Chatting to an American student when we were in Salta she said that everyone at home thinks of two things when they hear the word Argentina – tango and gauchos. Now this isn’t reflective of actual life in Argentina at all but we were determined that during our time in the country we’d experience both tango and what’s it’s like on an estancia, the home of the gaucho.
Nestled in a valley about an hour south of Salta in Argentina’s North West lies a small town named Chicoana. The town and surrounding countryside is home to tobacco plantations, vegetable farmers and exactly the thing we were searching for – horse ranches. After a little bit of searching we stumbled across the Sayta Ranch who offer everything from a morning ride to week long stays on the ranch helping out the gauchos. We settled on a half day on horseback followed by lunch back at the ranch. It actually was more like a full day and we didn’t return to Salta until 5pm that evening.
Bright and early we were picked up by private car and transferred to the ranch. We met the fantastic owner Enrique along with his team of gauchos and the small group of tourists we would be spending the day with. In our group were two German teachers that loved it so much on the ranch they were staying for 10 days. After assessing our riding experience we were matched up with horses and saddled up for the morning ride. On the sunny and crisp winter morning we sauntered through dry river beds, past tobacco plantations and countless small homes to explore the land surrounding Sayta Ranch.
We mostly went at a really sedate pace but the gauchos wanted to shake things up a bit so gave us the opportunity to learn a little more. I got to experience cantering in a Western saddle which is so much harder than when you’re forced upright in the British version. Lets just say I had quite a sore bum for at least 3 days following the trip! The absolute highlight for me was when we had the opportunity to gallop. The last time I was on a horse was at least 20 years ago and I’d never managed to progress to gallop stage, after a few hours riding in Argentina I was allowed to fly off at high speed with one of our gaucho guides riding alongside me.
When I was checking out reviews for Sayta Ranch I stumbled across one where the reviewer said the trip was more like having a truly amazing lunch with horse riding on the side, now I’ve experienced it I can kind of see why. We arrived back at the ranch to be greeted by Enrique and a rather large quantity of delicious Malbec wine. I’d heard about Argentine hospitality and how much of an event meals can be but it really was something else. We sat down to lunch in a barn off the main house that housed an enormous outdoor oven and a huge barbecue. One thing to mention about eating out in Argentina is that you are extremely lucky if you encounter a vegetable. If you order steak you will literally get a piece of meat on a plate and that’s it. Now we love steak but after a couple of weeks of this we were really craving something more garden based as well.
There were at least 10 bowls of different salads scattered across the table, baskets of bread and numerous bottles of wine. I had my plate piled up with green stuff before you could blink! Enrique himself manned the Barbecue and what found its way over to my plate is some of the best meat I’ve ever eaten. I’ve already told you all about our love for chorizo, well we had some truly amazing chorizo at Sayta. We also sampled the most exquisite Argentine beef with seemingly never ending slices appearing on our plates. Even Paul who is well known for enjoying his food had to decline his 5th portion! The company was fantastic with Enrique regaling us with stories and finding out about all of our lives at home. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day, so good that I had to lie down when we got back to Salta just to recuperate from all the wine and food!
We received a discount from The Sayta Ranch in exchange for sharing our experience – all opinions, as always, are our own.
Huge thanks to Laura and Enrique for giving us such a fun and enjoyable day. If you liked this post please let us know by clicking on the heart below or perhaps leave a comment.
Never Miss a Post!
Subscribe to our mailing list to get updates straight to your inbox.