Estancia at Sierra Chicas

Cordoba/Mendoza Argentina: (IT-ARRT11)
URL: https://www.hiddentrails.com/tour/argentina_sierra_chicas_estancia.aspx

Introduction
Cordoba/Mendoza Argentina
Swathed in 15,000 acres of secluded grassy wilderness at the top of the Sierra Chicas hills, the Estancia is an idyllic retreat for horsemen, hikers and nature lovers. This working ranch breeds Aberdeen-Angus cattle and Paso Peruano pacing horses. It has been in the Anglo-Argentine Begg family for four generations and offers the possibility of combining the pleasures of British-style estancia life with riding in one of Argentina's most interesting riding areas. The main house is steeped in family history with many references to the days of the Jesuits who first organized farming in the area.  At an altitude of 3,000 feet, it is nestled between the pampas and the Andes in the heart of the beautiful region of Cordoba. It is steeped in family history and locally there is much evidence of the pioneering work of the Jesuits who first organized farming in the area before they were forced to leave in the 1760's.  The family provides short and long riding breaks for those who want to experience first hand the majesty and rural tradition of Argentina. The Estancia sets a standard of professionalism in accommodation, food, guiding and equine care above the normal standard of Argentina, combining care for the client with unrivaled personal attention to detail. The estancia also provides a unique experience for those who would like to combine the pleasures of estancia life with distance riding.  If you have a love for the wild and enjoy the thrill of arriving by horse, this adventure allows you to experience Argentine wildlife, scenery and culture at close quarters while not abandoning creature comforts provided by good accommodation, the best tack and fabulous horses. This is a place for people who appreciate fine horses and know how to ride. However, there are horses for every ability, and beginners are welcome.
 
Introduction to Polo

Add 3 Polo sessions to your week. We are delighted to offer a ‘Learn to Play Polo’ 3 day package for anyone that wants to try this fun, fast and exciting sport.
Based from the beautiful estancia, the package consists of 3 consecutive half days on the polo ground, where you will be introduced to the basics of the game – the shots, the rules and of course the play, all on our wonderfully kind and forgiving horses. Offered either as part of a stay at the estancia, this is an ideal way to gain an introduction to the sport whilst also enjoying the hospitality of the Begg family, and soaking up some Argentine culture.

Accomodation



Accommodations
This is a stationary ride where all 7 nights are spent at the estancia.

Description
The estancia has a rustic elegance and is very comfortable providing you with all creature comforts. Many of the estancia buildings are several hundred years old, and have been lovingly restored with traditional materials to reflect the history of the area, with every room unique and individual. Antiques and books abound and cooler winter nights are warmed by log fires and wood-burning stoves. Deep roll-top baths in most of the rooms provide the perfect antidote to a long day in the saddle. One of the original cattle brands and symbols of the area, ‘The Bell’, can still be seen etched into the fireplace in the sitting room.



A ‘pool with a view’ provides a perfect place to relax, along with hammocks on the verandahs. The estancia has an eclectic range of books in virtually every room for guests to enjoy, and an artist’s box is provided for the creatively minded.

The majority of energy we use at the estancia is generated from renewable resources (wind and solar power).

There is free Wi-Fi in the main building but as it is satellite based it can be slow and intermittent. In addition Wi-Fi is turned off during mealtimes on the estancia.
There is no cellphone coverage on the estancia.
A complimentary clothes washing service is available.

Room Occupancy
Single supplement is only mandatory if you are unwilling to share a room.
We have 2 cottages with interconnecting rooms ideal for families.



Meals
All meals are included during this trip.
Breakfast, and dinners are eaten at the estancia while, lunches are eaten on the trail.

We operate with a strong ‘farm-to-table’ ethos when it comes to our food, providing home-reared beef, free-range eggs, and wherever possible, vegetables and fruit from the estancia gardens. All farming is undertaken with organic principles. We're often told how fresh and different it tastes.

Meals at the estancia reflect both Argentine and international cuisine. They are varied and delicious with as much local products as possible. For those interested in Argentine cooking, the chef is delighted to share and demonstrate knowledge of traditional Argentine dishes from our beautiful farm kitchen, using only fresh ingredients, much of which is provided from the estancia. Meals are taken ‘family style’ with all guests eating together in the main dining room or on the verandah.

Breakfasts usually include bacon and eggs, toast, cereals, yoghurt, fruit and porridge.

Wine is served with dinner at the estancia (included in trip cost). The Estancia has its ‘own label’ Argentine wines to accompany the meals, and various grape varieties make for interesting wine tasting. 

Dietary Restrictions
The excellent chef can cater for a range of special dietary requirements with prior notice. It should be noted that we are not always able to source gluten and lactose free alternatives for some food items.


This trip includes some wine with dinner and can accommodate special dietary requests.

Riding

Your Hosts

Your estancia stay is hosted by Louisa and her husband, Kevin. They are always thrilled to invite guests into the family farm, where being a part of day-to-day life is encouraged. Kevin delights in regaling visitors with tales of his family and life in Argentina over a glass of Malbec, while Louisa is always ready to chat, surrounded by our other family members - the horses and the dogs!
Our permanent team have nearly 100 years combined experience on the estancia, so for them, the estancia is their home as much as their place of work. Whether it's Pato, our cook, inviting you into the kitchen to see what she is baking for the day, or Leo, one of the gauchos showing off his skills on horseback, our team are always ready to share special glimpses of real Argentine life.

Horses
Horses on the estancia include sure-footed and tough Criollos, energetic and smooth gaited Peruvian Paso horses, strong and even-tempered Quarter Horses and agile and fast Polo Ponies. The unique quality of the "Peruvians" is that they have the pre-Moorish Spanish Paso, an extraordinary gait that enables them to walk at the speed of a canter. The ride is smooth and feels like sitting in a portable armchair, perfectly suited for the distances required of the landscape.
The herd of over 100 horses provides something for everyone, and for riders of all abilities.
All horses are soft-mouthed, forward going and with wonderful temperaments, typical of working horses who lead varied lives and are free to roam on the hills in their downtime.
Many of our horses are homebred and raised by us. Horses are our passion, and each and every one is considered part of the family.
Guests are encouraged to get involved with all of the horse activities on the farm, whether that is watching the horse-breaker at work or rounding up the mares and foals to protect them from pumas.



Riding
You can expect to ride for between 4 and 6 hours per day, usually with a longer ride in the morning and a shorter ride in the afternoon. On Sunday there is a morning ride but no afternoon ride.
Rides are split according to ability, and often we will have several rides going out at the same time. The maximum number of guests per ride is 6 (plus 2 guides) but usually we have about 4 riders or so per riding group.
Our horses are ridden ‘gaucho style’, in a relaxed manner with loose reins, which is very intuitive and easy to pick up.

Polo Game
We usually play an informal game of polo at least once a week on the estancia for those that would like to learn/take part. All guests can participate at no extra cost.
 


Hard Hats
We strongly recommend that you wear a hard hat for riding, and it is obligatory for playing polo. We have a limited number available at the estancia, but you may prefer to bring your own to ensure the correct fit and comfort.

Non-Riders
For those accompanying riding partners or friends, there is often the opportunity to join for picnic lunches, and to watch polo being played on the Estancia, or perhaps enjoy a ride in one of the antique cars or more traditional horse-drawn carriage. There are a range of non-riding activities available on the estancia (guided walks, farm drives, wine tastings, etc) that can be organized with the hosts on arrival, or guests can express their interest at the time of booking.


Itinerary


Every day at the estancia is different. The would-be gauchos amongst you can canter along grassy hilltops, take a dip in natural rock pools, visit local churches on horseback, help round-up the young horses, learn how to lasso, or have a go at polo. Riding groups are kept small and split according to the ability of the riders so that guests can ride at their own speed.

There are between 4-6 hours riding daily on the estancia, consisting of either a morning and afternoon ride, or a day ride with picnic. On Sunday, there is a morning ride but no afternoon ride. Riding does not need to be arranged or booked in advance.

We're proud to say that 'The World’s Best Riding’ (Real Travel) and ‘The Most Inspiring Horse Rides Around the World’ (The Huffington Post) are just a couple of the many accolades the estancia has received in recognition of the first class riding on offer.

Note: All outdoor activities are weather dependent and we do not ride in extreme weather conditions such as storms or high winds. 


Riding activities

Trail Rides
Trail riding is tailored to suit ability and the hills provide a surprising variety of landscapes and terrain. Rocky outcrops give way to open hillsides. Hidden valleys lead to tumbling waterfalls and wooded paths. Trails take you to swimming holes and spectacular viewpoints, or further afield to neighboring lands that offer a glimpse of rural life, past homesteads, churches and remote schools.

Waterfall Ride (Half-Day)
Ride to the waterfall, and take a refreshing dip in the pool. Return to the estancia for lunch on the veranda, and after a well-earned siesta help the gauchos to bring in the mares and foals.

Bellstone Ride (approx. 2 hours)
Take a sunset ride to the ‘Bellstone’ to learn more about the history of the estancia and then help the gauchos round up the mares and foals.

Church & School Ride (Full Day)
A full day picnic ride to a local Dominican church, and to visit the local one-teacher rural school which is supported by the estancia. The fabulously smooth and forward-going Paso Peruano horses make sure that the day in the saddle doesn’t feel quite so long!

El Vergel Ride
Visit ‘El Vergel’, the oldest building on the estancia dating back to 1639 and try your hand at ‘sortija’, a gaucho game on horseback that involves threading a stick through a small ring at speed!

Potrero de Niz Ride
Ride to the north of the farm 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, and the landscape is peppered with shrubs along running streams.

Guido Buffo Ride
Another full day’s ride to the far south of the farm, enjoying 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.

Chiviquin Ride
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. Follow this with an afternoon in the corrals – watch our horse-breaker at work or try your hand at lassoing. 

Full Moon Ride
The night of the full moon we often ride to a point on our hills for moon-uppers and sun-downers, to marvel at this beautiful spectacle unfolding ... After a long canter or gallop along the hilltop imagine standing amongst long grasses gently swaying in the breeze, a glass of wine in hand, looking out over the plains in front of you as the blue sky fades. Then turn to face the other direction to be confronted with the dramatic crimsons, scarlets and flame thrown hues of the sun setting over the dramatic horizon of the surrounding mountains before turning back to see a silvery moon start to ascend into an indigo sky. And if there isn't a full moon due we sometimes ride up for sundowners anyway!


Cattle Work
The cattle are overseen by the gauchos, using our horses for herding and working in the corrals. Each gaucho carries a ‘rebenque’ or cattle whip when he's working, which is used to make a sound that encourages the cattle to move. He also carries a ‘facon’ or gaucho knife, used for a multitude of purposes, from taking a stone from a horse's hoof, to eating his beef.
The annual branding, in preparation for the sales or ‘yerra,’ is the absolute highlight of the year for the gauchos, and for us. This is when they have the opportunity to demonstrate their prowess with a lasso, over a long weekend of hard work and camaraderie, followed by the traditional ‘fiesta’. The yerra has long been an important event in the rural community. If you're here when it happens, consider yourself invited.
As a working cattle estancia, there is often the chance for our guests to ride out alongside the gauchos and help them with their daily tasks.

Bringing in the young horses to protect them from the elusive puma, rounding up stray cattle, moving the herd into the corrals for counting or vaccinating, or taking salt out to the herd are just some of the day-to-day estancia activities in which guests can be involved.
For instance, you could join the gauchos taking salt out to the cattle herd and checking over the newborn calves (half day ride) or test your skills against the gauchos in a round of ‘gaucho games’ including barrel racing and sortija (approx. 2 hours).

Polo
No visit to Argentina would be complete without the chance to try one of the local passions - polo. We both love introducing this extremely fun and highly addictive sport to guests, who wouldn't normally have a chance to try it. Take part in one of the informal weekly sessions (half-day long), which include tuition and a practice game, or take it a bit further and join one of the regular fixed date ‘learn to play polo’ weeks, which are run under the expert supervision of a local professional.


Non-Riding Activities
Out of the saddle, the cattle and horse trails make for wonderful walking, taking guests to awe-inspiring viewpoints and hidden waterfalls whilst experiencing the plentiful birdlife and colorful wildflowers, or watching the gauchos at work. The serenity and landscape lend themselves to those who enjoy painting, photography or writing, or simply curling up with a book, whilst good conversation and a gin and tonic are never far away.

Farm Drive
A fantastic way to spend a morning is to take a trip around the estancia. Learn about the family history of the estancia and see some of the many references to Jesuit farming in the area. It is likely you'll see some interesting wildlife along the way, and for added fun we usually have a story or two to tell as we go!

Cattle & Gauchos Drive (Half day)
Drive to the cattle station to understand more about the management of the Aberdeen Angus herd, the day-to-day role of the gaucho and the rural traditions.

Potrero de Niz Drive (Half day)
Head to the north of the farm to see the original family home of the Beggs. Watch the landscape change and learn about the challenges faced by Robert Begg in the building of the original family home, along with stories of Louie Begg, Kevin’s grandmother, one of the pioneers of rural tourism in the 1940’s.

School Drive (Half day)
Visit the local rural school, long supported by the estancia, which supplies rudimentary education for the families of the gaucho. Go further up to the local Dominican church, founded in the 1880’s.


Gaucho Skills
Immerse yourself in their world for a moment and try your hand at one of their greatest skills.

Lassoing (approx. 1 hour)
Discover your inner gaucho and learn how to lasso from one of the boys on the estancia. Learn how the lasso is made, what it is used for and most importantly have go yourself! (1 hour)

Introduction to the Peruvian Paso horse (approx. 1 hour)
Learn about this unique breed of horse, the ‘dancing horse’ of Peru that came to Argentina through the trading route of the Camino Real between Lima and Salta. Learn why they are different to ‘normal’ horses, their history, the traditional saddles and bridles used and watch our stallion be put through his paces. (1 hour)


Walking
You can either join a guided walk with a staff member, or head out on your own - our estancia dogs will be happy to join you! Wildflowers throughout the year are spectacular, and you shouldn't be surprised at crushing wild mints and herbs underfoot, releasing the most incredible fragrances. Ranging from an hour’s wander to full day hikes incorporating swimming holes, there's a walk around the estancia for everyone.

Owls Walk (approx. 2 hours)
Visit the burrowing owls which inhabit many parts of the estancia and share their burrows with a large rodent called a ‘vizcacha’.

Bellstone Walk (approx. 2 hours)
Take a sunset walk to the ‘Bellstone’ to learn more about how this mysterious rock is part of the history of the estancia. Continue on up onto one of the  nearby hills to get an amazing unset view of the estancia.

Top of the World Walk (Half day)
For the more energetic, walk up to the ‘Top of the World’ for outstanding 360 views of the estancia from the highest point on the farm.

Las Tazas Walk (Full day)
Pack a picnic and head alongside a rocky stream to arrive at ‘Las Tazas’, some stunning natural rock pools, ideal for swimming, sunbathing and lazing a few hours away.


Bird watching
Do you know your Andean Condor from your Black Chested Buzzard Eagle? You might well, after your visit with us. The estancia is blessed with plentiful and varied birdlife all year; we also get American Kestrels, Peregrine Falcons and Black Vultures paying us a visit. The wonderful ‘burrowing owl' is a regular sight, eyeing passing visitors from fence posts, while other smaller birds include herons, hummingbirds, nightjars, plovers and mocking-birds. We have binoculars and bird books for you to borrow at the estancia.


Food & Wine
No visit to Argentina would be complete without experiencing of one of the Argentine national pastimes—eating and drinking.

Wine Tasting
Kevin shares his appreciation and fondness for Argentine wines with an informal and fun wine-tasting.

Introduction to traditional argentine cooking
Join Pato, our cook, in the warm and spacious estancia kitchen and learn how some of the traditional Argentine dishes are prepared, including the famous empanada and home-made pastas.

Sundowners
Accept an invitation to sundowners on the verandah at Lou and Kevin’s home, and meet some of their various animals including peacocks and pygmy goats.


Rates and Dates for Estancia at Sierra Chicas

Rates include:

Accommodation, All meals including alcoholic beverages with dinner, Cordoba airport transfers at set times, 7 riding days & All other activities whilst on the estancia property.
Limited supply of hard hats and half chaps available

Packages and Options



  • SeasonYearDescription US$
    A
    20208 day ranch stay, AP (High)$3165
    • Daily rate (3-6 nights), dbl, pp$485
      Daily rate (7+ nights), dbl, pp$455
  • B
    20208 day ranch stay, AP (Low)$2855
    • Daily rate (3-6 nights), dbl, pp$440
      Daily rate (7+ nights), dbl, pp$410
Minimum Deposit: ~$50.00 per person

Rates Note:

Informal polo is normally played once a week on the estancia at no additional cost. With advance notice and at extra cost, additional professional polo tuition is usually available.

Single supplement waived if you are "willing to share"

* prices are per person based on double/twin occupancy

Rates Note:

Informal polo is normally played once a week on the estancia at no additional cost. With advance notice and at extra cost, additional professional polo tuition is usually available.

Single supplement waived if you are "willing to share"


Transfer and Other Charges:



 Description
2020 Transfer is included from Cordoba Airport or bus station at set times (8:00am-8:00pm)
2020 Child (10 to 16 yrs) - 20% discount
2020 Single supplement (+30% if requested)

Season Seasons  Min / MaxReserve
A 2020 01/01 - 04/30 8d / 7n 8 day ranch stay, AP (High) 3 /12 Reserve
B 2020 07/01 - 09/30 8d / 7n 8 day ranch stay, AP (Low) 3 /12 Reserve
A 2020 10/01 - 12/31 8d / 7n 8 day ranch stay, AP (High) 3 /12 Reserve

Dates Note: Short stays are possible with a min. of 3 nights (5 nights for holidays)
Custom dates can be arraged for groups of 6+ riders
Estancia closed for May and June

Rates do not include:

Travel and medical insurance (mandatory), Gratuities at your discretion, Off-estancia activities & Cordoba airport transfers outside of set times

Note:

Due to COVID-19 Corona virus pandemic and certain travel restrictions we are applying some temporary policy changes to some of our tours.

For Estancia at Sierra Chicas (IT-ARRT11):

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is possible to reschedule your trip to a later date.

We are still in lockdown in Argentina, although now we seem to have different levels in different provinces.  The same goes for protocols!
We will follow protocols from:

  1. Unusual Argentina – this is a group of small hotels we belong to in the Province of Cordoba.
  2. National hotel protocol – government and tourism board.
  3. Municipal/Provincial hotel protocol – local government.
  4. Any riding protocols that may be drawn up in the near future.

These are the main protocols we will adhere to and we will always strive to do things that make sense for our guests. This will include providing masks, alcohol and hygiene essential wherever needed. We are evaluating all aspects of our business to comply with the necessary hygiene and social distancing requirements of the protocols including meals, activities and in particular riding. 


For more information please visit our COVID-19 Updates page at https://www.hiddentrails.com/article/covid19update.aspx

Other Info
Meeting: Potreros
Airport: Cordoba
Transfer: Cordoba airport

Climate:
                                                Córdoba area


Month

Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

Dec

Average High Temperature (°F)

87

85

82

77

71

66

66

70

74

79

83

86

Average Low Temperature (°F)

64

63

60

54

48

42

40

43

48

54

59

63

Average High Temperature (°C)

31

29

28

25

22

19

19

21

23

26

28

30

Average Low Temperature (°C)

18

17

16

12

9

5

5

6

9

12

15

17

Average Precipitation (days of rain)

9

9

7

6

2

1

1

0

2

5

8

10

Source: NOAA
 

Seasons

The Cordoba region of Argentina is well known for its pleasant weather and healthy climate - "siempre de temporada" or "always in season", is the old slogan. In Cordoba the climate can vary but is generally sunny and dry. The annual average temperature is approximately 16° C to 17° C, and can vary throughout the year to between 14 and 15° C. The sun is strong all year round, so hats and good sun protection are recommended!
Cordoba's climate is often described as ‘Mediterranean’, even despite the fact its eastern border is 300 miles away from the Atlantic Ocean, and western edge 330 miles from the Pacific Ocean.

Summer
During the summer season the days are warm and the nights pleasant. However, the rainy season usually is in the summer months. Rain amounts hardly surpass 500 cubic millimeters per year, with rain levels in the north western province hardly exceeding 200 cubic millimeters a year. Strong and windy storms are frequent during the months of summer, along with heavy rains and electric storms.

Fall
At the beginning of autumn the days are usually hot at noon and during the afternoon. The mornings and the nights cool enough. April is a very dry month and in May the first frosts may appear.

Winter
The climate of Córdoba during the winter is cool during the day and cold at night, although there are frequent warm days, due to the influence of the Zonda wind. In winter the climate is drier - but never badly cold.

Spring
The temperatures can be hot and from one day to the next they can go down several degrees, even causing frosts at night. Differences between one day and another of up to 15ºC or 20ºC. Just as a sunny day can end a strong hail storm.

What To Bring:
The estancia is situated at 1100 metres and therefore weather can sometimes be unpredictable - there is always the possibility of a wet, windy or cold day, and so pack accordingly!  In addition, the sun is very strong, so hats and good sun protection are recommended all year round.

Hard hat - a limited supply of hard hats are available on the estancia but for comfort, fit and to ensure compliance with safety regulations in your own country we recommend you bring your own. The estancia does not recommend shipping anything (eg. riding helmets) to Argentina as it usually gets stuck in customs.
Towels for the room and swimming pool are provided.

The estancia generates its own electricity and supports responsible tourism. Therefore, the use of electrical items such as hairdryers and irons may be limited, and are not provided by the estancia. 
It is possible to do laundry- cold wash only and no ironing (we create our own electricity and so it is very precious to us!). There is no fixed charge – we just ask that guests reflect the washing in their gratuity.

Saddle bags are provided.

This list is only a guideline for you

 

Travel documents and Voucher
Flight tickets
Passport
Visa (check with your consulate)

 

RIDING GEAR
Comfortable riding jean or Jodhpurs
Long riding boots or short boots and half chaps (a limited supply of half-chaps are available from the estancia)
Riding helmet  (recommended for all trips)
Riding gloves
Hat (with chin strip) for sun protection
A good windproof/waterproof
Gaiters (provided).

 

PERSONAL CLOTHING
Layers on top, including a warm fleece
Comfortable T-Shirts/Shirts
Jeans
Shorts
Underwear and socks
Pajama
Bag for dirty clothes
Closed toe walking boots/shoes if you wish to explore the estancia on foot
Swimsuit
Small towel and small bar of soap
Small torch
 
ADDITIONAL THINGS TO BRING
Personal Toiletries
Insect repellent
Personal medications
Sore cream (for the emergency)
Personal insurance details
Handkerchiefs
Adapter for electric appliances
Binoculars
Camera + batteries or charger + film or card
Belt pack
Address book and pen (for postcards!)
Sun glasses with strap
High factor Sun tan lotion and lip balm