Riding holidays: Argentina

If you’ve heard of Las Pampas but you’re not interested in travel or from Argentina then there’s a strong chance that the next words to pop into your mind are ‘Argentinean Steakhouse’. The Pampas are one of the regions of Argentina—a country with an embarrassment of natural riches that include jungle, glaciers, grassland, mountains, deserts and just about everything else that one finds on planet Earth—that make the country a major tourist destination. For any equestrian horseback riding in the Pampas is perhaps one of the most rewarding experiences you might be able to imagine.
At something close to 800 000 square kilometres the Pampas are larger than any European country and about three times larger than all of the UK. While we in the Western world (and perhaps the entire world, thanks to Hollywood) know a lot about the Wild West, collectively there’s not too much information about the Pampas. But not unlike the American West, Argentina’s Pampas are a culture that is dominated by the horse.
The larger region of Patagonia, that covers about the southern third of South America, is where one finds the Pampas. From Buenos Aires it’s only a couple of hours before one reaches the Pampas but they stretch on and on and on. It’s no wonder that when people settled the region doing so by horse was the best option. (Of course natives had long before settled the region without horses.) The gaucho, an Argentinean word for cowboy, came to symbolise the country in the same way that the swagman represents Australia or the cowboy represents the United States.
And of course the gaucho would be nothing without the horse. Beef is still a major industry in Argentina but nowadays it goes without being said that most of the work is down its machines and mechanised tools as opposed to the horse and gaucho.
The gaucho spirit lives on though and there are an endless number of ranches, known locally as estancias, that cater to tourists instead of cattle these days. It’s even the ideal place to go for a family holiday. With massive distances to be covered however to arrive at one’s destination, it’s probably not the best place to go with children or people who are impatient and don’t like travelling.
Nevertheless for the horse-lover, Argentina is an absolute must!