Buenos Aires is infused with romance – you can watch a midnight tango over candlelight, or, if you drink enough Malbec, you might find yourself mid-tango with the world’s best dancers.
However, nothing is as romantic as the Argentine countryside towns and estancias (ranches), with their rich cowboy heritage; the gaucho is a national symbol of pride. Lucky for you, it’s easy to escape the city bustle for a day and experience the sunny pampas for yourself. Here are a few suggestions.
At Caballos A La Par, you’ll go from rookie to hands-free cantoring with just a few hours of training – while trotting around a private forest reserve, no less. Be ready to push your boundaries, though; whether you’re riding with Adrian or Miriam as a guide, you’ll be expected – or politely encouraged – to take the reigns and command your steed. They’re just as good with humans as they are with horses: the two will prepare regional yerba mate after the ride as you unwind and become friends, and they’ll arrange your car service to and from Buenos Aires.
Ride horses… while playing polo
Add complexity to your horseback riding experience. Learn how to play polo at the Puesto Viejo Estanica & Polo Club, where they tailor the lesson to your skill level. During polo season (which runs September through May), you can follow the lesson by watching a 4-chukker match featuring club members and professional players. And, year round, you’ll break up the day with a three-course BBQ luncheon. Book through their site, and the Puesto Viejo team will help coordinate your transport from your Buenos Aires hotel.
Check out estancia life in San Antonio de Areco
The oldest pulperia (gaucho bar) in Argentina is in a town built by… the Irish. San Antonio de Areco still feels every bit Argentinian, however, and a day trip to one of the town’s estancias includes guitar serenades, gaucho horse shows, laid-back horse rides, grilling lots of meat, drinking lots of wine, and a tour of local attractions. Book through Buenos Tours for same-day round-trip transportation from Buenos Aires, or stay the night at Estancia La Bamba de Areco.
Feria de Mataderos
You don’t even have to leave Buenos Aires for this authentic gaucho experience. Head to the Mataderos neighborhood on Sundays and holidays for la Feria de Mataderos (the Mateaderos fair), where you can experience traditional gaucho culture through food (humitas, asada, tamales), craft sales (ponchos, blankets, pottery, leather), and exhibitions (dancing, sports, animal exhibits). It’s the perfect place to pick up a handmade souvenir.