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International Women's Day: Diana, the baqueana who challenged her limits and inspired her peers

  • 4 mins

Throughout its history, Patagonia has represented a broad horizon where women have managed to conquer a variety of important spaces. Hotel Las Torres has witnessed the indelible mark left by women such as Liliana Kusanovic, Amor Eliana Marusic, Carolina Escobar, and so many others who have made history with their enormous commitment and dedication. Today, we will tell the story of a woman who dared to explore the challenging world of the Patagonian cowboys.

A native of the capital city of Chile, Santiago, Diana Cortés joined Las Torres Patagonia in 2015. During her first season, she worked as a waitress at Refugio Chileno. From the windows, she was able to watch the brave baqueanos, or Patagonian cowboys, who would cross the Los Vientos Pass astride their pack horses as they brought food and supplies to the refuge closest to the granite peaks of Torres del Paine, which give the park its name. In her second season, she began working at the Welcome Center, where visitors could sign up for rides. It was here that she brought to light her intention to join the team of baqueanos.


At the end of her second season, after winter had settled in Patagonia, Diana traveled to the south of Spain, near Seville, to work at a tourist center which had horseback riding services. There, she learned everything that she needed to know about guiding horseback riding trips, adjusting saddles, and advising inexperienced riders. Diana’s mentor at the stables there told her “It doesn’t matter how old you are, or any other limit you impose on yourself; it’s the attitude you have in the face of new challenges is what leads you to grow.”

And so during her third season, she finally began to work as a baqueana— thanks  to her own persistence in making her dream come true, and thanks to the support of stable master Ramón Díaz. “My colleagues were impressed by how seriously I wanted to do this,” she says.


“To fully become immersed in the work of the baqueanos is a different thing than seeing it from the outside, no matter how close you feel to it. The work is really hard, and when the weather is bad, you have to do your job anyway,” says Diana. “I have faced the most challenging situations of my life as a baqueana.

And Diana has had to do it all, from leading visitors on horseback rides to getting the herd in and out, and even carrying supplies up to the shelters—a task that proved to be her most difficult challenge.

In the old days, the baqueanos used to take their pack horses up to Refugio Cuernos. On one such occasion, a heavy rain fell just before starting their journey, followed by an unrelenting heat which melted the layers of snow, which caused the rivers to swell and rise considerably. One of the rivers they had to cross had gotten so deep that the water reached all the way up to their saddles.

Diana waited for her partner to cross first and, once it was her turn, decided to move forward. Her mare, Nina, was struggling to get across the river as the waters drenched her completely. Urging her mare forward with her heels, Diana pushed her horse to keep moving forward. “If Nina had made one false step, the river probably would have swept us both away,” she recalls.

Finally, after a struggle through the river, they managed to make it through safely, and helped the horse tethered behind her with the load they were transporting. Once safely on the other side, Diana simply looked at her companion and let out a long nervous laugh, overcome by the intensity of the experience.

“The feeling that I had made it, that I made it to the other side, to feel the adrenaline of having crossed such a Patagonian river… I have many similar stories, but that’s the one I remember the most,” Diana says.


For two seasons, Diana devoted herself completely to the stables, taking on various challenges and earning the respect and affection of her colleagues, who remember her with affection.
“The reserve is able to function in large part thanks to the baqueanos; being there made me realize that,” she reflects. For other women who aspire to be baqueanas, Diana has a message of encouragement. “There’s nothing wrong in wanting that life, in looking for great challenges, new experiences. I would certainly encourage anyone who is looking for this kind of life experience.” After her stint as a baqueana from 2017 to 2019, Diana has taken on new challenges, and is now head of reception at our Central Lodge.

Would you like to live a real Patagonian baqueano experience? Learn more here about how you can meet our cowboys during your visit to Hotel Las Torres: