Riding to Hidden Glaciers

This trip offers you the chance to experience life as a Patagonian ranger. Starting from a traditional Patagonian estancia, you'll ride to the end of Argentina, along the shores of crystal-clear lakes and to hidden glaciers. Nights will be spent at small outposts and you'll end the trip with an authentic Patagonian BBQ back at the estancia. This trip offers you the chance to experience life as a Patagonian ranger. Starting from a traditional Patagonian estancia, you'll ride to the end of Argentina, along the shores of crystal-clear lakes and to hidden glaciers. Read more...
5 Days
$884

Riding to Hidden Glaciers - 5 - $884

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

Day 1: Transfer from El Calafate; Estancia Nibepo Aike

Day 2: Ride to Puesto La Rosada; La Rosada outpost

Day 3: Ride to Puesto Cachorro; Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril outpost

Day 4: Riding and hiking at Lago Argentino; Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril outpost

Day 5: Ride to Estancia Nibepo Aike; El Calafate

Start from El Calafate and end at El Calafate

Landmarks visited on Riding to Hidden Glaciers

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Transfer from El Calafate; Estancia Nibepo Aike

Take a 4:30pm transfer from El Calafate to Estancia Nibepo Aike, arriving in the late afternoon. After settling in, your guide will explain the trip itinerary during a briefing. The horses will then be prepared and the equipment checked, ready to set off early the next morning.

This estancia is located in Los Glaciares National Park, on the shore of the southern arm of Lake Argentino. It covers an area of over 12,000 hectares, up to the border with Chile. It was previously devoted to sheep rearing, though nowadays only a small flock is kept as its main purpose is breeding its prestigious herd of Hereford cattle.

The rest of the afternoon and evening is free to relax and enjoy the estancia. You can explore the surroundings by bike or on foot, finding your own way along the trails and tracks. You can also taking part in a sheep-shearing demonstration using traditional hand shears.

Transfer duration: 1.5hrs

Meal: Dinner

Accommodation: Estancia Nibepo Aike


Day 2: Ride to the end of Argentina; La Rosada outpost

This ride starts early in the morning, climbing up the Cordon de los Cristales mountain range which lies behind the main house. The higher we ride, the more the lakes stand out – the Brazo Rico and Sur, Lago Roca and Cerro Frías. Upon reaching a clearing, the track descends into the Patagonian Andean woods. Pass by lenga trees and guindos (Magellan beeches), riding along old tracks previously used for the great sheep drives.

We'll arrive at La Rosada outpost, home of the 'puestero' who is in charge of cattle and continues the legacy of traditional rural production. He knows every inch of the surrounding land and can count the cows at a glance. We'll have lunch at the outpost and then continue riding to the International Milestone – this point marks the end of the estancia and also the end of Argentina.

Spend the afternoon soaking up the experience of being at the very frontiers of Patagonia; the south of the south, where the wind blows and the flag waves.

There will be time for you to explore the area while dinner is being cooked over a fire. Spend the night at La Rosada outpost.

Note that due to the weather, November departures are 4 days (3 nights), missing out on Day 2.

Length of ride: 4-6hrs

Meal: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: La Rosada outpost


Day 3: Ride to Puesto Cachorro; Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril outpost

Making your way out of the dense woodland, the path opens up into the Valley of the Río Cachorro. Amidst the unusually tall Notros (Chilean firebush) and Calafate bushes, we descend towards the lower land until reaching the riverbed where we'll be presented with surprise views of the Frías Glacier and the granite needle called the Dedo del Cesar. Riding between rocks and pasturelands, we'll avoid the marshes and arrive at the corrals of the Río Cachorro outpost where the rangers may be spotted out with the livestock.

After a picnic lunch, we'll see flamingos, upland geese, steamer ducks and black-necked swans at Laguna 3 de Abril. The Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril outpost, our home for the night, is located nearby so we can spend the late afternoon enjoying the surroundings and the cosiness of the refuge. We'll eat our evening meal sat around the wood-fired stove, sharing tales of adventure as we pass the mate round.

Length of ride: 4-6hrs

Meal: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril outpost


Day 4: Riding and hiking at Lake Argentino; Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril outpost

This day will involve one of two options, weather dependent. 

Option 1 – After breakfast, hike to the lake shore at Glacier Sur and begin a Zodiac cruise of Lake Argentino. We'll head south to the Hidden Glaciers and combine time on the Zodiac with trekking to little-visited spots between the mountains and glaciers. Sail through the Brazo Sur, reaching its southernmost point, and walk through the native forest to uncover a viewpoint of the glaciers and glimpses of Lake Frías, which we'll soon sail through. 

Disembark on the other side of the shore to trek along an old river course and arrive at an amphitheatre facing the Gorra, Frías and Grande glaciers. Have lunch overlooking not only these three glaciers, but also the icebergs that dot the milky waters of the lagoon. You'll have a good amount of time to appreciate the surroundings before returning to the Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril outpost

Please note that as this excursion is provided by another provider, you will be joined by other visitors doing the tour as a day trip from El Calafate. Also, it is subject to cancellation due to the boat trip being affected by weather conditions.

Length of hikes: 6hrs, 14km

Option 2 – After breakfast, head south to the Balcony of the Glaciers, riding parallel to the Southern Arm of Lake Argentino. Shortly before arriving at the head of the lake, we'll leave the horses grazing as we trek to a viewpoint even higher up which offers a panoramic view of the Southern Arm, Laguna Corazon and Lake Frías, with glimpses of the Hidden Glaciers – Gorra, Frías, Grande and Dickson – in the distance.

We'll walk to the beach at the head of the Southern Arm, crossing the pristine pasture to discover an impressive rock formation, shaped by the force of the glaciers advancing and receding. The footpath starts to run alongside the lower Frías River and then takes us to Corazon Lagoon; its deep blue waters contrasting with the green reflection of the woods. Have lunch watching trout swimming between the rocks in the perfectly clear waters. If you wish, you can then carry on walking slightly further to get to the southern end of Lake Frías, the natural border protecting the glaciers further south.

In the afternoon, we'll return to where we left the horses and ride back to the Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril, where we'll spend the night.

Length of ride: 4-6hrs

If Option 1 is not possible, the whole group will do Option 2

Meal: Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril outpost


Day 5: Ride to Estancia Nibepo Aike; El Calafate

Our return journey begins by riding along the shore of the lake until we arrive at the main buildings of Estancia Nibepo Aike, about 18km from where we stayed last night. We'll arrive just in time for lunch – celebrating the trip with a traditional Patagonian lamb roasted over charcoal embers.

You'll be transferred to El Calafate in the afternoon, arriving there around 3:30pm.

Length of ride: 4-6hrs

Transfer duration: 1.5hrs

Meal: Breakfast, picnic lunch

Customer review background image

What our customers think

The guide was friendly and knowledgble, the experience authentic as we stayed in ‘refugios’ that are still being used today, and the scenery was stunning (on the days it didn’t rain ;) ). The food was good, and we felt very welcome at the estancia.

Sterre Lodders Netherlands February 2019

Everything about this ride was fantastic - beyond what we had even hoped it could be. The horses are extremely capable - fit, well-trained, happy, and matched to their riders. Our guide, Franco, was a delight. He was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the area, the flora and fauna, and the horses. He is a true horseman, always keeping the well-being of the horses in mind and knowing each horse in detail.

Betsy Wack United States Of America December 2018

The horse trekking was the highlight of our trip! Landscape was rugged and wild, the locals open and very friendly. I'll tell my friends and family that it was a trip of a lifetime!

Anna Jansen Netherlands February 2019

I commend Nibepo Aike on all of their staff, their horses and the experience they offer. I also loved their garden, the food was excellent, and it's just a beautiful estancia with a palpable sense of place. This trip is best enjoyed by those who can and want the freedom to ride without feeling like they're on a tourist trap trip.

Laurel Miller United States Of America February 2018

Patagonia was full of the most gorgeous landscapes, wildness, and authentic people. We had adventures, ate amazing foods, and made friends that we still keep in touch with. It was truly the trip of a lifetime.

Betsy Wack United States Of America December 2018

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

The price of USD $884 per person is based on a group guided trip.

Fixed departures are on the first, second and third Friday of every month, from December to March.

Due to the weather, trips in November are 4 days (3 nights), missing out Day 2 of the itinerary. There are three departures in November 2021: the 5th, 12th & 19th. The price is USD $745 per person.

Private departures are subject to confirmation – please enquire for more information.

Additional Notes

Group size – 8 maximum, 2 minimum

Rooms – For bookings of 3 or 5 people, 1 double and 1 triple room will be confirmed.

Riding difficulty – Moderate. Riders must have experience of riding horseback for at least 6 hours in one day.

Facilities at Puesto de la Rosada – There are 2 rooms, one with 4 bunk beds (for 8 people) and a dining room.

Facilities at Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril – There is a room with two bunk beds (for 4 people) and a room that serves as a dining room and kitchen where there are another two benches that turn into beds (total capacity 6 people). In a nearby structure, there is a bathroom with shower and one more bed. You will be provided with towels.

Horses and saddles – Creole horses raised in the ranch. Saddles are Cangalla type. 

Sleeping bag – We recommend that you bring a sleeping bag. If you do not bring one, you will need to hire a sleeping bag from a gear rental shop in El Calafate. Please ask for further details.

Itinerary changes – The itinerary may vary according to weather conditions and/or to make better use of the livestock work if there is anything interesting going on around the dates of the program.

Single Supplement And Child Policy

Single supplement – If you prefer to have a single room at the Estancia, there will be a single supplement of USD $65 applied.

Child policy – Children over 12 years old can join this programme, only if they have experience of riding for at least 6 hours a day. 

Includes

  • Meals: 4 breakfasts, 4 picnic lunches, 4 dinners
  • Accommodation: 3 nights basic refuge, 1 night hostel
  • 3 days horse-riding, plus 1 day horse-riding and hiking, or 1 day zodiac ride and hiking
  • English and Spanish-speaking guide
  • Regular shared transfers to and from El Calafate
  • Taxes

Excludes

  • Meals not indicated in itinerary
  • Drinks during lunch or dinner
  • Any extra/optional excursions
  • Sleeping bag
  • Personal equipment (see our recommended kit list)
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Gratuities/tips
  • International and domestic/in-country flights
  • Any visa, passport and vaccination expenses

Questions about this Trip?