Adventure vacations in Chile

Riding Through the Andes


This six or eight day Riding through the Andes trip is similar to our original Ride Across the Andes, except that it both begins and ends Puerto Varas in the Lake District of Chile, rather than ending in Argentina. The trek follows the old pioneer trail crossing the remote Puelo Valley; a route once used by smugglers. The journey, led by local outfitters, takes you through the hidden valleys of the pristine Patagonia Wilderness passing crystal clear lakes and ancient forests.  You will get a glimpse of the culture as you overnight in homes of the local pioneers.

The pace is steady, views are stunning and the trip is exciting, but not fast paced. The riding can be demanding as the terrain is steep and trails windy and riders will spend long hours in the saddle. There are lots of river crossings, which are great fun and allow riders to experience the local way of traveling.  Some steep ascents and the undulating terrain can turn a bit more demanding if the weather is not good.  This adventurous ride is an excellent way of experiencing lots of different terrain and being able to ride one of the toughest horse breeds in the world.  Riders may canter on open ground and trot in the forest, but due to the terrain much of the time is spent at a walk – the footing just does not allow for much fast-paced riding.  Enjoyment and comfort in the saddle are greatly increased if you are ‘riding fit’.

Nights 1 through 5 (1,2 & 3 on 6 day ride): You are invited into the local pioneers’ houses for a unique opportunity to experience their way of life. The extremely charming but often rustic houses offer basic accommodation mostly in twin, triple or dorm rooms with shared facilities and hot showers. Food is organically grown and sourced from local gardens, while meat will be cooked in a delicious Chilean asado (BBQ).

Nights 6 and 7 (4 & 5 on 6 day ride): Accommodations are at a private island: Las Bandurrias. Guests stay in a cozy and well equipped stone cottage heated by firewood; the same system heats water for showers. The bathroom offers a splendid view of a coigue forest while the living and dining areas and the great sundeck, overlook the small beach next to the quay. Here you find stunning views of Las Rocas Lake and the surrounding peaks. The cottage offers accommodations for up to 6 people; the main house has two rooms with original French country décor. It is a very cozy and warm place where riders will share meals and pre-dinner drinks with your island hostess. The main house is surrounded by flora where birds come to nest: one of the hostess’s prides.

The cuisine on this trip will be a special mix of flavors and ingredients that create a unique Creole-Chilean gastronomic style. A traditional wood stove gives its special flavor to the dishes.

  • Overview:
    The horses used for this ride are Chilean Criollos. Like many other Criollos breeds across Latin America, the Chilean Criollo is extremely strong and even tempered. Their hooves are thick and their dense double coat makes them well suited for both cold damp and hot dry weather. Thick manes, tails and forelocks are characteristics of the Chilean Criollo horse. They do well in the steep, rugged terrain and the higher altitudes where this ride takes place. Modern Chilean saddles with thick sheepskins are used for this ride. They are designed to distribute the body weight across the horse's back, thus minimizing strain on both the horse and rider. They are quite comfortable to ride.
  • Equipment Required:
    Saddlebags are supplied to carry your lunch box, water bottle and jacket, but we recommend you bring a small day-pack to carry a few personal items such as sunglasses, sunscreen, tissues, mosquito repellent, etc. Your luggage will be carried by packhorses so bring personal belonging in soft duffel bags. No wheeled luggage please.
  • Horse Breeds:
    Chilean Criollos
  • Trip Pace:
  • Tack:
    South American
  • Weight limit:
    195 lbs

The meeting point for this ride is your hotel in Puerto Varas on the shore of the Llanquihue Lake, one of the biggest lakes in Chile. Hotels can be arranged for you, as well as transport from the nearby Puerto Montt, Chile airport. The ride ends early evening back in Puerto Varas. Please plan to arrive at around 7pm. You will be transported to the airport in Puerto Montt if you have an outgoing flight that night or taken to your hotel for the evening (recommended to be sure to make the departure, and this hotel can be arranged for you at extra cost).

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Puerto Varas to Las Rosas

You will leave Puerto Varas at 9AM in a minibus towards the Andes. Along the way you will be able to admire the Llanquihue Lake, as well as the Calbuco and Osorno volcanoes that are part of the Vicente Perez Rosales National Park. Once you arrive at the edge of the Reloncaví estuary, the first fjord in the south of Chile, there will be a short break to appreciate the local gastronomy in the Cochamó village, well-known for its agricultural crops and fishing industry. On the way, you will pass through the Río Puelo valley near its river mouth in the sea before arriving to Tagua Tagua Lake. Here you will have lunch at a local restaurant and then cross the lake by ferry. Once on the other side, you will be completely disconnected from the telephone network and from the Internet. After a 40-minute drive, the transfer will drop you off at Puerto Urrutia. Here, you will meet the baqueanos team and the Creole horses. As you will cross by motor boat, the horses will swim alongside, guided by a boatman. While the baqueanos pack the pack horses on the other side, you will get to know your horse. Once ready, the expedition starts passing by beaches of the Puelo River that go through farmed fields. Late in the afternoon, you will arrive at the home of one of the baqueanos, a place just in front of the Puelo River, where you’ll spend the night.

Time: 4 hrs. of transfer ; 2 hrs. on horseback

Day 2

Las Rosas / Ventisqueros

Today, continue your ride in the Río Ventisqueros valley, crossing the river many times. Ancient woods, open spaces and rivers, a long and great day in the middle of the mountains awaits you. you will be crossing amazing forests and self-sufficient little farms in remote areas. Just as the locals do, you will ride across the large Ventisqueros River and its fast-flowing water. Enjoy a nice lunch on one of the Ventisqueros beaches and then keep going on the path to the end of the valley in front of a glacier. Here, you will be hosted for two nights in one of the most remote areas in the region.

Time: 6 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 3

Ventisqueros / El Toro / Ventisqueros

Today, you will visit a neighboring valley, where you will enjoy the view of a hanging ice glacier. The route is technical. The narrow valley and the dense vegetation will lead to an “alerce” (larch) forest, a native and protected tree that is one of the world’s most ancient. It is a remote area with few  inhabitants, in the middle of a pristine nature. Have lunch near the El Toro River, before descending mid-afternoon to reach your host’s home. This will allow time to enjoy the remaining afternoon to hike, swim or rest.

Time: 4 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 4

Ventisquero / Las Bandurrias Island

This morning you will set off on a full-day ride with forests, river crossings, mountains and waterfalls towards the Puelo River. There will be a relaxing time for lunch near the Ventisquero River. After leaving the valley in the afternoon,  cross the Puelo River by an important local hanging bridge. This place is particularly spectacular due to its huge waterfalls and rapids. Then take trails alongside the mountains until you reach the lake Las Rocas. At the end of the longest day of this expedition, a well-deserved rest will await you at the private island Las Bandurrias. A remote place surrounded by the cordillera where you will be able to contemplate the landscape and enjoy the lake. A haven of peace in the heart of the cordillera.

Time: 7 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 5

Las Bandurrias Island / Azul Lake / Las Bandurrias Island

Today you will leave the island to meet the horses and the baqueanos down by the lake. A quick stop at the farm La Colina gives a first glimpse of the Chilean countryside in the heart of the cordillera. The journey continues to the Azul (blue) Lake through the cordillera where you will enjoy various views. You will stop to have lunch on a beach.and after the picnic, will follow the trail towards Las Rocas Lake. You will pass through an ancient Valdivian type forest, with its very diverse vegetation, which is found in very few regions. Wet and steep grounds, very ancient trees as well as majestic mountains will be part of the scenery. There will be a short boat trip to Las Bandurrias Island with accommodation  back on the island in the guest house.

Time: 5 / 6 hrs. of horseback riding

Day 6

For the last day, you will leave the Bandurrias Island by boat to Puerto La Huala. There will be a short walk to the road where youvwill meet the transfer that will take you back to Puerto Varas. Here our services end, we recommend spending an extra night and flying out of Puerto Montt the next day, and are happy to arrange that for you on request.

Itinerary Addendum

This itinerary is flexible and changes may occur at the guide's discretion due to unforeseen circumstances.

Trip Map

Trip Dates & Pricing

Additional Pricing Information:
A 50% deposit is required to confirm this ride. Ride price is set, guaranteed and final at the time deposit is paid.

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Preferred Trip Dates

Riding Through the Andes
June 22, 2024
January 1, 1970
January 1, 1970

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The gauchos and horses were excellent! There were lots of long canters and steep mountains.

Adrieene Soler, 2009