Hen & Paddy’s Horse Riding Trip in Aysen

Hen and Paddy returned in February from a three week adventure in Patagonia, that included a Horse Riding trip in Aysen. Hen kindly shared with us an extract from her travel diary that gives a fascinating insight into her experiences on the trip, along with some incredible photos!

Hen and Paddy returned in February from a three week adventure in Patagonia, that included a Horse Riding trip in Aysen. Hen kindly shared with us an extract from her travel diary that gives a fascinating insight into her experiences on the trip, along with some incredible photos taken by photographer and cameraman Paddy Scott.

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We arrive at the place where we will camp a little after 8pm. A green bosky plain surrounded on three sides by mountains and gently lit by the Patagonian summer sun as it sets through the valley of the River Neff.

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Exhaustion doesn’t come close. I’ve been in the saddle, or rather, clinging on to the saddle for nearly ten hours. Skirting steep ravines, tripping down boulder-strewn gullies, navigating choked lengar forests and muddling across riverbeds of glacial till.

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Carefully dismounting from my nonchalant horse, I stagger on my bruised, scratched, stiff and bowed legs, and am immediately set upon by unsympathetic mosquitos and horse flies.

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My face and hands are scorched by the sun, my clothes are damp with sweat and thick with dust, and my adrenaline drained body is demanding food. There is still a tent to put up, and the lamb for our supper still sits raw in a saddle bag.

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But scotch needs no assembly or preparation, and oh how it soothes! Swigging from the bottle I grin widely at Don, my Chilean gaucho guide. Such complete happiness needs no common language for expression.

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Had I been told that morning of the road that lay ahead I doubt that I would have followed Don A. so unquestioningly into the hinterlands. But since I speak no Spanish, and Don no English, the route was unrevealed and the safety briefing never happened. And of that I am very glad.

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Struggling through the day, rock by trot, every yard an accomplishment, my mind has not once drifted from the here-and-now. And despite the fear, aches and hunger, I’m delighted to discover that the here-and-now is very joyful.  Here-and-now is unchartered and mighty Patagonian wilderness, and my previously untested ability to tackle the unknown road.

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The next morning we’re up before 7am, yerba mate and last nights leftover lamb is a welcome breakfast, and somehow my body fits easily back into the saddle.

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I recall the trials of the day before and I’m momentarily struck by a need to know that today will be easier and that the hardest road lies behind us. But then Don signals to me to give the horse long reins, pointing to an impossibly steep mountain ahead, and before another thought I’m climbing on four hooves.

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As last night’s camp shrinks behind us there is only adventure ahead. My concentration is absolute, but I risk a glance at Don who is leading the way on a magnificent beast.

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Whistling a jolly tune, his gaucho’s cap angled jauntily against the sun, a spin-barrel revolver in his belt and his all-purpose knife on his hip- this man doesn’t worry about the road ahead because he is master of the road he’s on.

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See more of Paddy’s photos