Monday, 30 December 2013

Riding a horse across Uruguay

Gauchos of Uruguay

'What is there to see in Uruguay?'

The nest of the oven bird

Unusual things, unusual animals

Nigel Harvery with an armadillo

with the sweetest ears.

A wild armadillo

A clutch of eggs laid by the southern rhea, a flightless bird like a small ostrich

and perculiar plants,

all best seen from the back of a horse.

I travelled through Uruguay in December with Ride Worldwide. Click here for details.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Crossing the Andes into Chile

In the Andes mountains
A collection of saddles and bridles outside my tent
The day dawned when we woke on the Argentinian side of the Andes mountain range knowing that we would soon cross the border into Chile.

Cleaning teeth in a river in the Andes

After breakfast cooked on the fire,

Camping in the Andes Mountains

 We saddled up our horses.

Horses from Estancia Huechachue

The morning was spent riding higher and higher as we made our way towards a certain, iconic volcano.

We finally crossed a river into a National Park that straddles the border with Chile.

Riding across the Andes

Sadly our Argentine horses were not permitted to cross into Chile due to veterinary controls. We ended up having to walk through passport control, out saddlebags flung over our shoulders.

To our surprise the most wonderful lunch was awaiting us, together with glasses of Chilean champagne.

Small, but beautifully presented horses were tethered up under the bushes.

Riding in Chile

I was given a Palamino.

Sophie Neville, riding through Chile in South America

We rode off, descending from the Andes watershed into valleys which seemed to be surprisingly Alpine in appearance.

Riding through Chile in South America

My little pony proved quite a handful, but a sparky and amusing ride.

Sophie Neville, riding through Chile in South America
Sophie Neville having ridden across the Andes into Chile

For more information please click here.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Riding through a monkey puzzle forest

As we rode up into the Andes mountains we came across more and more monkey puzzle trees. I had never seen so many growing together.

It began to dawn on me that I had never seen them in the wild. This is because the monkey puzzle is naturally found in only a small area, high up on the Argentinian border with Chile where they grow alongside bamboo and a variety of deciduous trees.

I didn't know that there were both male and female trees or that you could eat the seeds in the same way as you can eat pine nuts.

I believe it was Charles Darwin who gained some of these seeds during his epic voyage in HMS Beagle. These did well in the moist British climate and soon it was all the rage to grown one and they sprang up outside Victorian villas.

It was wonderful to see monkey puzzle tress growing in the mountains where they belong. We came across some of great height that must have been 400 years old or more. Of course they have not been in Europe long enough to gain such a great age.

Other trees on the mountainside were hanging with moss - indicating just how high the rainfall can be.

It resembled the copious wrapping on the roast chicken kept in our saddlebags for lunch, which was laid out on the trunk of a monkey puzzle that had come down sometime before.

We rode on, climbing steadily. The going was slow but the sun shone and the varied vegetation held our interest.

It was spring and the mountain flowers were blooming all around us.

Eventually we stopped under a grove of near a useful fenced paddock.

Whilst we made up our camp for the night the horses were able to freely graze on the slopes.

Our guides relaxed in the shade.

Whilst our wonderful Argentinian back-up team organised supper.

A well-earned meal, cooked along with Monkey Puzzle nuts on an open fire.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Riding up into the Andes

While snow still sits on the mountain peaks in Argentina,

the arrival of spring causes plant life on the slopes to burst into bloom.

We mounted our horses to climb higher into the Andes range

heading towards the border with Chile.

Rivers were flowing with melt water, but skies were clear.

as we left the cattle lands behind us

and rode further into the mountains

Let me know if you would like to go on a similar ride early next year. A friend of mine is leading one across the Andes from Argentina to Chile - the chance of a lifetime.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Riding into the Andes Mountains

Breakfast on the mountain side.

Looking forward to the day ahead.

Horses tacked up

and away.

riding in a land where fences are few 

colours are vibrant and condors soar 

Nigel Harvey is looking for riders to join a group hoping to ride across the Andes early next year. If you are interested please contact Ride Worldwide

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Towards the Andes, on a horse

Photo by Sophie Neville

So, you want to ride across the Andes?

Photo by Sophie Neville

You need a horse like this,

a headcollar,


Photo by Sophie Neville

one of these saddles,

and a trustworthy guide.

I decided I'd better wear a hot weather helmet.

By lunchtime I looked like this.

But  the food was good,

the scenery interesting

and the experience unforgettable.

Photo by Sophie Neville

If you would like to ride across the Andes 
They have space on a ride going early next year.