We’ve been so excited to reach the 4th country on our trip. World-famous meat, even more famous wine – who wouldn’t be excited for this?!
Our first stop in Argentina was Salta in the north west of the country. Our bus ride from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile took us through beautiful mountains to get to Salta, but if I’m honest, it wasn’t the mountains we came for. The main reason for our stop in Salta was to get out into the countryside and stay at Sayta Cabalgatas – a horse ranch. We’d heard about the ranch from my cousin (thanks Zoë!) who said that it’s a beautiful place, the people are really friendly, and the horses are lovely and gentle.
And she was totally right! In fact our stay at the ranch was probably the highlight of our trip so far!
After a 9am pick-up from our hostel in Salta then a 50 minute drive out of town, we arrived at Sayta Cabalgatas. Straight away we felt right at home when we were welcomed by Enrique (the owner) and Andrés, who have to be the nicest guys ever! We sat and had breakfast in the outdoor kitchen with three Aussie guys who’d just spent 3 days at the ranch and sang its praises, particularly about the food. It was only 10am and we were already getting excited for a proper Argentinian asado (barbecue) lunch.
Before that though, we got to hang out with the ranch’s other residents for a few hours…
… and the residents were beaut! We’ve got no idea what breed the horses were, but most importantly, they had a horse big enough for 6ft 4 Joe. A pretty big deal. Finding a horse for shorty me wasn’t as impressive, although Joe loved that my horse was called Nieto (little nose). I fully admit that my own nose is a little on the small side.
Our 3 hour ride through the countryside around the ranch was so good! We passed loads of tobacco fields and went through small villages, and the whole time we had amazing views of the mountains. Neither of us have done much horse riding before but the horses were really calm and well trained. They even stayed pretty calm when dogs ran up to us and barked.
And there were a LOT of dogs!
We were both a bit nervous when this happened but the horses kept their cool and carried on. Such pro’s.
Half way through the ride, our guide Walter stopped us so the horses could have a break. To be hones, we were pretty happy to have a break too, the weather was so hot! After 10mins enjoying the shade, Walter asked if we were ready to go a bit faster. Yeah sure, we were happy to try a trot.
Although that wasn’t quite what Walter had in mind.
I was first up and before I really knew what was happening, we were in a full-on gallop. I tried to channel my inner Frankie Detorri but somehow I didn’t manage to be as graceful. Funny that.
Then it was Joe’s turn. He sped off with Walter and I was pretty impressed that Joe managed it so well. I didn’t have long to be impressed though because Nieto, obviously feeling left out, decided to go after them at full speed. I tried to stop him but he was on a mission. Clearly I was doing a great job at controlling my horse. Not.
After another hour or so of riding, we arrived back at the ranch. Andrés had the asado on the go and it smelled amazing! We waited for lunch in true Argentinian style – with a glass of red. I usually prefer white wine at home but the local red wine that Andrés gave us was really nice!
Then the best bit – LUNCH!
Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of it so you’re going to have to believe me when I say it was incredible. Fuller steak, ribs, sausages, salad, potatoes, corn, bread – if Carlsberg did lunches, they still wouldn’t be as good as this one. The steak was lovely and pink and definitely lived up to its famous reputation!
After lunch it was straight back out on the horses again, different ones this time. We felt pretty sorry for these ones because not only did they have to carry us, but our huge food babies as well. Fortunately Joe’s horse stayed well energised by eating plants and trees throughout the whole afternoon (greedy mare). Joe’s horse was also a bit of a bully and wouldn’t let mine go before her. She had a proper competitive streak! A bit like her rider really…
Our ride took us through some woodland and also along a dry river bed which was cool, and again we got so many good views of all the mountains and countryside. We even gave a gallop another go although I don’t think we were any better at it than in the morning – our gaucho careers better go on hold for the moment. We also suffered quite bit in the heat and had definitely not been expecting the saddle chaffing!
We got back to the ranch at about 5pm, just in time for a late siesta. Again in true Argentinian style, we started back on the vino before dinner. The red wine was dangerous, it was far too easy go drink! Andrés cooked us up another storm – we had tamales to start with, then a stew made with leftovers from lunch. It was so yummy! All followed by yet more wine.
The evening got pretty boozy fairly quickly. Enrique was the life and soul of the party and kept everyone’s glasses topped up. A French couple had arrived at the ranch just before dinner and even they struggled to keep up the pace! We had a really fun time and also discovered that our Spanish seemed to improve after drinking more wine… up until a point. By 1am, the combination of alcohol and tiredness meant I was struggling to string any sentences together in Spanish (or any sentences full stop). Enrique had definitely out-drank us, but we out-drank the French so all was good.
The next morning was a rough one. I managed to recover quite quickly but Joe ended up feeling delicate for the whole day. He obviously can’t handle it now he’s 30…!
We had a long lazy breakfast, which included proper cups of tea. Heaven! I really miss proper English tea. Then we were joined by new tourists who had turned up to go riding that day. We felt secretly smug that the weather wasn’t looking good and we’d had amazing weather the day before. Glad we’d picked the better day!
After breakfast, they all headed off on the horses and we said our goodbyes to Enrique and Andrés. As a honeymoon gift Enrique gave us a bottle of wine with ‘Sayta Cabalgatas’ on the label. So sweet of him!
We had such a good time at Sayta Cabalgatas and we were actually really sad to leave. Enrique and Andrés had been so welcoming, we felt like part of the family! And we loved our horse riding in the Argentinian countryside, although we probably shouldn’t quit our day jobs yet to become gauchos…!
Last but certainly not least, a HUGE thank you to these amazing people for clubbing together to get us this incredible wedding gift: Julia, Julian, Georgia, Louis, Claire P and Dan, Miles and Jen, Sarah and Stu, and Freddie. Thanks so much guys!
Have you ever visited Argentina? What were your favourite experiences? Do you love asado as much as us?? Tell us about it! Leave your comments below and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for more travel photos @pitkinswithpassports