Gaucho Trail, Argentina Pampas
The Gaucho Trail
The powerful River Paraná flows all the way from Iguaçu Falls to Buenos Aires where it merges with the Rio de la Plate and forms the 300-mile wide estuary. Half way between Iguaçu and Buenos Aires, at the market town of Esquina, the Paraná is joined by the river Corrientes. The land here is flat: the difference in altitude between Esquina and Buenos Aires is 343 m yet it’s 330 miles away (as the condor flies): the land falls by 1 metre per mile! That’s flat.
The fact that there’s permanent water here in the heart of the Pampa means the grazing is excellent; this is ideal country for the world-famous Argentine beef cattle and the horses that look after them. If you want to get technical, this is the Guarani Aquifer, the largest body of subterranean freshwater in the world. The biodiversity is astonishing: a tapestry of shallow lagoons supports a huge variety of plants and wildlife, particularly birdlife (over 200 species) making Esquina a joy to explore for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors.
This trail ride explores some of the hidden-away ‘campos’ where the cattle thrive. Argentinian hospitality is famous throughout the world and we visit ranch-houses where the welcome is warm and matched by the outstanding level of comfort. We ride authentic gaucho horses over little-known trails in the company of well-informed guides to experience the gaucho way of life and an area where there are zero tourists.
In fact the gauchos from Esquina are highly sought after by estancias all over Argentina because they have the reputation for being skilled, tough and honorable. They are a pleasure to ride with.
Arrive in the morning at the estancia that is farmed and owned by the host family. Settle in and, when ready, come and try a number of horses: we can guarantee to find your perfect partner based on your riding ability blended with the horse’s personality and spirit. We’ll give you some pointers about the Argentine riding style and then set off for a two hour ride returning to the farmhouse for lunch. In the afternoon we take a second ride: and based on this ‘easy-in’ you chose which two horses will be yours for the coming week.
Dinner and overnight at the estancia.
Riding time: 5 hrs.
Ride out in a northeasterly direction through the open countryside, herding the loose horses that we’ll need later in the week. First opportunity for a nice canter riding long sandy tracks. Stop for an asado lunch at a shady spot; ‘asado’ = a traditional bbq where beef and sausage are roasted over an open fire. Siesta under the shade of the trees resting on the sheepskin cover from your saddle. Later in the afternoon continue riding and enjoy a change in scenery with a 360° view of the surrounding grassland. In this area we’ll see capibaras, antilope, caiman and the greater rhea (if you’re lucky!). Ride on towards the broad open plain of the pampa and out of nowhere a stunning colonial estancia, surrounded by mature gardens, comes into view. This is our overnight stop.
Riding time: 7 hrs
Today we reach the furthest point of the trail, a mediterranean-style estancia on the bank of the Corrientes River. Starting early in the morning we cross the water buffalo fields that lead into bushland and ultimately to a bluff overlooking the Corriente river. Take in the scenery while enjoying a gourmet lunch as the horses graze next to you. The ride continues along the sandy beaches that boarder the Corriente and leads to the Mediterranean style estancia nestled on the bank of the river. Dinner and overnight at the estancia.
Riding time: 6 hrs
Today’s ride kicks off with some brisk canters across the grassland, herding the horses back towards home. This area has some big pine forests where we stop for lunch at a remote cattle corral. Siesta under the shade of the trees and in the afternoon we’ll follow the chime of the cow bell as the “godmother mare” leads the excited horses back home. Dinner and overnight at home estancia.
Riding time: 7 hrs
A change of pace this morning: we shadow the gauchos in their daily routine and assist where we can. Ever tried your hand with a lasoo? Now’s your chance! Lunch back at the estancia and relax around the swimming pool ready for an evening blind tasting some outstanding Argentinian wine before dinner.
Riding time: 3 hrs
Ride out with the gauchos and explore a new section of the estancia. The grassland in this area is ‘hedged’ with acacia trees and native forests that are the perfect eco system for a great variety of birds and wildlife. Lunch back at the estancia and afternoon walk (or drive) to a second lodge on the estancia known as the River Lodge where we will relax and watch the sunset while enjoying sundowners. Overnight at the lodge.
Riding time 3½ hrs
Return to the home farm and join up with the gauchos for the rest of the morning herding cattle to the corral and lassoing calves for tagging, and whatever else need to be done. After lunch you have the option of a final ride on the estancia or a visit to the town of Esquina and check-out a local tack shop. Farewell dinner at the estancia and evening departure.
Riding time: 3 or 5 hrs
The price includes:
– All accommodation is outstanding private estancias
– Full board. All meals and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic)
– Gaucho guides (one gaucho every two riders)
– Bilingual guide (owner of the estancia)
– Transfers to departure point in Esquina
* Itinerary is available throughout the year and can be lengthened or shortened
* Non-riders welcome
* Minimum 2 riders; max 10.
The price excludes:
– International flights
– Transfer from Buenos Aires (nearest international airport no the estancia) to the estancia. Call us for c ar hire details and other ways to get there.