Not far from Buenos Aires you’ll find the open grasslands of the Argentine Pampas. Home of the legendary gaucho (the Argentine cowboy) and the best meat in the world, this is a land waiting to be discovered by the curious traveler. Make a trip from Buenos Aires to San Antonio de Areco and discover the land of the gaucho!
1. About San Antonio de Areco
The Pampas region is full of Argentina Estancias (traditional Argentine ranches) that date back to the days of the arrival of the Spanish. The most popular place to visit Argentina Estancias is traveling from Buenos Aires to San Antonio de Areco, located just 115 km outside of the city. The best way to experience the countryside is to stay at an estancia, or ranch, where you will experience traditional gaucho activities and customs.
San Antonio de Areco is a small town about two hours away from Buenos Aires. This is the perfect place to learn about the culture of the Argentine Pampas, a region that makes up nearly a quarter of Argentina’s land. The quaint town of San Antonio de Areco will make you fall in love with the country life, with its historic estancias, which date back to the early 1800s. Recently, many of these estancias have opened their doors to tourists, making this a perfect stop for Buenos Aires day trips. There are a number of estancias located near San Antonio de Areco, all of which offer different activities for tourists to get a taste of the gaucho culture. It is common for the estancias to offer horseback riding tours of the countryside, and you may also get the chance to try your hand at playing polo.
2. National Sport of Argentina
One of the most unique parts of visiting an estancia is the chance to see the national sport of Argentina. While many believe that football is the country’s national sport, it is actually a gaucho game called Pato. This sport is played on horseback with four members on each team. Players fight for possession of a baseball-sized ball with six handles, and the game is won by scoring goals through two netted rings at either side of the field, one for each team. Pato is described as a mixture between polo and basketball because the rings used for scoring are quite tall. The game is extremely exciting to watch and can be enjoyed without much previous knowledge.
3. Typical Argentine Food
After all the horseback activities are done, it’s time to enjoy a savory meal. Empanadas and fresh chorizo are served as appetizers before the main course, which is a traditional Argentine asado. The asado consists of Argentine beef and chorizo, which is salted and cooked over an open fire for hours. (Vegetarians, fear not! The kitchen staff is always friendly and happy to prepare a meat-free meal.) Lunch may also include chicken, steamy potatoes, and desserts such as delicious dulce de leche and chocolate crepe.
4. Typical Argentine Dance
After lunch, you will be treated to a folklore dance show. While tango may be the most popular dance in the city of Buenos Aires, folklore is the traditional dance of the Argentine countryside. It´s simple, you just need to go from Buenos Aires to San Antonio de Areco, and enjoy this romantic dance style, in which the man’s goal is to seduce the woman with his eyes.
5. Typical Argentine Drink
As the day on the estancia comes to a close, it is customary to share a drink of mate with the gauchos. Mate is a traditional Argentine herbal tea. It is traditionally enjoyed without sugar, but sugar can be added as the natural taste is extremely bitter. If you like the taste, make sure not to say “gracias” because, in mate culture, “gracias” means you are finished drinking.