Torres del Paine horseback

We’ve long had a review of Chilean tour company Explora’s Salto Chico Lodge in the Torres del Paine national park, also listed sometimes as Explora Patagonia. It’s got one of the most fantastic mountain views in the world and is on the doorstep of one of the planet’s greatest hiking destinations.

You can cover a lot more ground on horseback than by foot, however, and Explora has formally launched a new equestrian tour program. One of our contributors was fortunate enough to be one of the first to experience it. Here’s one half day in a four-day program:

Before lunch my fate is an 11-mile ride. We begin by crossing the deep Chinas River, climbing up and down hillsides and passing the Laguna Jara Cruce.

Our destination is the remote Estancia 2 de Enero, a farm belonging to the owner of Explora. We stop here for mate (a typical herbal tea favored by gauchos on both the Argentinian and Chilean sides of the border) before cantering back along the high ridges following the scent of lunch. Guanacos (Patagonian llamas) disperse as we pass, some jumping over a fence in perfect line.

The rides cross pampas to icebergs and glaciers, alpine lakes and rivers, with expert guides customizing the itinerary depending on the skill and experience of the riders. As with the equestrian excursions the company runs in the Atacama desert, guests are assured of getting the best equipment and healthy horses used to carrying strangers.

See our full feature story (with gorgeous photos) on touring Patagonia by horseback with Explora.