The famous Glaciers national park has some of the best and wildest horse riding in Patagonia. This ride will take you beyond the reach of vehicles, into the wilderness. You’ll ride into a pristine combination of Andean woodland, crystal clear lakes, high mountains, impressive skies and glaciers. Here you’ll feel the pressures of modern civilisation drop off as you lose yourself in the immensity of the landscape.
Min / Max group size
2 / 6
When to travel
November to March
Number of days
4 days / 3 nights
Afternoon arrival at the Estancia Nibepo Aike. Nibepo Aike retains the essence of the old Patagonian estancias. It is actually within Los Glaciares National Park on the shores of the Southern Arm of Lago Argentino. It covers an area of over 12,000 hectares reaching as far as the border with Chile. Formerly it was devoted to sheep rearing. Nowadays a small flock is kept, its chief production being the breeding of Hereford cattle, of which it has developed a prestigious breeding herd. 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.
Night at the main house of Nibepo Aike
Today will be your first day horse riding in Patagonia. You’ll ride, climbing up the mountain range, Cordon de los Cristales. The higher you go the more clearly the lakes stand out, Brazo Rico and Sur, Lago Roca and Cerro Frías, as if it were all a model. Once you reach the clearing, the track heads into the Patagonian Andean woods. You pass between lenga trees and guindos [Magellan beeches], riding along old tracks where the great sheep drives used to pass. 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. You start descending towards the lower land until we come to the riverbed. Along the way there you’ll see the Frías glacier appearing at the bottom and the granite needle called “el Dedo del Cesar” [Caesar’s Thumb]. Riding between rocks and pasturelands and avoiding the marshlands, you reach the corrals of the Río Cachorro outpost where the gauchos might be working with the livestock. After a picnic lunch you continue on horseback to Laguna 3 de Abril (3 de Abril Lagoon), a habitat of flamingos, black-necked swans, kaiken [upland goose] and steamer ducks. At the lake, you come to the outpost, and after unsaddling, there will be time to enjoy the surroundings and the cosiness of the refuge. A wood-fired stove and a brick and clay oven, with the gentle light of the lantern, passing the mate round, the evening meal will be prepared while tales of adventures are shared.
Night at the Laguna Refuge
The outpost has a room with 3 bunk beds and a room that serves as dining room and kitchen where there are another two benches that turn into beds.
After breakfast, you’ll ride south to the Balcony of the Glaciers. The track runs parallel to the Southern Arm of Lake Argentino. A little before arriving at the head of the lake, you’ll leave the horses grazing to go up on foot to a viewing point even higher up. From there you will have a panoramic view of the Southern Arm, Lake Corazón and of the Lake Frías, with glimpses of the hidden Glaciers: Gorra, Frías, Grande and Dickson in the distance. You’ll then walk to the beach at the head of the Southern Arm. From there you cross a large pasture, a pristine area. A stone of more than 20 meters in height will be the next goal. 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 you will find traces of the area’s livestock rearing past, a hanging bridge over 100 years old, destroyed by the great flooding of Lake Argentino in 1937. The way passes through dense woodland getting as far as discovering 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 trout swimming between the rocks. After lunch, whoever wants to will be able to carry on a bit further clambering over some stones to get to the southern end of Frías Lake, the natural border protecting the glaciers hidden in the mountains further south. In the afternoon you’ll return to where the horses were left in order to ride back to the Laguna Refuge.
Night at the Laguna Refuge
You’ll return to the Estancia riding along the shores of the lake until you reach the main buildings, about 18km from the refuge. You will arrive in time for lunch of a typical Patagonian lamb roasted at the stake over charcoal embers, which will be ready just as the riders arrive. Transfer back to El Calafate.
End of trip
- Price includes – All food & beverages (excluding alcoholic drinks). All activities on the estancia. All accommodation: double rooms – please enquire if you require single accommodation. All local tax.
- Price does not include – International flights to Argentina or transport to Santa Cruz. Bank charges. Personal camping equipment (sleeping bags etc). Personal equipment for horse riding in Patagonia – such as hard hats. Personal medical insurance (compulsory). Any visa fees and extras such as tips, laundry etc.
Prices are quoted in US dollars. However, we do receive payments in UK pounds, a sterling rate will be given at the time of booking.
- In Patagonia the weather is very changeable. In summer the temperature can vary from about 15oC to 22oC during the day, occasionally more, and drops to anything from about 7oC to 12oC at night. It must be remembered that the area is very windy, with prevailing westerly and south westerly strong winds, decreasing towards autumn.
- Riding level: moderate. The horse riding in Patagonia can be adapted to your level, though this particular is mainly morning.
- Children’s policy: Children older than 12 years old can take this program, only if they have experience on rides of at least 6 hours a day.
This program is an example of one of many programs we organize round Argentina. All our trips are tailor-made and we can adapt all our programs to your specific needs. And, if you would like help organizing transport, accommodation or any other activity in any other part of the country we would be very happy to help.