Estancia Los Protreros summary
Estancia Los Potreros is a 6,000-acre working cattle farm in the Cordoba province of Argentina and has remained in the same Anglo-Argentine family for four generations. This secluded estancia sits on the top of the “Sierras Chicas” at an altitude of 3,000 feet, between the pampas and the Andes in the heart of the beautiful region of Cordoba. The main house is steeped in family history with many references to the Jesuit families who pioneered ranching in this area in the seventeen hundreds. The family provide short and long breaks for those who wish to experience at first hand the rural traditions of Argentina. Guests staying for a week will have the opportunity of playing polo on the estancia’s private polo field, and this activity is always a highlight of a stay at Los Potreros, as is a day long ride to visit a neighbouring estancia. Other leisure activities beside riding include walking and bird watching. The estancia is centrally located to visit Jesuit churches and there are also three excellent golf courses in the vicinity. Cordoba city is 50 kilometres away.
The owners also organise an 8 day 7 night mobile ride, called the Bellstone ride, on six set departure dates each year. During Bellstone rides guests explore the landscape of this region that it is impossible to visit by car, staying at a variety of locations ranging from large family estancias to simple rural dwellings, providing an insight into the life of the local people. This expedition is rich in history and offers some exceptional riding. Bellstone rides can also be arranged as an exclusive itinerary provided there are at least 4 participants, and can be condensed into 3 nights if you prepared to ride up to 8 hours a day. Cordoba province in a year round destination, however you can expect some rainfall from December to March.
No visit to Argentina would be complete without the chance to try your hand at the sport of kings – polo! The estancia has a long history with the game, as part of the estancia was once owned by Lewis Lacey, one of the first ever 10 goal handicapped players, and one of the few people to have ever played polo at international level for both England and Argentina. Argentina has the best players in the world and so what better place to start? The owners delight in introducing this extremely fun and highly addictive sport to guests who would not normally have a chance to have a go. In informal weekly sessions, a short lesson on the ground and some practice ‘stick and ball’ is followed by a game, set at a pace to suit riding abilities. For those who are interested in taking it a bit further, regular fixed date polo weeks are run under the expert supervision of their professional, Juan Manuel Pizarro.
Wild and Exotic sample itinerary for the Bellstone ride from Estancia Los Potreros
This 8 day 7 night ride takes you over the constantly changing geography of the region, through areas impossible to reach by car. You stay at a variety of locations from cattle estancias to very simple dwellings exposing you to the life of the local people. This expedition is rich in local history and offers some exceptional riding.
Day 1: Meet your host at Cordoba Pajas Blancas airport (COR). Transfer to Los Potreros (approx 1 hours drive). Afternoon ride if time allows to Estancia Chiviquin, an outpost. This is a very old and simple traditional dwelling and offers an insight to cattle farming in these remote areas. Enjoy a candle-lit dinner, this is a tradition on every evening when staying at Los Potreros, an opportunity to discuss the plan for the rest of the expedition.
Day 2: A morning ride to feel comfortable with your horse and the gauchos. Climb to some of the high points and get your bearings. Explore the cattle ranch. Lunch is a traditional Argentine “asado” (barbecue) by the pool with several cuts of meat to try. The afternoon may be spent swimming or walking. Watch the sun go down, enjoying a drink on the “Patio Verde”. Dinner and night spent at Estancia Potrero de Loza and if the moonlight allows: go to a high point to see the lights of the city of Cordoba in the distance. On the way hear the sound of the “church bell stone” that inspired the original bell-shaped cattle brand of this farm.
Day 3: “Across country” past “Canada de los Condores” Canyon of the Condors, where condors may sometimes be seen, to “La Estancita” for a picnic lunch at the local school, visit Dominican church go past local dwellings and small farms. Night spent in Canada del Molle farmhouse.
Day 4: Set out towards Candonga going north along the top of the Sierras Chicas towards Mentas farm (cabin). Menta is a wonderful host and a good cook. Together with her brother she ekes a meagre existence from her smallholding. The visit is worth the experience! Some earth roadwork. Swim in cool fast flowing crystal clear streams. Over night in Mentas cabin. Visit Candoga church (C1650).
Day 5: Long ride, some on earth roads. Climb above La Cumbre to the Loma Grande. Dinner and night spent at a charming and secluded stone lodge. The house is not reached by any other means than walking or riding. The stone constructed house has no road or electricity but hot showers, excellent food and spectacular views. Overnight Loma Grande.
Day 6: Descend to explore the town of La Cumbre (town of English origin) at the top of the Punilla valley. Chance to replenish stocks and batteries. Lunch in a typical Cruz Chica home and spend the night at the lovely Reydon Hotel, an old girl’s boarding school, tastefully restored into a charming and comfortable guest house.
Day 7: Set out early for a long ride home, winding down towards La Falda along the “Camino de Los Artesanos”. Pass by La Falda a town of German origin, with a picnic lunch at the famous Eden Hotel (funded by Hitler during the war and now a museum). Climb the ridge to vermiculite mines (Cerro Sapo), make your way along the top with views across the Valle de Punilla. Return past the restored farm house at “El Vergel” (C1700). Farewell dinner and overnight at Los Potreros.
Day 8: Farewell ride on the estancia or even a game of polo before returning to the airport.
Single overnight expeditions are spontaneously arranged at any time of the year for guests staying at estancia Los Poteros, however longer rides with itineraries and goals have fixed departure dates.
On these ride you should expect to be in the saddle between four to six hours a day with the occasional days requiring an extra push to reach the objective. Nights away from Los Poteros are spent camping or in local dwellings allowing the visitors to experience another way of life.
Neither Wild and Exotic nor the operators or suppliers can accept any responsibility for changes to itineraries or dates that may arise due to weather or unforeseen circumstances such as changes, disruptions or delays to airline flights for whatever reason. This holiday is subject to Wild and Exotic’s terms and conditions, a copy of which is available on this website under the general info tab.
Wild and Exotic fact sheet for Estancia Los Poteros
Accommodation: Accommodation on the farm is simple and very comfortable providing you with all creature comforts. On the Bellstone rides there will be a combination estancias.
Flora and fauna: The Cordoba hills are in the centre of Argentina and are famous for their healthy climate and wonderful scenery. The higher land is bare of trees and covered in long straw like grass called ‘paja brava’ which the animals eat in the winter months. There are a number of tree varieties, acacias, cocos and molles are the most common, and wild flowers cover the hills from early spring to autumn. There is an interesting variety of bird species from vultures and eagles down to the most brightly coloured humming birds. Condors today have returned to the hills. Partridges and doves are plentiful. Foxes and hares can often be seen, though the pumas, wild boar and small deer are more elusive. The locals are steady, respectful and gentle people. The culture of the gaucho and reverence of the horse is strong and bring with them the best traditions of Argentina.
Getting there: There are flights to Pajas Blancas international airport (COR) from Buenos Aires (AEP) almost every hour (duration one hour). There is also a direct flight to Cordoba from Santiago in Chile and Sao Paulo Brazil. The estancia is one hour away from the Pajas Blancas Cordoba airport by car.
Meals: European, varied and delicious with plenty of excursions into local dishes, some of the food is produced on the property. All meals are included with drinks and good Argentine wines. Various grape varieties make for interesting wine tasting.
Rates: Include full board accommodation, drinks including wine, beer and spirits. All activities, guides, porters, equipment, support vehicle, horses and saddlery and transfers from Cordoba airport (COR) to the estancia at the start and at the end of the ride. Not included are: personal calls, insurance and gratuities. A single supplement may be payable for a single room if you are not prepared to share.
Riding: Riding is usually centred round the estancia life with occasional overnight excursions: longer expeditions are arranged. If on a trail ride you should expect to be in the saddle between four to five hours a day with the occasional days requiring an extra push to reach the objective. Nights away from Los Potreros are spent camping or in local dwellings allowing the visitors to experience another way of life. The horses, all bred on the estancia, have exceptionally soft mouths, are well mannered and in excellent condition, they are responsive and sure-footed, and most are ether Criollos or Paso Peruanos with some crossbreeds. The tack is English with sheepskins over the saddles. The horses are chosen to suit the ability of the rider. The riding is “Western” and very relaxed. There is a vast area to explore across the Sierras and we tend to arrange the itinerary according to the visitors wishes. Beginners are welcomed.
Weather: Cordoba is known for its good weather and healthy climate; “siempre de temporada” always in season, is the old slogan. The estancia is open all year round. The climate can vary but is generally sunny and dry; the rainy season is in the summer months. The winter is short but can be cold at night; it is usually warm and sunny in the middle of the day. The sun can be very strong so hats and good protection are recommended year round.
Argentina General information and map
Capital: Buenos Aires
Getting there: There are regular flights from most major European cities direct to Buenos Aires. British Airways flies from London Heathrow with a touch down in Sao Paulo (Brazil) en route. Flying time from London is approximately 15 hours.
Time: GMT minus 4 hours.
Try not to miss: Buenos Aires! In all probability you will arrive in Argentina via this most glamorous and cosmopolitan of all south American cities, often described as the Paris of South America. We recommend at least at a two days and nights based either in the hip Palermo part of the city, or the elegant and refined barrio of Recoleta. We use hotels in both districts and can organise anything from private tours of the city to theatre tickets and tango lessons.
From Buenos Aires fly down to Patagonia, land of legendary beauty and inaccessibility that is home to vast estancias and some of the best riding and fishing opportunities in the world. Begin in the north by staying at one of our hand picked estancias scattered about the Patagonian steppe surrounding Lanin National Park, before heading south to explore the Argentine Lake District and the alpine town of Bariloche. Move further south still to Calafate, where the Perito Moreno glacier – one of only 3 in the world that is actually advancing each year – awaits in Los Glaciares National Park, as does the extraordinary estancia Christina at the western end of Lago Argentina. Across the border in Chile lies the rugged and beautiful Torres del Paine National Park, instantly recognisable from the iconic peaks of her famous towers.
Visit the beautiful provinces of Salta, JuJuy and Catamarca in the North West for spectacular high Andes scenery, rich colonial architecture and the southern end of the Inca trail. Explore the fascinating settlements of Cachi and Purmamarca, stay in luxury at estancia Colomé, the oldest bodega (vineyard) in Argentina, visit the dazzling white salt flats of the Salinas Grandes, and be driven along a dried up river bed to experience the charms of isolated Iruya in JuJuy province. Ask us about our high altitude trek with llamas from the eastern jungles across the Andes Mountains to Tilcara. Mendoza lies halfway between the northwest and Buenos Aires, a province celebrated for her vineyards and stylish bodegas, and perhaps a hike to the base of mighty Aconcagua mountain. For something completely different visit the magnificent Iguazu Falls close to the border with Brazil and Paraguay, which are surrounded by tropical rainforest alive with colourful birdlife.
You could also visit Dos Lunas, a boutique farm house that boasts a unique style, located in the heart of the Ongamira valley in the province of Córdoba. Surrounded by an extraordinary 2,300 hectare (5,689 acre) natural environment, Dos Lunas offers an amazing mix of nature and comfort that makes guests feel like home from the moment they arrive. The tours around the valley, coordinated by expert guides and providing the best equipment, are the highlight of Dos Lunas and make it a premium destination. You can explore the valley from horseback together with our expert staff through a variety of paths featuring different levels of difficulty and length. Trekking on foot is also an option to visit the area and actively enjoy its beauty through specially selected paths. Dos Lunas is an excellent destination to combine a riding and shooting holiday.
Visas: No visa is required for visits of up to 90 days for UK citizens.
Why Argentina: Because we cannot think of another country anywhere in the world that boasts such a diverse range of landscapes, from glaciers in the south to steamy jungle in the north east and arid desert in the north west, with a huge variety in between, ensuring there is never a bad month to visit some part of this remarkable country. Come also to experience Argentina’s indefinable spirit and style, her fine wines and celebrated cuts of tender meat – all three fuse together at a weekend asado or barbeque.