Description of the 12 day horseback ride in National Parks Villarrica and Huerquehue

Heike did two rides with us in 2009 and returned for another ride in 2014. Heike is native German but lives in New Zealand where she rides her own horse on the beach.

The trick is to be in the right place at the right time - and I couldn't have timed my visit to Pucon in Chile any better. From a friend in Germany I knew that Antilco had to offer some pretty good riding, but they exceeded all my expectations. 2009 was the first year with a 12 day ride and a crossing of the Andes from Chile into Argentina on offer. There was only one week between rides and I decided to do them both. I have been asked, which one was the better ride. And the answer is simply that they were both amazing in their own right and can't be compared easily. I loved them both for different reasons and would do them all over again given a chance. Anybody who wants to experience all the highlights Antilco has to offer should try and do both.

12 Days - Volcanoes and Hot Springs

The first day was all about meeting our horses and co-riders. The traditional half day ride close to home helps to match riders and horses - if the first choice doesn't work out, there is always time for a second try. And then we were off on our great adventure - six guests and three guides, Kimberley, Aldo and Luis. the first part of our ride saw us riding high up into the barren landscape of the volcanoes. Under a clear blue sky we could see for miles as we rode through this world of rocks and cold lava streams. We crossed some last snow fields (there were even some snowballs flying through the air, which the horses took in their stride) and camped at beautiful lakes. Keen bareback riders had an opportunity to swim with their horses. We then crossed through lush forest into the world of hot springs and more lakes. Riding in the Chilean forests is an adventure. The tracks are narrow and very steep in places. But there is nothing these amazing horses can't do. Each one of them is willing to go the extra mile and carry riders, saddlebags and tentrolls over whatever obstacle there might be - fallen tree trunks, swampy meadows, streams, steep stony ravines and many more. And if there is an opportunity for a galopp - they all want to go for it. I loved these little horses with their big attitudes and personalities. And it was great that we had the opportunity to do an exchange of horses after 8 days (three needed a rest) , so that no horse had to perform over and above their capabilities - after all, it was a long ride. After the amazing volcano landscape we enjoyed the shade of the forrests, leisurely swims in lakes and some good soaks in hot springs. Every day offered variations of a theme. Campsites were varied and lovely. My favourite was the laguna Goepinger, a beautiful little lake with old rowing boats. Here we enjoyed some home made empanadas and had Aldo deliver freshly baked bread on horseback. Every day brought new highlights - my favourites were: - the way our group grew closer as the ride went on - 12 days with a lot of strangers can be a challenge but we had a great time which passed much too quickly for all of us - our wonderful guides who made it all happen - inclusive the miraclous appearance of a guitarre and Aldo's beautiful voice which made our last evening very special - the hospitality of our local hosts who went out of their way to spoil us - the timely half day of rain which we sat out in a comfortable little cabana while it settled the dust for us - late nights around great fires with long chats and lot's of laughter.. I learnt a lot about Chile, the pride of the Chileans, the division of work between men and women, the honour of a Chilean man and the fact that there are so many more women than men in this country In the end I had to concede that this ride was even better than my last ride in Argentina.