Skip to main content

Argentina: Beyond the Pampas

beyond the pampas huechahue 2
Image used with permission by copyright holder

According to locals, the true soul of Argentina can only be discovered in its boundless steppes, not in its cities.  For centuries the Argentine grasslands have been the domain of the gaucho, a variant of the North American cowboy, providing their livelihoods through cattle rearing and sheep shearing. Whilst the gaucho is still very much living and working part of the national culture, many of the country’s smaller ranches, known as estancias, have been persuaded to open up their gates to paying guests in order to ensure survival.

Today the vacation ranch market already seems nearing saturation; you will find luxury estancias complete with spas and pools catering for honeymooners, or those that have been turned into Disney style nightmares for gawking tourists. However, delving a little deeper will unearth a handful of places that are indeed the real thing; working estancias maintained by true gauchos.

Located on the edge of Patagonia, 125 miles north of Bariloche, 990 miles south west of Buenos Aires and seemingly a million years away from anything, lies the 15,000 acre estancia Huechahue. With eight double rooms, all en suite, the accommodation is basic but comfortable. Meals are served communally either in the lodge dining room or outdoors, where traditional barbecues, or ‘asados’, are prepared over open pit fires. Being in prime beef country means its pretty much meat galore for lunch, dinner and sometimes, even breakfast. But don’t expect a dainty sirloin steak; the animal you saw grazing just hours before will be roasting in its entirety on the flames. Huechahue is virtually self-sufficient when it comes to food; sourcing its own eggs, milk and bacon – it also provides freshly baked bread and has a sizeable orchard.

Although one can choose to partake in some fly fishing or a spot of bird watching, the main event here is horseback riding. There is cattle gathering to be done on a daily basis and the estancia also organizes excursions through the Andean foothills, where you will be trotting amongst rocky gorges, galloping through Patagonian rivers and can even stop to visit ancient Tehuelche Indian burial caves. All the horse related activities are presided over by one of the ranch gauchos, meaning no nonsense and experienced guidance.

The estancia remains closed from May to September when the land plummets into a frigid slumber and the cows move onto greener pastures, but if travel does take you that far south, be sure to venture beyond the capital and explore the wilderness that awaits.

Manfredi Conti
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Manfredi is an aspiring globetrotting gypsetter. This is not to be confused with a vagabond beach bum. Apart from…
These are the 8 new airlines you can use TSA PreCheck for
There are now nearly 100 airlines you can use TSA PreCheck for
person in airport walking to airport security checkpoint

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently expanded its TSA PreCheck program, bringing the total number of participating airlines to nearly 100. Travelers flying on the following airlines can now enjoy the benefits of expedited security screening.

Air Premia
Air Tahiti Nui
Air Transat
La Compagnie
New Pacific Airlines

Read more
The best bars in New York City: Our top picks
Here's where to belly up to the bar in NYC
The Quixote Bar.

If you're known as The City That Never Sleeps, you probably have a few good bars to your name. New York is the ultimate beehive, going strong regardless of the borough or time of day. That makes for a pretty rich NYC bar culture.

Sure, there are trending establishments that draw huge lines—look at you, Double Chicken Please. But there are also excellent dives, tremendous wine bars, and watering holes that make you reexamine the definition of a great cocktail.

Read more
Yellowstone vs Yosemite: Which national park should you visit?
A breathtaking view of Yellowstone National Park at sunset.

When speaking of national parks, two often dominate the conversation: Yellowstone and Yosemite. While both are crown jewels of the National Park System, each offers a distinctly unique experience. These parks attract millions of visitors annually, but which one reigns supreme for the summer traveler? Let's compare these iconic destinations.
Yellowstone National Park

Established in 1872 as the first national park in the world, Yellowstone National Park sprawls across three states: Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. Covering over 2.2 million acres, it’s a vast land of natural wonders. Here's what it's famous for:
Geothermal geysers
Yellowstone is home to over 10,000 hydrothermal features, including more than 500 geysers. The star of the show is Old Faithful, a geyser famous for its predictable eruptions. Besides geysers, the park boasts multicolored hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots.
An abundance of wildlife
Yellowstone’s ecosystem is a sanctuary for a diverse array of wildlife. Visitors marvel at herds of bison roaming the valleys, spot elusive wolves in the Lamar Valley, and observe grizzly bears in their natural habitat. Just make sure that you're following the rules when it comes to interacting with animals. The park is a living showcase of wildlife management and natural balance.
Unparalleled views
The park's landscape varies from rolling grasslands to dense forests and high-altitude lakes. Yellowstone Lake is the largest high-altitude lake in North America, offering stunning views and fishing opportunities. Hiking trails range from easy walks to challenging backcountry adventures, catering to all levels of outdoor enthusiasts.
Yosemite National Park

Read more