La Serena to Ovalle to Hurtado Valley, Chile 29 Jan - 1 Feb 2006

Horse riding in Hurtado Valley


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We had hoped to take a fairly direct inland route between hills for our VFR flight from La Serena to Ovalle, but low clouds prevented us from making it through the 2000 feet pass. We had to turn back and take another route nearer the coast. Even so, it was only a 30-minute flight. Luckily our pre-arranged taxi was still waiting for us on arrival. The driver had been waiting for an hour. The kind caretaker at the airport offered to put our plane in a hangar for safety as Ovalle is not crime-free.
During the hour and a half’s drive to the Hacienda Los Andes in the Hurtado valley, the taxi driver told us he’d been held up twice by ‘clients’ in the past year or two. Angela practiced her Spanish by telling him of the camera theft in Ecuador and he said we were lucky we hadn’t caught the men in the act. They sounded like professionals who would probably have shot us!
The Hacienda Los Andes was recently built by a German called Clark Stede in traditional hacienda style. The outside walls are pink to match the berries of the pink pepper trees that grow beside it. It’s a delightful place with a lovely terrace and garden and several hammocks to relax in. After the tight schedule we’d had in Peru and northern Chile, we were happy to be spending four nights in such pleasant surroundings.
The next morning, we headed off on a day’s ride up to the sierra with some of the other guests, led by Clark’s Austrian partner Manuela. It was blisteringly hot so we decided to risk the steep, rocky terrain without wearing riding hats. The horses were all too well trained to stumble.
There were generally about 10 guests staying at the Hacienda and we enjoyed swapping travel tales with them over dinner in the cosy dining room. The owner, Clark Stede, was an interesting character and regaled us with stories of his sailing exploits, such as the NW arctic passage in a 13-metre yacht.
One day’s riding was enough for our sore hides, so we went for walks on the following days, stopping for shade and a dip in the river. Clark had told us that he was building a new hacienda, this time a private one just for Manuela and himself – somewhere to rest between travels and maybe to retire to one day. He had already become restless and was planning on selling the Hacienda Los Andes to head off on another sailing adventure. We came across his new hacienda on one of our walks.

Manuela gives us a few tips on riding before we leave the Hacienda for the day

The hot and dusty trail, overlooking the Hurtado valley

It was too hot to wear riding hats so we risked riding over the sometimes steep, rocky terrain with just our sun hats.

The garden at Hacienda Los Andes

Sunset at the Hacienda

One day's riding was enough for our sore hides so we walked the following day

Flemming in the prickly heat amongst the prickly cactus

Flemming by a pink pepper tree

We'd come a long way...

More prickly heat near the green Hurtado valley

Clark and Manuela's new hacienda project

Chatting with a Chilean couple on the terrace before dinner

JAlbum 6.2 Copyright: Angela & Flemming PEDERSEN