Northern Chile is a popular location for horse riding, especially in the region of San Pedro de Atacama. Day trips to Moon Valley on horseback is a common activity.
In the Elqui valley in ‘el Norte chico’ (the little north - the southern part of the northern half of Chile!) horse riding expeditions are popular through the valley trails with the star-lit night skies.
In Chile’s central region in the Andes Mountains close to Santiago, horse riding day trips are a great option to see the Andes valleys and mountain peaks in all their glory and enjoy panoramic views of the city in the valley. Diverse flora and fauna can also be appreciated during rides, as condors fly overhead and unique vegetation lines the mountain trails. These treks usually take place in summer, outside of ski season. Multi-day excursions leading across the Andes from Chile into Argentina are also possible.
One of the most famous places to horse ride in Chile is on the isolated Easter Island, over 3,000 km from mainland Chile and home to rolling hills and wild beaches. You can ride along the Pacific beaches to get to the famous Moai statues and volcano craters. Back on mainland Chile, Rancagua just an hour south of Santiago is famous for its rodeos.
Throughout Chile’s south, horse riding expeditions can be found. In the Araucania region, horse riding through Araucaria forests up to mountain ledges is a popular excursion choice. The native Mapuche inhabitants of the region often still use horses as a means of transportation.
Many treks along the Carretera Austral lead from Chile into Argentina, crossing Patagonia as the gauchos (Patagonian cowboys) do. Close to Torres del Paine National Park, horse riding is a popular activity steeped in rich local heritage dating back to the late 19th century when the region started being explored by ‘Baqueanos’ (horsemen from southern Chile). The Baqueanos were based around Punta Arenas and began exploring the region more extensively in the 1870s on hunting quests, selling animals skins and feathers to the colonial market.
One of the most famous Baqueanos was Santiago Zamora, known simply as ‘el baqueano Zamora’. Originally from central Chile, Zamora arrived in Punta Arenas in 1868 and integrated with colonists in the region. He spent his life exploring the region north of Punta Arenas, including Torres del Paine, acting as a guide for travellers and explorers. Other notable Baqueanos who guided and explored the region include Francisco Poivre and Augusto Guillaume (both French), Guillermo Greenwood (English) and Avelino Arias, Luis Navarro and Juan Alvarado (all Chilean).
EcoCamp’s Extension series includes the classic activity of Patagonian horseback riding! The Extension is a full day trip to a Patagonian Estancia (ranch) just outside Torres del Paine National Park, steeped in rich history and regional culture dating back to the days of the first Baqueanos who explored the region on horseback.