Riding to Hidden Glaciers

Ride to remote corners and hidden glaciers from a traditional Patagonian ranch, spending your nights in a small outpost equipped with bunk beds! A real chance to experience the Patagonian life like a ranger, seeing the surroundings from the saddle, and ending the trip with an authentic BBQ. Ride to remote corners and hidden glaciers from a traditional Patagonian ranch, spending your nights in a small outpost equipped with bunk beds! A real chance to experience the Patagonian life like a ranger, seeing the surroundings from the saddle, and ending the trip with an authentic BBQ.
5 Days
$820

Riding to Hidden Glaciers - 5 - $820

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • Spend four days on horse roaming through the old tracks and remote landscapes like a local gaucho
  • A varied trip with sheep-shearing at the estancia, a beach walk, and the opportunity to explore by bike on the first day
  • Ride though the Andean woodland and up high mountains, pass glaciers and crystal clear lakes, and cross expansive clearings, reaching places where vehicles cannot
  • Uncover views of the Hidden Glaciers – Frías, Gorra, Grande and Dickson - with the chance to take a zodiac ride on Lago Argentino
  • Learn more about the rural life of the past and present meeting the “puesteros”, those who run each outpost and take care of the cattle

Start from El Calafate and end at El Calafate

Landmarks visited on Riding to Hidden Glaciers

Operator's Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at the estancia and explore the surroundings

Afternoon arrival at the estancia, taking the regular transfer from El Calafate. After settling in, the guide will introduce the program with a briefing. The horses will be prepared and other equipment made ready to set off early the following morning.

The estancia 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 is 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.

Transfer duration: 1.5 hours

Meal: Dinner

Accommodation: Estancia Nibepo Aike


Day 2: Ride to Puesto La Rosada and the end of Argentina

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

Set off on the ride first thing in the morning, to start climbing up the mountain range Cordon de los Cristales, which lies behind the main house. The higher you go, the more the lakes stand out – the Brazo Rico and Sur, Lago Roca and Cerro Frías. Upon reaching the clearing, the track plunges into the Patagonian Andean woods. Pass by lenga trees and guindos (Magellan beeches), riding along old tracks previously used for the great sheep drives.

You'll arrive at La Rosada outpost, home of the "puestero" who is in charge of cattle and carries the legacy of traditional rural production. He knows every corner of the land and can count the cows with just a glance. Have lunch at the outpost and then continue to the International Milestone, the point that marks the end of the estancia and the end of Argentina. Spend the afternoon soaking the experience of being at the very frontiers of Patagonia; the south of the south where the wind blows and the flag waves.

Meal: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodation: La Rosada outpost


Day 3: Continue to Puesto Cachorro and Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril

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

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

Meal: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril outpost


Day 4: A day at the Southern Arm of Lago Argentino, riding and walking

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

Option 1:

After breakfast, hike to the lake shore, meeting Glaciar Sur and beginning a Zodiac cruise of Lago Argentino. Navigate 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. Walk through the native forest, and uncover a viewpoint of the glaciers, glimpsing Lago Frías before you go on to sail through it. 

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 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.

Option 2:

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

You'll walk to the beach at the head of the Southern Arm, crossing the pristine pasture to discover an impressive rock formation, marked by the force of the glaciers advancing and receding. The footpath starts to run alongside the lower Frías River and then takes you to Corazon Lagoon; the 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 Frías Lake, the natural border protecting the glaciers further south.

In the afternoon, return to where the horses were left in order to ride back to the Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril, where the night will be spent.

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

Option 1 length of hike: 6 hours, 14 km

Meal: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Accommodation: Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril outpost


Day 5: Return to the estancia for a Patagonian BBQ

The return journey begins riding along the shore of the lake until you reach the main buildings of the estancia, about 18 km from the refuge. 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 at around 15:30.

Transfer duration: 1.5 hours

Meal: Breakfast, 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

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

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

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

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

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

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

Please enquire about November departures. Due to the weather, November departures are 4 days (3 nights), missing out on day 2.

Private departures are subject to confirmation.

Additional Notes

The price of USD $820 per person (USD $684 in November) is based on groups of two riders. There is a maximum of six riders per trip. 

You can also book a private ride for the date of your choice, subject to confirmation. Prices start from USD $1,095 per person (USD $805 in November) based on two riders.


Good to know

- Difficulty: moderate. Riders must have experience of riding horseback for at least 6 hours in one day.

Facilities at the outposts:

  • Puesto de la Rosada: There are 2 rooms, one with 4 bunk beds (for 8 people) and a dining room.
  • Puesto Laguna Tres 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.

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

- Saddle: Cangalla type. Creole horses raised in the ranch.

- The program might 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

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

- For bookings of 3 or 5 people, 1 double and 1 triple room will be confirmed. If you prefer to have a single room at the Estancia, there will be a single supplement of USD $65 per person applied.

Includes

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

Excludes

  • Meals not indicated in itinerary
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Sleeping bag
  • Any extra/optional excursions
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal Equipment (request our recommended kit list for more details)
  • Gratuities/Tips
  • International and domestic/in country flights

Questions about this Trip?