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Argentina Horse Riding Holiday

This horseback route will allow you to explore two of the most beautiful valleys in northern Argentina and see their surprising contrasts in a single trip. Discover the valleys and deserts in northern Argentina as a nomadic rider and live this once-in-a-lifetime experience in the most intense way. Are you ready to go into the wild on the back of your horse?

Key information

  • Tack Type: Aesthetical and similar to the Argentine gaucho saddles
  • Horse Breed: Peruvian Paso Horse

Highlights

  • 6 horse riding days
  • 1 day allotted for preparation
  • Approximate daily riding time: 4 to 12 hours
  • Explore the region mounted on Ampascachi’s Peruvian Paso horses
  • Ride with Ampascachi’s guides and gauchos baquianos
  • All meals and drinks will be provided daily
  • 9 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


9 days with instruction
Group size: Maximum of 15 participants
Airport transfer included: Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport
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Accommodation

During this program, you will stay at the following accommodations:

  • 3 or 4 star Hotel in Salta
  • Ampascachi camp, family houses or simple huts in different locations during the trail. Different locations along the trail

Program

Discover the valleys and deserts of northern Argentina. In the Lerma Valley, you can ride around the green farmland and visit some charming cities, such as Salta and Chicoana. In the Calchaquí Valleys, you will ride along wild trails and ravines, reaching some remote spots that are not included in other holiday itineraries, and you will visit some typical old villages such as Cachi, Cafayate or Molinos.

This will be a 6-day ride around these valleys. The first day of the ride will be spent visiting the city of Salta and the second day, choosing and getting acquainted with our partner on the trail, the famous Peruvian horse. Of the 9 nights of the tour, 8 nights will be spent in camps, family houses or simple huts, which will allow you to enjoy some exciting moments at dusk and dawn surrounded by nature.

  • Total duration: 10 days, 9 nights
  • Riding days: 6 days
  • Daily ridden hours: 4 to 10 hours

What are Ampascachi horse expeditions?

Ampascachi has developed these programs to make the experience of a very special and exciting horse expedition where you travel like the first Spanish conquerors did hundreds of years ago. Mules carry your baggage, and you cook the meals on the way, sleep in tents surrounded by incredible landscapes, and change comfort for the experience.

Itinerary

Day 1:

Every detail is planned and organized to live the adventure of your life! We welcome you at the Salta airport and drive into the city, a journey of approximately 30 minutes that allows you to enjoy the views and understand why Salta is called “The Pretty”. Afterwards, check into the hotel.

After a short rest, you will visit some of the most characteristic places of the city. Enjoy a memorable dinner in one of the many typical Peñas (restaurants with live folklore music) where you will be given the details about the exciting trail we are about to ride. Go back to the hotel to rest and tomorrow you are going to meet the horses, the Peruvian Paso horses, your companions in this adventure.

Day 2:

You will have breakfast together and, after that, you will all go to the Ampascachi Equestrian Center La Casa de la Tradición, in Chicoana, or to the facilities where you will raise and keep the horses in Capilla de San Pedro, in Pulares. Meet the horses and talk about all the details and activities of the upcoming trail.

This riding programme is an expedition which means that you will travel as a team so you will talk about some guidelines and rules that are necessary. Have a picnic lunch and continue with our activities.

After lunch, you can choose our partners on the trail – the horses – and have time to get acquainted with them on a two-hour ride around the facilities. In the afternoon, you will will visit Chicoana, its church and the bars around the main Plaza, a meeting point for local people. Enjoy your snacks the facilities. You will learn to pack and load the baggage, get basic instructions on horse care during the trail and on security and do a general review on the programme.

At the end of the day, enjoy a typical dinner. You will spend the first night in the camp. Tomorrow starts an incredible adventure with your horse!

Day 3:

You will have a traditional breakfast in the camp with the whole team and then get the horses and all the necessary equipment ready for the long trip from the Lerma Valley to the sunny Calchaquí Valley. Once you got on your horse, you will start the first day of the expedition. Ride into the mountains and up to 2,400 meters where the clouds look like cotton cushions.

You will have a light lunch to recover your energy and continue on horses to cross these amazing landscapes until reaching Escoipe. This is a place packed with history that dates back to the Incas and pre-Columbine times. We help the guides and baqueanos (human compasses) to feed the horses and give them water. Ampascachi will prepare fruits, chocolates, cereal bars, bread and freshly prepared fry bread, tea, coffee, mate, etc.

Later, prepare for dinner and spend the second night in the camp under a sky full of stars.

Day 4:

After a typical country style breakfast, prepare the horses with your baggage and equipment. Start the ride along the Escoipe River which flows through the canyon of the same name, Quebrada de Escoipe. This historical place was once visited by the Incas, who built the first roads. The same roads that the Spanish conquistadors travelled on horseback more than 500 years ago. You will ride through the canyon where the mountains are high walls around you and give you the sensations that there exists nothing else but you and your horse.

At sunset, you will arrive in Isonza where you will be accommodated with a local family, the Tolaba. Rustic and comfortable accommodation in the “middle of nowhere”.

Day 5:

Start with your morning routine: enjoy breakfast, prepare the horses, and then continue the expedition. Today, you will ride to Amblayo. Ride deeper and deeper into the Calchaqui Valley, the landscapes and topography changes, vegetation gets drier and more desert-like, but it is still astonishing as the sedimentary mountains show a wide range of different colour shades due to the minerals they contain.

When you reach Amblayo, you will discover a very small village where people move in a different rhythm, they all live around the square and the church. You will find a small shop where you can buy all sort of things and at its bar, the gauchos gather together after their working day to have a drink and talk for a while. In Amblayo, the best goat cheese in Argentina is produced.

The best way to get to this remote place is by horse, there exist some gravel roads but the access for vehicles is very difficult and when the climate gets rough, even impossible. At the Villada Family’s place, you will have dinner and rest. You will fall in love with their hospitality and their cozy lodge!

Day 6:

Breakfast at the Villada’s. Then, get your horse ready for the day ahead. On your fifth day on horseback, you will ride along some highland bridle paths and river gorges. In these parts, you can only travel on horseback and ride for miles without seeing a single sign of civilization. This will be a long day. You will be riding for about 8 to 10 hours and stop for lunch along the way: a quick break to eat some snacks and rest.

After that, continue riding to your destination, the town of San Carlos, where we will stay in comfortable cabins and enjoy a hearty dinner. Take in account that you are visiting places that few people have had the opportunity to see.

Day 7:

After breakfast, you will have the rest of the day to discover the town of San Carlos, with its rich history, colonial architecture and friendly locals. At noon, have lunch at the Carrizo family’s home. Today the menu includes empanadas and a typical Argentine asado (barbecue). In the afternoon, you will have more free time to continue visiting the town with our guide or just chill at a bar and watch the sun set.

After dinner, will enjoy a good night’s sleep because tomorrow there is another challenging day ahead: we’ll ride to a place called La Viñita.

Day 8:

After the breakfast, continue your expedition through the Calchaqui Valley. Today, you will ride to La Viñita. On the way, you will stop in San Lucas, a tiny village of four houses, lost in history, where you can visit colourful places and cave paintings.

After the lunch break, carry on to the destiny. The area seems to be a dry desert but you will be surprised when suddenly you discover spectacular wine yards in front of you, from these grapes one of the best wines of the valley are produced. This is another astonishing place where you best get to on a horse and not many have been to, the views are amazing in this desert place. Drive to the town of Cachi, where you will spend the night in a comfortable 3-star hotel or in cozy and charming cabins.

The itinerary includes the towns of Molinos and Seclantás. Along the so-called Road of the Artisans, you can visit different crafts markets and shops where you will find interesting souvenirs, especially blankets and ponchos made of vicuña and sheep wool. You will spend the night here in this unforgettable landscape, your experiences on this trail for sure are memorable and unique!

Day 9:

After a hearty breakfast, you’ll kick start the day and visit the historic center of Cachi. At noon, have lunch in a typical restaurant of the village. Afterwards, enjoy Cachi and discover communal areas where the indigenous grow different vegetables, mainly red pepper and caraway which you should try! Visit the archaeological sites and the Bodega Museum Pablo Diez and the village chapel.

At 5 p.m., you will start driving back to Salta along the Cuesta del Obispo. At 8 p.m., you will arrive at the hotel where you will prepare for a dinner out. With this special dinner night out, you will finish your exciting expedition through awesome valleys and canyons that allowed you to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in northern Argentina.

Day 10:

Enjoy your last breakfast together in the hotel and then drive to the airport in Salta. Ampascachi is happy that you have chosen them for your once-in-a-lifetime adventure, thank you very much!

Topography of the trails

Chicoana / San Carlos:

Topography varies a lot, you find hills, mountains, pampas, and flat land. You ride on horse trails, cross rivers, and dry river beds with big sandy beaches. The special gait of the Peruvian Paso horses allows you to ride comfortably at an average velocity of 10 to 12 km/h. Whenever the guides think it is suitable, you can ride in the gallop.

Tramo San Carlos / La Viñita / Angastaco / Molinos / Seclantás:

You ride through mountains, canyons, and flat land on horse trails, and cross rivers, and brooks e.g. the vast and dry river bed of the Calchaqui river. The special gait of the Peruvian Paso horses allows you to ride comfortably at an average velocity of 10 to 12 km/h. Whenever the guides think it is suitable, you can ride in the gallop

Description of the saddle, bridle, and bit

The anatomic saddle that Ampascachi uses was specifically designed to give comfort to the rider and protect the horse’s back. Their look is aesthetical and similar to the Argentine gaucho saddles. The reins and bridle are made of sole leather which is also used when getting a horse under saddle as it is light and transmits the given helps easily to the horse’s mouth.

At Ampascachi, they use the same bridles and reins for the rides as they use during the training of the horses and obtain docile, well-educated, and versatile horses. They use Pelham bits with short shanks so the horse responds easily to soft aids.

Education and training of the horses at Ampascachi

Ampascachi themselves breed the horses that they use for their riding holidays, they were specifically selected for that purpose by Ampascachi. The education of the horses is based on the principles of ethology which studies the brain and learning processes of horses and emphasizes respectful and ethical treatment. It is a unique experience to meet their horses!

About the horses

All the horses are Peruvian Paso horses, they have been breeding them for over 20 years by selecting the best horses. The Peruvian Paso horse moves in a special gait, the "Paso llano", which is very comfortable for the rider, and at an average speed of 10 to 12 km/h, it allows it to move quite quickly over a long period of time. The horse moves both legs on the same side, first, the hind leg steps down, and then the front leg.

The Paso llano is a broken, harmonic four-beat gait, and the center of gravity is almost immobile, which makes it a very smooth and comfortable gait to ride. The horses are also trained in the gallop, a gait that is natural in all horse breeds.

Your safety while riding

The horses were bred and selected by ourselves and have passed a process of education and training without aggression. All horses are unique, have a stable character, and are prepared for equestrian activities.

Nevertheless, riding or any other equestrian activity always bears a certain risk, this is why we ask you to be honest about your horse experiences and to follow the instructions on how to tread and ride the horses that the guides give you during the whole duration of your holiday.

Riders are required to bring their own safety helmet and its use is mandatory during the rides. For your helmet to do its job you must ensure it fits correctly and it must be properly fastened. During the rides, at all times you are accompanied by a guide and at least one more member of the Ampascachi team. On your first riding day, your guide explains important security measures and the right behavior to protect yourself and your horse in situations that could be dangerous.

The members of the Ampascachi team always carry a satellite phone and a first aid kit for emergencies and they have knowledge of first aid.

Riding ability

  • Intermediate: A rider who is confident in the gallop and has the horse under control in all gaits and also during long rides.
  • Expert: A secure rider also in a fast gallop.

Location

Regions and places you visit:

Lerma Valley

  • City of Salta
  • Chicoana
  • Quebrada de Escoipe

Calchaquíes Valley

  • Isonza
  • Amblayo
  • Cuesta de Arena
  • San Carlos
  • La Viñita
  • Angastaco
  • Cachi

Lerma Valley

Located in the Province of Salta, the Lerma Valley is an extended and fertile area where you perceive the scent of wild herbs. The characteristic, old colonial houses are embellished by the work of handicraft men and surrounded by fascinating landscapes. The climate is typical for a mountainous area with a mildly humid climate and a dry season that starts in May and lasts until November.

This valley descends from the west to the east at an average altitude of 1,100 meters above sea level. Among its main rivers are the Arenales and the Toro, and on its south-east border, you can find the second biggest artificial lake in Argentina, the Cabra Corral. In the extreme north of the valley, you'll find the great city of Salta.

Apart from this beautiful city, the visitor discovers many other important cities and towns such as Rosario de Lerma, Campo Quijano, Cerrillos, el Carril, Chicoana, la Merced, and Coronel Moldes. In the north, the Lerma Valley is connected to the Quebrada de Humahuaca, in the south-east to the majestic Quebrada del Toro, and in the south to the Calchaquí Valleys.

The City of Salta

Salta is located in the northeast of the country at about 1600 kilometers from the country’s capital Buenos Aires. Founded at the end of the 16th century, it is one of the most beautiful historical cities in Argentina. It is situated among winding mountains with many tobacco plantations. Tourists and local citizens call this city “Salta the Pretty” because of its incredible colonial buildings, its neoclassical churches, and its shadowed squares.

The indigenous roots and its rich culture have brought a long tradition of festivities, folklore, art, music, and local cuisine. The city offers the possibility to visit wine museums and art galleries, among them you can find the Historical Museum of the North which tells the history of the city or also the museum “Casa de José Evaristo Uribiuru”, portraying the lifestyle that the rich families of Salta once had.

The Archaeological Museum of High Altitudes exhibits different objects which were found in an area where sacrifices and burials were held over the llullaillaco volcano. The Anthropological Museum exhibits archeological findings of the pre-Inca site called Tastil. The city is also famous for its typical food, tamales, and humitas, local dishes cooked with tender corn, and for its delicious white Torrontés wine, produced in Cafayate, Province of Salta.

Chicoana

At a distance of 30 minutes by car from Salta city, surrounded by impressive green mountains, fertile valleys, gaucho traditions, and amazing history, you can find a population with a welcoming attitude that makes Chicoana a place worth visiting. Chicoana is located at the edge of the green canyon Quebrada de Escoipe, very close to where Abreu y Figueroa founded “San Clemente de la Nueva Ciudad de Sevilla” in 1576.

The locality was destroyed by the Chicoanas Indians, who had already been living in the place before Columbus discovered America, and for that reason, today the place is called Chicoana.

Guachipas

To the south of the Valle de Lerma, in the province of Salta, you find the town of Guachipas. Its main economic activity is the cultivation of tobacco and one of its attractions is its wonderful landscape. This town of colonial architecture has its old church called Inmaculada Concepción built by the Jesuits in order to evangelize the original people of the Valles Calchaquíes.

The main tourist attractions are the cave paintings in the dwelling called “Las Juntas” and the local museum which shows objects belonging to the different aborigine cultures which lived in the region.

Calchaquí Valley

Located in the northeast of Argentina, in the central region of Salta, the Calchaqui Valley is part of a unique geographical area with more than 500 kilometers of longitude which is characterized by stunning mountain chains on both sides and a fertile area with vineyards offering singular vines. This valley is emblematic of its historical and cultural richness.

Along the way through the valleys, you'll find small towns, among them an old colonial settlement in Payogasta, Cachi, a picturesque wine-growing town, and Molinos, a town with an impressive church. Further on, there is Angastaco, San Carlos, Animaná, and Cafayate, the latter being well-known for its delicious wine production.

Heading towards the east of the valleys, you can find the National Park Los Cardones to protect the Cardon cactuses, the typical flora of the place. The Calchaquí Valley embraces a great number of rivers, among them, is the main river called Calchaquí which flows along the Quebrada de Escoipe, the Valle Encantado, Quebrada de las Conchas, and Quebrada de las Flechas, known for its majestic rock formations.

These valleys were inhabited by sophisticated indigenous groups such as the Calchaquíes, the Tafí, and the Yokavil, also called the Diaguitas. Still, today, local people keep many of their traditions alive.

Cachi

In the heart of the Calchaquí Valley, Cachi is located at an altitude of 1228 meters above sea level. Its inhabitants maintain the ancestral traditions and customs alive which can be observed in their handicrafts like woven plaids, pottery, and ceramics, as well as in the regional cuisine. This old town seems like a portrait of a past time.

It has narrow and pebbled streets, with typical colonial-style houses that were built with local materials, cactus wood, adobe, and wooden floors. It also offers many tourist attractions like the Pío Pablo Díaz museum, which shows important handicraft objects of the indigenous cultures. The landscapes offer stunning views of the Cerro Nevado, considered an ideal place for trekking and rock climbing

Seclantás

This is the land of fabrics and craftsmen and the place where the ‘poncho’ was first woven. It is believed that the name of this small village comes from the old name of the Brealitos river, which had the name “Seclantás”. Seclantás is one of the old towns located on the banks of the Calchaquí River, only a few meters away from route 40.

In 1814, those lands were the meeting point in the Calchaquí Valley for the patriots who were helping General Belgrano who was leading the independence movement to fight against the Spanish Crown. Seclantás is strategically located between towns and villages, all touristically and historically attractive for visitors.

Today, the village mainly consists of a central street where the activities take place and houses along with verandas, roofs covered with reed and mud, and well-maintained facades. At an altitude of 2,100 meters above sea level, the climate of the village is dry and arid, it is generally sunny and winters are very cold.

Molinos

This village is of great historical value and leaves visitors astonished by its unique beauty. Founded in the middle of the 17th century, Molinos was later inherited in 1775 by Nicolás Servero, the son of Domingo de Isasmendi, who led the country estate to great prosperity. Isasmendi was the last governor of Salta selected by the Spanish Crown.

Visitors can still see the magnificence of the chapel and the main country house, which was transformed into a hotel, the “La Hacienda De Molinos”. In front of the hotel is the church with the remains of Don Nicolás Severo de Isasmendi, who built it at the end of the 18th century. The church shows old statues and was declared a national historical monument in 1942.

Molinos is similar to any other village or town in the valley as it is quiet, the houses in the narrow streets have thick walls built with mud bricks and the big windows are protected with bars. The colors of the landscape range from various terracotta, ochre to green shades which make that place a breathtaking beauty

Angastaco

Each and every place of the valleys is surprising, sometimes it is the colors or the magnitude of the mountains, in Angastaco it is their shapes and colors and the intensive blue of the sky. Angastaco is situated in a valley surrounded by mountains and with a river of the same name. The Angastaco rivers flow from Pucará through the valley and into the Calchaqui River.

The soil is sandy and a strong contrast to the intensive green color of the cultivations and the plants. From the 18th century on, the indigenous people who lived in Angastaco belonged to the religious mission Franciscana del Rosario in San Isidro, close to Cafayate. All the visitors are surprised and overwhelmed by this unique place and want to come back.

Towards Cafayate, the moon-like landscape is fascinating, most of all in Paso del Ventisquero and Paso de la Flecha. You can visit these places a hundred times and still find new shapes and combinations of colors in the area.

Cafayate

Cafayate is a small town located in the wonderful Valles Calchaquíes about 190 kilometers. south from the city of Salta. It is surrounded by attractive vineyards that have become famous for the high quality of their wines such as the varietal torrontés, which is a fruity, dry stylish white wine, as well as for the different red wines such as the cabernet sauvignon and the malbec.

It has a fantastic climate with sunny days and fresh evenings all year round that make this place the best option and the perfect climate for the cultivation of grapes.

Cafayate offers a wide range of tourist attractions which include memorable landscapes in the hills which can be admired perching as great protectors of the vineyards; then, the wine routes which are well-known visits treasured by all visitors; and finally, the various artistic and cultural options to be visited which include handicraft markets, museums, and various tastings of the regional cuisine.

San Carlos

San Carlos is a lovely little town with 6.000 inhabitants. It was where an important part of regional history took place, e.g. when the two powerful empires – the Incas and the Spanish – clashed and fought for control over the region. Some of the areas are part of the National Cultural and Historical Interest and on the 18th of February 1975, it was declared a National Historical Place. Today it is a peaceful and wonderful town where visitors come to enjoy nice temperatures during the summers and the beautiful landscapes of the region.

Its patron saint is San Carlos Borromeo which is celebrated every 4th of November when the villagers carry the statue around San Carlos. The surroundings are mountainous with altitudes that reach 5.000 m in the southeast, south, and southwest, and various valleys with rivers that run across them.

Food

All meals and drinks are included in the package.

  • Breakfast in the camp: Country-style breakfast (milk, yogurt, cereals, butter, home-made marmalades, coffee, tea)
  • Breakfast in estancias/hotels: Full breakfast depending on the place
  • Lunch during rides: Light meals served as a picnic with soft drinks or mineral water. Lunch is light as the rides continue afterwards.
  • Dinner in camp: Food cooked on an open fire and grilled meat like lamb, beef, goat; stews or empanadas.
  • Lunch and dinner in restaurants and hotels: Depends on the menu of each

If you have specific requirements for your diet (celiac, diabetes, food allergies, vegetarian, etc.) please let Ampascachi know when booking.

The following meals are included:

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Drinks

The following drinks are included:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea

The following dietary requirement(s) are served and/or catered for:

  • Vegetarian
  • Regular (typically includes meat and fish)
  • Other dietary requirements on request
If you have special dietary requirements it's a good idea to communicate it to the organiser when making a reservation

Things to do (optional)

Extension program

You can extend your holiday with the extension program and travel to the province of Buenos Aires, where you'll stay in the cosmopolitan and vibrant city of the same name. Take a sightseeing tour and discover historical and modern architecture, the port, the longest avenue in the world, Boca, Caminito, and other emblematic places, the Río de la Plata, tango, etc.

Ampascachi will also take you to rural places where you'll learn about the life of the gauchos in the Pampa, stay at a beautiful Estancia where you'll see how diverse this Argentine province is where history and modernism coexist. Feel the passion of Buenos Aires!

  • IMPORTANT: You can only book this program as an extension to the main programs.

What's included

  • 6 horse riding days
  • All riding and non-riding activities
  • Services of Ampascachi’s guides and gauchos baquianos (they have profound knowledge of the region)
  • Use of Ampascachi’s Peruvian Paso horses for all the equestrian routes of this program
  • All meals and drinks
  • 9 nights accommodation, 2 in hotels, 7 in tents or basic accomodation
  • Equipment to ride, camp, and kit for personal hygiene
  • All land and airport transfers
  • Transport of baggage
  • Satellite telephone and mobile phones for emergencies

What's not included

  • International flights (Ampascachi will be happy to help if required)
  • Additional meals and drinks in accommodations, restaurants, or shops
  • Accommodation and transfers not included in the itinerary (Additional transfers, also for delayed flights, will be paid by the guest)
  • Additional activities or tourist packages (Ampascachi will be happy to help with recommendations)
  • Laundry service

How to get there

Recommended Airports

Arrival by airplane

You can book your holiday program at Ampascachi with or without international flights. The prices published do not include the cost of international and or domestic flights or transport, only the transfers that are required as specified in each program. Flights need to be booked apart; dates of arrival and departure depend on the dates of beginning and ending of the chosen program.

You need to book your flights yourself and choose an airline that you think is best for you. Ampascachi is happy to help with information and recommendations if required. As Ampascachi has special agreements with travel agencies and airlines that fly from Europe to Argentina, they can offer flight prices that you can either accept or not. If you wish to receive recommendations, please send an inquiry.

Airport: Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport Airport transfer included: Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport No additional charges. You can request this in the next step.

Cancellation Policy

  • A reservation requires a deposit of 20% of the total price.
  • The deposit is non-refundable, if the booking is cancelled.
  • The rest of the payment should be paid 30 days before arrival.

Value for money
Accommodation & facilities
Food
Location
Quality of activity
10 days / 9 nights
from --
Thursday October 17, 2024
(10 days / 9 nights)

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