South branch of Lake
Duration: 90 min.
Some 500 meters from the main house, we enter a broad meadow on the shore of Lake
Argentino, habitat of ibises, geese, steamer ducks and southern lapwings. Riding along the
lakeshore, we see several glacier-worn rock outcrops and signs of the changes in the lake
level that have taken place over time. The strata in the earths crust, easy to make
out in the colors of the sediments that formed them, are clearly noticeable here. These
formations repeat themselves until the rocks form a natural amphitheater with overhangs up
to 10 meters high that enter the lake like breakwaters, creating sheltered, odd-shaped
beaches. From here we can see the border with Chile, and Mount Agudo (1,711 meters), the
We return to the house along a trail through a forest of high- and low-beeches that is the
habitat of caracaras, hares, austral parakeets, falcons, woodpeckers and eagles.
Duration: 60 min.
Leaving the main house, we ride toward the lake through a grove of low-beeches and
box-leafed barberries. In this part of the ranch we will see the herd of pedigreed Polled
Herford cows produced with the latest artificial insemination techniques. Arriving in the
area known as La Angostura, where Lake Roca flows into Lake Argentinos south branch,
we note the difference in these lakes colors due to the rainwater origin of the
We return to the house through a dense forest that is the habitat of native wildlife such
as eagles, caracaras, falcons, skunks, grey and red foxes, hares and armadillos, in
addition to thrushes, austral parakeets, woodpeckers and pechitos colorados.
Duration: 4 hours.
Leaving the ranch house, we ride toward La Angostura, where Lake Roca flows into Lake
Argentino. The trail leads through a native low-beech forest with scattered box-leafed
barberries, creosote bushes, firebushes, guindos, high-beeches and a wide variety
of wildflowers like Woods lady slippers, orchids, Magellan peas and dandelions.
Mount Cristal (1,282 meters), the highest peak in the Cristales range, owes its name to
its rock crystal content. At the foot of the mountain we stop in front of a big rock
covered by paintings made by the first cultures that lived in this region.
The bends in the trail get tighter as we ascend and the landscape ever more imposing. When
we finally reach the top, we can see see (weather permitting) the Perito Moreno glacier 15
km away, and the Paine Towers (Torres del Paine) in Chile. With a bit of luck, we will
also see condors.
We return to the house, enjoying the landscape as we go.
Duration: 5 hours.
The guide will take us on a path through a low-beech forest, along which there are also
firebushes, box-leafed barberries, guindos and creosote bushes. As we begin to
climb the slope of the Cristales range, the views of the lake and the forests that provide
a frame for our excursion get better and better. In the distance we see the main body of
Lake Argentino, the countrys largest lake, and are dazzled by the permanent snowcap
of Mount Cervantes (2,380 meters).
Halfway up the slope, we enter a pass and come out on a wooded plain which will eventually
take us to a landscape that is even more superb: the Frías glacier (the 13th
and southernmost glacier in Los Glaciares National Park), mounts Stokes and Agudo (on the
border with Chile) and mounts Adriana, Dedo del César and Castillo, all of which have
strange shapes. All of this is framed by Lake Argentinos south branch and the 3 de
Abril Lagoon. Here we are in the domain of the majestic condor. At this elevation the soil
is covered by a mantle of grasses known as mutillas, which have tasty red fruit.
Once we are over the mountain range, we arrive at the corrals on the bank of the Cachorro
River that are used for regular ranch work the sign that we are on the way back.
The path leads through a natural corridor between Lake Argentino and the Cristales range,
giving us the opportunity to enjoy the landscape from another angle and see the cattle
that are raised on this ranch.
Duration: 7 hours.
The ranchs main house is just 8 km from the border with Chile. That whets our
curiosity and decides us to cross mountains and valleys to get to this special place.
We begin by climbing up to the crest of the Cristales range for a unique view of the main
body of Lake Argentino with its Rico and south branches. Then we ride into a high-beech
forest with trees more than 25 meters high. The bark of these trees is covered by lichens
like the barba de viejo and fungi such as the pan de indio or llao llao.
The size of the tree trunks and the densiity of the foliage that keeps out the light makes
this forest a unique experience. Upon leaving it we come out on the Rosada Valley. From a
lookout point we are dazzled by the Andean range bounded by the south branch of Lake
Argentino and the 3 de Abril Lagoon. The reflection of the thousand whites and blues of
the Frías, Gorra and Grande glaciers is every bit as dazzling. If the weather is good, we
will also be able to see the Paine Towers.
Then the horses take us through a valley comprised of green pastures, creeks and forests
until we get to Boundary Marker 63, where an iron tower and a plaque announce the end of
the road. We return to the ranch watching out for the holes left by tucu-tucus,
rodents whose burrows form underground labyrinths.
Visit to the
Duration: full day.
We ride toward the west and then south, with Lake Argentino and the Andes always to our
right and the Cristales range to the left. We pass through the forest of low- and
high-beeches and guindos, noticing how the trees have been colonized by different
lichens, such as barba de viejo or usnea, and fungi like the showy llao-llao
or pan de indio, whose presence prods the trees into forming knots as a protection.
Here we find extraordinarily large firebushes and box-leafed barberries. Along the
Cachorro River, which flows between rocks and grasslands, the landscape changes. We leave
the forest and enter humid meadows in a flat, grassy, semi-marshy area that must be
crossed on an intricate series of paths.
We come out on the 3 de Abril Lagoon, habitat of flamingoes, black-necked swans, geese and
steamer ducks, in addition to abundant trout.
We stop to rest in a shelter, from which we can hike to the lower Frías River, follow it
upstream and reach its headwater in the Frías Lagoon (duration 4 hours, optional.)
As we return,
we enjoy the reflection of a majestic sunset on the lake.