horse riding tour patagonia

Hidden Glaciers and Patagonian Heritage

Itinerary idea for a 4-day horseback riding trip in Patagonia.

Over the course of these 4 days out in the Patagonian Wilderness, you will feel the spirit of preserved nature, guided by the gauchos who share their everyday life with their horses. Cross rivers and pastures located in the heart of the Los Glaciares National Park until reaching the hidden glaciers of Gorra, Frías and Dickson – whenever walking is possible, you will get an exclusive access to the wild landscapes. One night in the estancia (farm lodge),and two nights in an outpost in the middle of nature – 6hours rides per day aproximately.

Length of stay: 4 days

Kind: Horse riding

Fix: Intermediate

Countries visited: Argentina

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Day 1 : El Calafate

Afternoon arrival at the Estancia Nibepo Aike, taking the regular transfer from El Calafate.

After settling in, the guide will explain the programme. The horses will be prepared and other equipment made ready to set off early the following morning. Nibepo Aike is one of the oldest estancia within the Glaciares Park, maintaining cattle and farming activities alongside tourism. The rest of the afternoon and evening are free to enjoy the estancia, exploring its surroundings by bike or on foot, finding one’s own way along the footpaths and tracks and also taking part in the sheep-shearing demonstration using traditional hand shears.

Evening meal and night at the Estancia Nibepo Aike.

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Day 2 : Estancia Nibepo Aike

On coming out of the dense woodland the way opens out into the Valley of the Río Cachorro. Notros (Chilean firebush) and calafate bushes here are unusually tall. We start descending towards the lower land until we reach the riverbed.

Surprise views of the Frías glacier and a granite formation called “el Dedo del Cesar ” (Caesar’s Thumb) appear in the background. Riding between rocks and pasturelands and avoiding the marshlands, we reach the corrals of the Río Cachorro outpost where the rangers might be working with the livestock.

After a picnic, we horseride to Laguna 3 de Abril (3 de Abril Lagoon), a habitat of flamingos and black-necked swans, kaiken ( upland goose) and steamer ducks, as well as of numerous salmonidae. Passing the lake, we come to the outpost, and after unsaddling, there will be time to enjoy the surroundings and the cosiness of the refuge. By the wood-fired stove and a the oven, under the gentle light of the lantern, we will pass the mate round while preparing the evening meal and sharing tales of adventures.

The outpost has a room with 3 bunk beds and a room that serves as dining room and kitchen where there are two other benches that turn into beds. Basic facilities.

Evening meal and overnight at the Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril.

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Day 3 : Los Glaciares National Park

We leave after breakfast, riding south to the Balcony of the Glaciers. The track runs parallel to the Southern Arm of Lago Argentino. A little before arriving at the head of the lake, we leave the horses grazing to go up on foot to a viewing point even higher up.

From there we will have a panoramic view of the Southern Arm, Laguna Corazón and of the Lago Frías, with glimpses of the Hidden Glaciers Gorra, Frías, Grande and Dickson in the distance.

We walk to the beach at the head of the Southern Arm. From there we cross a large pasture, a pristine area. An erratic stone of more than 20 meters in height is our next destination. It is impressive to stand in front of such a huge rock, marked by the force of the glaciers advancing and receding. The footpath starts to run alongside the lower Frías River . Here we will find traces of the area’s livestock rearing past, a hanging bridge over 100 years old, destroyed by the great flooding of Lago Argentino in 1937.

The path passes through dense woodland until discovering the Corazón Lagoon, with crystal clear waters where the deep blue contrasts with the green reflection of the woods. The water is so crystal clear that it is possible to watch the trouts swimming between the rocks. We pause for lunch in this sheltered place.

Whoever wants to will be able to carry on a bit further clambering over some stones that prove fairly awkward for crossing, in order to get to the southern end of Frías Lake, the natural border protecting the glaciers hidden in the mountains further south. In the afternoon we return to where the horses were left in order to ride back to the Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril, where the night will be spent.

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Day 4 : Estancia Nibepo Aike

The ride back starts along the shore of the lake until we reach the main buildings of the estancia, about 18km from the refuge. We will arrive just in time for lunch with a typical Patagonian lamb roasted over charcoal embers.

After lunch, regular transfer back to El Calafate

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