Riding to the Hidden Glaciers

“Riding to deep Nibepo” program proposes exploring on horseback the remotest corners of the Estancia Nibepo Aike and Los Glaciares National Park, places where nature is discovered in its maximum expression, pristine nature, a combination of Andean woodland, crystal clear lakes, high mountains, impressive skies and glaciers. The proposal is to get to where vehicles cannot reach, leaving the main buildings of the estancia behind, then climb high up and enter another world after crossing the clearing.

Magnificent views of the Hidden Glaciers Frías, Gorra, Grande and Dickson will be obtained during the trip. A combination of horse-riding, hiking, and rural life that may, on certain dates, coincide with big cattle or sheep drive or work in the corrals, thus adding another ingredient to the mix

Day 1

Estancia Nibepo Aike

Afternoon arrival at the Estancia Nibepo Aike, taking the 4:30 PM shuttle service from El Calafate. After settling in, the guide will explain the itinerary for the following days. The horses will be prepared, and other equipment made ready to set off early the following morning.

For the rest of the afternoon and evening the guest are free to enjoy the estancia, exploring its surroundings by bike or on foot, finding one’s own way along the footpaths and taking part in the sheep-shearing demonstration using traditional hand shears

Day 2

Puesto La Rosada

(Only from December to March)

Morning ride to climb up the mountain range Cordon de los Cristales, which lies behind the main house. The higher we go, the more clearly Argentino lake´s arms stand out. 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 oversees 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 International Milestone (´32) 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.

Day 3

Puesto Cachorro y Laguna 3 de Abril

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 starts to appear. 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 horseback riding to the 3 de Abril lagoon, a habitat of flamingos and blacknecked swans, kaiken [upland goose] and steamer ducks. 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 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.

Day 4

Puesto Laguna 3 de Abril

After breakfast at the refuge, we hike to the lake shore to meet Glaciar Sur. This excursion departs from Nibepo Aike’s pier and navigates the Lago Argentino down south to the Hidden Glaciers. The expedition is a combination of navigations and trekking to reach a unique spot between mountains and glaciers, where only few people arrive.

Once the group gets on board, the boat sails through the Brazo Sur to its southernmost point. After a short walk through the native forest, the first lookout point to the glaciers is reached. At the bottom we can see the Lago Frías which will be sailed in zodiacs a few minutes later. It is 3 km navigation to the other shore where a new trekking begins. It goes along an old river course to reach an amphitheatre facing the glaciers Gorra, Frías and Grande. The group eats lunch near Laguna de los Témpanos overlooking not only the 3 glaciers buy also the icebergs that decorate the milky waters of the lagoon. This area of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares is almost unexplored, only a few gauchos and cows from Nibepo Aike know the place’s hidden spots and secrets. After spending a good amount of time resting and taking pictures at the feet of the glaciers the group returns back to the outpost. The rest of the group keep navigating to the Estancia and then by car to El Calafate.

Day 5

Brazo Sur del lago Argentino

The return journey begins 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, a shuttle services will take you to El Calafate, arriving town about 3:30 PM.