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Patagonia Estancia Experience

5 Days FROM USD 960

Overview

Nibepo Aike retains the essence of the old Patagonian estancias. It is actually within Los Glaciares National Park on the shores of the southern arm of Lake Argentino, and it covers an area of over 12,000 hectares, reaching as far as the border with Chile.  Formerly it was devoted to sheep rearing, but nowadays only a small flock is kept, with its chief activity being the breeding of Hereford cattle. The Hidden Glaciers program proposes exploring on horseback the remotest corners of the Estancia Nibepo Aike and Los Glaciares National Park - pristine nature with a combination of Andean woodland, crystal clear lakes, high mountains, impressive skies and endless glaciers. We get to where vehicles cannot reach, leaving the main buildings of the estancia far behind. 

Trip Code: ARTSNAG

Location: Argentina, Patagonia

ITINERARY INSPIRATION

Afternoon arrival at the Estancia Nibepo Aike, taking the regular transfer from El Calafate. After settling in, the guide will explain the program. The horses will be prepared and other equipment made ready to set off early the following morning.

The rest of the afternoon and evening are free to enjoy the estancia, exploring its surroundings by bike or on foot, finding one’s own way along the footpaths and tracks and also taking part in the sheepshearing demonstration using traditional hand shears.

Evening meal and spend night at the Hostelry.

Estancia Nibepo Aike

Morning ride to start climbing up the mountain range Cordon de los Cristales, which lies behind the Hostelry. The higher we go, the more clearly the lakes stand out, Brazo Rico and Sur, Lago Roca and Cerro Frías, as if it were all a model. Once we reach the clearing, the track plunges into the Patagonian Andean woods. We pass between lenga trees and guindos [Magellan beeches], riding along old tracks where the great sheep drives used to pass. We reach a little clear land, where cows graze. There, La Rosada outpost is the home of the “puestero”, who is in charge of cattle and carries on the legacy of traditional rural production. He knows every single corner of this part of the land and he can count the cows with just a glance. If one had escaped, he would bring her back within a couple of minutes.

There, we have first ranch lunch. By the afternoon, we reach an historical point: the Internationa Milestone that indicates the end the estancia and the end of Argentina. The sensation to be at the very frontiers of Patagonia is unique. It is the south of the south: wind blows and the flag waves. The landscape and its calmness never end.

Free time to explore sorroundings. Dinner and night at La Rosada outpost.

Puesto La Rosada

On coming out of the dense woodland the way opens out into the Valley of the Río Cachorro. Notros [Chilean firebush] and calafate bushes here are unusually tall. We start descending towards the lower land until we come to the riverbed. Surprise views of the Frías glacier appear at the bottom and the granite needle called “el Dedo del Cesar” [Caesar’s Thumb]. Riding between rocks and pasturelands and avoiding the marshlands, we reach the corrals of the Río Cachorro outpost where the rangers might be working with the livestock.

After a picnic lunch we continue on horseback to Laguna 3 de Abril (3 de Abril Lagoon), a habitat of flamingos and black-necked swans, kaiken [upland goose] and steamer ducks, as well as of numerous salmonidae. Passing the lake, we come to the outpost, and after unsaddling, there will be time to enjoy the surroundings and the cosiness of the refuge. A wood-fired stove and a brick and clay oven, with the gentle light of the lantern, passing the mate round, the evening meal will be prepared while tales of adventures are shared.

The outpost has a room with 3 bunk beds and a room that serves as dining room and kitchen where there are another two benches that turn into beds. Basic facilities.

Evening meal and overnight at the Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril.

Puesto Cachorro & Puesto Laguna 3 de abril

We leave after breakfast, riding south to the Balcony of the Glaciers. The track runs parallel to the Southern Arm of Lago Argentino. A little before arriving at the head of the lake, we leave the horses grazing to go up on foot to a viewing point even higher up. From there we will have a panoramic view of the Southern Arm, Laguna Corazón and of the Lago Frías, with glimpses of the Hidden Glaciers Gorra, Frías, Grande and Dickson in the distance.

We walk to the beach at the head of the Southern Arm. From there we cross a large pasture, a pristine area. An erratic stone of more than 20 meters in height will be the next goal. It is impressive to stand in front of such a huge rock, marked by the force of the glaciers advancing and receding. The footpath starts to run alongside the lower Frías River. Here we will find traces of the area’s livestock rearing past, a hanging bridge over 100 years old, destroyed by the great flooding of Lago Argentino in 1937. The way passes through dense woodland getting as far as discovering Corazón Lagoon, with crystal clear waters where the deep blue contrasts with the green reflection of the woods. The water is so crystal clear that it is possible to watch the trout swimming between the rocks. We pause for lunch. A place sheltered from the world.

Whoever wants to will be able to carry on a bit further clambering over some stones that prove fairly awkward for crossing, in order to get to the southern end of Frías Lake, the natural border protecting the glaciers hidden in the mountains further south. In the afternoon we return to where the horses were left in order to ride back to the Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril, where the night will be spent.

Puesto Laguna 3 de abril

The return is begun riding along the shore of the lake until we reach the main buildings of the estancia, about 18km from the refuge. We will arrive in time for lunch with a typical Patagonian lamb roasted at the stake over charcoal embers, which will be ready just as the riders arrive. After lunch, regular transfer service back to El Calafate.

Southern Arm of Lago Argentino
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Pricing & date

Travel Style Departing Duration PRICE FROM
Standard Daily 5 USD 960
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Important Information

  • • 3 nights with breakfast (1 night at the Hostelry, 2 nights at Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril).
    • 2 Days horse-riding + 1 Day combined horse-riding/hiking.
    • Full board: 3 lunches, 3 evening meals.
    • Includes non-alcoholic drinks with meals.
    • 1 bilingual guide (English-Spanish).
    • Transfer from and to El Calafate on regular service.
    • Taxes 

  • FROM US$775 - Subject to season and availability, contact us for more details. 

  • Not included:

    Transfers outside stipulated hours.

    Tips/gratuities.

    Alcoholic drinks with meals at the hostelry (evening meal Day 1 and lunch Day 4).

    Sleeping bag.

  • Season and availability

Accommodation

We believe that appropriate accommodation should add to the authentic travel experience, as well as providing utmost enjoyment. For that reason our accommodation is scrutinised by our staff on the ground frequently, ensuring the properties adhere to our high standards. This key will help you understand the levels of accommodation available on this tour.

SPEAK TO A SPECIALIST

Talk to one of our Destination Specialists to plan your South American adventure and turn your dream into a reality. With exceptional knowledge and first hand experience, our consultants will assist in every way possible to make your journey the most memorable it can be, matching not only the itinerary, but the accommodation and activities to suit your style of travel and budget.

Sustainability

Chimu Adventures undertakes a number of sustainability measures within its operations including:

1) Only using local guides and office staff to both maximise local employment opportunities and minimise carbon footprints. Local guides also ensure you benefit from the intimate knowledge, passion and culture of the country you’re visiting.

2) Where possible, using locally owned and operated boutique hotels to maximise the return to the local community.

3) Chimu’s “Pass it on” programme has provided funding to hundreds of local community projects in Latin America. Our aim is to empower local communities, helping them to develop their own infrastructure for the future. Since 2006, we have been working with Kiva (a well-known Non-Governmental Organisation), providing hundreds of loans to local businesses all over South America.

4) In our pre tour information we provide a range of tips and advice on how to minimise your impact on both local environments and communities.

5) Chimu Adventures’ offices also take a number of sustainability measures including carbon offsets for company vehicles and most staff travel. Chimu Adventure’s internal processes are also structures to create a paperless office and to reduce waste. There are also internal programmes to help staff minimise their carbon footprint such as our staff bike purchase assistance plan which encourages office staff to commute to work via bicycle. Currently almost half of our office based staff commute to work via bicycle.