, you will receive daily meals. During the pack trip, you and the team will be provided with food which you can use for preparing a meal. Flights, visa fees and other transfers are not included in the course fee.

Do I need certain medical precautions or requirements?

A travel health insurance is compulsory for all participants. Long day rides under changing temperatures can be physically demanding, which is why our partners need the health certificate mentioned above. A tetanus shot is also compulsory for all participants. You should make sure you are vaccinated against Hepatitis A, Morbilli, Mumps and Rubella. In general, you need to talk to your doctor and we advise you to get vaccinated against Hepatitis B, Polio, Pneumococcus, Diphtheria, whooping cough, and influenza. For current information and warnings regarding your destination you should check out the homepage of the foreign department and inform yourself beforehand about possible risks.

How long can I stay in the course?

This course offers an eight-day wilderness experience.

What kind of equipment should I take with me?

The weather in the Patagonian Andes can change rapidly, so regarding your clothes you should be prepared for all weather conditions. The best is to pack clothes which are suitable as “layers”: t-shirts and long-sleeved shirts, but also jackets to be worn above. You should definitely bring long, light trousers, but also a couple of shorts. As you will spend most time outdoors we advise you to bring durable clothes which can get dirty. Also important are sturdy boots, a backpack, a warm sleeping bag and matt, a refillable water bottle, spoon/mug/bowl and a first aid kit. You should also think of sun protection, such as sunscreen, sun glasses, sun hat and a head lamp and insect repellant. Do not forget to bring your passport, your driver’s license (if you have one), a bank card, an alarm clock, your phone/laptop, or a book.

Arrival

How do I arrive at my destination, do I have to organize it myself?

We will support you during your planning process, but you will have to book the flight to Buenos Aires International Airport (EZE) on your own. Please book your flight, so that you will arrive at the same day as the starting day of the project. After your arrival, you will take a bus or flight directly to Neuquén. We can also help you organizing this transfer. In Neuquén, all course participants will meet at the Presidente Perón International Airport, where they will be picked up and driven to a small village named Buta Mallín. There everyone will get on a horse and ride to a ranch in the Andes which will be your accommodation before and after the pack trip for a couple of days. You will receive a detailed plan about your arrival information after your course booking. If you like we can talk with you about your travel details and discuss different travel options with you.

During the course

How is the course structured?

After your arrival at the ranch everyone can make themselves comfortable and enjoy a relaxed evening. The following two days are planned for free time activities at the ranch and the closer surroundings. On the fourth day, you will pack with the rest of the group and start your trip to the Cordilleras. The first day will be a six-hour day ride up to the Laguna Negra, a high valley and lake in the mountains. After arriving in the valley, the group will stop at a gaucho camp and have dinner together. The next day you and your group will ride to the end of the valley and up a mountain range, where you can enjoy the spectacular view over the wide spread cordilleras and the volcanos on the Chilean side. On the way back to the camp you will make a stop at the resident gauchos to enjoy a mate tea together. After another night at the gaucho camp the group will head back to the ranch. There you will spend another relaxed evening and day, before – on your last course day – you will ride back to Buta Mallín and start your journey back home.

How big is the group?

The group size ranges between maximum 10 and 12 participants.

Live on site

What is the accommodation like?

At the ranch, where you will spend a couple of days before and after your pack trip, are a couple of rustic and cozy buildings. The Casa Grande has a large kitchen, a dining room, a self-made fireplace, and a veranda with a beautiful view over the river and the valley. The accommodation for the guests is next to the main lodge or spread over the area. There is one two room apartment with a queen-size bed, a three-room apartment, and a guesthouse with a double and a single bed plus a guestroom with a queen-size bed. All rooms are equipped with a private bathroom. In order to have hot water it is necessary to heat the water up above a wood fired stove. Small turbines provide power, which is enough for lamps, laptops, and speakers, but are not suitable for items with a high energy consumption. There is also a washing machine at the staff accommodation, which you can use. The ranch has its own garden, which grows vegetables and fruit for the staff and guests.

How is the food provided?

During the days which you and group will spend at the ranch a cook is responsible for your daily meals, which can be typically Californian or traditional Argentinian style. The home-grown vegetables and fruit are used for the meal preparation as well as self-made dairy products and meat (goat, beef, lamb). During your actual pack trip, you will prepare the meals with the rest of the group and take the groceries with you. As the backpacking-suitable groceries are limited you should be prepared for meals based on bread, crackers, chees, salami, honey, jam and cereals for breakfast and lunch. Mostly you will have rice, polenta, lentils, pasta, and meat for dinner.

How can I spend my free time?

During the time you spend on the ranch, you will have a lot of free time: You can go for a day ride, a picnic or enjoy a wine evening at the veranda. You also have the opportunity to go for a swim in the pool, relax at the riverbanks of the Trocoman and Picunleo rivers or try your fishing skills.

Do I have a contact person on site?

Yes, you will have a contact person during your course.

What kind of cost do I have to expect during the project? Can I withdraw cash on site and do I have to pay in local currency?

The currency in Argentina is the Argentinian Peso. Instead of traveler checks you should change for US-Dollars or Euros. In the cities, it is often possible to pay by card. Compared to changing money at a bank or currency exchange it is easier to look for an ATM and change money there with a credit card. You should keep in mind, that in most cases this will include a transaction fee (~5$) per transaction. Before your departure you should talk to your bank about this topic. During your course, you basically do not have any costs, as food and accommodation are included in the course fee and in the Patagonian Andes you do not have a chance to spend money anyways. But you should consider bringing some money for your time before and after the course. The amount is depending on the free time activity you are planning to do outside of the course. After your arrival, we recommend you to change 200$ in Pesos for your time till the course starts. We would also advise you to take $100- $200 for emergencies with you.

How can I contact family and friends at home?

You should contact home before and after the course. Prepare yourself not to be able to contact home after leaving Neuquén to the ranch and back, as there is no internet or phone connection.

What’s the climate/weather like?

The weather in Patagonia is changing often within a day. During the pack trip along the “shadow side” of the Andes the group will ride from the hot offshoots of the Andes up to the alpine regions, which are known for the rapid changes in weather conditions, intense sunlight and winds. Rough weather fronts can develop within a short time and without any advance notice. Even during the summer months, it can snow from time to time in the higher regions of the Andes. The group can expect temperatures between 50°F (10°C) and 80°F (27°C) during the day, but there can also be extreme temperatures between 105°F (40°C) in the lowlands and down to 30°F (0°C) in the higher regions. Depending on the conditions it can rain a lot or be extremely dry – which means you should be prepared for nearly everything!

What happens in case of an emergency?

Every participant needs to bring a small first aid kit to be prepared for small accidents. All guides have completed a special first aid course to be prepared for emergencies. Still every participant should be aware that the course takes part in the midst of the Patagonian backcountry far away from civilization and without satellite connection, which means that a direct, professional medical supply cannot be provided.

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