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Engage in the way of gaúcho ride and live a horseback adventure in the southern wilderness of Brazil! This is the ultimate trail blaze for riders looking for a truly exciting experience riding gaúcho style. If you are dreaming of a unique equestrian experience and a thoroughly authentic riding holiday, well, this is it The locals of Santa Catarina will welcome you in traditional style. Welcome to the world of Gaúcho do Brasil!
This trail-riding holiday is not a dude ranch vacation where you stay in a tourist ranch-hotel and where you're just a number. But, this is a riding holiday where you stay in authentic working fazendas (ranches) without any fancy hotel service. So, you will stay in guest rooms at the house of gaúcho families. One fazenda might be simpler than the others, but all fazendas are authentic, colonial, cozy, and very clean. The fazendas do not all have a standard type of room. Most have double rooms and some fazendas also have four-bedded rooms with connecting bathroom. There always awaits you a soft bed and a good shower.
The adventure starts in Coxilha Rica, a high plateau in the interior of the Southern state of Santa Catarina. Here at an altitude of about 1,000 meters above sea level, in the heart of gaúcho territory, you will be welcomed with open arms on an old fazenda (Brazilian for hacienda) by Paul and his gaúcho friends. Flemish-born Belgian, Paul Coudenys is one of the pioneers of the international equestrian tourism in Europe (HippoTrek). Paul, together with his gaúcho companion Roberio, will be your host and riding guide during your entire riding holiday. For eight days, you will be immersed in the most appealing horse culture in the world.
After a traditional first night at Fazenda do Barreiro, you will saddle up the criollo horses (very comfortable authentic saddles) and leave for a six-day trip from fazenda to fazenda (eight days / seven nights / six days on horseback). The beauty and huge expanse of the pampas with its rolling hills are difficult to put into words. Livestock farms (fazendas) with thousands of acres are the ideal playground to test the temperament of your criollo horse and there are no roads or paths to follow, just simply pull yourself across the great outdoors at a gallop or a canter; your riding dreams will all be realized.
On average, you will be six to seven hours per day on the saddle and make your way across rolling grasslands, riding through Araucaria forests, crossing pristine rivers, and, in general, off the beaten track of southern Brazil. This is gaúcho country so should you come across a cattle “round up”, they will be happy to help. What is work for them is fun for you. During the “cutting” (sorting the cattle on horseback), you’ll be surprised at just how agile your criollo horse is.
Every evening means a different fazenda, colonial fazendas where time has stood still with rooms filled with antique furniture and large country kitchens, a perfect atmosphere to sample the local brew Chimarão (maté, a sort of tea) and Pinga (local rum). Gauchos are not only tough men but also romantic souls. Guitar and accordion will appear more often than not and the serenade is of lost loves and the good old days; this is while mama is roasting the best meat in the world.
You will enjoy a fantastic relaxed gaúcho atmosphere, which is pure and sincere. Multilingual Paul guides you through each experience and answers all inquiries whilst leading you through this unique experience. This is not a tourist trip where you're just a number, but a gathering of riding friends among themselves. With pride, friendliness, and hospitality, the gaúcho families open their doors for you, let you ride their best horses, and guide you in their territory.
Your gaúcho do Brasil trip leader, Paul, will be waiting for you upon arrival at the airport of Florianopolis followed by transfer (a three-hour drive) to Coxilha Rica and Fazenda da Chapada near Lages. You will be welcomed with a local drink upon arrival at the fazenda. You will be introduced to Daniel, the owner of the farm, and the gaúchos who will accompany you throughout the trip and will even get acquainted with the horses. You will be settled in the cozy and comfortable rooms of the fazenda. After a delicious dinner, you can socialize at the bar of the fazenda. Local gaúchos will perform music and folklore of the region. It’s a great first evening.
After breakfast, you saddle your horses early and leave around 09:00 to Fazenda Rodeio Bonito. After the first few minutes, you will notice already how beautiful the region is. You ride through wide and rolling green countryside dotted with Araucaria trees and cross pristine rivers. You will never forget your first canter with your criollo horse. After a ride of four hours, you arrive at a typical fazenda where lunch is waiting for you. After a good meal and a siesta, you mount your horses again at around 14:00. You continue towards fazenda Rodeio Bonito through the beautiful landscape of Coxilha Rica.
Here, you find the well-preserved colonial Tropeiro Route. This 250-year-old tropeiro route was the route of cattle and mules between the Rio Grande do Sul and Argentina to Sao Paulo. Gaúchos drove herds thousands of kilometers being away for months via this route. Goods on livestock traveled along the route, so the tropeiro became also a trade. The route, consisting of an approximately four-meter wide corridor made of stone, was built by slaves.
The corridor runs hundreds of kilometers through Coxilha Rica and the State of Santa Catarina. Tropeiro means Trooper (the route of the troops). You follow a few miles of this historic route and arrive around 17:30 at Fazenda Rodeio Bonito. You are welcomed by the owner, Lucia. A hearty and delicious dinner is being prepared for you. You spent the night at this traditional gaúcho fazenda.
At 09:00, after a hearty breakfast, you mount your criollos and trek through a rugged Coxilha landscape. You climb and descend, trot and canter, cross rivers, and see waterfalls. On top of a green mountain, you have a fantastic panoramic view of the landscape, just you and the great outdoors.
Coxilha, since colonial times, is a great cattle region. Most cattle ranches (fazendas) consisting of thousands of acres are already over 200 years old. You arrive at a little farm where Dona Vera has prepared a fantastic lunch. In the afternoon, you ride another three and a half hours until you arrive back at the Fazenda Rodeio Bonito. After a refreshing shower and a delicious dinner, a soft bed awaits for you at this very cozy fazenda.
You leave on horseback at 09:00 riding for the high pampas of Coxilha Rica, the views are wonderful. The group of horses, the gaúchos, the landscapes, the atmosphere in the group, the sense of freedom, nobody wants to travel back home after this trip. After lunch in the field, you continue your ride to the next fazenda, Fazenda Lua Cheia, where owners, Dido and Sonia, have prepared the best-roasted lamb in the world. Dido is a vet and loves to barbecue and prepares meat. You make it cozy with a drink and some life gaúcho music.
After breakfast, you saddle your horses. Depending on the season, sometimes before heading, you sometimes give the gauchos a helping hand at the farm rounding-up some cattle or sheep on horseback. You drive the herd to the corral, where they are either vaccinated or receive some treatment. So, here on another farm during your week, you will see the gaúcho performs his daily job.
Those who prefer not to participate in the activities can easily watch. Want to learn how to rope? Your gauchos teach you the tricks of the trade. After lunch, you continue your ride to the Colonial Fazenda Sâo Joâo. Upon arrival at this Portuguese style Fazenda, you pull off your boots, take a shower, and are called to the table for a good meal, a cool beer, or a warming Pinga (local rum).
After breakfast, you saddle the horses and leave for another great day on the saddle. You regularly ride into other gauchos who are busy at work. These South American cowboys still live and work the same way as roughly 100 years ago. Gaúchos and horses matching great together, living as you can only dream of. Climbing and descending, one slope steeper than the other, the ride regularly invites you for a nice canter. The horses are really fun to ride with. You arrive at Fazenda Ferradura and are welcomed by the owner gaúcho Benjamin Krüzen. A hearty and delicious dinner is being prepared for you. You spent the night at this traditional gaucho fazenda. Dinner is at the fazenda.
After breakfast, you depart for the last day in the saddle, a good ride until you arrive at Fazenda da Chapada. Daniel, the owner of the farm welcomes you with Caipirinha and hugs. The ladies of the house makes you a delicious dish while the musical talented gauchos bring their best songs, guitar, and accordion into the barn. The bottle of Pinga is eagerly passed around and sometimes you dare to dance! It's always such a pleasant evening; you enjoy the warm gaúcho atmosphere and forge a friendship with the locals. Overnight will be at the fazenda.
After your last breakfast, around 08:00 you say goodbye to Fazenda da Chapada, the guides, gauchos, and horses and drive around 08:00 (depending on the flight) in the direction of Florianopolis. People staying longer can have a drop of downtown Florianópolis while for the others, the holiday comes to an end at the airport of Florianopolis. This is the end of the program.
Please note that the description above is an example of the program. The itinerary can be different during your travel week. The first fazenda can be the last fazenda, the third fazenda can be the second fazenda, etc. Gaúcho do Brasil will do everything possible to follow the indicated itinerary although spot changes can occur due to unforeseen circumstances. Rides are subject to change depending on weather, location, and difficulty of terrain. In the unlikely event that this happens on your trip, Gaúcho do Brasil asks your flexibility and understanding. This is a sporty and adventurous vacation.
You do not have to be a top rider at all but you must, of course, be a rider. The ride is suitable for intermediate to experienced riders. You should be confident on a horse at all paces. The pace is varied to include walk, trot, and canter. Gaucho do Brasil has horses for all levels. Together with the guide, you will choose according to your riding level, your height, weight, and preference the right horse in the stable.
The terrain consists predominantly of large lawn type fields, for both rider and horse a real dream terrain. There is daily sufficient time and space to enjoy a good trot and canter. The riding style is the relaxed gaúcho style, similar to Western riding and trail riding. Are you a classic-trained rider (English / French)? Do not worry, the gaúcho way of riding is easy to pick up and very comfortable.
Is this your first riding holiday? Do not worry, as a rider you know that both rider and horse cannot trot or canter eight hours a day. Every ride is always a relaxed ride. You ride with loose reins and enjoy the fantastic nature, once in a while a trot and a good canter. On average, you are about six hours per day on the saddle.
All tours are personally escorted by Gaúcho do Brasil trip leader, Paul (in exceptional cases by a substitute). Paul speaks fluent English, French, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and basic German. Furthermore, you will be accompanied by local gauchos, Roberio, Giancarlo and João. There are always one or more musical gauchos (guitar, accordion) joining the group. The guides-gauchos are equipped with cell phones and walky-talky radios.
The Criollo horse is, just as legendary, an intelligent animal with unequaled stamina as well as being fast and highly maneuverable and a joy to ride. There are 35 well-trained criollo horses for you. The criollo (Crioulo in Portuguese) is the native horse from Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. It may have the best endurance of any horse breed in the world next to the Arabian. In fact, due to the crioulo's low basal metabolism, it may be a better long-distance horse than the Arabian in prolonged races over a week in duration with no supplemental feed. The breed is most popular in its home countries and is known for its hardiness and stamina. The criollo is a hardy horse with a brawny and strong body. They have short strong legs with good bone, resistant joints, low-set hocks, and sound, hard feet.
The long-muzzled head is medium-to-large-sized and has a straight or slightly convex profile with wide-set eyes. The croup is sloping and the haunches well-muscled and the back is short with a strong loin. They have sloping, strong shoulders with muscular necks. The body is deep with a broad chest and well-sprung ribs. The criollo is tractable, intelligent, willing, and sensible. Criollo horses are average 1.60 meters or 15 hands high.
Curly horses are horses with curls. Not only the mane and tail but also the coat, fetlocks, and the hair in their ears and eyelashes are curled. The curly coat is not the only thing that makes these horses unique. For people who are allergic to horses, curly horses offer a great solution because they are hypoallergenic. This means that allergic people do not or hardly react to a curly horse.
Under the microscope, the hair of a curly looks more like mohair (wool) than on plain horsehair. The fact that these horses do not give allergy to people who are allergic makes this horse really interesting. There are many people allergic to horses who would love to go riding but cannot without taking a bunch of pills. Gaúcho do Brasil is currently breeding some curly horses so that also the allergic rider can go for an unimpeded riding holiday.
You will ride on real gauchos saddles. Gauchos saddles are made to spent comfortable hours and days in the saddle. On the seat is a thick sheepskin. Saddlebags are available for your use.
A gaucho is a cowboy or vaquero from Southern Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. They are descendants of European immigrants and in some regions, gaúchos also have Indian blood. They are often described as strong, honest, proud, and silent types of person. However, the gaucho is also a colorful character, known for occasional rebel-rousing, but always respected.
Gauchos were, and still are, master horse riders. They are also adept at the use of boleadoras (also known as bolas). The gaucho culture and way of life are still present in Southern Brazil. UNESCO has launched a project to protect the gaucho culture and quotes as follows, "The gaucho way of life is the liveliest equestrian culture in the World".
Paul rode horses in 53 different countries and is perhaps one of the most experienced trail riders in the world. Loving the great horse culture and hospitality in Latin America, Paul decided to move to Brazil in 2010. After years of experience in organizing and guiding equestrian holidays and riding expeditions around the world, he now only concentrates on trail rides and equestrian tourism in Latin America. He is guiding all the riding trips himself and assures you participating at the best horse treks in Latin America. He speaks six languages.
Doing it the gaucho way, riding the gaucho way, that’s how Roberio is doing it and that how he is riding. Roberio is a born and bred Brazilian gaucho (cowboy). He loves the great outdoors and his hunger to explore every inch of Coxilha Rica on horseback is insatiable. Some say horse blood is running through his veins, as his life is all about, and only for horses. Roberio has been organizing local cavalgadas (riding tours) for years and knows the region like no other. He is a great rider, goes merrily through life and is a natural helper. A good guide who loves providing service.
On the horseback, you will visit several fazendas in Santa Catarina, Brazil. Brazil offers a landscape, diverse and beautiful, as a backdrop and the chance to sample the real gaúcho world, and make no mistake; this is for real.
Brazil has a rich cuisine. The country is a mixture of European, Indian, African, and Asian cultures and is reflected in the way the Brazilians cook, especially the Italian and African cuisines. These two cuisines have great influence on Brazilian cuisine. Not only the population is mixed, but also their habits and customs. Before Europe spoke about fusion cuisine, Brazil was combining ingredients found from different continents to a new typical Brazilian cuisine. They also often serve dishes from different countries on one table.
The Brazilian cuisine is very good and varied and serves many naturally made dishes. The main dishes are mostly rice and beans (Feijão) and sauces, with lots of meat or fish and salads. From region to region, one has its own traditional dishes. Along the coast, you will find more fish and shrimp dishes. In the south, the tasty meat grill's (Churrasco) will surprise you. In Santa Catarina, real healthy country, meals are often prepared on wood stoves which give a special extra flavor. During the holiday, you eat delicious homemade Santa Catarina dishes at the fazendas. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will also be at the fazendas.
You can see the classic highlights of Brazil, Foz do Iguaçu waterfalls, go for a samba to Rio de Janeiro, discover the 70 islands and colonial beach town of Paraty, go for a jungle adventure to the Amazone, meet the colonial towns and cities along the Estrada Real in Minas Gerais, or stay some time more in Santa Catarina and relax at one of the 40 beaches of Florianopolis.
Hercílio Luz International Airport
Please book your flight to arrive at Hercílio Luz International Airport (FLN). Transfer from and to the airport is included. Gaúcho do Brasil will pick you up from the airport.
This airport is an international airport and is easily accessible. Upon arrival at the airport, you will be picked up by Paul or someone from the Gaúcho do Brasil team. The shared transfer from the airport to the first fazenda is around noon and the return transfer is in the morning.
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