Where do I begin? We had high hopes of the Estancia after reading glowing reviews,,,but even the reviews couldn't prepare us for the warmth of the welcome, the feeling of being a friend rather than a guest - the feeling, really, of being part of the family. We stayed for 3 days and 3 nights.
We were greeted on arrival at our lodge by a blazing fire, which between us and the family, we kept going for the whole time we were there. It was just wonderful to collapse with a glass of good wine and toast and doze by that fire. On our arrival day there were quite a few other guests, and we all ate a huge breakfast together before heading out on the horses. Some hadn't ridden before, some were more experienced, and as for me, I have my own South American (Uraguy) criollo horses at home in the UK, so it was something of a pilgrimage for me to ride them in South America. All levels were catered for, with the novices staying to the back, and the more experienced able to gallop up front.
After an amazing open air lunch with course after course of barbecued meat, salad, and roast pumpkin for the veggies (myself included). Oh, cheese empanadas too - we had to fight off the meat eaters!
After that, another ride, then tea and cake, then the day guests went home, leaving myself, my husband, and an american family of 5. Later, we all ate in the ranch house, with plenty of beer and wine flowing.
Each evening I had an extra treat. Because I was a competent rider I was allowed to ride out with either Ro (the daughter of the household) or with Ramon the gaucho, to bring in the horses from the further fields. Sun setting, 30 horses cantering in front, and two of us flanking them, sending them towards home...I count these round-ups among my most joyful moments ever...I has SO much fun!
The weather was fairly kind - chilly but dry, so we rode every day. The last day it was just me and Ro, and we rode for miles, with two of the dogs with us the whole way. The rest of the family had disappeared - the other daughter had just had her first baby (the first grand-daughter) while we were there, which was a beautiful bonus. Congratulations Pena family, it was an honour to share in your happiness at the new arrival.
Over all, the experience was one of being given everything we could possibly want, by the kindest and most welcoming hosts. There were beautiful horses, great riding, a lovely private lodge with a comfortable bed and a blazing fire, There were the serene and attractive grounds, with interesting artefacts to explore, and there were birds and other wildlife - and not forgetting the friendly dogs. But most of all it was the Pena family, and Veronica the cook, and the gaucho helpers, who made it so special. Utterly magic.
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