Patagonia’s best-kept secret, Caballadas estancia is located to the north of Lanín National Park — the most secluded and scenic part of the Patagonia Lake District in Argentina — offering the ultimate horseback riding and fly fishing experiences that Northern Patagonia has to offer. Located on a 20,000 hectare private estancia nested in the Andean foothills— family-owned and operated since 1908 — Caballadas offers some of the most breathtaking horse-riding adventures in the country across pristine Patagonian wilderness. This unique experience is for those with a passion for high-end, authentic, and active travels, in search of the real, 'beating heart' of Patagonia. Horse-riding is the best way to explore the estancia and with a variety of terrains to cover, the experience is more suited to confident riders. With over 70 horses roaming free on the property, it’s a horse lover’s arcadia. Ride across towering mountains and through enchanted forests, alongside beautiful lakes, across hidden valleys, rivers and creeks, enjoying rustic luxury accommodation in a family-owned estancia lodging and pop-up campsites along the way. The lodge where you'll be based comes fully equipped and provides family-run service to guests. Excellent food is served by a private chef, offering a variety of traditional local dishes including the famous Argentine asados. Meals are accompanied with some of the finest Argentine wines. Telephone, limited Internet, and laundry service are available.
Family-owned and run, the ranch was established in Argentina’s Northern Patagonia in 1908. The estancia dates back five generations to attorney and pioneer Don Juan Lagos Mármol. Following orders, he travelled for two days by train from Buenos Aires before embarking on a weeklong horseback ride to the settlement of Catan-Lil. During the investigation he became good friends with an old Patagonia landlord, Don Alejandro Arce. Soon afterwards, Don Alejandro mentioned the opportunity of renting one of two federal properties each measuring 55,000 acres. They flipped a coin and the result changed Juan’s life forever. Fate had it that the land in the Lake District would be his. He instantly fell in love with the plot and years later he made it his own, purchasing the land, relocating his family there and laying the first stone of the estancia. Five generations later and the estancia covers some 20,000 hectares and is owned and run by Juan’s descendants.
Arrive on a morning flight from Buenos Aires to San Martin de los Andes/Neuquen/Bariloche airport. Arrangements can be made for private transfers to the ranch. The road trip from the airport to the ranch is simply magnificent, following the Alumine River Basin. Throughout the drive, you will see spectacular natural changes – ranging from the arid plateau to the subtropical woods of the northern Andes. When you arrive, you’ll enjoy a quick lunch at the ranch, followed by a short late afternoon ride to get comfortable with your horse and saddle. After your ride, finish the day at Valley Lodge where a hot shower and delicious meal await, accompanied by delicious Argentine wines. Tonight you will go over plans for the days ahead. Then enjoy a good night’s sleep in the cozy rooms at the Valley Lodge. (Please note: You will need to schedule your departure from Buenos Aires on mid morning flight the first day of the trip, so you will likely need to arrive in Buenos Aires the day before. Please let us know if you would like help arranging accommodation in Buenos Aires on arrival.)
After breakfast, take a short stroll to the corral where your horse will already be tacked and waiting for you. Today you will ride through the magnificent Quillen Valley, and enjoy an excursion along the valley, crossing the river several times, reaching a beautiful vast open plain – Los Corrales. Enjoy a homemade lunch cooked over the fire at the barn. Dive into lamb or steak right off the parilla (barbeque) or al disco (a form of barbeque prepared in a round pan). After enjoying a siesta, remount for a thrilling ride up and down steep terrain across the mountainside, and take in the superb views of the valley with its winding river and the Lanín Volcano beyond.
Follow your guide for a ride through the valley, winding up steep tracks and passing creeks where you can hop off your horse and drink fresh water or stop to take photographs. Ride through a forest of Nothofagus Antarticus (Antarctic Beech) trees, which are native to southern Argentina and Chile, and are notable for the one growing on Hoste Island south of the Beagle Channel – the southernmost tree on earth. Continue riding down to Lake Quillen where lunch will be prepared for you. You'll have time to take a refreshing swim to swim before lunch. Then enjoy Argentine steak or fresh trout from the river, washed down with a good glass of wine. Most of the riding today will be at a trot and walk, with the occasional opportunity to canter.
The trail today leads us deep into the forest, again full of Antarctic Beech trees as well Roble Beech, imported in the mid-19th century from Britain, and Chusquea culeou, native bamboo canes. Throughout you’ll have breathtaking views of the valley and surrounding mountains. Enjoy lunch in the beautiful Mallin Escondido Valley, a hidden valley surrounded by ancient trees – the unique millenary Monkey Puzzle trees, Araucaria Araucana. Option to continue to the Mallin Largo and horseback to the Valley Lodge across the ridge of the mountains.
Today, the trail leads you through spectacular scenery set below the mighty Lanín Volcano and the towering Andes Mountain Range including Mount Ruca Choroi (3,000m / 7,545'). The trail goes through the Malalco Valley and then heads uphill through the mountains. Spectacular views, Monkey Puzzle forests, and beautiful green swamps will delight you along the way. Weather permitting, you will ride to the base of Ruca Choroi, leave the horses, and hike on scree up to the summit ridge. Near the top, there are two small lagoons that are old volcano craters: the black hole of each crater disappearing in the middle of the beautiful blue water. We will have our picnic lunch here, with the option for the brave to take a swim, or hike to the top of Ruca Choroi and enjoy the superb surrounding vistas: the Andes, nearby volcanoes Lanín, Villarrica, and Mocho-Choshuenco, and spectacular views of Lago Quillen and Lago Ruca Choroi. Aperitif and final dinner at the lodge!
After breakfast, pack your things and say goodbye to the ranch. Upon request, arrangements can be made for guests to be picked up at the ranch and driven to the airport. During the journey back to the airport, you’ll have time to reflect on your amazing trip to Northern Patagonia!
Accommodation in Valley Lodge
All meals (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner), Wine and non-alcoholic beverages with meals
Local English speaking guide and crew
Horses and tack, along with saddle bags
Boat ride on the lake (weather permitting)
Laundry up to 6kg of clothing
Airport transfers, flights (internal and international), visas, chaps, extra alcohol, beverages and hard liquor outside of meals, laundry, phone calls, fly fishing costs, full travel and medical insurance (required), and gratuities for guides and staff. The airport transfer cost from San Martin de los Andes to Caballadas Lodge is $390 per way in a 4x4 truck for up to 4 persons with driver. Please note that driver may not speak English
Private departures, for just you and your friends or family