This is the land of the horse where the culture of the gaucho is strong and where children still go to school on horseback. Wherever you ride you are welcomed with a smile and a wave.
This 6,500 acre working cattle estancia and stud farm, dating back to 1573, lies at the top of the Sierras Chicas in the heart of the beautiful region of Córdoba. During your stay you are welcomed into the family home by the Anglo-Argentine owners whose family have lived on the estancia for four generations.
The rugged hills, home to wild boar and deer and covered in a tall grass called 'paja brava', give way to lowland meadows and woodlands and make for beautiful and varied riding. These contrasting terrains are home to a wide diversity of birds from the condors with their three metre wingspan to tiny brightly coloured hummingbirds.
Every day is different on the estancia: canter along grassy hilltops; take a dip in natural rock pools; visit local churches on horseback; help the gauchos round up the young horses in order to protect them from the elusive puma; during the summer take an overnight trip north into the sierras; watch the horse-trainer at work or try your hand at lassoing. Informal polo is usually played weekly on the estancia, so you have the chance to be introduced to this fun, fast and highly addictive game. Dedicated polo weeks are also run for beginner and novice players, with daily tuition, chukkas and a mini-tournament.
With a herd of over 80 well-loved riding horses, there is something for everyone. The herd is a mix of Criollos, polo ponies and Paso Peruanos most of whom have been bred on the farm. The Paso Peruano has a fifth 'gait', a running walk, which is extremely comfortable to ride. All the horses are soft-mouthed and ridden Western style with a loose rein.
At all times during your stay the first class hospitality of the Begg family is evident. When not riding relax in a hammock with one of the many books found at the estancia, take a dip in the swimming pool on a hot summer’s day or enjoy a wine-tasting followed by a delicious supper made with fresh organic produce from the farm’s vegetable gardens and orchards.
Accommodation is in the beautifully restored farm house, which is steeped in family history with many references to the Jesuits who first organised farming in the area. There are seven bedrooms each with private bathroom and tastefully decorated in traditional style.
Riding on the estancia is suitable for all abilities. There are some 140 horses and a pool of around 80 are available to the guests, but all the horses spend some time working on the farm, moving cattle over the terrain, which makes them sure footed and willing animals. The horses are chosen to suit the ability of the rider, and each rider
usually has the chance to try several different horses during their
stay. There are horses gentle enough for beginners but also ones suited to experienced riders.
The horses, all bred on the estancia, have exceptionally soft mouths, are well mannered and in excellent condition. They are responsive and sure-footed. Most are either "Criollos" or "Paso Peruanos" with some crossbreeds.
The pace of the rides is varied. Sometimes you are on tricky, steep rocky paths, sometimes on tracks, sometimes on grassy, open hill tops, sometimes on dirt roads. There are opportunities to canter each day, either on the top of the ridges on the tracks or dirt roads, but most of the riding is at a moderate pace. Each ride is different due to the variety of country through which you ride - sometimes open and grassy, cooler up in the hills, slightly balmy on the edge of them, beautiful rivers and waterfalls to swim in and wonderful bird life to observe.
The tack is mainly English (ex British army saddles and polo saddles) with sheepskins over the saddles. The riding is Western style, neck reining with a relaxed seat.
Informal polo is normally played once a week on the estancia (minimum age of 12).
When staying at Los Potreros, there is no set itinerary. There are many different rides to experience and you can decide what you would like to do once you are at the estancia.
On your first day, you have an introduction to the horses and gauchos, followed by a familiarisation ride.
Thereafter the rides vary every day, according to season and guest wishes. A ride over the estate may follow streams through valleys to the “top of the world” with stunning views of Cordoba City in the distance and the pampas beyond. A full day ride takes you to the “Estancita” and the local Dominican church. In this small rural community you can also visit the local school which has just one teacher.
Spend the day visiting the Cañada de los Condores and swim in the waterfall. Picnic by the crystal clear stream. Or ride to the far end of Estancia Chiviquin. Climb to the water divide and have breath-taking views of the Sierra Grandes, Carlos Paz and the lush valley of Punilla.
For guests staying 5 nights or more it is normally possible to arrange a two day /one night overnight trail to visit neighbours of the Begg family and stay at their simple dwelling where live almost self sufficiently. If you are keen to do this, you should let us know in advance so that we can ensure it is possible during your chosen dates. The overnight trail is at additional cost (c. USD 120 per person) and is always subject to minimum numbers.
Guests can have the chance to practice their lassoing in the corrals and the annual cattle branding usually takes place over two weekends in February and /or March. The national rodeo festival is held in a town about an hour from the estancia, usually in the second week of January, and it can usually be arranged for guests to visit one evening if they would like to.
There is ample opportunity to move horses as each day the mares and foals are brought in to protect them from the pumas. Also once a week it is normally necessary to bring in the full herd to be checked over and experienced riders are able to get involved in this exciting task.
If you are interested in watching the horse trainer as he works with the young horses then he will be happy to spend time with you showing you his methods for starting the horses and bringing them on.
It is important to note that Sunday afternoon is a period of rest and so there will be riding on Sunday morning only.
The following is a sample itinerary of how a seven night stay might look, but you will need to bear in mind that this is only to give you a flavour of the activities and rides possible during your stay, rather than precisely what will happen on each day.
Arrive at Estancia Los Potreros and settle into your room.
Take a sunset ride to the ‘Top of the World’ to get your bearings and enjoy the spectacular views and look out for condors. In the evening take part in Kevin Begg’s famous wine tasting and sample some of the wines of the country, including Los Potreros own label.
Ride to the waterfall and take a refreshing dip in the natural pool. Return to the estancia for lunch on the veranda. After a well earned siesta help the gauchos to bring in the mares and foals, or simply relax at the estancia.
A full day picnic ride to a local Dominican church and to visit the local one-teacher rural school which is supported by Estancia Los Potreros. The fabulously smooth and forward going Paso Peruanos make sure that the day in the saddle doesn’t feel quite so long.
No horse-riding holiday would be complete without trying your hand at the ‘Sport of Kings’ – Polo! Ride down to the polo field have a short lesson and some practise ‘stick and ball’ and then play a few chukkas of this highly addictive game.
A barbeque lunch at the polo field is followed by a visit to ‘El Vergel,’ the oldest building on the estancia dating back to 1639. If that wasn’t enough try your hand at ‘sortija’, a gaucho game on horseback that involves threading a stick through a small ring at speed!
Ride to the north of the farm – Potrero de Niz to soak up some of the family history of the farm. This was the original family home of the Begg’s some four generations ago. The landscape is peppered with shrubs along running streams. Take to the corrals in the afternoon for some lassoing and to see the horse-breaker at work.
Another full day’s ride to the far south of the farm. You have a picnic by the stream next to a small museum in what used to be the house of Guido Buffo, an art and science lover who built an unusual chapel as a memorial to his wife and daughter.
Visit Chiviquin on horseback the main working cattle part of the farm perhaps seeing the gauchos in action with the Aberdeen Angus cattle which are the backbone of the farm today. Ring the ‘Bellstone’ on the way back and on returning to the estancia enjoy a traditional Argentine ‘asado’ and a leisurely afternoon dip in the pool.
After a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs depart for your onward flight.
Accommodation on the farm is simple but very comfortable. There are seven bedrooms each with private bathroom and a wood burning stove for chilly winter nights. The estancia benefits from wind and solar generated electricity. There is a swimming pool to dip into at the end of a hot day in summer or you can just relax on the veranda and enjoy a cup of tea or a gin and tonic.
Estancia Los Potreros is open year round and has no set arrival days
so you can stay for as long as you want. The minimum stay is three
nights (five nights over Easter, Christmas and New Year). We recommend
at least a seven night stay.
RIDE PRICE The prices below are on the basis of a seven night stay and reflect the new Argentinian sales tax refund which is in place for non-residents since 1 Jan 2017. Shorter stays are possible and please ask for a quote.
Jan - Apr
May - Sep
Jan - Apr
May - Sep
INCLUDES Accommodation; full board; drinks; riding; return transfers from Cordoba airport (at set times).
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT There are three rooms which can be booked on single occupancy basis with no single supplement. If these rooms are booked there is a 30% single supplement for single occupancy of a double room
PAYABLE LOCALLY Off ranch excursions; extra polo (c. US$150 for 3 sessions); overnight trail rides if staying 5 nights or more c. US$120; tips; out of hours transfers
NEAREST AIRPORT Cordoba
TRANSFERS Included from Cordoba airport or Rio Ceballos bus station between the hours 08.00 and 20.00 (US$50 each way out of hours). Transfers are possible at additional cost from Cordoba hotels and Cordoba central bus station (US$50 each way).