The Atacama Horseback Expedition
South America’s Wild West “The Atacama Horseback Expedition” Northern Chile
9 days – 8 nights – 7 days in the saddle
Not for moaners nor whiners. This is big adventure!
On this equestrian expedition we take you to the Wild West of South America which is the Atacama desert in Chile! The Atacama desert is a plateau in Northern Chile, covering a thousand kilometers of land on the Pacific coast, west of the Andes mountains. It is the driest non-polar desert in the world.
Still today it is home to the Inca descendants, the Atacameños. Their picturesque desert villages, lying on the Inca Trail, will surprise you by their Wild West appearance, by a “time has stood still” atmosphere and by its breathtaking surroundings. As here you will find yourself galloping in one of the most spectacular and dramatic landscapes on earth!
The adventure starts in the tiny desert village of Chiu Chiu at an altitude of 2.525mts. After a first night in a cozy guesthouse near the Church of San Francisco (the oldest church of Chile - anno 1600) it is time to mount your Chilean Criollo horse and prepare yourself for a week of riding and sleeping on the wild side!
Pioneers Paul Coudenys, Marcos Liberona and Sebastian Rucio - the same trio who also guided dozens of riding expeditions crossing the Andes from Chile to Argentina - will be your trip leaders here as well and take you to the most stunning places of the Atacama desert all the way to the village of San Pedro de Atacama. It will take you 9 days to reach this final point.
On average, you will be 6 to 8 hours in the saddle per day and make your way across the high altitude part of the Atacama called the Altiplano. Leading your strong horse trough huge sand dunes, rocky mountains, canyons, rivers, salt lakes and along geysers, no one but the snow covered Volcanos San Pedro (6145m) and San Pablo (6092m) will be witnessing this equestrian caravan.
During the expedition you will encounter Flamingos, Lamas, Vicuñas and Condors. You will take well deserved baths in natural warm water springs and ride through Atacama villages where donkeys and mules are parked in front of the local barber and supply shop. You will have a refreshing beer with the locals of the village and continue the ride in the oldest desert of the world, spending cool nights under clear skies.
You will be camping and setting up your tents each evening exactly the same way as the Spanish conquistadores did when they first came across this region. Idyllic camp places where your guides will prepare a good meal and take care of the horses while you unroll your sleeping bag and take a bath. The thrilling stories of what happened during the day will be washed away with Chilean wine or Pisco around the campfire.
The next morning it will be the first sunbeams that wake you up. After breakfast you will climb the famous sand dunes of the Valley of the moon and to take your last canter, crossing Death Valley before unsaddling your horse at the beautiful adobe village of San Pedro de Atacama. It is here that you spend your last night on this South American riding adventure. An evening and a week that you will never forget! Prepare yourself that from now on, Chile and the Atacama will always be on your mind.
© Paul Coudenys