6 days horseback riding – Up to the border with Chile
We invite you to experience a historical experience riding on horseback along the same route chosen by General Don José de San Martín, together with the Army of the Andes, on his return from his liberating heroic deed in 1823. This crossing was historically used by the Huarpes, Araucanos, Jesuits, Baqueanos and Criollos. Even Charles Darwin himself used it for his anthropological studies on the theory of the marine origin of the Cordillera.
Crossing the Portillo we will find the Alto Valle de Tunuyán, a place where cattle used to graze in the summer months. Accompanied by a group of expert “baqueanos” and all the necessary equipment to live these days safely, we will enter the heart of the Cordillera and the customs of the ancient Argentine gauchos at 4300 meters above sea level.
We invite you to be part of a unique experience at the top of the Andes, where you can breathe nature, incredible landscapes and flights of freedom.
What does the trip include?
- Lunches/ Dinners/ Breakfasts/ Snacks
- Drinks with and without alcohol
- Thermal sleeping bag
- Polar blanket
- Rain coat
- Protective bag for jackets
- Accident insurance
- Satellite phone for emergencies
The trip lasts six days and an average of six to ten hours of riding per day is estimated. The scenery and the route combine moments of walking and relaxation, with demanding stretches of pure adventure. You will be able to enjoy the long silences as our horse passes by, and the chats and moments of relaxation when the group relaxes and rests.
You will have to assemble a suitcase and bring an empty bag inside, with the clothes that we detail below. The suitcase can be left at the base, with clean clothes for the return trip. The bag with clothes and sleeping bags will be carried on mules. You can carry a small backpack that will be enough to carry a bottle of water (500 cc), sunscreen, gloves and anything else you need. We will also provide you with saddlebags, in case you need to carry other personal belongings.
We will sleep 2 nights in shelters and three nights in the open. If you prefer, you can sleep in tents for those nights as well. Always in sleeping bags, with inflatable mattresses and on the horses’ errands.
When we sleep outdoors or in tents, we have camp chemical toilets, while in the Real de la Cruz shelter, where we will be for two nights, we have toilets and showers with hot water and the possibility of charging cell phones, since it has electricity at night.
Please note that there is no cell phone signal all the way.
- Asado (chorizo, sausage, pork), chicken casserole, lentil stew, matambre a la pizza, stew carrero (sopón), empanadas, salads, mashed potatoes.
- Desserts: fruits (peaches and pears, melon, watermelon), cheese with olive and pepper and Alcayota jam.
- Cold cuts.
- Drinks: red and white wine from the area of Gualtallary, Tupungato, beer, sparkling wines, juices, liquors, beers, whiskey, others.
- Breakfasts and snacks: infusions (tea, mate, coffee), country bread toasts, pancakes, fried cakes, water cookies, sweet cookies, butter, jam, dulce de leche, dried fruits and nuts.
*We have a special menu for people with dietary restrictions, don’t forget to tell us about it! We have vegetarian, vegan and celiac options available.
- Groups are limited to 12 people.
- We will sleep in tents to be shared between 4 people. You can also choose to sleep outdoors.
- A dining tent will be set up for lunches and dinners in case the weather does not allow us to eat outside.
Each passenger will be provided with
- 1 thermal sleeping bag of -5 degrees (you can bring your own bags if you wish).
- 1 inflatable mattress.
- 1 fleece blanket.
- 1 saddlebag.
- 1 pair of gaiters.
- Itinerary and route.
Day 1: Mendoza – Real de Yaretas
Between 9.00 am and 9.30 am, our driver will pick you up at your accommodation. Approximately at 11.30 am we will arrive at Tupungato Winelands, where we will have lunch and meet the group that will participate in the trip.
Around 3 pm we will leave for Manzano Histórico, a town in the Uco Valley where the monument commemorating the return of General San Martín, after the Liberating Deed, is erected. We will continue to the Alférez Portinari Refuge of the National Gendarmerie, where our entrance to the Valley will be registered. It will be there where we will meet the muleteers, who will be waiting for us with the horses already saddled, to begin the journey.
We will arrive at Real de las Yaretas at approximately 6:30 pm, where our friends from the “baqueanos” will be waiting for us with a snack to take our first break.
We will spend the afternoon in Yaretas. This time will serve us to acclimatize and will be our first dinner with the group. We will sleep in tents with all the necessary equipment to spend the night.
Day 2: Real de Yaretas – Portillo Argentino – Real de la Cruz (Military Refuge)
We will have an early breakfast and at approximately 8.30am we will start our second day of trekking. We will cross a mountain range of 4,300 meters above sea level, the Portillo Argentino, which was the pass used by Captain Lemos in the fight for the freedom of Chile and then by General San Martin on his return from liberating Peru and Chile.
On the way we will see several hills of great height and beauty and a general view of the valley as we descend on our horses. We will cross streams with crystalline meltwater and if we are lucky we will see snowfields and penitentes that still resist the summer temperatures. We will have lunch during the ride, after crossing the Portillo, a “picada” with exquisite regional ingredients.
After about 7 hours of riding, and already deep in the Alto Valle de Tunuyán, we will arrive at Real de la Cruz, a refuge of the Argentine Army. This refuge is located at 3,000 meters above sea level, on the banks of the La Olla stream. We will get off the horses and have a snack to rest. Later, we will get ready for the night and have dinner with the group to toast to our second day of adventure.
Day 3: Real de la Cruz – Meson San Juan – Real de Contreras
At 09.30 am we will start our way to Cerro Meson San Juan, always after having a delicious and energizing breakfast. During the trip we will cross the Tunuyán River, the second most important river in Mendoza and at times very abundant. We will get to see this impressive Andean massif (5,500 m.a.s.l.) with an ice wall of unimaginable proportions.
We will also pass by lagoons with birds of different species and pastures called vegas
(high altitude wetlands of great biodiversity) at 3,800 meters above sea level. In this area there are abundant native species such as guanacos, who choose these places to have their young (chulengos) and huge condors in the heights, guarding the Cordillera. We will have a delicious “picada” lunch with “El Mesón” as a witness.
Later, we will start our return trip. After two hours of riding, around 17 pm we will arrive at Real de Contreras, where we will have a snack. It will be an afternoon of rest for the whole group and recovery of the animals, to continue the next day on the road to the border with Chile.
At night, we will have dinner under the shelter of a big fire and sleep under the open sky, contemplating one of the clearest skies in Argentina. Those who prefer can sleep in tents.
Day 4: Real de Contreras – Border with Chile – Real de Contreras
A new day of trekking begins! Early in the morning we will have breakfast to start the horseback ride to the border with the Republic of Chile. We will pass mountain ranges of 4,000 meters above sea level where the landscape becomes colorful and surrounded by large pastures that for hundreds of years were used by the gauchos for their summer pastures.
Here guanacos, condors and hares are the native species that will accompany us at all times. After 3 or 4 hours of riding, we will arrive at the milestone with the Republic of Chile (Piuquenes Pass) at 4,000 meters above sea level. We will take a one hour break for lunch and we will start our way back to arrive around 18 pm at Refugio Real de Contreras, where the “baqueanos” will be waiting for us with a complete snack.
That day we will have approximately 8 hours of riding! At nightfall, we will have dinner around the campfire to remember every landscape and anecdote we have experienced.
Day 5: Real de Contreras – Laguna de los Patos – Real de La Cruz
Early in the morning we will have breakfast and leave without haste to the military refuge Real de la Cruz. We will spend the day at the refuge, hiking in the surrounding area, on the banks of the Tunuyán River and surrounded by unforgettable scenery.
This day will be a rest day to recover our energies. We will take advantage of this time to relax and return the next day where a hot bath will be waiting for us.
Day 6: Real de La Cruz – Yaretas – Mendoza City
On our last day of the trip we will leave at 8.30 am to return to Mendoza. We will have between 7 and 8 hours of riding ahead of us. We will pass through El Portillo Pass again and then stop for a delicious picada lunch. Later we will continue to Yaretas, where the traffic will be waiting for us to return. In Yaretas we will eat some milanesa sandwiches with fresh sodas and we will say goodbye to our horses to return to Tupungato Winelands to pick up our bags.
The traffic will take us to the city of Mendoza, arriving at the hotel at 20.30 pm approximately.
Clothes and elements
- 2 comfortable field pants (like field pants)
- 2 long thermal tights (very important not to forget)
- 2 long sleeve thermal T-shirts
- 2 short sleeve t-shirts or sweatshirts
- 1 long sleeve shirt or t-shirt
- 3 pairs of warm socks
- 1 pair of trekking shoes
- 1 pair of espadrilles, flip flops or crocs.
- 1 fleece sweatshirt or pullover
- 1 thick jacket
- neckerchief, balaclava, gloves, wide-brimmed hat, hat or cap
- wide-brimmed hat, cap or beret.
Note: The best clothing for mountain activities is wool or synthetic materials in layers, as they dry quickly and keep warmth better. We suggest a base layer, then a middle layer, such as a light fleece coat or similar, and then a windproof and waterproof layer.
- Personal medications (we carry a very large and very complete first aid kit, but everyone should carry their personal medications and instructions for administration).
- Sunglasses and SPF50 sunscreen
- A roll of toilet paper
- Towel (preferably a microfiber towel)
- Soap, toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hygienic wet wipes
- Tissues (do not forget)