Garden to Table

Wherever you look at Ranquilco you’ll find something interesting, something beautiful, or something colorful. Actually, it’s all three. And that is true, as well, for the food we serve. 

This land provides

We know we are privileged to be able to care for the land in this beautiful country. All of us who live and work at the estancia also know the importance of caring for ourselves and for the guests who come here for adventure, or for relaxation, or for both. The land gives us the gift of clean air and beautiful vistas, and we work in partnership with it to grow and nurture much of the food that is served every day.

Garden to table

We are a “garden to table” establishment. Everything we can grow or create on our own we do, including vegetables and herbs, fruits, meats and dairy. 

Our gardens are colorful and rich with lettuce, corn, zucchini, green beans, carrots cucumbers, winter squash, potatoes, beets, tomatoes, and more. Our honey is local, as is our grass-fed beef, lamb and goat we serve to staff and guests alike. Our cows provide fresh milk and yogurt, and the Trocoman and Picunleo Rivers are the source of the fresh trout found often at our family-style tables.

The chefs and the cuisine

Staff, volunteers, and guests can expect garden salads at dinner, homemade granola and freshly-baked bread at breakfast, and a variety of dishes, from California cuisine to traditional Argentinean fare, at our lunch and dinner tables.

If you asked our chefs, they would say they have the best job in the world. They get to work in a beautiful, well-equipped kitchen and look out any of the windows at the glorious scenery of the estancia. They can walk outside to the gardens to pick that afternoon’s salad greens, or help make yogurt fresh from the cows that were recently milked.

Every morning the chef fills the kitchen and beyond with the aroma of freshly baking bread. If a trek or other adventure is planned, some of that bread will be a part of travel lunch they put together for everyone riding off that morning. The rest might be served that night with milanesas and mashed potatoes, or a melt-in-your-mouth stew made with lamb raised on the estancia and vegetables grown in our garden. .

Special foods for Special Needs

We are happy to create custom-made meals to meet specific dietary needs. Whether gluten-free, diabetic, lactose intolerant, vegan or vegetarian, or because of religious beliefs, our chef will create delicious, colorful, and healthy meals that suit every palate. It is best to let us know before hand, so we can make sure we have what we need, especially since our chefs pride themselves on making beautiful dishes for every person they serve.

Family-style meals

We eat together at every meal except breakfast. The morning fare is served continental style, in deference to different morning rhythms. Dinners and lunches can be served on the outdoor terrace, in our dining room, or in the kitchen. Whether we are eating on crystal and fine china or out near the barbeque pit, we always have wonderful Argentinean red table wines, crystal clear water, and the ever-present mate (the traditional South American tea). 

When you visit the Ranquilco, your food will be colorful, delicious, healthy and fresh. We’d love to show you our gardens, and share a family style meal. Come down to Argentina and join us. You can book your trip here.

Fly Fishing, Bike Riding, and Magic

Most of us have been there: finally being old enough to learn how to ride a two-wheel bicycle. We are awash with anticipation, and fear. We try, and fail, but keep on trying, all with the ultimate goal in mind: the freedom of speed.  It is a rite of passage that sticks with us, barring any physical limitations, for the rest of our lives.

 Learning how to fly fish has much the same foundations – the anticipation, the doubt, and the determination to find success are similar. So is the memory-making: once you learn to fly fish, you’ve got the basics down for life. And there is no better place to make that memory than on a trip to Argentina and to the Estancia Ranquilco, where you can cast for rainbow trout in the waters of the Trocoman or Picunleo Rivers.

The method

You can learn to fly fish through practice, like with bike riding; you can also take classes, watch videos, or read books. In the end, fly fishing, like bike riding, requires focus, but of a different sort. You focus on your whole body, and to the silence as you stop your arm’s movement at just the right time, allowing the line to arc towards the exact place in the river where you’ve set your sights. With each succeeding cast you work on rhythm that’s in tune with what you know, where you are, and how you feel.

Whether you are a veteran or new to the sport, you’ll know when that rhythm is right, and there is no better place to find it than right here on the estancia. The rainbow trout run freely, the pools are deep, and the water is crystal clear. It is a fly fishing paradise, and just the perfect location for honing your skills or building new ones.

The movement

Movement is as important to fly fishing as it is to bike riding; it’s just different. Your feet may be planted on the river bottom, but there is movement all around. Your arm swings, the line soars, the river flows and your eyes are alert for the passing trout. There is also the movement of the wind, which may or may not affect the way your line falls into the water. 

The magic

Fly fishing departs most sharply from bike riding when it comes to the magic of moment-to-moment awareness. It is a sensation that goes beyond technique. Those who know the sport best say that nature sets the pace. With movement and method in sync, you can allow yourself to let go of expectations and the schedules, both of the world at home, and even of the day. Chances are good that the only sounds you will hear are the rustling of the wind, the movement of the water, and the occasional sound of an Andean Condor overhead. 

It’s easy to fall in love with fly fishing, especially here in Argentina, whether your base is the Estancia Ranquilco or our sister property, the Estancia Trocoman.  From November to mid-April, the trout, the river, and the Estancias are waiting for your next fly fishing adventure.

Going Tech-Free Couldn’t be more Beautiful

When you choose a Patagonian vacation at the Estancia Ranquilco, you elect to take time for yourself, away from email, Facebook, texting and phones. The world of the estancia is a tech-free, simpler world, where your hours are filled with adventure, luxury, beauty and peace of mind.

As a guest, you can choose to be pampered or challenged, or a little bit of both. What is a surety is that you will spend days without technology. Many guests find a sense of self they didn’t even know they had lost when they choose this Patagonia travel adventure.

Many of us, caught in the fast pace of our lives, are tethered to the trappings of the twenty-first century. In response (or, maybe, in protest) we regularly try to steal moments of peace. We may take a weekend horseback ride on well-worn paths, walk on the beach, or simply share a glass of wine with friends.

But even when we steal those moments, our technology isn’t far behind. To say we’re addicted to our smartphones, tablets and laptops is an understatement for many of us. Taking a break from technology is tough; staying away while still surrounded by opportunities to text and email is borderline impossible for any length of time.

At the estancia, you don’t have to steal moments of peace. Each moment offers that opportunity.The world of the estancia is one where you can ride horseback in magnificent scenery, take walks along rivers seen by very few, and enjoy delicious wine every day. It’s a glorious way to go off the grid and into the natural rhythms of the Argentinian cordillera.

Tech-free days are a feast for the senses

Instead of responding to the ‘chirps’ and ‘tweets’ of your smartphone, your ears will become accustomed to the rhythms of nature. You’ll often wake to the same sounds each morning: rustling wind, birds, perhaps a distant snort of one of the estancia’s horses.

Your eyes become accustomed as well to looking up, and not angling downward to read that last message or send that text response. Instead, you can enjoy the changes in the patterns of the sky, watch the trail ahead as you climb further on horseback, or close your eyes and enjoy a relaxing siesta under a shade tree.

Going off the grid builds closer relationships

When you’re in conversation with people and a new, unfamiliar word comes up, what’s the first thing you normally do now? Do you “google it?” Do you stop talking to each other and start relating to the phone? Even when you’ve found the answer, do you read it to each other, still not looking into eyes?

At the estancia, no one googles anything. People talk to each other about possibilities, usually while sharing time around a campfire, at the dinner table, or at an asado. They learn from each other and with each other, often building lasting relationships.

Time increases and stress fades away

Depending on technology to communicate seems to drain time out of the day. Off the grid, that time is yours to structure in other ways. You might choose a steep climb through the Andes, fly fishing in the pristine waters of the Trocoman River, or learning lassoing from the estancia gauchos.

It’s a time when stress seems to melt away. You work, play and relax in tune with your own natural rhythms. You are in a gorgeous setting with friendly, compassionate people, great horses, pristine rivers, and boundless opportunity for adventure. It’s the most beautiful way possible to let go, unplug, and recharge.   

Yesterday and Today: Why the Gauchos Intrigue us

Who was the gaucho? Was he the solitary man quick to pull his knife when in the company of someone who looked at him the wrong way, or was he the revolutionary known for his bravery and self-sacrifice? The answer is: he was both.

When traveling to Patagonia, keep your eyes open for him. The myth of the gaucho, like most myths, is part reality and part fantasy, with a heavy dose of “somewhere-in-between.”

To say the gaucho is important to Argentina is an understatement. He was and is real, and most definitely was a hero.

Gaucho History

The term “gaucho” may come from the Quecha word “huachu,” meaning orphan or vagabond. The gaucho of old was a solitary, hard-riding, hard-living, freedom-loving man.

Intensely private, gauchos were (and are, but we’ll get to that later) among the most skilled horse riders and handlers you will ever have the pleasure of meeting.

They come from a long line of nomadic horsemen. In the late 18th century gauchos roamed the pampas outside of Buenos Aires in search of wandering herds of cattle and horses.

These nomadic riders spent days alone in the saddle; some say they even bathed on horseback. They tracked the herds down looking for their meat, hide, and other trade goods. Gauchos answered to no one but themselves. Social skills were consequently a challenge. Their idea of conflict resolution often had to do conflict itself, especially at knifepoint.

1810 war of independence

After the Argentine War of Independence, however, the reputation of the gaucho took a seriously different and well-deserved turn. These gauchos became a key part of the revolutionary force that won independence from Spain.

Their intimate knowledge of the terrain of the Argentinian pampas worked to their advantage, and made the gaucho the perfect freedom fighter in the war. Their self-sacrifice in that war is something the country will never forget, making them national symbols of honor, bravery and freedom.

Gaucho Attire

The gauchos carved their own culture in the pampas over time, including a way of dressing and dancing.

From a distance you could see them coming. Most striking might have been the absence of the cowboy hat-silhouette we are so used to when we see a rider in the wide open spaces. Instead, many gauchos wore a signature cap, which was basically a wide-diameter beret, called a Boina.

Their trousers (bombachos) were loose-fitting and sometimes gathered at the bottom, often hiding some seriously bowed legs (or so the story goes) from endless riding. A heavy woolen poncho, a knife (the facón) tucked into his belt, and a whip (rebenque) at his side rounded out the gaucho’s costume. It is still worn today during celebrations like December 6th, their national holiday.

You’ll have the chance to see the malambo, the gaucho dance, if you are in Peru on December 6 (and, often, if you stay at the Estancia Ranquilco and attend an evening asado). The malambo is traditionally a male dance – a fleet-footed demonstration of prowess and endurance.

The modern day gaucho

In the years after the War of Independence the vast lands around Buenos Aires were developed into huge estancias, where gauchos often worked with cattle and horses once again, this time, for hire. As they settled, they carried their traditions forward, continuing to teach their children at an early age to ride and tame wild horses.

Gauchos of the twenty-first century, though, can often now be found in 4 x 4’s instead of on horseback. Except at the estancia. Here, our gauchos live, work and play in many of the time-honored traditions of the past.

  Diving into the gaucho way The gaucho of old may be part myth, but our gauchos are real. Guests of the estancia are more than welcome to experience the gaucho way at the level they are comfortable. They can tend to their own horse before and after trips, or work alongside the gauchos, joining in any horse or cattle activities going on at the ranch. True representatives of the gaucho spirit, the gauchos at Estancia Ranquilco are skilled horsemen and cattle handlers. Even the most experienced guests often learn something new from spending time with them. Our gauchos are friendly and generous men who are passionate about their way of life. They welcome those who want to experience some of the beauty and adventure they know every day during life on the estancia. It’s one of many reasons to include a stay at the estancia as one of your holiday trips to South America.

 

Diving into the gaucho way

The gaucho of old may be part myth, but our gauchos are real. Guests of the estancia are more than welcome to experience the gaucho way at the level they are comfortable. They can tend to their own horse before and after trips, or work alongside the gauchos, joining in any horse or cattle activities going on at the ranch.

True representatives of the gaucho spirit, the gauchos at Estancia Ranquilco are skilled horsemen and cattle handlers. Even the most experienced guests often learn something new from spending time with them.

Our gauchos are friendly and generous men who are passionate about their way of life. They welcome those who want to experience some of the beauty and adventure they know every day during life on the estancia. It’s one of many reasons to include a stay at the estancia as one of your holiday trips to South America.

The Wildlife of Estancia Ranquilco

Visitors to Estancia Ranquilco get a once in a lifetime chance to see the Argentinian regions of Patagonia how it was meant to be seen: in person. Our Argentina horseback tours give travelers a chance to see the world famous Cordillera up close and experience its grand mountains, majestic rivers, and open grasslands firsthand, taking in the unspoiled wonder of the South America's most beautiful landscape.

In addition to giving travellers a chance to see the land itself, our horse packing trips also often encounter some of Patagonia's wild animals. The area is home to hundreds of species of animals, including birds, fish, mammals, and amphibians, some of which can't be found anywhere else in the world.

A Natural History of Patagonia

The region of Argentina where the Estancia is located is home to over 500 species of animals, including 400 hundred types of birds alone. In previous times, the region was filed with tigers, aguara-guazu foxes, and pampas deer, but those animals have all sibce migrated north in order to escape the human presence in the area. Many of Patagonia's species, such as the local species of puma, have at one time or another been threatened by development, hunting, and other human activities. But thanks to the intervention of conservationists and government officials, many of the area's endangered animals are now protected by law, giving their numbers a chance to rebound.

Below, you'll find a list of some of the interesting animals found in the areas around the Estancia. If you're lucky, you might get to see a few of them during your stay.

Andean Puma

Pumas, otherwise known as mountain lions or cougars, are one of the most wide-ranging types of animals in the western hemisphere. Outside of the short periods of time they spend together while mating, pumas are solitary creatures that are usually found alone. Puma's are rarely active during the day, and are most commonly seen at dusk and dawn, when they emerge from their dens to hunt. If you do see one on your trip, remember to admire it from afar. Puma's are hunters and predators, and they will attack humans if they feel threatened.

By Dcoetzee (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Dcoetzee (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Rhea

Of the many birds that live in the region, the Lesser Rhea (also known as Darwin's Rhea) is the largest. Rhea look very similar to ostriches, and like ostriches, rheas are capable of running at very high speeds, allowing them to outrun most predators. When a rhea isn't able to outrun another animal that wants to do it harm, it will use its sharp talons to defend itself.

 

By William Warby (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/11280221154/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By William Warby (http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwarby/11280221154/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Guanaco

Guanacos are descended from llamas, and are found all throughout the Andes region of South America. Unlike llamas, guanaco do not have much variety in the color of their fur, appearing only in variations of brown. While some guanaco are domesticated and privately owned, most of them are still wild, traveling in small herds that usually contain no more than 10 adults (with one dominant male acting as the leader). The guanaco is one of the largest mammals found in South America, and is able to survive in climates ranging from the barren Atacama Desert to mountain ranges reaching over 13,000 feet high.

 

By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Great Grebe

The great grebe is another of the region's many birds. While most grebe birds are fairly small, the Great Grebe is considerably larger, reaching the same sizes as geese and cormorants. Grebe are usually found near open bays connected to the ocean, but they move inland during mating season, looking for smaller estuaries and slow-moving waterways to build their nests.

 

By Cláudio Dias Timm from Rio Grande do Sul [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Cláudio Dias Timm from Rio Grande do Sul [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

These are only some of the animals that might be seen on one of our horse riding trips or around the Estancia. If you're interested in seeing more of our corner of Argentina's unique wildlife, contact us today to schedule a visit to Estancia Ranquilco.

Argentine Criollos – The World's Most Dependable Horse

Traversing the steppes and prairies found in the Argentinian regions of Patagonia isn't a job for just any horse. It takes a breed that's both rugged and dependable, one that has spent generations adapting to South America's unique terrains and environments. That's why most of the horses we use on our Argentina horseback riding trips are Argentine Criollos, one of the most sturdy and durable horse breeds known to man.

By Luciodec (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Luciodec (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Characteristics of Criollos

The Criollo is the native horse breed of Argentina, as well as Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay. Along with Arabians, Criollos are famed for having the greatest endurance levels of all horses. Because of their low metabolism, Criollos can travel for days or weeks at a time eating very little food. In fact, The Criollo Breeders Association organizes a yearly, 465-mile endurance race to test the stamina of their purebreds. The horses must complete the race in less than seventy-five hours, all while carrying a minimum of two hundred and fifty pounds and eating only what they find on the trail.

In addition to their endurance, Criollos are renowned across the world for their intelligence, fearlessness, and loyalty. Criollos are also known for their resistance to many common diseases, and for their ability to withstand extreme heat and cold. All in all, the Criollo may be the most durable horse in the world.

By Comparceiro (originally posted to Flickr as ABRINDO TÓCA) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Comparceiro (originally posted to Flickr as ABRINDO TÓCA) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Breed History

Criollos are descended from a shipment of one hundred Pure Bred Spaniards that were brought to the Americas in 1535 at the behest of Pedro de Mendoza, the conquistador who founded Buenos Aires. In 1540, no more than forty-five of the horses were released into the wild when the Spanish were forced to abandon Buenos Aires due to native aggression. When the Spaniards returned just forty years later in 1580, the population of wild horses descended from the animals they had released numbered nearly 12,000.

Because they had been released into terrain that was notoriously rough and inhospitable, the horses that the Spanish found populating the area upon their return were noticeably tough and resistant to even the harshest conditions. Both the Spanish and the natives quickly began to capture the horses and use them as pack animals and riding mounts.

In the centuries that followed, the Criollos' reputation for toughness and endurance spread. During the 19th century, many of the native Criollos were crossbred with Eurpean stock in order to maximize the strengths of both breeds, but the original Criollo breed was nearly lost in the attempt. Argentinian breeders responded by creating a registry for thoroughbred Criollos and forming a breeder's association that would oversee the maintaining of the breed. The standards they put in place helped save the Criollos from disappearing, and helped set the standard that ensured the breed would maintain its essential qualities into the modern day.

Here at Estancia Ranquilco, the majority of our horses are proud Argentine Criollos. When our guests hit the trail, they know that their mounts are loyal, sturdy, and tough – all essential traits of the Criollo breed.