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Gauchos, Huasos and Arrieros


The pueblo of Futaleufu has a unique equestrian culture that stemmed from the early pioneers of the Futaleufu Valley. Because of the harsh terrain the founding of the pueblo occurred only seventy years ago and it marked the beginning of recorded human history in the region. The Chileans who eventually made this area home migrated from the Lakes District via Argentina. . During the ensuing decades the only contact of these nationals had with civilization was by way of the Argentine border towns. Until the road was built in the early seventies the economy of Futaleufu was largely dependent on Argentina. The early economy was based on trade and the currency most in use, when it could be had, was the Argentine peso. A system of barter enable the inhabitants to purchase the essentials of life, such as: flour, sugar, and kerosene oil. Because of the strong ties with Argentina the inhabitants became deeply influenced by the equestrian culture of the estancia (large estate ranches) in their manner of dressing and speaking. The cuisine also tended to mirror that of Argentina, dishes prepared over an open fire like the asado (lamb) and nandu (a native turkey like bird) are still local favorites. The clothes of the Argentine gaucho are still the preferred form of dress for working in the open fields. In this region of Patagonia the horse is still the most efficient and versatile way to travel. In this remote and rugged landscape vehicles are a rarity and the horse is still the most reliable for of transportation.



Located along the border between Argentina and Chile, the pueblo of Futaleufu is at the epicenter of equestrian culture of these two countries. On the Argentine side is the dry Patagonia steppe associated with the Gaucho, with its wide open Pampas and the traditional Estancia culture. Traveling west we encounter the Andean passes and temperate rainforests populated by the Chilean Huasos, and Arrieros.

In Argentina the term gaucho has become synonymous for cowboys, but originally it meant vagabond: those who roamed the Pampas working cattle, with no home or belongings other than what they carried on horseback. Their dress consisted of a woolen poncho, neck fastened bandana, pleated trousers and long leather boots. They invented the asado (cooking over an open fire) because of the inability to preserve meat on the wide open plains. Originally the gauchos were at the bottom of Argentine society but because of their excellent horsemanship and military aptitude the gaucho became a respected man in society. Eventually the gaucho way of life was romanticized by such poets as, José Hernández.

In Chile the gaucho became the huaso; the skilled horseman who worked the vast herds on the cattle on the Chilean plains. They became experts at rounding up and corralling stray animals; this expertise is reflected in their rodeos which are held in media lunas (half circle arenas) resembling corrals. In the early nineteen sixties the rodeo was declared the national sport of Chile and media lunas and competitions have sprung up all over the country. Right out side the Pueblo of Futaleufu is media luna which hosts a rodeo competition in February each year. If you vist us at the right time you just might get to experience a genuine huaso rodeo.
The huaso dress is a little more stylish than their gaucho counterparts. For rodeos you will find them donning brightly colored ponchos and sashes with finely detailed stirrups and tack. Where the gauchos sometimes favored the beret the hauso prefers a broad rimmed hat, typical of the American west. Their daily dress is a toned down version of their rodeo attire: leather vest, hat, work boots and an earth tone poncho.



The Huasos like the Gauchos have a legendary place in the folklore of the region. The Huaso is always a regular part of Chilean fiestas, parades, holidays and celebrations. He is been immortalized like the Gaucho in songs and stories.

In the Futaleufu region, the ruggedness of the mountains calls for a different type of horseman. Here we also run into the Arrieros; often described as the mountain counterpart to the Huaso and Gaucho, but this description is not entirely accurate. In addition to cattle drivers the arrieros were also involved in commerce through the rugged Andes mountains. Their skill at negotiating alpine terrain led them to lead multiple purpose lives, instead of just serving as ranch hands they helped established the trade routes through the mountains.

On a horseback riding vacation with us your guides will be direct descendents of the Hauso and Arrieros who initially colonized the Futaleufu valley. When not serving as guides for Expediciones Chile these men go back to their farms an work the land just as their forefathers did. There is little difference between the Hausos of today and those of a hundred years ago. While some modern conveniences have percolated into the valley life here on many of the rural remains much as it was many decades ago. With Expediciones Chile you will get to experience the last of this cowboy culture.


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Adventure Travel, Patagonia, Rafting
Patagonia Adventure Travel in Chile. Patagonia Rafting & Argentina Rafting
Torres del Paine and FitzRoy trekking.

Travel in Patagonia
Information on travel in Patagonia Chile. Secrets of Patagonia Tour on our website.

Futaleufu River Rafting
Futaleufu river rafting in Chile. Rafting from our weatherproof Futaleufu lodge or our Rio Futaleufu camp.
Weather in Patagonia
Information about the weather in Patagonia Climate in Chile & Argentina. Weather forecasts.
Sea Kayaking Chile
Sea Kayaking Chile from the Andes to the Ocean on Lago Yelcho. Fjords, hotsprings, extinct volcanos, temperate rainforest.

Raft Guide School Thinking about a rafting guide job on the Futaleufu? Check out our whitewater guide school & swiftwater rescue training course.

Chile Fly Fishing
Go Chile fly fishing from our ranch or lodge in Chilean Patagonia. Fly fishing trips on Lago Yelcho.
EcoTours in Chile
Custom ecotours in Chile of the Futaleufu valley that include bird watching and nature treks.

Kayak Instruction
Learn the kayak roll at our kayak school. Receive world class kayak instruction from our paddling school.

University of Futaleufu
Checkout our large group, instructional and corporate team building programs offered every year..
Trekking Chile Patagonia hiking and
Torres del Paine Trekking trips. Cerro FitzRoy and Los Glaciares.
Travel Agency Information
Information on traveling in Chile. Travel agent discounts and commisssions.

Horseback Riding Vacation
Patagonia horseback riding vacations and holidays with with genuine Huasos & Chilean Horses.

Honeymoon Travel
Our CondorNest Ranchito is the perfect honeymoon travel destination located beneath the spectacular Tres Monjas towers.
Snow Skiing in Argentina Snow skiing in Argentina in the spectacular Andes Mountains during the summer months. Bariloche & Esquel Office Internship Jobs  
Office internships and employment opportunities in rafting, kayaking and fly fishing & adventure travel offfice.
Rivers in Chile: For information about the whitewater rivers in Chile see our online guide book. Here you will find the location of the river and descriptions. Futaleufu River Guidebook: An online whitewater guidebook to all the rapids on the Futaleufu River.  
Canyoning Vacations
Chile canyoning and rappelling vacations.
Chilean Cultural Immersion
Experience genuine Chilean Cultural Immersion on our adventure travel horseback riding and trekking vacations.
Kayak Vacation
Take a Kayak vacation in the spectacular Patagonia Andes. Kayak Futaleufu whitewater from our spectacular kayak eco camp.
Mountain Biking Holiday
Experience a genuine Patagonia mountain biking holiday from our lodge or camp.
Rafting en el Río Futaleufú
con las mejores aguas blancas de clase mundial (5,4,3,). Kayak de mar, mountain biking, cabalgatas, sit-on-top kayaking cayoning, caminatas, pesca con mosca y mucho más aventuras podrás encontrar en el corazón de la patagonia Chilena, y desde el comfort de nuestro nativo y caluroso Hotel. Rafting en lel Río Futaleufú en Español.

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