Gaucho Fiesta by BYT Tours Travel Agency
A Day on an Argentinean Ranch

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BYT, a popular travel agency in Buenos Aires, offers a tour to a traditional Argentinean ranch, called an estancia. It is about a two hour bus ride from the city of Buenos Aires to the gaucho farm where you are able to enjoy fresh air, traditional folk dancing, and an authentic Argentinean bar-b-que, known as an asado.

It is an enjoyable bus drive through the countryside of Argentina. This central region of Argentina is known as las pampas or the plains.  Along the road you can see fields of corn and wheat, small fruit and vegetable stands, and a few cows grazing on cattle ranches.  There is a stop before you arrive at the ranch where you can buy traditional arts and crafts of the region.

During the bus ride, the tour guide explains the significance of the gaucho and why the job of a gaucho has become extinct in the Argentinean culture.  Also, on the bus you can taste traditional mate, and the guide explains how to serve this Argentinean favorite.

As you near the estancia you will pass through a small colonial town, San Antonio de Areco.  The sign at the beginning of the town captures the town’s essence with the words “Honor the traditions; look forward to our future”.  The road is obviously traditional, but modern buildings are sprinkled throughout the streets.

The Ranch, La Estancia

Once you arrive at the ranch it can be a little disappointing to see the long line of buses and cars, but relax, the ranch is large and you are sure to find some peace and relaxation if you try.  Upon entering the gates you are greeted by traditionally clothed ladies with baskets full of empanadas.  I was very impressed with the flavor of the beef empanadas; they were the best I had tasted on my Argentinean visit.  The ranch has a lot of wide open land, with a small hut set up to show how the people used to live, a large asado (bar-b-que pit), a large open room for dining, a pool, and a barn for horses.

You have about two hours of free time before you can enjoy the meat you smell cooking in the asado.  We grabbed a beer (free beer and wine) and relaxed by the pool while people learned to folk dance in the background.  Other people took a horse ride or were pulled by horse drawn carriages on the back side of the ranch.  – It is a great break from the city, but summers can be very hot as you are far away from the cool breeze of the ocean or river.  I suggest bringing a swimsuit, there are large restrooms where you can change and take a shower after you enjoy a refreshing swim.

The Asado, Traditional Argentinean Bar-b-que

After a few hours of enjoying the ranch a bell rings to announce the famous Argentinean Asado is ready.  You are sat at large tables with your group, again you can have as much wine or beer as desired, but take it easy you have a long bus ride back to the city.  The dinner begins with salad and bread, they continue to fill the bowls so you can enjoy the salad and bread with the meat as traditional Argentineans eat their asado.  The first type of meat they offer is the chorizo, a type of sausage.  It is very flavorful, but not spicy I suggest trying a bit with lettuce; it makes a good combination.  After the chorizo they bring out the morcilla, which is a blood sausage.  I only recommend this for those with a strong stomach.  Many people love the flavor, so don’t be squeamish if you know you will not be sick.  The last type of meat served is vacio.  This isn’t a cut of meat you would find in an American restaurant.  It is very fatty, but full of flavor.  When they offer you the vacio pick out a large piece that has both the fat layer and a thick portion of the meat.  The smaller pieces don’t have the best parts of meat, and you will miss a lot of the flavor with the smaller pieces.  It is okay if you are not able to eat it all, as much of it will be fat.

At the end of your meal there is a show on stage with traditional folk music and dancers.  Stay and enjoy the show and have a café; this is the traditional way to end a meal in Argentina.

Gaucho Games

After dinner has finished, head to the back of the ranch to watch some traditional gaucho games.  The gauchos ride horses as fast as they can and try to catch a ring dangling at the end of a ribbon with a spear.  Traditionally this was done to win the heart of a lady and the crowd’s affection.  It was custom to have several gauchos race to the ring, but due to the danger involved the gauchos take turns and see which gaucho was able to collect the most rings at the end of the show.  At the end of the show the performers gave the rings to girls in the crowd and allowed people to take pictures next to the victorious gaucho.

Finally the day is ended with a sweet fried pastry, called pastelitos.  The ride back to the city is a great time for a siesta.

Although I enjoyed the Gaucho Party, I would not put it on a ‘must do list’ when touring Buenos Aires, but if you are in the city for some time it is a nice day trip.

Cost $50 USD per person through BYT - (54 11) 4821-6057

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