This was one of the most memorable days we’ve ever spent in a destination, and it’s only going to cost you about $125 pp. Leaving from the InterContinental Buenos Aires, it’s about a 45-minute drive out into the Argentine pampas (countryside) to the tiny town of San Antonio de Areco. This part of the country is the wellspring of the legendary Argentine gaucho (cowboy) culture, a fiercely loyal band of men who once worked and protected the land for the cattle barons of old. Argentinian beef made Buenos Aires one of the wealthiest cities in the world in the early 20th century.
The community is home to a handful of silversmiths who still create the intricate and highly prized belt buckles, knives and spurs once worn by elder gauchos and wealthy landowners. It’s a tradition still alive thanks to men like Mariano Draghi, who creates bespoke pieces for customers such as George Bush Jr./Sr. and Placido Domingo. Draghi operates a museum and a small workshop where he’s eager to show visitors the methods of his trade and talk about his country’s history. Don’t get him going on Evita.
InterContinental prides itself on local insider experiences and this is a perfect example. Definitely give your group some time to wander among the shops lining the pretty square. The prices for the exquisite jewelry are significantly lower than what you’ll find in Buenos Aires.
LUNCH IN THE PAMPAS
From there, it’s 30 minutes to the historic Estancia La Bamba, a beautifully restored plantation home and horse farm. Gauchos in traditional dress welcomed us with local malbec, and then we sat down to listen to them play guitar and sing ballads. During that time, the chef prepares the traditional rodizio meal, grilling 7-8 different pork and beef meats over a charcoal firepit.
More wine is served until the lady of the house rings the big bell on the porch. The delicious lunch is served on an embroidered tablecloth over a farm table situated in front of the estate home.
We got up for a break to watch a traditional horsemanship game where the gauchos race toward a tiny ring suspended in the air. One by one, they try to pierce the ring with their knives to demonstrate their composure astride a horse at full gallop.
Then we returned to the table for coffee and dessert, followed by more malbec. Lunch lasted until dusk—no one wanted to leave the table. Now that is what we call ROI.