Like a green ocean, the Pampas lap the edges of Buenos Aires. Famously fecund, this is the beef-rearing ranchlands and bread basket of the country. Drive down dead straight roads to take in the vast horizons, flat but for the curve of the planet.
Art Deco civic palaces by Francisco Salamone enliven the small towns, some of which still boast tiny old pulperías – general stores-cum-saloons – where gauchos used to strum guitars and get into fights. Base yourself in a dreamy ranch in Buenos Aires Province and indulge in alfresco feasts, horseback riding across the plains and serene slumbers.
La Bamba de Areco, San Antonio de Areco
This colonial-style ranch is close to the historic Camino Real (Royal Highway) running from Buenos Aires to the silver mines of Alto Peru. Sumptuous rooms and suites are arranged around manicured lawns with a pool, stables for the native criollo horses and space for a lavish barbecue. General manager Guillermo Savino is a genial host and can advise on the history of the ranch, region and activities to try out in the area.
From $7,000 per night for the whole estancia (May-Aug) or $9,100 (Sept-Apr). Includes horse rides, carriage and bicycle rental, meals, drinks and taxes, Guillermo Savino, email@example.com, +54 2326 454 895 labambadeareco.com
Las Viboras, Dolores
The 22,000-acre estate of Elsa Dodero – former Miss Chile and wife of polo player and landowner Jimmy Dodero – and her three polo-playing daughters, Giga, Sandy and Carolina, surrounds a characterful nine-bedroom country house built in 1827, and extended and modernized in the 1940s. Stretching from deep in the Pampas all the way to the Atlantic coast, it’s the ultimate retreat for those keen to play at cowboy living. Enjoy a family barbecue in the expansive gardens, help the staff round up the herds of Angus or set off on a bird-watching expedition.
La Fortuna, Salto
Imposing chateau in the heart of Argentina’s soy-growing country that once served as a prominent Franco-Argentine family’s weekend home. The estancia’s seven guest rooms are stately and elegant and the staff very attentive. Gastronomy is a signature here, including an indulgent high tea. Guests can work off the steaks and desserts by cycling to nearby Berdier. The ranch can be exclusively hired per night (minimum two nights) with use of the chateau and grounds, meals – including full asado (barbecue) – carriage rides, horseback riding, pool and solarium. Amenities include wine cellar, private cinema and baby grand piano.