The real Argentina are its ranches.
When most people think of Argentina, they think of Buenos Aires. While the “Paris of South” is definitely worth visiting, there are so many other vacation opportunities beyond it. For example, Argentina is an “agro-country”, and its rural, grassy plains (Las Pampas) and hills provide some of the greatest scenery South America has to offer. You can fully take all of this in by staying at one of Argentina’s many ranches/farms that cater to tourists. In fact, many consider this kind of trip to be the best way to get to know the country and its people— the “real” Argentina.
Now, there are a wide variety of these ranches across Argentina, but of course, it always helps to be familiar with some of them before you actually book your trip. Here are some specific places worth mentioning:
Estancia Los Dos Hermanos
An “estancia” is a working ranch found in South America in the American southwest, very similar to the “dude ranches” found throughout the rest of North America. Some, like Estancia Los dos Hermanos, specialize in it. The Los dos Hermanos ranch boasts more than 60 horses, a swimming pool and a variety of other activity features. The ranch is very family friendly, as they cater to all ages and welcome both new horseback riders as well as experienced ones. The ranch itself is surrounded by scenic landscape, and you will have plenty of photo opportunities.
Another great place for people looking to do some serious horseback riding is Estancia Corralito, tucked away in the Traslasierra (literally: “behind the Sierra”) Valley in Cordoba. The accommodations consist of charming Spanish style rooms, with a bar for evening socialization. With activities for both adults and children, this place includes hiking, swimming, day trips to local landmarks, bird watching and a variety of other activities in addition to riding. One of their more popular adventure rides? A journey down an old miner’s trail.
Estancia Los Potreros
This is an Estancia located in a beautiful, secluded area right in the heart of Cordoba. This is an interactive vacation, as all guests are encouraged to learn and take part in activities around the farm. Other activities available to guests are horseback riding, polo, nature walks and hikes, and even overnight trips up into the Sierra Mountains. There are also three golf courses.
Estancia Iguazú & Iberá
This rustic cattle ranch provides an experience like no other. Typical stays at the ranch range from three to eight days, and your time is spent going horseback riding, taking boat safaris into the Argentinian wetlands, forest treks (get ready to see monkeys!) and visiting the Jesuit ruins of San Ignacio. You will also get a full look at cattle farming life and will be able to practice your Spanish. The lodge you will stay at is fully modern, but with a rustic feel and a great view of the nearby lake.
This ranch is in a beautiful secluded area of Patagonia, nestled right into the foothills of the Andes Mountains. This means hiking and horseback rides through some of the most majestic scenery Argentina has to offer, though other vacation packages like fly fishing are also available. This is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in real Patagonian culture and authentic country life in general. All stays are for a minimum of seven days, and you will be able to stay at one of three of Estancia Eanquilco’s unique cottages.
Polo Ranch La Carolina
This one is different from the others on this list in that it revolves not around western-style activities, but polo. That’s right— if you love playing polo or are even just a beginner to the sport, then you’ll love the polo holidays La Carolina has to offer. This upscale ranch outside Buenos Aires offers luxury accommodations, Internet access (uncommon at many ranches), a swimming pool, gym, golf courses and even a spa. All of this is in the rich Argentinian countryside.
Farm Stay Program
In addition to the aforementioned places, another option is to sign up with a farm stay program, which are similar to study abroad programs in that you are fully immersed in Argentinian everyday life and culture. You can apply for most of these online, and once accepted, you will be paired up with a smaller farm (a non-resort type) at which you will help out. In many cases, you have the opportunity to stay either at the farm itself or in a nearby town or city (like Cordoba) with a farm employee. If your Spanish is not up to snuff, many programs also offer intensive Spanish courses before you transition over to your farm. Your Spanish will of course improve during your time in the program as you will have daily opportunities to practice.