12 day/11 Night Trek, Ride, Ranch Combo Sample Itinerary
Day 1: Your guide will meet you at the Balmaceda airport where you will begin your journey. We’ll travel south on the Austral Highway on pavement and improved gravel roads to Puerto Río Tranquilo, a village on the shores of Lago General Carrera, Chile’s largest lake and South America’s second largest lake. Driving time is approximately four hours.
The evening can be spent relaxing over a glass of wine or a stroll about town.
Day 2: This morning by boat, we'll explore the fascinating and labyrinthine intricacies o the Marble Chapels along the lake's coastline towards the south. After returning to town we continue south on the gravel highway for another hour and a half, poised between the profound blue waters of the lake and the sharp snowy peaks flanking the Northern Patagonia Icefield.
Our destination is the small hamlet of Puerto Bertrand, located at the headwaters of the Baker River, Chile’s largest volume river, a world-class fishery and the centerpiece of a contentious dam-building project by the Spanish energy consortium Endesa. We overnight in Puerto Bertrand where we'll prepare ourselves for tomorrow's hike.
Driving time is approximately two hours.
Day 3: After breakfast we’ll finish preparations for our supported trek and take a boat shuttle to the beginning of our hike. After our mid-morning departure we’ll follow horse trails, carrying daypacks loaded only with essential items. The rest of our equipment and food comes by horseback or boat under the watchful eyes of our horse packers and staff. This leaves us free for exploring and adventure.
Our hike follows a trail up and down along the lakeshore, with a short boat shuttle required towards the end of the day depending upon our final path. Today’s hike to our tent camp is approximately seven kilometers long.
Day 4: After a hearty breakfast we'll grab our daypacks and begin today's spectacular hike. Our route follows a high, broad and broken bench above Lago Plomo with glaciated peaks at our shoulder and the jade colored waters below our feet. On the horizon lie the expansive Northern Icefield and it's seemingly endless peaks.
Our tent camp for the night is along the creek that marks one end of our wilderness ranch. The hike is five kilometers long and begins at 200 meters above sea level. Camp is located at approximately 650 meters.
Day 5: As the morning sun rises up from the direction we’ve come, we can sip yerba mate around the morning fire and marvel as the light plays over the mountains of snow, ice and rock. Mate is a traditional start to any Patagonian day and an important social custom.
We’ll eventually begin today’s hike, another five kilometers long and descending down to the end of the lake and a warm welcome to our rustic, comfortable home. We’ll get you settled into your accommodations in the guesthouse, where your extra baggage will be waiting for you, having been brought along by boat. Dinner will be served ranch-style in the main house.
Day 6: After breakfast we'll meet some of the ranch's sturdy Criollo mounts, familiarize you with the comfortable Gaucho tack, and plan on exploring some of the surrounding area on horseback. In Patagonia, horseback riding is an integral part of the traditions, customs and daily affairs of a unique and colorful culture.
The horse if sone of the most salient features of everyday rural life and to ride a horse in the great expanse of wild Patagonia is more than a simple adventure. It is also a chance to become momentarily immersed in the distinctive and gracious culture of the local cowbows, or gauchos, and to be offered a glimpse into one of the most traditional sectors of Chilean society. After our ride you'll be able to relax, enjoy the ranch, and prepare for wine on the beach around a campfire.
Day 7: This morning we’ll shuttle by boat the 16 kilometers of lake between our dock and Puerto Bertrand. The town’s dock is the departure point for a whitewater rafting descent of the crystal clear powerhouse that is the Baker River. After your descent we’ll have a picnic lunch and take a short drive downriver to view the mighty Confluencia, the junction of the Baker and Nef rivers.
If time and energy still allow we'll continue by road further south to the lower part of the Chacabuco valley, site of the Patagonia Land Trust's national park, an excellent spot for game viewing of guanaco, condors, foxes, and other wildlife. We return by boat to the ranch to spend the night.
Day 8: Today you’ll finish preparations for our hike up the Solér Valley. After a mid-morning departure we follow horse trails and once again carry only essentials in our daypacks. The hike is ten kilometers long with two modest hills of approximately 50 meters high. There are several short creek crossings so don’t forget those sandals!
Our tent camp for the night is located at the entrance to another Patagonia Frontiers' wilderness ranches and is along the banks of the Cacho River. This is one of our favorite spots in the valley.
Day 9: Today we spend hiking and exploring another untouched and widely unknown part of wild Patagonia. If the day is clear we’ll have views not only of the immediately surrounding peaks and glaciers, five and six thousand feet in elevation, but also of the Northern Patagonia Icefield and Cerro Hyades standing firm at the head of the Cacho Valley. The difference in elevation between the valley floor and the summit of Cerro Hyades is over 10,000 feet!
While we plan for today's outing to be a day hike, and therefore any duration we so choose, the option exists to move our tent camp closer beneath the stunning peaks.
Day 10: This morning after breakfast and the by now customary mate session, we return down the Soler Valley and back home to the ranch. You'll overnight in the guesthouse.
Day 11: Today we can enjoy another horse ride in the morning, sample fruit in the orchards, take a stroll around the forest, or simply enjoy the ranch. In the evening we’ll plan for a customary Chilean barbeque, or asado parado. Guests, staff and neighbors traditionally all share in this feast of lamb, slow-roasted over an open fire, new potatoes, fresh salads, bread and wine. Don’t be surprised to find yourself staying up late listening to the strumming of a guitar and a soft, Spanish melody.
Day 12: After saying our goodbyes we head back by boat to Puerto Bertrand and begin our drive north directly to the Balmaceda airport for your domestic flight to Santiago and overnight flight home.