Octavio riding (and winning) on El Flaco in a local rodeo. El Flaco now lives with us.
Octavio Nunez is one of the most respected horsemen in the Cajon del Maipo. In the summer months he has his own horses pastured up in Bano Morales, for rides into the high Andes, including the glacier. We work with him when we have rides camping for a few days up there, and we employ some of his horses and guides to supplement our own when necessary.
At other times we may take you for day rides in the high Andes ourselves, or if we are busy slightly lower down in El Toyo we would refer you to him, confident that you would be in good hands.
Like Rigo, his cousin, he is a champion of local rodeos and a popular sight riding with his son Cristobal, and sometimes even with Felipe, aged 8. Children begin to ride in rodeos quite young – 11 or 12 years old – but 8 is exceptional.
Cajon del Maipo Arriero
The Cajon del Maipo is the green lung of Santaigo and though close to the city it is a semi-enclosed area. For many years there was only one road along the Cajon, terminating in a dead end just before the Argentine border. The mountains on either side are impassable except on horseback. Thus, rather like Chile itself itis almost an island. Up till a few years ago many of its inhabitants would not have been to Santiago. It has a feeling of safety and tranquility because if a crime is committed further up the valley there is only one road out so the police can easily catch miscreants.
This isolation also lead to much inter-marrying among the few dominant families and today it is always astonishing to us how everyone seems to be cousins of some sort. Octavio is a first cousin of Rigo’s but there are many more complex and distant relationships, all well charted and locally recognised. The Cajon del Maipo is a very special area and the fortunes of any of the families were originally based on horse management with some especially notable arrieros, like those of the Nunez family. Thus the heritage of Rigo and Octavio is excellent in terms of horsemanship, knowledge of the mlocal mountains and skills in handling mules.