Argentina – land of the Andean Condor, a place of mystical mountains and fluttering spring flowers, home to warm estancia’s and ranches to roam for days. Flowing Malbec and clear trout streams, rolling hills and steep mountain trails. Could there be a better place, apart from Kenya of course, to explore on horseback?
Felicia and I decided to lead a horseback safari to Argentina after this astonishingly beautiful country stole our hearts on our honeymoon. We started in the Sierras Chicas, a provincial reserve nestled between the Pampas and Andes, based at the Estancia Los Potreros. Here, on this working cattle farm, we settled into the comfort of a true colonial homestead with wood burning stoves to keep us warm and dulce duleche to keep us fat! Delicious Argentinian Malbec kept our veins pulsing, a perfect end to the busy days which were spent riding the hillsides, dabbling with Polo, and learning to lasso with the local gauchos. We were expertly hosted by the Anglo-Argentinian Begg family, who have been on this farm for decades. The Begg’s were one of the first families to bring in the dancing Paso horses from Peru. Alongside these unusual ponies known for their five different gaits, the Begg’s have strong, even-tempered quarter horses as well as agile, fast polo ponies. There was something for everyone amongst the stable of 130 horses. Much like our ponies, those on the Los Potreros ranch are free to roam the surrounding hillsides in their downtime, and lead wonderfully happy lives. When we returned to our home in the hills, we were welcomed by the energetic border collie and talkative Parakeet.
After four days at Los Potreros it was time to move on, and we flew south to Bariloche in Patagonia. Here, another four days of riding, exploring and enjoying exceptional Argentinian hospitality at Estancia Arroyo Verde.
Jagged mountains dramatically descend to the turquoise blue of Lake Traful – a blue so mesmerizing you have to see it to believe it. We rode through empty wilderness, up steep mountain trails and returned home to our estancia where the friendly black Labrador welcomed us in for pisco sours and asado lamb. Each night, we fell, exhausted and happy, into crisp white sheets, and woke again to the impossibly green lawns outside and the promise of another day’s adventure. Aside from the riding, we explored rock formations and old Indian rock paintings, and later on in our descent, the achingly high Coihue trees and the famous nesting site of the Andean Condor. For the keen anglers amongst us, fly fishing beckoned from the icy clear waters flowing into Lake Traful, where salmon and trout could be cajoled out of the water for our pride, and released back to enjoy life. The Lariviere family have lived at this estancia for 80 years, and today are as much involved as ever. Meme Lariviere runs the ranch with her three daughters, all of whom are happy to share their lives with guests – making it an especially magical experience.
We planned this trip as a one-off, but it’s hard to let go of Argentina, and we feel sure we will be back there soon enough!
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