Estancia Los Potreros riding holiday in Argentina - Far and Ride
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Estancia Los Potreros, Argentina




Programmes


• Estancia Based Stay

• Bellstone Trail

 

Reviews



I’ve never stayed anywhere where the attention to detail is so perfect that it looks like nothing is really happening, it’s something really special even if you don’t ride.... but if you do- WOW! It’s one of those places that really CAN cope no matter what your ability. Hubby had a reliable and kind natured beast who balanced him nicely on his back at all paces, I had real fun on a very ‘up for it’ type of guy called Verlay (maybe spelt wrong) who was really itching to go! I was completely stunned how fit and capable these horses were, they had such amazing footing (at speed) over really rocky terrain. I had a couple of rides on a Paso Peruano too, really smooth ‘pace’. They also give you the chance to have a go at polo (yes EVERYONE) and depressingly my hubby was better than I was by a mile. Food- I dare not go on, really I won’t eat beef normally and I was back for seconds... and thirds. Such a perfect holiday, anyone can go and can’t help having an amazing time.

Sue Maling
The estancia experience was truly amazing we were both completely besotted by the whole experience. As a non rider (6 previous lessons), I took to it very well. I’d like to say it was my skill, but to be honest the horses were just amazingly well behaved and responsive, and they just made me look  and feel great. I was galloping around herding wild horses after day 3, much to my wife's annoyance as she is a far  better rider than me and I stole a little of her lime light..... oooops. However, she was also totally besotted with the experience, the horses, the lovely dogs and the whole way of life. The place was very similar to Derbyshire but much more immense and beautiful. We lassoed and played polo. We were even lucky enough to see a newly born foal, bless it! If I can be converted as a horse widower who tolerates my wife's and children's obsession with their ponies, then EVERYONE will be converted. You just need to be an animal lover. Los Potreros cannot be beaten. Oh I forgot to mention the fantastic food, it was wonderful!   It was everything we could have wished for and more. Kevin , Lu and their team have created something very very special.

Chris T.
A little paradise in Argentina's Sierra Chicas. All the sounds you hear are horses, birds and nature. No traffic around. Two rides a day exploring the area is perfect and also ideal for beginners. Favourite memory is rounding up yearlings, basically being a gaucho. Almost daily we moved horses around from one area to another. Great guides as well. Lovely surroundings.

Estelle D.
I looooooooooved my too-short stay at Los Potreros. It was (a lot of, for me) money well spent. I had my own little casita, all to myself, and woke up every morning to the sound of horses cantering past my windows, as they got the horses back from the fields around 8:15. Their horses are all great, fit, sure-footed, bien dans leur tête, as we say in French, because they have a horse's life. The rides were varied in excitement, vistas and style, always with both a skilled gaucho and a friendly guide. Loved the swimming holes. The food was great, the conversations too. A very well-organised estancia. I expect the people you send there never complain.

Carole S.
 

Horses



Type of horses:

Criollo, Paso Peruanos, some crossbreeds. Homebred on the estate.

Nature of horses:

Soft-mouthed, well mannered, responsive and sure-footed.

Height of horses:

14.3 - 15.3hh

Weight limit:

15st/95kg/210lbs for estancia based riding or 14st/90kg/195lbs for polo and overnight trails.

Tack type:

The tack is English with sheepskins over the saddles. Horses are ridden in a relaxed western style with loose reins.

 

Weather



 

Ride Description

Estancia Los Potreros is a renowned riding holiday destination, set in the Cordoba hills in the middle of Argentina. It lies off the beaten track in the heart of this beautiful region and dates from 1574 when it bred mules to be used in the silver mines of Peru. It has been owned by the same Anglo Argentine family for four generations and nowadays is an idyllic getaway for riders and those who enjoy being close to nature.

The organic farm breeds Aberdeen-Angus cattle and Paso Peruano horses and is a year round destination known for the spectacular riding opportunities that it offers. Estancia based riding, pack trips, polo and cattle work are all available to riding guests and these can be combined with other activities or simply some relaxation. The riding herd numbers over 80, so there is a horse to match every rider, and they are kept fresh and willing by taking part in a variety of work and living in a natural herd environment. The herd is a mixture of Criollos, Paso Peruanos, polo ponies and some cross breeds, though the Paso Peruano is actively bred on site and offers a comfortable riding experience due to its five gaits (as opposed to four). Guests are encouraged to get involved with every aspect of horse activities at the estancia.

As well as the fabulous horse riding activities on offer, guests can also relax by the pool or in a hammock, enjoy the selection of books available, learn about Argentine cuisine from the estancia chef, join a picnic lunch, observe a game of polo or even go for a ride in an antique car or a horse-drawn carriage. Argentine culture strongly reflects a love and respect of the horse in keeping with the gaucho life and visitors can enjoy an insight into the working practices of the farm, traditional cuisine and the beliefs and ways of the locals.

The Cordoba hills are known for spectacular scenery and a comfortable climate. There is a number of tree species including acacias, cocos and molles and wild flowers bloom across the land from spring to autumn. A number of birds, including vultures and eagles, can be seen across the skies whilst animals including foxes, hares, puma, wild boar and small deer also roam the lands with some species being more elusive than others. Opportunities to observe the wildlife of the hills, in combination with horse riding activities, comfortable farmhouse accommodation and tasty cuisine, make this a superb South American riding holiday.

This destination has been visited by a Far and Ride representative who was made to feel very welcome as a single traveller. This is a holiday that can be enjoyed by families, couples and groups as well as singles. It's also a great option for a honeymoon!

See Programmes.

 

Food & Accommodation

The estancia is a traditional farmhouse nestled below the brow of a hill and surrounded by acacia, coco and molle trees. The dwelling is north facing and its elevated position provides stunning views of the garden and hills beyond. Separate from the house, the swimming pool commands an excellent view of the surroundings. All seven bedrooms have wood burning stoves, giving the place a special atmosphere, and are furnished with comfortable antiques and wooden floors. Each room has a private bathroom with both a bath and shower.

Free wi-fi is available in the main buildings on the estancia and there is also a laptop for guest use and a satellite phone for emergencies. Guests should expect very limited mobile phone coverage/signal. Your hosts ask that laptops, phones and other electronic devices are switched off or left in bedrooms during drinks and mealtimes for the sake of the other guests.

The estancia is a working cattle farm and Argentina is known a superb country for beef production. Therefore beef plays an important part in the daily menu, though there is good variety as the menu also includes things such as chicken, pork, pasta and vegetarian dishes.

A relaxed breakfast is taken on the patio under the bamboo pergola. Lunches can be 'asados', Argentinian barbecues where endless cuts of meat are offered. Picnics are often enjoyed during a ride, perhaps in the shade of a weeping willow by a stream. This is accompanied, of course, by a well-deserved drink. Meals are varied and delicious with opportunities to try local dishes. The excellent cook makes pasta and meat dishes usually with produce from the farm. Guests eat dinner in the formal dining room where Chippendale furniture is complemented by English prints on the walls. The local winery makes "Los Potreros' wine, a Malbec, and a Torrontes, both of which are excellent.

The cook is more than happy to cater to specific dietary requirements including vegetarians, allergies or intolerances. Please provide sufficient notice in this case.

NB. All guests eat together for lunch but children are requested to eat earlier in the evening so that adults can dine together later.

 

Activities

Gaucho culture and reverence of the horse are very strong here along with the oldest traditions of Argentina. For those simply wanting a break, lying by the pool (open mid October to mid April), walking in the hills and exploring the streams around the estancia will be a great pleasure. Mountain bikes are available and there are local festivals and rodeos to visit. There are annual cattle sales and branding to watch for those interested.

Those less interested in being a 'gaucho' will be attracted by the huge variety of wildlife. Ornithologists will be amazed by the bird species, from brightly coloured humming birds to soaring vultures and eagles. Partridges and doves are plentiful and condors have now returned to the hills. Hares and foxes are often seen around the estancia but wild boar, small deer and the puma are more elusive.

There are three excellent golf courses within an hours radius. Culture and history lovers will enjoy the Jesuit churches and interesting villages. Cordoba is only one hour away and there is much to do and see in the unspoilt university city.

Popular local sites to explore include the national Jesuit Museum and Estancia Sta. Catalina (1662), the folklore festival at Cosquin and the rodeo at Jesus Maria.

 

Further Details

Languages: English and Spanish.

Health requirements: No special requirements.

Age limit: None generally but children wanting to ride must be old enough to sit and control their horse independently. Polo is only available to riders 12+

Tuition: Informal tuition for polo.

Included: Accommodation, meals, drinks (including wine, beer and basic spirits), riding, all estancia based activities and transfers from and to Cordoba.

Not included: Flights, travel insurance, gratuities and items of a personal nature.

 

Travel Information

British Airways has announced a new non stop flight London to Buenos Aires from 27 March 2011.

There are flights to Pajas Blanca international airport in Cordoba (COR) from Buenos Aires (AEP) almost every hour (duration one hour). There are daily flights to Cordoba from Santiago in Chile. The estancia is one hour away from the airport by car. Your transfer will be arranged. We are pleased to announce that the road has finally been paved making the transfer a more enjoyable trip.

Airport: Cordoba (COR)

Alternative Airport: Buenos Aires

 

Programmes


Estancia Based Stay



A relaxed estancia-based holiday where all levels of rider can enjoy an Argentinian experience. Horse riding is usually for around 4 - 6 hours per day, either a morning and afternoon ride or a full day/picnic ride. Informal polo is usually played once a week. The estancia is a beautiful destination for experiencing the traditions of rural Argentina and a taste of the gaucho lifestyle. The Begg family pride themselves on the high standard of hospitality and on offering something for everyone! 

During your based stay you are invited to participate in the daily lifestyle of this working farm. Riders will enjoy trails through the wonderful scenery, visiting local points of interest, observing the fascinating wildlife or perhaps helping the gauchos to round up young horses. In the summer months it's possible to take an overnight trip in the sierras to the north and you might also enjoy watching horses being backed and trained. The chance to try your hand at polo is a real draw and your hosts hope you will find it as fun as they do! 

The horses here are grass-fed so the hosts prefer that they do not work a full day everyday. Therefore you will change horses regularly during your stay, usually riding a Paso once a day and then a Criollo once a day. The gaited and non-gaited horses are usually kept separate during the rides (so the whole group will be on one type). Guests love to test out the different horses and usually find it very hard to pick a favourite! Horses are available to suit all levels and beginners and nervous riders will be well taken care of. 

Non-riders can enjoy beautiful walks and treks, exploring the magnificent views or concealed rock pools. The birdlife here is particularly interesting, ranging from vultures and eagles to vibrant hummingbirds. The serenity of the area provides inspiration for artists, photographers or writers, or you may simply enjoy relaxing in the company of good friends or with a book. 

Sample One Week Itinerary (flexible, subject to change during weather)

Day 1:

Transfer from Cordoba and arrival at Estancia Los Potreros. After settling in and taking a look around, you will hopefully have time for your first ride out... a sunset ride to 'The Top of the World'. This is a chance to get your bearings and to experience the remarkable views over the land, as well as looking out for the majestic condors who might be sailing overhead. During the evening you will join Kevin for a wine-tasting during which you can sample wines which have been locally produced in addition to Los Potreros' own. 

Day 2:

Today you will ride out to the nearby waterfall where you can enjoy an invigorating dip in the pool. You will ride back to the estancia in time to enjoy lunch out on the veranda, followed perhaps by a siesta to help you regain your energy. Once refreshed it's time to mount back up and help the estancia gauchos round up the horses, a memorable experience. 

Day 3:

A full day ride to a local Dominican church and to a rural school which has only one teacher. This local school is supported by Estancia Los Potreros and is helped by the kind contributions of the guests. The Paso Peruano horses are forward-going and offer a spectacularly smooth ride meaning that a full day in the saddle is comfortable and enjoyable. 

Day 4:

Time to try your hand at polo, otherwise known as the 'Sport of Kings'! You will head down to the polo field for a short lesson, some 'stick and ball' practice and then to play your first few chukkas. This is followed by a barbecue lunch at the polo field and then a visit to 'El Vergel' - this is the oldest building on the estancia which dates back to 1639. If you still have the energy then you can have a go at a traditional gaucho game called 'sortija'. This involves threading a stick through a small ring whilst riding at speed! 

Day 5:

It's time to learn about some of the estancia's family history with a ride north to Potrero de Niz. Four generations ago this was the Begg family home, situated alongside running streams in a landscape dotted with shrubs. In the afternoon you might enjoy watching youngsters being backed and trained or perhaps you'd like to try your hand at lassoing! 

Day 6:

Today offers another full day ride to the far south of the farm where you will enjoy a picnic by the stream. This runs by a small museum in what was previously the home of Guido Buffo, an artist and lover of science, who built this unique chapel in memory of his wife and daughter. 

Day 7:

The main part of the farm for working the cattle is called Chiviquin and this is where you'll head today. The Aberdeen Angus are vital to the farm and you may get to observe the gauchos in action. On the way back you will ring the 'Bellstone' before sampling a traditional Argentina 'asado' (barbecue) and maybe a refreshing swim in the pool. 

Day 8:

Time to eat your last breakfast at the estancia, perhaps a hearty meal of bacon and eggs. Then you will depart for your onward travel. 

Sample Three Night Itinerary 

Day 1:

Arrival as Estancia Los Potreros and time to settle into your surroundings and accommodation. You will join the host family, Louise and Kevin Begg, for lunch on their verandah. Riders will then be introduced to the estancia's horses and to the relaxed way of riding before heading out for a sunset ride (or a walk for the non-riders) to 'The Bellstone'. Here you can learn a bit more about the history of this working farm and the areas that surround it. Your first evening is ended with candle-lit dinner. 

Day 2:

A ride or walk to the beautiful waterfall nearby where you can enjoy an invigorating dip in the water. On returning to the estancia you will prepare to enjoy a typical Argentine barbecue known as 'asado' - you might need a siesta after this! Once refreshed from your nap it's time to mount up again and help the gauchos with their authentic estancia work, most likely rounding up the mares and foals to keep them safe from marauding pumas. This might be your time to try one of the homebred Paso Peruano horses whose smooth paces make your afternoon in the saddle a lot more comfortable. 

Day 3:

A visit on horse, foot or by car to 'The Top of the World'. This is the estancia land's highest point and offers 360 degree views of the surrounding landscapes. The afternoon is a chance to head into the corrals at the cattle station where you can challenge the gauchos to some lassoing (good luck!). You can also learn more about the cattle work which takes places here. Supper today is washed down with some of Los Potreros' own label wine. 

Day 4:

After enjoying a delicious breakfast it's time to pack up and depart for your onward travel. 

Additional Notes

- The itinerary is flexible, and subject to weather, particularly in the case of polo. 

- There are over 80 riding horses, with the herd being a mixture of Criollos, Paso Peruanos and polo ponies, which are forward-going, responsive and sure-footed. 

- A two day/one night overnight trail ride can usually be arranged for guests who are staying for 5 nights or more, with sufficient notice in advance. 

- Guests can expect to be in the saddle between 4-6 hours per day, with a morning and afternoon ride or a full day picnic ride. Sunday afternoons are free for guests to relax, allowing staff and horses to take a well-earned rest.

- The pool at the estancia is open from around mid-October until mid-April. 

- The trails on the estancia provide for varied and beautiful walking, with plentiful birds, wild flowers and stunning vistas. 



Accommodation: The estancia is a traditional farmhouse nestled below the brow of a hill surrounded by acacia, coco and molle trees. The dwelling is north faced and its elevated position provides stunning views of the garden and hills beyond. Separate from the house, the swimming pool commands an excellent view of the surroundings. All seven bedrooms have wood burning stoves giving the place a special atmosphere and the rooms are furnished with comfortable antiques and wooden floors. Each room has a private bathroom with both a bath and shower.
Minimum group size: 1
Maximum group size: 12
Ability description: All abilities are catered for including complete beginners.
Type of ride: Based.
Total riding time: 4 - 6 hours per day, either a morning and afternoon ride or a day/picnic ride. On Sundays there is only a morning ride available.
Departure dates: Minimum stay is usually three nights but five nights over the Christmas, New Year and Easter period. Available all year round with the exception of four weeks in May/June when the estancia is closed for essential repair work.
 
Pricing: 2017:

Non-Argentine residents are eligible for the below prices provided you send us a photocopy of your passport to send to authorities. Argentine residents have to pay an additional tax - please enquire for rates if you are Argentine resident.

January-April: £327 pppn for 3-6 nights
£310 pppn for 7 nights +

May-September: £291 pppn for 3-6 nights
£270 pppn for 7 nights +

October-December: £327 pppn for 3-6 nights
£310 pppn for 7 nights +

Discount of 20% for children aged 10-16.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT: There is no single supplement provided that one of three single occupancy rooms is available. To guarantee a double room for single occupancy incurs a 30% supplement.

Minimum stay of 3 nights or 5 nights over Christmas and New Year.

Price includes transfers to and from Cordoba airport, accommodation on the estancia, full board including alcoholic beverages (breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, supper, house wine, beer and basic spirits), daily riding, guides and equipment, all other activities whilst on the estancia and all local taxes.

Price does not include flights or travel insurance, transfers from the bus station, gratuities or extras.



Bellstone Trail



Set in the beautiful Sierra Chicas, Estancia Los Potreros is the perfect base from which to start this fascinating seven night trail. During the trail you will stay in various locations such as traditional working estancias or very simple dwellings where you will experience the life of local people. The trail offers exceptional riding opportunities as well as an insight into local history and culture for a true taste of Argentina. Horseback is the perfect way to explore areas unreachable by car!

The trail has fixed date departures but other dates can be arranged for groups. You can also sample overnight expeditions during the based stay programme as these are spontaneously arranged at anytime from spring to autumn. 

Sample Itinerary (subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances such as weather):

Day 1:

After transfer to the estancia and time to settle in you are introduced to the horses and the estancia's way of riding. There is a beautiful sunset ride to allow you to get your bearings and to get used to these well-trained horses. Tonight sees you enjoy a candle-lit dinner and the company of your hosts and fellow travellers. You can talk about the plans for the rest of the week. 

Day 2:

This morning's ride is to the 'Top of the World', the highest point in the area, and offers magnificent 360 degree views as well as allowing you to peer out of over the route of the trail. You will pass by the cattle ranch and will hear the sound of the 'bellstone' - this is the inspiration for the original bell-shaped cattle brand of the estancia. 

After having worked up a good appetite with a morning in the saddle, it's time to enjoy a traditional Argentine barbecue known as 'asado'. The afternoon can then be spent relaxing, swimming, walking or simply enjoying good company. The group will take an evening drink on the "Patio Verde" before enjoying dinner and overnight at Potrero de Loza.

Day 3:

The real start of the trail ride across country! You will ride past the Canyon of the Condors - 'Canada de los Condores', perhaps stopping off for a swim in the waterfall. A picnic lunch is eaten at the local rural school of 'La Estancita'. Los Potreros supports this school using the kind donations from guests and it is a pleasure to visit and see what is happening there. You will also visit the local Dominican church which dates back to the 1870's. 

Tonight you will stay at 'Potrero de Niz' which was the original home of the Begg family, your hosts. It was built in this unique location by Kevin's grandfather and you may get to enjoy some traditional folklore music. 

Day 4:

You will ride north along the Sierra Chicas, heading for Candonga. This route takes you through some impressive scenery featuring pine forests and some tough and challenging terrain, particularly the rocky downhill climbs. The estancia's horses are extremely sure-footed and are bound to impress you with the way they tackle the route. 

You will arrive at Menta's farm in time for a late lunch. Menta and her brother manage to make a meagre existence from their smallholding and you will find her to be a brilliant hostess and talented cook. After your meal here it's on to 'Posada de los Perdices' where you will stay for the night. This is a rural escape by a river and offers simple accommodation with comfortable beds and hot showers. It lies just a short walk from the historic Candonga Church (C1650). 

Day 5:

The ride today takes you west across the sierras where you will climb above La Cumbra to the "Loma Grande". During the ride you will stop for a tasty picnic lunch before traversing an array of interesting landscapes, following dirt roads and tracks and observing the wonderful scenery. Dinner and your overnight stay will be in a charming stone lodge, tucked away and reachable only by foot or hoof. There is no road leading to the building and no electricity but tired riders can enjoy hot showers, a delicious meal and the beautiful views surrounding them.  

Day 6:

Today you will use the stone cottage as a base, leaving your things there and riding out along a ridge. From here you can admire the impressive views over the Punilla valley before making a gradual climb around the back of Uritorco, the highest hill in the Sierra Chicas. This stands at nearly 2000m and is well known for UFO sightings! During lunch the group will learn some of the stories relating to the mysterious mountain and then it's time to head back to the stone lodge for wine and supper amongst the hills. 

Day 7:

Today you will leave your stone retreat in the mountains and will make for La Cumbre, a town at the top of the Punilla valley which was originally an English settlement. Now the town is a draw for artists and a range of nationalities. You ride along a 9km stretch of road known as 'Camino de los Artesanos' or 'The Craftsman's Way' - this runs along the back of La Cumbre towards Villa Giardino and La Falda which is now known for crafts and homemade goods. This ride is a change from the rurality you have experience in the last few days and offers a different experience. 

Lunch today is eaten in La Falda and close to the Eden Hotel, now a museum. Then you will mount your horse again before following an unmade road to the top of the hills. Even though you are climbing you will find that the horses are eager to get back home and still full of energy! Once you make it back to Estancia Los Potreros it is time for a celebratory champagne dinner.  

Day 8:

Time for your final breakfast and maybe a farewell ride or game of polo, depending on the time you have to leave. Then you will be transferred for your onwards travel. 

On the trail ride you should expect to be in the saddle between four to five hours a day. All personal items will be carried in saddlebags on your own horse, and so the lighter you travel the more comfortable both you and your horse will be.



Accommodation: Accommodation on the farm is simple and very comfortable, with all rooms having their own private bathroom. Whilst on the trail ride, accommodation ranges from shared ‘bunk’ rooms to comfortable guest houses. Single rooms are not possible during the trail. All locations have hot showers.
Minimum group size: 4
Maximum group size: 12
Ability description: Intermediate riders and above, though confident and fit novices may be accepted. Riding is at a steady pace due to the terrain and distances but at times you will push on where possible. Ride features steep slopes so this is not suitable for those nervous of riding at heights.
Type of ride: Trail
Total riding time: 4 - 6 hours per day, occasionally a bit longer.
Departure dates: 2017: Dates on request for a minimum of 4.
 
Pricing: 2017:

Non-Argentine residents are eligible for the below prices provided you send us a photocopy of your passport to send to authorities. Argentine residents have to pay an additional tax - please enquire for rates if you are Argentine resident.

£2340 per person

Price includes transfers to and from Cordoba airport to the estancia, full board accommodation, drinks (including wine, beer and local spirits), all activities, guides, equipment, support vehicle, horses and saddlery and equipment are also included.

Price does not include flights, travel insurance or tips.