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11 Day Horseback Riding Expedition from the Lerma Valley to the Calchaqui Valley

Solar de la Plaza Hotel, J. M. Leguizamon 669, A4400 BOM, Salta, Argentina

Argentina Horse Riding Holiday

Discover incredible places on horseback in the Lerma Valley and the Calchaqui Valley. The contrast between these two valleys, the deserts, and colorful mountains are a magnificent natural spectacle. When you ride from the Lerma Valley to Cachi, enjoy magical landscapes on the way. When you arrive, visit this beautiful place and then continue through the valleys and different villages and towns like Seclantás, Molinos, Angastaco, and Cafayate. Not only the landscapes are a pleasure during this riding holiday, but also the pre-Columbian constructions are amazing to visit; they are still intact and conserved today!

Key information

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

Highlights

  • 7 horse riding days
  • 1 day allotted for preparation
  • Approximate daily riding time: 4 to 6 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
  • 10 nights accommodation

Skill level

  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Styles


7 days with instruction
Airport transfer included: Martín Miguel de Güemes International Airport
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Accommodation

During this program, get to know some of the most beautiful places in Argentina, and Ampascachi has chosen different hotels because of their location and service which meet international quality standards and their architecture and interior design. Some nights may also be spent in the Ampascachi camp. During this program, you will stay at the following accommodations:

Solar de la Plaza hotel

  • Type of accommodation: Hotel
  • Location: Salta, Province of Salta
  • Nights: 2

A boutique hotel that leaves all visitors astonished, the original construction with its wooden floors and tall windows was conserved and also the original distribution of the rooms which today are high standard suites and hotel rooms. The location is easy to access and close to all interesting tourist, historical and cultural sights.

The reception, lounge bar, and restaurant were carefully designed and decorated. Services include Wi-Fi, room service, and air conditioning/heating. It is a beautiful hotel where you feel very comfortable and can enjoy the views over the landscapes with greens hills and a deep blue sky around Salta.

Ampascachi Camp

  • Type of accommodation: Camp
  • Location: During horse expedition - Different locations
  • Nights: 8

The Ampascachi’s logistics team prepares the camp for guests. The camp consists of dorm tents with small beds, sleeping bags, and pillows, a dining tent with chairs, tables, and silverware, a toilet tent with a chemical WC, and a shower tent with hot water. Ampascachi also provides you with a kit that includes all the necessary articles. In this type of accommodation, guests might have to share a tent with other people.

Program

During the horse expedition, travel like people used to hundreds of years ago and revive the same feelings and impressions as the first riders who came to Argentina during the "Spanish Conquest". The entire logistics are carried by mules, cook on the wayside, camp in incredible landscapes, and prefer these unique experiences to great comfort. Ampascachi takes your safety as a priority during the expeditions, they always carry a modern satellite phone with them for any case of emergency.

Day 1

Every detail is planned and organized to live the adventure of your life! Ampascachi welcomes you at the Salta airport and drive you into the city, a journey of approximately 30 minutes that allows you to enjoy the views and understand why Salta is called “The Pretty”. Check into the Hotel Solar de la Plaza. After a short rest, 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 Ampascachi will give you details about the exciting trail you 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

Have breakfast together and then drive to the Ampascachi Equestrian Centre, the Casa de la Tradición, in Chicoana. Meet the horses and talk about all the details and activities of the upcoming trail. This riding program is an expedition that means you'll travel as a team so you'll talk about some guidelines and rules that are necessary. Have a picnic lunch and continue with your activities.

After lunch, choose a horse for every rider and learn about riding techniques, in a two-hour ride around the Casa de la Tradición, get more confident with your horse. In the afternoon, visit Chicoana, its typical square and bars where the locals gather together regularly. Have a snack in the Ampascachi Equestrian Centre at the Casa de la Tradición and then proceed with the activities.

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 program. At the end of the day, enjoy a typical dinner with guitar music in the old part of the Estancia Casa de la Tradición. Spend the first night in the camp. Tomorrow starts an incredible adventure with the horses!

Day 3

Have a traditional breakfast in the camp with the whole team. Prepare the horses and mules with all the necessary baggage and equipment for a great adventure through the Lerma Valley and into the Calchaqui Valley where the sun reigns. Once you got on your horses, start the first day of the expedition. Ride into the mountains and up to 2400 meters where the clouds look like cotton cushions.

Have a light lunch to recover your energies and continue on your horses to cross these amazing landscapes until you reach Escoipe. This is a place packed with history that dates back to the Incas and pre-Columbine times. Help the guides and baqueanos (human compasses) to feed the horses and give them water.

Prepare fruits, chocolates, cereal bars, bread, and freshly prepared fry bread, tea, coffee, mate, etc. Later, prepare 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 and load the mules 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 is a place where history took part, first the Incas crossed this area by foot and later on, the Spanish conquerors on their horses.

Ride through the canyon where the mountains are high walls around and give the sensations that there exists nothing else but you and your horses. By dawn, arrive in Isonza where you'll set up the camp, prepare dinner, and happily fall asleep.

Day 5

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

When you reach Amblayo, discover a very small village where people move in a different rhythm, they all live around the square and the church. You find a small shop where you can buy all sorts 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. Set up camp and have dinner in this breathtaking, singular place in the world. You surely will have a peaceful rest.

Day 6

After the morning routine, get on your horses and ride on horse trails on flat land and through canyons. You are far away from civilization and feel like the only people in the world. The 360-degree view is absolutely stunning. By 6 p.m., get to the Cuesta de Arena, it is probably a dry bed of a river that used to flow down here, today it is covered with sand.

Day 7

After a delicious breakfast and the preparation of the horses and mules, initiate the ride to San Carlos. San Carlos is one of the oldest and most important villages in the Calchaqui Valley with stone-tiled streets full of Inca and pre-Columbine history and colonial constructions.

Prepare camp and spend the night in San Carlos. It is amazing to visit places that not many people have been to and a great opportunity to know remote places!

Day 8

The sound of nature wakes you up for breakfast before you continue your expedition through the Calchaqui Valley. Today, ride to La Viñita. On your way, stop in San Lucas, a tiny village of four houses, lost in history, where you can visit colorful places and cave paintings. After the lunch break, carry on to your destiny.

The area seems to be a dry desert but you'll 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. Spend the night here in this unforgettable landscape, your experiences on this trail for sure are memorable and unique!

Day 9

After breakfast in the camp, prepare the animals and yourselves and initiate the ride towards Angastaco. Pass the canyon Quebrada de Las Flechas and ride along dry river beds. Stop for a lunch break and arrive in Angastaco at around 6 p.m. Prepare lunch and the camp and go to rest after an exciting day. You have seen so many unique landscapes today that you will never forget

Day 10

Have breakfast in the camp, then pack your personal things and say goodbye to the horses. The Ampascachi logistic team brings you to Cachi. On the way, stop to visit Molinos and Seclantás, walk along the stalls of local handcraft artists, observe indigenous artists how they make plaids and ponchos with sheep and vicuna wool of the best quality.

When you arrive in Cachi around midday, have lunch in one of the restaurants. Afterward, enjoy Cachi and discover communal areas where the indigenous grow different vegetables, mainly red pepper and caraway which you should try! Visit archaeological sites and the Bodega Museum Pablo Diez and the village chapel.

At 5 p.m. start driving back to Salta along the Cuesta del Obispo. At 8 p.m. arrive at the Hotel Solar de la Plaza where you'll prepare yourselves for dinner. Go out for dinner to one of the typical Peñas (restaurants with live folklore music). With this special dinner night out, finish your exciting expedition through awesome valleys and canyons that allowed you to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in northern Argentina.

Day 11

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'll find hills, mountains, pampas, and flat land. Ride on horse trails, cross rivers, and dry river beds with big sandy beaches. The special gait of the Peruvian Paso horses allows riding comfortably at an average velocity of 10 to 12 kilometers per hour. Whenever the guides think it is suitable, you can gallop.

  • San Carlos/La Viñita/Angastaco/Molinos/Seclantás

Ride through mountains, canyons, and flat land on horse trails, 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 riding comfortably at an average velocity of 10 to 12 kilometers per hour. Whenever the guides think it is suitable, you can 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 to move quite quickly over a long period of time. The horse moves both legs of the same side, first, the hind leg steps down and then the front leg.

The Paso llano is a broken, harmonic four-beat gait, 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.

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

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.

Region of the 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 on the Cerro Nevado, considered an ideal place for trekking and rock climbing.

San Carlos

San Carlos is a lovely little town with 6000 inhabitants, where an important part of the regional history took place, e.g. when the two powerful imperium - 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 Historic 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, who is celebrated every 4th of November when the villagers carry the statue around San Carlos. The surroundings are mountainous with altitudes that reach 5000 meters in the southeast, south, and southwest and various valleys with rivers that run across them.

Amblayo

Amblayo is the “capital” in this region of farming activities, it is situated at 2290 meters between the Calchaqui Valley and the Lerma Valley. The inhabitants manage to overcome all the difficulties of living in a very remote place and they welcome all their visitors warmly with open arms and offer accommodation and meals. They also maintain the only access to their village, a gravel road which cannot be used when it rains a lot.

  • Amblayo and its goat cheese

The most famous and delicious goat cheese of the province is produced in this tiny remote village in Salta and you have to try this delicacy.

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.

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

  • 7 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
  • 10 nights accommodation
  • 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.
11 days / 10 nights
from --
Pricing information

If the final number of participants on your traveling date is between one and five people, a supplement will be charged depending on the number of participants. In this case, you are notified 31 days before the start of the program and you have the option to accept and pay the supplement or cancel your reservation and receive a full refund of the payment already made for the program. You agree to this price policy at the moment of booking.

The supplements for small groups are:

  • For 1 person: Please ask for availability
  • 1050 EUR per person if the group is 2 riders
  • 710 EUR per person if the group is 3 riders
  • 375 EUR per person if the group is 4-5 riders
  • For groups of 6 or more, there are no supplements

These prices are valid with the knowledge of sharing rooms in the hotels. In case you do not want to share a room, a single supplement of 63 EUR will be charged, apart from the small group supplement.

Special discount

If at the time of booking your trip you do it for four or more people, including yourself, you can obtain the following benefits:

  • If you book for 4 or 5 people: The price of the program per person is: 2252 EUR without extra supplements
  • If you book for 6 or more people: The price of the program per person is: 1795 EUR without extra supplements

For more information, please send Ampascachi an inquiry.

Wednesday December 16, 2020
(11 days / 10 nights)

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