Patagonia on Horseback
Share in the free spirit of the Gaucho, and explore one of the last true wildernesses. Patagonia is wide open for six-legged adventurers.
"Andrea did a wonderful job designing an itinerary to suit three generations of diverse interests, and was flexible and responsive to last minute changes and requests. He showed us many hidden treasures of this beautiful region that would have missed we're it not for him."
- Heather on her journey in Italy
A possible, beautiful itinerary for you
Arrival in Buenos Aires. It is a short stay by the shores of Río de la Plata. You fly into the Argentinian heartland, to Neuquén. From here you must drive into the immensity of Patagonia. From the arid plains, you can see the change in vegetation, as you near the towering Andes and the landscape is overtaken by the mysterious beech forests. It is remote. It is wonderful. It is untouched. You arrive at Estancia San Juan de Quillén, a private property that is open only during two brief periods each year for like-minded travellers. You shake the flight miles off with a delicious lunch. Losing no time whatsoever, you start putting on saddle-miles, which are much more to your liking.
A Funny Horse
After a delicious breakfast, you head to the stable where your horse is already saddled. Your guide is a horse master. You trust him to choose the perfect mount. A sensible man, he has set you up with an impressive chestnut gelding. He’s called “Facundillo”, it’s a long story… There is an immediate rapport between you and the horse. You also have a wide choice of tack, from western, to English, to the more adventurous Gaucho Saddle, the legendary “recado”. “Let’s take things easy to-day, hey!” your guide recommends. You head out to explore Quillén Valley, an idyllic scene for your deepest horse dreams. After a few hours on the saddle, you dismount for a delicious lunch. As they pass the mate and you are initiated in its secrets, the riders settle for a little siesta. You will continue riding in the afternoon, and are left, for the time being, with your thoughts. Read more
You’ve given things some thought. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Today you are trying out the recado. It’s a game-changer, designed for long hours in the saddle, easy to repair in the endless, desolate pampas of Argentina. You canter to Lake Quillén. There’s no way you’re swimming in those nippy waters! And… you’re in. The clear lake cleanses the dust and the sweat from the morning ride. You emerge as if purified, as if reborn. Spiritual awakenings make for empty stomachs, and yours protests. Fortunately, lunch is ready. You embrace the honour of infusing the first mate, the bitterest. Though, by the shores of the lake, the horses presiding the solemn ceremony, it is sweet.
Pleasures of Patagonia
You ventured into the forest, through magical trails that awakened in you a different instinct, or, better said, made you sensible to your horse’s. Facundillo moved through the forest with confidence and poise, and through him you experienced something primordial. You have been so intensely submerged in matters of horsemanship, that you have almost neglected the delicious food and wine, served for dinner every night. Tonight the food is especially delicious and the wine full of accents of Patagonia. Perhaps you needed to be broken in, to finally appreciate them.
Frontiers of Patagonia
The horses are trudging up a rocky slope, and the Andes tower ominously above you. Facundillo uses his potent hindquarters and hops up with determination. You can feel the power move you intensely. Horses do not make for good mountaineers. You must proceed on foot to the summit. The mysterious mountains show their most inhospitable face. The wind is strong in the ridge. Fortunately, you descend to the crater lagoons. A bit protected for the wind, you manage to enjoy lunch. When he hears you approach, Facundillo neighs warmly. You have had a taste of the forces of nature. Patagonia protects itself, and that is a good thing. You ride back at an easy trot.
A Quiet Good-Bye
It’s an easy morning. You head to the stables where Facundillo is enjoying his pasture. You have absconded some carrots. There is something to be said about time spent at the stable. You ask the stable boy if can help with the grooming. It is a soulful meditation. You are leaving today. Perhaps next year, or even in dreams, you make yourself the promise to come back.