Day 1: Estancia Nibepo Aike (ranch)
Regular transfer from the city of El Calafate to Estancia Nibepo Aike; arrival in the afternoon. After settling in, the guide will discuss the program in detail. The horses will be prepared and other equipment made ready to set off early the following morning.
Nibepo Aike is a ranch that retains the essence of the original Patagonian ranches. It is located within Los Glaciares National Park, on the shore of the southern arm of Lake Argentino. It covers an area of more than 12,000 hectares and shares a border with Chile. Nibepo Aike used to be a full blown sheep farm, but now the herd is small, and its main business is breeding Hereford cattle, for which it has developed a prestigious herd.
You will have leisure time for the remainder of the afternoon on the ranch, biking or walking its confines along self-guided pathways or even taking part in manual sheep shearing.
Dinner and overnight in the lodge.
Day 2: La Rosada outpost
Your horseback ride begins this morning with an ascent along the Cordón de los Cristales which lies behind the lodge. As the altitude increases, different lakes will come into view: the Rico and southern arms of Lake Argentino, Lake Roca, and Lake Cerro Frias. The pathway, which was used for great sheep drives, passes between oak and cherry trees, and a little while later, you ride across a small plain where cows graze.
In this area is where you find the La Rosada outpost, home of the “puestero”, who is in charge of the cattle and of continuing the legacy of traditional farming. He knows every single corner of this part of the land and can count the cows with just a glance from the window. If one cow were to escape the herd, he would bring her back within a couple of minutes.
Lunch will be served: bife al disco, with the Andes as the backdrop.
By the afternoon, you will reach an historical point: the milestone that indicates the end the ranch and Argentina’s border with Chile. The sensation of being on the Patagonian frontier is unique. It is south of South; the wind blows, and the flags wave. There will be leisure time to explore the surroundings. As night falls on the outpost, the expectations of a great adventure to the hidden glaciers increase.
Dinner and overnight at La Rosada outpost.
Day 3: Cachorro outpost and Lake 3 de Abril outpost
On coming out of the dense woodland, the way opens into the Cachorro River valley. The bushes are unusually tall here. The path descends towards the lowlands and reaches the riverbed. There, you are afforded astounding views of the Frías Glacier and the granite needle called “el Dedo del Cesar” (the Finger of Caesar).
Riding between rocks and pasturelands and avoiding the marshlands, you reach the Cachorro River outpost, where the ranchers, who know every nook and cranny of the surroundings, might be working with the livestock. Lunch will be served at the outpost. The ride from outpost to outpost is a recreation of the trek authentic ranchers use.
After a delicious lunch, the horseback ride continues to Lake 3 de Abril, a habitat of flamingos, swans, geese, and ducks, and whose waters are filled with salmon. The outpost is past the lake and, after unsaddling the horses, there will be time to enjoy the surroundings and the warmth of the lodge seated by a wood-fire stove and brick and clay oven, with the gentle light of the lantern, passing the mate tea around. Dinner will be prepared as tales of past adventures are shared.
The outpost has a room with 3 bunk beds and a room that serves as dining room and kitchen where there are another two benches that turn into beds. Basic accommodations.
Dinner and overnight at the Laguna 3 de Abril outpost.
Day 4: Lake 3 de Abril outpost
After breakfast, you hit the trial, riding south to the Balcón de los Glaciares. The track runs parallel to the southern arm of Lake Argentino. A little before arriving at the head of the lake, you leave the horses graze and climb to a higher lookout. From there, you will have a panoramic view of the southern arm, Lake Corazón, and Lake Frias, with glimpses of the Hidden Glaciers: Gorra, Frias, Grande, and Dickson in the distance.
You walk to the beach at the head of the southern arm and later cross a large grassy plain, untouched by human activity. An irregularly shaped stone, 20 meters or more in height, is the next goal. The footpath begins to run alongside the lower Frías River, where you will find traces of the area’s livestock breeding heritage, a hanging bridge over 100 years old, destroyed by the great flood of Lake Argentino in 1937.
The way passes through dense woodland as far as Lake Corazón, whose crystal clear waters reflect the deep blue of the sky and the green of the woods. The water is so clear that you can see trout swimming between the rocks. Lunch will be served here. Whoever wants to can continue the adventure, clambering over stones in order to reach the southern end of Lake Frías, the natural border protecting the hidden glaciers farther south. In the afternoon, you return to where the horses are grazing to ride back to the Laguna 3 de Abril outpost.
Overnight at the outpost.
Day 5: Southern arm of Lake Argentino
The return route hugs the shore of the lake until reaching the main buildings of the ranch, about 18 km from the outpost. We will arrive in time for lunch of roast Patagonian lamb, which will be ready just as the riders arrive. After lunch, regular transfer service back to El Calafate.
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- The program may change due to the weather and/or to take advantage of the ranch work, if any were any scheduled on the program.
- Regular departure: minimum of 2 and maximum 6 of riders.