La Constancia Mountain Horseback Trek
We set off on horseback from the estancia corrals, and, accompanied by Agustín Dorado and a Gaucho, we begin a three-day trek, leaving civilization behind, and are unencumbered by anything which would be of little use on the journey. Self-sufficient, the rider with his horse and saddlebags begins to travel along the horseshoe trails. Heading east, we rapidly gain height and cross a pass at over 2,700 mts. above sea level, very near the peak of the Cerro Champaquí, the highest mountain of the Cordovan range. Along steep trails and valleys which become deeper and deeper; the condor glides high in the sky, while the eagle hovers, seeking his prey and, on the ground, a great variety of plants, many of them medicinal, perfume the air.
The landscape of the Cordovan Sierras is varied; we cross pine groves, high-altitude pastures, soils with enormous flagstones, riverbeds and copses of tabaquillo (Nicotina corymbosa), a most curious plant whose bark is similar to onionskin. To spend time with local guides gives one an insight into their solitary lives which reflect both the rhythm and the cadence of nature. Campfires, stories and periods of silence where the only sound is the rhythmic hoof-beats. Unwittingly, the horses climb, gaining altitude, tiring, while their riders enjoy the view. Details become lost on the mountainsides as the horizon expands. The stillness can quickly become windy, the blue sky become covered with clouds which form in the valleys and climb up the mountainsides to envelop the riders. Starry skies, the murmur of the stream. Contrasts. Magical moments which transport us far from our mundane reality. There is no absence of barbecues, home cooking and mate. A perfect getaway.
Day 1: Met at Córdoba´s Airport. Transfer to La Constancia. Arrival at La Constancia in the afternoon. In the corrals, horses are assigned to their riders for a short trek so that riders and horses can become accustomed to one another. Before dinner, saddlebags are handed out to be filled with personal effects needed for the following three days. This is the moment to get rid of all unnecessary items, leave technology behind and prepare yourself to set off into the mountains and turn your back on civilization. Dinner and bed in the estancia. Maximum altitude: 1,400 mts. Hours on horseback: 1 – 2 hrs.
Day 2: At cock-crow, riders start getting ready for an eight hour day. Heading towards the Cerro Champaquí on the Cuesta de las Cabras (The Goat´s Slope), we rapidly gain altitude. To the west the landscape seems to expand beyond infinity. Near the summit of the Cerro Champaquí (2,884 mts. above sea level and the highest mountain of the Cordovan range) we halt for lunch. In the afternoon, we begin to descend in an easterly direction until we come to a shepherd’s hut known as Puesto Dominguez, where a traditional lamb barbecue awaits us. We spend the night in the puesto. Hours on horseback: 8 hrs.
Day 3: Heading south, we go along the eastern slopes of the mountain range at the Tabaquillo River we stop for lunch. There will be time to relax and enjoy its sandbanks, pools and waterfalls and perhaps even have a swim if the temperature permits. This is also a nice river to for fly fishing. In the afternoon, after a few hours riding we arrive at the Puesto Tres Árboles (Three Trees Puesto) where we will dine and spend the night. Hours on horseback: 6 hrs.
Day 4: The trail climbs to the ridge of the Cercado shoulder and then begins the steep downhill path to the west. In Puesto Ferreyra an asado awaits us to rebuild our strength. After the asado we have the last two hours on the horse. Arrive at La Constancia in the afternoon. Hours on horseback: 8 hrs.
Day 5: Hike to the Tabaquillo forest after a complete breakfast. Lunch. Interaction with horses (the horse as an emotional mirror). Afternoon tea at the countryside. Dinner at the ranch.
Day 6: After breakfast and ready to bid farewell to the mountains, the programme ends. Transfer to Córdoba airport, from were you can fly to many local and international destinations.
All our outings are private.
Rates per person in American Dollars
2 persons USD2000 | 3 persons: USD1900 | 4 persons USD1800 | 5 persons USD1700 | 6 persons USD1600
3 nights at La Constancia in a double room.
2 nights in mountain puestos with basic facilities – shared bedroom and bathroom and the possibility of a shower. One night in Puesto Dominguez, one night in Puesto Tres Árboles.
3 days of riding.
Full bed and board; 4 lunches, 4 dinners. Drinks with meals (local wines).
1 bilingual guide (English and Spanish) one local guide (Gaucho).
Saddlebags, leggings, water-bottle.
Transfer in/out Córdoba Airport
Does not include:
Alcoholic drinks during the meals at the inn (dinner day 1 and day 4).
Additional single bedroom in the nights in the Estancia.
Total round trip 51.5 kms. Minimum altitude: 11,381 mts. Maximum altitude 2,790 mts.
Difficulty: Intermediate. The riders must have experience of riding at least 6 hours a day.
Chilean-type saddles. The Criollo breed horses are bred on the estancia La Constancia and have a firm, safe gait on the mountain paths.
Policy on minors: Children over the age of 12 can participate in this programme, provided they have experience of riding for more than six hours a day. This outing is not apt for children under twelve.
Rates are expressed in American Dollars and are subject to modification without previous notice.
Maximum number of riders: 6. Minimum: 2
The main cargo travels by pack-animals; the individual equipment is carried in the saddle- bags provided by the organizers. Your baggage remains in La Constancia in a secure place.
LOCATION AND ACCESS
We are located in San Javier, province of Cordoba, Argentina.
We are 25km from Villa Dolores / 200 km from Córdoba city / 250km from San Luis city / 450km from Mendoza city / 850km from Buenos Aires.
How to get here. From Buenos Aires: flight to Córdoba or San Luis + transfer. Night bus to Villa Dolores + transfer. From Mendoza: Private transfer.
Puesto Domínguez and Puesto Tres Arboles. These shelters provide sheets, towels and blankets. Electricity to charge batteries. There is no heating. These “puestos” are the homes of the local people. Depending on the place, they join the group and share the table. The building styles and the distribution of the rooms they have made available for visitors vary from place to place. Generally, there is only one bathroom available with the possibility in most cases of a hot shower. They provide bed linen and blankets, but all the same, we recommend that you bring your own sleeping-bag. It is interesting to shed all the comfort which one is generally accustomed to and incursion into the lives of the locals, to understand their rhythms, their philosophy of life. These are all enterprising people who have decided to open their homes to providing a service to travellers as a means of supplementing the family income, which is generally derived from the breeding of sheep and the sale of sub-products such as mutton, wool and hides.
Estancia: La Constancia has several buildings; each visitor can find his or her own favourite corner where one can lose oneself in the silence and listen to the sounds of nature. In the main block there is a living room with a fireplace and a library and this room gives access to four bedrooms. Upon going out onto the veranda, on one side there is access to an apartment and two other bedrooms and on the other side is the dining room which is in the basements of the original estancia building. A little further on there are two bedrooms which give unto the garden and the patios. Since everything is connected, but with different modules, each guest has the possibility of privacy. In all cases, one must go outside and along the veranda to get to the dinning room. Further apart there is a large games room where, apart from several board game tables, there is a table-tennis table and a pool table. There are television sets in the two games rooms. Wi Fi is available in certain sectors of the house and the telephone signal is weak and can only be received in certain
places. All told, there are 8 bedrooms and an apartment consisting of 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. Our total guest capacity is for 23 people. Set in the mountains, it is the ideal place for the necessary rest before and after the mountain horseback trek.
WHAT TO BRING
Sleeping bag. Torch. Leggings. A warm waterproof jacket. Comfortable riding trousers.. A change of clothing. A heavy sweater or polar jacket. Trekking boots or trainers. A hat. Gloves. Sunblock. Sunglasses. Binoculars. A camera with sufficient batteries and memory. Insect repellent. A neckerchief