There may be no more authentic and enjoyable Argentinian experience than getting to be a gaucho for a day riding horses in the Andes Mountains.
Sounds sexy, right?
Well, it’s about as sexy as wearing a poncho can be, but it’s certainly an awesome adventure and an experience. One that I would recommend to every traveler passing through Mendoza.
Mendoza may be known internationally for its wine, but its proximity to the towering Andes Mountains makes it the perfect place to try some outdoor and adventure activities.
Sure, horseback riding is relatively tame as far as outdoor/adventure activities go, but there’s nothing like making your way through the bush on the back of an Argentinian steed like a true gaucho, with snow-capped peaks stretching on forever in front of you.
Don’t believe me? Perhaps a look at my own experience will convince you.
I had planned my trip to Argentina to visit my friend, Adam, who was living there for a year on a Fulbright Scholarship. He had recommended the excursion, and I happen to love horseback riding, so we set to purchasing a half-day package for $55 per person.
Adam and I donned authentic ponchos loaned to us by our host family and were on our way.
Lucas, our trusty driver, took us the 90-some-odd minutes into the mountains to the small town of Potrerillos.
The views were unreal the whole way there.
After getting turned around a few times, we located our guide, Paulo, who led us to our horses.
My friendly white steed, Curruchín, stood obediently as I jumped onto the saddle. I stroked her straw-like white and gray mane and found myself fondly remembering the horseback-riding lessons I took as a child in the suburbs of Kansas City.
I snapped out of my nostalgia and we took off. We had the tour all to ourselves – it was just Adam, me, and Paulo.
We began by casually leading the horses down paved streets on the outskirts of town. There were no signs of humans except for a house or two on our way to the trail.
It wasn’t too long before we stepped off of the paved road and onto a rocky trail lined with dry brush. The mountain air was fresh and chilly, but our ponchos kept us plenty warm during the ride.
The trail led to a mountain pasture where cattle were grazing. Surrounding us were snowy peaks that seemed to stretch on endlessly.
We toyed with the cows a little bit as we took photos. They were none too pleased with our interference but were too disinterested to put up a fight. Every once in a while one would let out a moo and then settle back into grazing. Cows are the best.
We spent some time soaking in the views and unleashing our inner gaucho before heading back.
I kept my head on a swivel on the return trip so as not to miss a single view of the huge, impressive, humbling mountains surrounding me. I took deep breaths of crisp, fragrant mountain air, knowing this was a special experience that I wouldn’t have a chance to repeat anytime soon.
After what felt like ten minutes but was really two hours, we were done. We dusted ourselves off, bid farewell to Paulo, and were on our way back to the city.
Planning Your Excursion
- We purchased the excursion through el Rincón de los Oscuros. Here is their TripAdvisor page and reviews.
- We opted for the half-day package, which includes a two-hour ride with roundtrip transportation (though we declined the roundtrip shuttle in favor of arranging our own ride). No food was included, so if think you’ll get hungry, plan to pack some snacks. There are also some local eateries in the area.
- Cost: Around $55 per person/800 Argentine Pesos
- Other packages are available, including a full-day excursion which includes lunch. Check the website for more details.
- Transportation: Because the excursion begins about 90 minutes outside of Mendoza, you will need to arrange for transportation to take you there. El Rincón de los Oscuros offers a roundtrip shuttle from Mendoza for an additional cost, though we opted to use our own driver. If you use a driver or taxi, be sure to negotiate the rate beforehand. Our total roundtrip cost was $60 (900 pesos).
- Be sure to wear layers – the mountains are chilly!
Have you been on this excursion before, or think you might want to try it on a future visit? Let me know in the comments!
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