If you want to pamper yourself and really enjoy peace of mind and
spirit, a unique sense of quietness to recover and relax, opt to spend some days at an either, elegant, rustic or spartan estancia in
Buenos Aires, in the pampas or elsewhere north or south of Argentina.
The following are some of those located nearer Buenos Aires, where you will find that peculiar atmosphere of true country homes.
La Porteña (built in 1850) the home of writer Ricardo Güiraldes, is the only 19th century ranch that has remained in the same family (eight generations) along the years, now reduced to 193 hectares. The place is administered by the great nephew of Ricardo Güiraldes (author of the gaucho novel Don Segundo Sombra that made San Antonio de Areco famous). He is also the director of the Güiraldes Museum near town.
But La Porteña is neither the oldest nor the first tourist ranch in the area. That honor goes to La Bamba (1832), a Spanish style main house, a former stagecoach station that was remodeled in 1940, when it was purchased by the Aldao family and was then taken into the tourism business by present host Ricardo Aldao.
The El Ombu de Areco was built in 1880 by General Pablo Ricchieri, the man behind the modernization of the Argentine Army. If you are particularly interested in horseback riding and birdwatching this is the place. Peace and quietness reigns. Do not miss it.
The above 3 estancias are unfortunately located on roads that can be problematic when it rains, but the hosts will fetch you in town or form the local air club if this happens.
Los Patricios is the easiest ranch to get to, because accesses are paved, save its 100 meter driveway. Set in a park with a small lake the 90 years old house looks like a movie set. The hosts raise polo ponies in another ranch, but riding here is done on country roads because Los Patricios 120 hectares are dedicated to crops.
Though horse raising is not very lucrative nowadays La Cinacina still produces a few jumping horses for old times´s sake. Their real business during the past 26 hears has been tourism: giving visitors a sampling of Argentine traditional country food, music, dancing and games. Guests can ride around on tame horses or in a horse drawn carriage.
The following is a selection with some comments of
estancias either closer to Buenos Aires or in the province of Buenos Aires.
Old estancias with some country life and traditional cascos (country building) are Santa Rita, La Candelaria, La
Rosada, San Ceferino, Los Talas, La Mora, La Encantada, Dos Talas,
and Juan Geronimo
Other estancias: La Martina and El Metejon, both dedicated to polo horse breeding.
Santa Rita is a restored old house with adapted
rooms, a chapel and a 40 hectare (forest with eucalyptus trees) with
country and home animals, and vegetables grown on the farm. Santa Rita is reachable by train from Constitution station, by car or in a tour.
The estate originally belonged to Rosas wife´s family, the Ezcurras, and
was later taken over by the Carbonis.
La Candelaria is an elegant Normand
style castle, with Murano chandeliers, French furniture and a carved
staircase, all conformed in an eclectic building designed by French
architect Alberto Favre, with materials imported form Europe. The house
has ten bedrooms all with their original bathrooms, and was opened to
paying guests in 1994. http://www.lacandelaria.com.ar
Estancia La Rica is an old time estancia, from the
days the Salado river marked a frontier line with the indians. It is
located near Chivilcoy. The property, an original 18.000 hectares, has
been reduced to its present 500 and you will be warmly received by the owners themselves. There´s a mill preserving
its original hydraulic system, carriages, horses, an incredible garden
designed by French landscaper Charles Thays, and a magnificent maze
leading to the pool. Nearby is the old town of La Rica with a lined boulevard of liquidambar and aromatic Japanese pagoda trees, and
the thriving town of Chivilcoy, with its buildings of French and Italian inspiration, and the old general store museum El Recreo and the
old Camino Real, and the Avenida de la Tradición style garden visited by
botany specialists form all over the country.
Estancia San Ceferino, this estancia is perhaps one of those closest to Buenos Aires, but it is more a country hotel (a good option to stay out of town) than a true estancia. It offers accommodation for large groups and has thirty bedrooms. They have 5 meeting rooms to house seminars and business
meetings, barbecues and weddings. There is a collection
of horse carriages and lots of open space for horse riding, swimming, volley, soccer and ping pong. http://estanciasanceferino.com.ar/
Estancia Los Talas. Still in the hands of is direct
heirs, trimmed in extension but intact in spirit and nobleness with archives and a vast library. History is breathed in every corner of Los
Talas. The house dates from 1824. A library with 40 thousand volumes, a
fascinating collection of historic letters.
Estancia La Mora. Located close to Mercedes, La Mora is a pedigree farm of Black Angus cattle and criollo bulls, which
are raised to be exhibited at the annual Palermo Rural Show.
Estancia La Encantada is close to Capilla del Señor
and offers not only relaxing stays but also exciting 3 hour flights on
hot air balloons. The house also runs a school for balloon flying.
Estancia Dos Talas. Dos Talas is an imposing French Italian castle, built in 1893, in
the middle of the Pampas, near the town of Dolores on the highway to Mar
del Plata. Its primitive owner was Don Pedro Luro, a French
Basque with a vision. He was also a pioneer of the city of Mar del
Plata, but chose to live at Dos Talas (half way between Buenos Airs and Mar del
Plata) with his wife and 14 children. There is a park also designed by French landscaper Charles Thays with different green textures, a variety of
over 50 species, among them sycamores, Indian chestnuts, araucarias, casuarinas, a private rose garden, statues and an artificial
Estancia Juan Geronimo lies in the Samborombom Bay, where the river meets the sea. The 10.364 hectares were
purchased in 1901 by Ernesto Tornquist, the founder of the Tornquist Bank
and the Plaza Hotel. It was designed by French architect Collcut, who also designed the Hurlingham Club and the British Embassy. Those were
the golden days, but when in 1930 the crisis hit Juan Geronimo dwindled
to 4000 hectares and the original project remained unfinished.
Today the house maintains a criollo character with old Portuguese
furniture, colonial silver, paintings, guns and a room with valuable
volumes (editions dating from the 18th century) folders and prints collections of post cards of the estancia printed in 1924.
The 110 hectare park is spotted with green walnut trees, cypresses and
hackberry trees. Acacias and eucalyptus line its wide boulevards. Mixed herds of Black Angus, Brahman and Brangus
cattle are raised on the farm. Juan Geronimo lies within the Parque Costero Sur, a Biosphere Reserve which
was granted World Heritage status by UNESCO.
Further in the wild hilly sierra are:
La Sorpresa in La Ventana, owned
by Ana Olson, who inherited it from her great grandfather Diego Meyer. He arrived in Bahia Blanca form Bremen and was the creator of the
first nine hole golf course in the Sierra. The large windows of La
Sorpresa overlook a beautiful landscape: The provincial Ernesto
Tornquist Park. Also in the area is The Mahuida Co and the
Cerro de la Cruz estancia, an English style house designed by Alejandro
Bustillo in stone and wood .