APHA
Wanderlust—Travel & Adventure

Escape to the Wild

See Patagonia from the back of a horse on a grand women-only adventure through the Andes.

By Megan Brincks

It’s in a horsewoman’s very nature to feel called toward adventure. Some days, it can takeincredible willpower to not hit the door and leave reality in the dust, eschewing the doldrums of everyday life to gallivant through mountains with only horses and other like-minded equestriennes for company.

Wild Women Expeditions, a women-only travel company offering a variety of adventure trips around the world, satisfies that itch for adventure on their Patagonian Cordillera Riding Adventurean 11-day excursion deep into the Argentinian mountains. The epitome of riding free in the backcountry, this trip involves riding through the rugged mountains, camping under the stars, bonding with the horses and other horsewomen.

The adventure starts in Neuquén, Argentina, where four-wheel drive trucks pick up the adventurers and start the six-hour drive to the home ranch. After a picnic lunch, the women meet their horses and then ride two hours to the outpost lodge. The remoteness lends itself to camaraderie among travelers and an appreciation for the wilderness and dramatic landscapes. Two nights in the off-the-grid lodge is a good warm up for the trek into the Andeswhere the real journey begins.

Karin Thogersen, a librarian from Crystal Lake, Illinois, went on a Wild Women trip to Ireland in 2016 and after researching the Patagonia trip online, she knew it was going to be her next trip and joined the March 2018 group.

“I knew I wanted to do another trip with WWE, but there are so many adventures to choose from it was hard to make a decision,” Karin said.  I knew I wanted to take another horse trip and the photos from the Patagonia ranch were amazing. For me, these trips are a lot like Girl Scout camp, but for adult womenwhich I love.”

Completely escaping the hustle of modern life, the group spent the next seven days riding deep into the mountains, enjoying campfire meals, long days in the saddle and roughing it in thewilderness. While some might hesitate at the lack of amenities on the trail, the benefits include incomparable views, complete relaxation and the opportunity to connect with fellow travelers.

“This one is deep wilderness immersiona true expedition,” said WWE representative Candice Bartlett. “It doesn’t get better than 10 days offgrid with no cell service, daily contact with horses, sleeping under the stars and just being outside and away from it all.

Be prepared to ride six to seven hours each day—you’ll be fully ready for the mid-trip break at Laguna Negra, where you’ll spend two days resting, exploring, swimming, fishing or simply relaxing. A true test of nerve, the trip’s route brings challenges for even the bravest of horsewomen.

I really learned to trust my horse to get me safely through the mountains. There were definitely a few hairy bits going down steep trails with loose rocks, but my horse, Niña, was unfazed. She was consistently brave and reliable and allowed me time to appreciate the scenery,” said Karin, who got back into riding before her first WWE trip and has since started leasing a horse near her home.

Jennifer Frosst, of London, Ontario, Canada, agrees that trusting her horse was vital to the riding experience.

I recommend this trip for women who are intermediate or experienced riders and those who can trust their horses,” Jennifer said. The terrain can be challenging at times, and you have to be able to sit back and trust your horse to do what it’s trained to do. The horses are sure-footed and manage over the uneven ground very well.

Candice echoes the sentiment that women on this trip learn to trust their horses to take care ofthem through the rugged terrain.

Women are also usually surprised by the horses and how gentle and surefooted they are on the trail,” Candice said. “But the scenery is usually the No. 1 surprise for riders. It’s bigger, wilder and more rugged than they usually expect. Some people find the remoteness and primitive living situation a surprise if they’ve never camped in the wild before; Most of our guests find it amazing to sleep under the stars.

The only issue might be convincing yourself to go to sleep, as Jennifer found.

The night sky was a wonderful surprise. I had no idea it would be so beautiful,” she said.Watching the Milky Way appear above me while I lay in my sleeping bag was truly magical. As tired as I was from the active days, I just didn’t want to close my eyes at night and miss the view.

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This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Spring 2019 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.

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