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Where, how and why to husky dog sledding in the Andes

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Think polar expeditions, fur lined hats, thick winter gloves and the clamorous barking of a pack of dogs and you have just about got a visual on what dog sledding in the Andes is all about. However, you don’t have to go to the poles, in fact you can have a go at this activity just 40 minutes from Pucón, and there are year round options so you don’t even need the snow (making the fur lined hat and thick winter gloves also optional too!).

Dog sledding, or “Mushing” (from the French marche meaning “to go” or “to run”) dates back thousands of years to Siberia and North America where even a diphtheria outbreak was thwarted by using dogs to help medicine reach sick patients. Relatively new to Chile, Sol y Nieve can talk you through the options available which include one day to 7 day trips. During the summer months you can go along for a husky training day with the dogs or take a seat in the sled for a sunset ride.

husky training 1

Your experience starts with a visit to the kennels so you can see the huskies at home before watching them prepare for work. The ranch we will visit has around 50 dogs in total, each one with its own name and personality that you will get to see during your visit. All the pups are reared to run and their limitless energy is apparent when you see them jumping and barking excitedly when they hear footsteps approaching their kennels.

The area where the sled excursions take place is home to ancient Araucaria trees, endemic plant species and the brilliantly red headed Magellanic Woodpecker.  During the snow season the whole place looks like Narnia, and seen from the back of a dog pulled sled you could expect the White Witch to appear at any moment. It is the sound of the dogs that make this mode of travel from A to B so very different from taking a quad bike or a Skidoo ride through the snow. The panting, barking, playful snarls that emanate from the huskies indicate a camaraderie and contentment that their inherent boundless energy is being put to full use. There is something so very natural about using canine energy to speed you through the forest instead of relying on electric, battery or fuel power.

husky training 2

Seeing the ranch is an experience in its own right, but going out on the sled is the culmination of the day. Afterwards you can help take the harnesses from the dogs, feed them and play for a while with the little ones before retiring to the outdoor bonfire pit for a Chilean barbecue and tales of Andean crossings and husky anecdotes, all accompanied of course with a perfect Pisco Sour while the meat slowly roasts over the fire.

There are few places that offer this experience, and fewer still in such close proximity to your hotel or hostel. This is definitely a must during your stay and can be organized by the staff at Sol y Nieve. Drop us a mail here and we will do the rest.  Happy travel planning!

husky  volcano

 

©Sarah White 2014      Author’s rights reserved

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Guest Wednesday, 18 October 2017
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