Embark on an 11-day experience immersed in nature and adventure in Patagonia’s Andean cordillera. Join wilderness guide and ecotherapist, Jennifer Sofie Gulick, and wilderness guide and educator, David May, as we travel together on a journey of self-discovery, cultural immersion and adventure. We will spend seven days on horseback, riding into the heart of the Andean cordillera, and four nights at Estancia Ranquilco, a family owned ranch in the northern Neuquen Province of Argentina. This is a trip for the adventurous traveler interested in learning about the art of horsepacking through hands on practice and engagement with the animals we will be traveling with. No previous horsepacking experience necessary. In addition, participants will be invited to participate in group and solo experiences to learn more about ourselves and each other, while deepening our relationship with nature and the surrounding environment.
At 10 a.m. you will be met by van and transported from the town of Zapala to Buta Mallin, a cattle outpost on the Estancia in the foothills of the Andes. Your guides will meet you at Buta Mallin where we will gather for a welcome circle and enjoy a mid-afternoon lunch with the gauchos. After lunch, we will introduce you to the horses, and give you your first lesson in saddling and packing the horses. Together, we will ride 2.5 hours into the heart of the estancia where the lodge is located. That evening, you will settle into your room or cottage, relax, unwind and then gather for a gourmet meal, wine and good company. Your guides will provide structured conversation exploring the relationship between human beings and the natural world.
Get to know each other and our unique landscape. We will start the day with a mindfulness-based practice to begin to cultivate a deeper understanding of ourselves through intentional interaction with the natural world. There will be a walking tour of the Estancia and "meet the herd" activities, including an intro to catching and leading. We will go on a short day ride. Meals at the Estancia family style. In the evening we will meet to discuss details about the mountain trip.
Day 3-Day 9
After packing up we will embark on our mountain pack-trip adventure! We will ride deep into the Andes, up high mountain trails and alongside alluring rivers and alpine lakes. You will be engaging actively with the animals we will be traveling with, learning how to pack a mule and travel comfortably on horseback. In the evenings we will stake out the horses to graze and settle in to nights under the stars. We will gather around the fire for hearty backcountry meals each evening and an opportunity to share what we have experienced that day. We will have one lay-over day with limited or no riding but lots of opportunity to relax, swim, play, journal and participate in facilitated group discussions and mindfulness-based practices. There will be time for a solo experience if desired and plenty of opportunity for connecting with the land. On our last day, we will ride back to Ranquilco for hot showers and a celebratory dinner.
Enjoy a full day at the Estancia, with plenty of time to relax, sauna, swim in the river, or simply rest in the shade of a poplar tree. At some point during the day, we will have a closing circle to process the group experience. In the evening, we will invite gauchos from all around to join us for a traditional Asado and a late night gaucho dance.
Your guides will lead a final mindfulness-based practice before helping you to pack up and leave the estancia at 10 am. Together, we will ride 2.5 hours to Buta Mallin. We will have a picnic lunch before we load the vans for your 4 hour ride to Zapala, where you can choose to stay, catch a bus to connect to a flight, or continue your travels.
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