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Latin America Travel Articles

Explore Chile's Most Striking Wilderness by Horseback

September 17, 2009 -

There are many ways to take in the towering majesty of Patagonia and the lunar landscapes of the Atacama Desert. Led by first-rate guides and native gauchos who know the territory as well as their mounts, explora's Equine Experiences are an exquisite combination of natural beauty and adventure as only the back of a fine horse can provide.

If you've never had the pleasure of a wilderness adventure on horseback, you don't know what you are missing. Few modes of touring offer the same intimacy with the landscape or potential for excitement. From the warm, breathing mass beneath your saddle to the brush of trailside foliage on your skin to breathtaking canters up sand dunes, riding is a full-on experience – whatever your pace. Sure you'll be sore. But for a sensual take on the natural beauty of Chile, nothing beats a horse.

explora Equestrian Experiences are geared for riders novice through advanced. Guests delve deep into the Atacama Desert or Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia on English and Chilean saddles. The latter, designed for comfort by explora founder, Pedro Ibanez, is affectionately known as "the couch."

Unlike many equine operations throughout Chile and around the world, explora maintains its own horses at Hotel de Larache in Atacama and Hotel Salto Chico in Patagonia. Guests can look forward to well-bred, well-trained horses tended by caring hands and stabled on site or nearby.

Indeed, the professionalism is part of the draw. Gaela Hourcq, a French-born equestrian with 15 years of international experience at guiding, breeding, training and stabling – including winning the first-ever Torres del Paine National Park endurance competition in 2005 – oversees stable operations at both properties. In Patagonia, she is joined by gauchos who not only live the South American cowboy lifestyle but also portray it to their guests.

At Hotel de Larache, a 9,400 square-foot stable houses 20 spirited horses on site, including Quarter Horses, Patagonian Criollo and Chilean breeds. Stabling in the world’s driest desert presents its own distinct set of challenges, of course, and the hotel accomplishes the task with a 32-acre expanse of alfalfa cultivated especially for its beautiful animals. The hotel offers 10 different Equestrian Experiences, such as climbing a surrounding ridge, Las Cornicas, riding through towering dunes and an exhilarating exploration of the Quebrada del Diabolo, the Devil's Valley on horseback.

At Hotel Salto Chico, a 6,400 square-foot stable houses 26 horses less than 6 miles from the property. They include Quarter Horse and Argentine Criollo mixes, English with Belgian and Percheron mixes, and Patagonian Criollo. Each equine excursion includes one guide and one gaucha. From rides that end at the rustic quincho barbecue site to the crossing of the Serrano prairie, along the turquoise waters of the Serrano River, with views of the snowy peaks of Mount Balmaceda, there are 14 distinct rides to choose.

So saddle up and ride to discover the natural beauty and authentic culture that awaits on explora Equestrian Experiences in Patagonia and the Atacama. (At present, there are no Equestrian Experiences available at explora en Rapa Nui.)

For more information or to make a booking, please call our Luxury Travel Advisors toll free in the U.S. at 1-888-308-8747.


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