The province of Salta is located in the northwest of Argentina, bordering three countries: Chile, Bolivia and Paraguay. It encompasses all kinds of landscapes: from the arid deserts of the Puna in the west to the abundantly covered green areas in the east, and outstanding valleys and deep canyons in the center of the Province.
We will ride along ancient Inca trails and reach places that are only accessible on horseback. The area has impressive array of landscapes and diverse climates. Tropical forests with crystal clear streams in the Lerma Valley, the Calchaquí desert with its multicoloured mountains and the Cafayate Creek and its water and wind eroded hills. We designed our trail rides to show this breathtaking contrast.
We go up to 3000 mts. (9000 feet) where the forest changes to high altitude grassland. This is the homeland of the Andean condor. As the sun sets, the spectacular stars of the southern hemisphere will cover the sky. Relax at the camp with its peaceful atmosphere as you share a cup of coffee, tea or mate. All this creates the ideal ambiance to feel the timeless spirit of nature and make new friends.
All along the trail, have a chance to absorb from the locals, heirs of the ancient Incas, their deeply rooted way of life still alive high up in the mountains.
Meet in Salta, Argentina and depart Buenos Aires
We will ride the Andes Mountains of Northwest Argentina along ancient Inca trails. We will reach places that you can only reach on horseback. The area has impressive landscapes and diversity of climates. Tropical forests with crystal clear streams in the Lerma Valley, the Calchaquí desert with its multicoloured mountains and the Cafayate Creek and its water and wind eroded hills. This trail ride has been designed to create this breathtaking contrast.
We go up to 3000 mts. (9000 feet) where the forest changes to high altitude grassland. This is the homeland of the Andean condor. As the sun sets, the spectacular stars of the southern hemisphere will dot he sky. Relax at the camp with its peaceful atmosphere as you share a cup of coffee, tea or mate.
All along the trail, have a chance to absorb from the locals, heirs of the ancient Incas, their deeply rooted way of life that is still alive high up in the mountains.
The horses are the heart of this experience. This expedition os suitable for riders who are fit and capable at walk, trot and canter. Yo have to be willing to let go of your electronic devices and be willing to ‘rough it’ for the duration of the trip.
Arrive Buenos Aires: Check in at hotel. We will take some time to visit the city . In the evening you might want to attend a tango show (optional) w/dinner.
Transfer to domestic Airport. Flight to Salta. We will visit the MAAM (Museum of High Altitude Archaeology) (closed Mondays). Recently opened to show the items found at an Inca human sacrifice site on top of the Llullaillaco volcano (6730 mts – 18000 ft. high). It holds the best preserved mummies worldwide. Check in at boutique hotel. Enjoy a welcome dinner with your guide.
After breakfast, we will drive to meet our horses. The drive takes us along the Cuesta del Obispo and its breathtaking views and the Cardones National Park where you can usually spot guanacos (Andean camelidae). When we reach Piedra del Molino (3348 meters high) we meet the horses and gauchos. Lunch by the corral. We start our ride going south at this high altitude spot. We will reach Peñas Blancas (2760 meters high) before sunset to spend the night in cabins with beds after crossing a small range of hills to our left. On the way there are herds of wild donkeys set free by the Spanish Conquistadors.
After breakfast we get ready to ride. This day we ride the lifeline this valley has had for centuries. On our way we can see, here and there, the small houses made with mud and archeological remains of ancient settlements. The ride takes us West at the beginning until we reach the very steep Chilo slopes which divide two valleys. The view is magnificent and makes us feel the power of nature. Lunch at a dry river bed which is great for cantering and we will take advantage of that. On the way we will stop to see the ancient pictographs painted by local Indians centuries ago. We will visit Isonza which is a working ranch with its ancient way of life still intact and Leuca Burgos who makes goat cheese. The way they milk the goats, make cheese, grow their crops is centuries old and inherited from Inca times.
The riding today is mainly South. We will go past Yaslaguala. The giant cactii are all over and set the stage. After lunch we ride to Amblayo town (2400 meters high) where we will spend the night. It has only 150 dwellers and its main means of transportation is on horseback. It is renowned for its goat cheese. Sense the feeling of arriving on horseback to this tiny town with almost no cars! An unforgettable experience. To get there we will ride first through archaeological areas where you can see pieces of painted pottery scattered around. We have a look with agreement not to remove any of the findings. Night at Amblayo. Rooms with beds, bathroom with hot water. Electricity available.
After breakfast enjoy this picturesque town. Visit its ancient chapel and its 17th century paintings brought from Peru, have a chat with its neighbors. After lunch we ride to the foothills of the Sierra Pelada. These multicoloured hills are unique. We will also ride the Río Salado which is a great place for cantering! Night at Amblayo. Traditional goat barbecue at dinner.
The riding will provide a day full of contrasts. Riding east we will be crossing the Dead Lion range. The desert gradually gives way to high altitude grasslands. This is the land of the condor. Once we reach aprox. 3000 mts. we will have the chance to see some. We start our descent into the dense forest of the Lerma Valley. At sunset, arrive at El Churqui mountain camp (1960 meters high) where we will be awaited with an energizing homemade meal. We sleep inside a cabin in sleeping bags. Toilet available and cold running water.
After breakfast, leave for La Viña along the course of the Las Pircas stream. These trails have been used for centuries and are still the only means of communication among locals. When we reach La Viña the minibus will be waiting for us. Two hours drive will get us to Salta city. Check in at boutique hotel. Farewell dinner.
As the past two days have been spent crossing high mountains. This day we will go round the Cerro Bola (Ball mountain). It is a perfect day to canter along the dry river beds of the Salado river and have lunch down the shade of the ancient algarrobo trees. We will spend the night again at Ayuso so we will just carry with us the essentials for the day.
We leave Ayuso riding through narrow creeks well South into the Calchaquí Valleys towards our next stop at Rastrojitos (1900 meters high). We have now moved into the Cafayate Creek which has rock formations that resemble the Grand Canyon, only smaller and are the icon of the region. At Rastrojitos mountain shelter we will be awaited with a typical goat cooked in the mud oven. We put up the tents for the night. No bathroom available.
We ride downhill towards the Las Conchas River. Some parts of our trail will be done very slowly as it is very steep and fun. Today, we will have the chance to see one of the best views in Salta. Las Conchas river is our ending point. Say farewell to the horses at Puente Morales (1300 meters high). Transfer back to Salta city. End of ride. Check in at boutique hotel. Farewell dinner.
Transfer to Salta Airport. Flight to Buenos Aires on time to connect flight home. End of program.