Traditional Highlights of Argentina

Ideal for those in a hurry through Buenos Aires, this full day experience in the countryside nearby provides a little bit of history and everything you need to see, hear, taste and try of the Argentinean culture.

We couldn’t have ask for better weather conditions: a clear blue sky and the sun shining bright above predicted a great day trip into the pampas. Tradition and gourmet were the keywords for the day and we were eager to experiment both.

After the pick up, we begun the journey crossing Buenos Aires’ downtown, passing by the Obelisco and driving through the famous 9 de Julio Avenue in southwest direction towards Cañuelas county, almost 70 km away from the city.

Obelisco and Avenida 9 de Julio
Obelisco and Avenida 9 de Julio

On the way, the guide explained briefly the history of Buenos Aires, the countryside and the gauchos to give a frame to the experience of the day.

We learnt that most of the estancias (ranches or estates) were settled from the late 1700s and through the 1800s in lands that used to belong to native communities. The landowners were usually wealthy European immigrants that used the terrains as a stockbreeding income and also as a recreation property.

During the wealthiest era in Argentina -from 1880 until the ending of the 19th century- under a big European influence (Buenos Aires is called the Southamerican Paris), was when the “luxury estancias” started to grow: English castles and Spanish constructions characterized for its Renaissance style main houses, big windows with ornamented bars, interiors decorated with contemporary extravagant furniture, wide galleries, patios with wells and large tree-covered parks.

The gauchos were -as the quechua word means it- lonely country and semi-nomad men originary from the pampas. They wandered free through the land by foot or by horse and were very skilled riders, fighters, cattle breeders and artisans. After the 1816 Independence of Argentina, the landowners prevailed and the gauchos became the estancia´s workforce.

Entertained with the information and stories that the guide told us, we didn´t realize that soon the urban landscape changed into the green prairie and meadow land that once attracted gauchos and landowners. We were out of the city and finally into the countryside.

About 40 minutes or so, we arrived in Máximo Paz, within Cañuelas county. Here we stopped at Haras Santa Isabel, a local stable, for an authentic & rustic gaucho encounter. We were greeted by a small group gauchos riding creole horses who invited us with an Argentinean classic combo: mate with tortas fritas (fried pastries that you may eat salty or sweet).

Torta frita
Torta frita


Seated under the shadow of an old tree we enjoyed the explanation and show of traditional gaucho skills: doma India -a horse-taming technique based on nonviolence and respect for the animal itself-; carreras de sortijas and cuadreras -creole ring races and short horse races. It was exciting to watch this spectacle with horses running so fast at such a close distance and we were able to confirm that gauchos still are very skilled riders!

Doma India
Doma India

After a while, we continued our journey and less than 10 minutes later we arrived at Estancia Villa María. The change of scenery was pretty evident as soon as we crossed the palisade and drove through an exuberant grove with many different tree species along the way. Later we would learn that the ranch´s park is 74 hectares big, it includes more than 300 different tree species -both native and foreign- and it was designed by Benito Carrasco in 1917.

At the end of the road and in the forest clearing, a lush Tudor style mansion raises, brought out of an Oxford´s fairy tale. The estancia was founded in the late 19th century and since the beginning it was a forefather establishment in this cattle breeder zone. The casco -as we call the main house construction in an estancia- was constructed in 1919 by the architect Alejandro Bustillo (also known for several constructions in Bariloche like the famous Llao Llao Hotel) using all imported materials.  

Main house at Estancia Villa María
Main house at Estancia Villa María

We have a little bit of free time to amaze ourselves by the house and the surroundings, taking pictures and exploring in and out. Villa Maria´s guide tells us the story about the estancia and shows us around. We even get to see a couple of the bedrooms available for staying. Most of the furniture is original from the estancia´s origins and was well preserved through time.

Short after the little tour, we visit the wine cellar. A selected collection of boutique wines -both red & white- lies in this dark and small room downstairs, like a passage back in time. A specialized sommelier explains the exposed varieties and we go back up for a short tasting of two red wines, a malbec and a cabernet, and a white one. He explains that if the visiting group is small enough, the tasting takes place at the cellar itself. Today, we’re many so we have it at the semi-closed gallery with a beautiful view of the park.

Wine cellar at Estancia Villa María
Wine cellar at Estancia Villa María

Here we also have lunch. A gourmet three course menu delights us first with a picada with fine cold cuts and cheeses. Then, a bife de chorizo, the classic steak cut along with rustic potatoes. Last but not least, flan with dulce de leche, a world-known dessert with the traditional Argentinian sugary sauce.  

Gallery at Estancia Villa María
Gallery at Estancia Villa María

Once lunch is over, we get to experience tango as close as it gets. In the salon, a couple of tango dancers and a singer perform live and invite some of us willing to join them on the dancefloor for a few amateur steps and also sin along to El día que me quieras. A lovely and brief moment that represented the essence of tango.


We are almost ending the excursion but not quite yet. A walk across the park takes us to the polo field, where a polo player greets us riding his horse and showing off his ability to shoot the ball right through without even touching us a bit. Pablo, an experienced rider and player, explains the basics of this sport at which Argentina distinguishes worldwide. After a quick explanation we are ready give polo a try! The express lesson is enough for us to take the horses on a short and slow ride across the field, wave the mallet away and try to score a goal. A fun ending to this day filled with traditional activities.

Express polo lesson
Express polo lesson

It’s 4 in the afternoon, the sun still shines bright and the heat makes us feel sleepy. We’re sad to leave Villa María behind, but happy to have been able to take part and get to know more about the traditions of this southern country. We go the same way back watching as the scenery slowly transforms once again into the urban looks of the city of Buenos Aires.

For more information and updated rates about this full day excursion in the countryside, please contact you Kallpa Executive.


  • Full day regular excursion.
  • Operates on Thursday & Friday from 9 am to 4 pm.
  • Current rates available until April 16th 2017.
  • No minimum of pax required.
  • The order of the activities as detailed above may be modified.


  • Transfer from and to hotel.
  • Visit to Haras Santa Isabel and Estancia Villa María.
  • Wine tasting & lunch with drinks.
  • Gaucho skills demonstration.
  • Live tango show.
  • Express polo lesson.

Rural Lifestyle in the Northwest

Visit the Northwest and stay at one of the oldest and historical estancias in Argentina to experience the real northern countryside lifestyle.

The story tells that the mother of Martín de Güemes -a distinguished general during the independence wars- had this estancia built. In fact, this was where the general trained his gauchos to defend the north while San Martín liberated Peru; hence the historical importance of this ancient estate.

Located only a 45-minute drive away from Salta, in the town that pays tribute to Güemes, El Bordo de las Lanzas has been welcoming travelers from all over the world for more than 20 years. This is the ideal place for those who wish to have an authentic and warm northern experience, getting to know Salta’s countryside at first hand in a region rich in history and traditions.


The name El Bordo references to the old way of calling the riverbank, to the fertile lands that border the river, ideal for cultivation.

The Arias family is the estate’s owner since 1958 and they were pioneers in the rural tourism to receive travelers willing to spend their time in the middle of the subtropical vegetation of the surroundings and under the colonial architecture of the main house that dates from 1609.

Today, the adobe walls, heavy doors and lintels with their own iron locks and ornamental bars are still preserved along with several archaeological remains found in the grounds, historic books and ancient documents, original furniture and paintings. The religious images and details in every room are noteworthy and according to the family’s respect for traditions and beliefs.


As a working ranch, the 3000 hectares are used in part for the cultivation of tobacco, sugar cane, corn, wheat, dry beans, soybeans and other grains and vegetables. The family also breed horses for polo, country work and riding.


Guests at El Bordo may take part on some of these rural activities. Visiting the crops and learning about the process, unlimited horseback riding, bicycle riding, hiking, or have a swim at the pool. Relax at the evergreen and colorful park that surrounds the house and at the many corners available for resting, immerse in the countryside serenity and in the sounds of nature, enjoying the natural pleasures that El Bordo provides. Within the grounds there’s a special area to visit: El Totoral, a natural reserve that preserves yacarés (caimans) in the wild.


This region is also famous for its culinary specialties, so a stop by the kitchen is a must. You may learn to prepare and taste traditional dishes such as the humita en chala, tamales, sugar cane honey, carbonada, cayote jam and -of course- the typical empanadas salteñas. All the northern classics in one place!


Every meal at El Bordo is homemade and delicious. As a matter of fact, they are specially elaborated for each occasion using seasonal ingredients and are the same as served for the family itself.

The hospitality of the Arias family and the staff can be appreciated in every detail; from the fresh flowers in every room to the good company of the gauchos and the tasting of ancestral culinary recipes. The human warmth that only northern people can provide.


At El Bordo de las Lanzas, you will certainly find comfort, tradition, history, nature, outdoor activities, a variety of authentic homemade meals and excellent attention.

For more information about Estancia El Bordo de las Lanzas and organized programs including a full board stay and activities, please contact your Kallpa Executive. It is possible to rent a car or to book a private transfer to go from Salta to General Güemes, don’t hesitate to ask for both options.


Nature & Relax at the Iberá Wetlands

Right by the mysterious Iberá Wetlands, find a colonial and cozy natural environment, home-made meals and daily activities in the first touristic estancia in Corrientes, with the personalized attention of its owners.

Located northeast of Corrientes province, on the banks of the Iberá Wetlands and close to the San Ignacio Jesuit ruins, the Estancia San Juan Poriahú is a traditional ranch, nowadays dedicated to breeding cattle.

Estancia San Juan de Poriahu, a farm in the Ibera Wetlands, Corrientes Province, Argentina
Estancia San Juan de Poriahu, Iberá Wetlands, Corrientes Province.

Once upon a time a Jesuit residence itself, its origins date back to the 17th century when the Society of Jesus founded its famous townships in Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. Today, Ana María is the current owner of the estancia and Marcos -her son- is the one who takes care of it. The story goes that Marcos’ grandfather, Don Ernesto, surprisingly inherited the colonial farmhouse and 5.000 hectares from a friend that passed away. In time, more land was acquired to reach the final 13.000 hectares that the estancia occupies now.

Marcos used to spend his summer vacations here when he was a child and today he has become a renowned naturalist and expert of the area. Also he may be one of the guides that take you on a boat ride, drive or hike through this ecosystem and tell you everything he knows about it.

Capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) at Estancia San Juan de Poriahu, Ibera Wetlands (Esteros del Ibera), Corrientes Province, Argentina
Capibara at the Wetlands

Visiting and staying at Poriahú is to travel back to colonial times. The aged Jesuit farmhouse has thick adobe walls, a palm roof (typical of this region), a gallery and an outdoor pool to relax and contemplate nature. There are also nine wide and simple twin rooms with private or shared bathroom. The family keeps an eye on the details and makes an effort to create a homey atmosphere in the rooms and common areas, such as the shared dining room and the living room. Meals are always homemade and include regional dishes. You may even taste our traditional asado!

Cattle at Estancia San Juan de Poriahu, a cattle farm in the Ibera Wetlands, Corrientes Province, Argentina
Cattle at Estancia San Juan de Poriahu

Surrounded by an ancient and exuberant grove and the characteristic humidity of the marshlands, Poriahú is the best alternative to not only visit the historic ruins nearby but to take part on any ecotourism activity available at the region.

Among the activities that the estancia has to chose from, you can´t miss the boat ride through the wetlands. Jump onto a canoe conducted by a guide and navigate this magic aquatic environment girdled by colorful vegetation and rich native wildlife that you will be able to see and listen everywhere. You may spot roseate spoonbills, maguari storks, whistling herons, yacarés (caymans), marsh deers, aguará guazú (maned wolves), river otters and the cute capibaras or carpinchos.

Boat at Estancia San Juan de Poriahu, Ibera Wetlands, a marshland in Corrientes Province, Argentina
Boat at Estancia San Juan de Poriahu

Other daily options include horseback riding joined by the resident gauchos, photographic safari, guided hikes for bird and fauna watching, night tour for yacaré watching, off-road 4×4 ride within the ranch and rural activities such as cattle branding and bath, among others. Keep in mind that the activities are subject to weather conditions.

Gauchos on a traditional Argentinian cattle farm, Estancia San Juan de Poriahu, Ibera Wetlands, Corrientes Province, Argentina
Gauchos riding through the Wetlands

After an active day you will certainly enjoy to relax by the pool and share a mate while the sun sets in this enchanting place, where nature and wildlife have open access at anytime.

Swimming Pool at Estancia San Juan de Poriahu, Ibera Wetlands, Corrientes Province, Argentina
Swimming Pool at Estancia San Juan de Poriahu

Please, contact your Kallpa Tour executive for more information about the 4 days / 3 nights program with accommodation and activities at Estancia San Juan Poriahú in Esteros del Iberá.