If you’re suffering from Bacon Syndrome – hot, crispy and well sizzled – then it’s time to take a break from the steamy summer in Buenos Aires, at least for a weekend trip. The Real Argentina offers up some cooling ideas such as kayaking activities, a working farm holiday, and where to find Argentina’s best surf – all to give you some respite from the sweaty city.
If it’s high time your chaps had an airing, hot hoof it north to Entre Ríos province to round up some cattle on a working farm holiday. Just two hours from Buenos Aires, agricultural farm Estancia Santa María has horses to saddle up, fields to frolic in, and even baby ostriches to cuddle – guests can get stuck into all the farm’s activities going on that day. Work may include vaccinating calves or weighing a heifer, and you can be as involved as you like. Located close to the village of General Almada, 24km from the nearest motorway and 35km from carnival capital Gualeguaychú, the sound of silence reverberates around Estancia Santa María.
Ride out with the gaucho Santos to herd up some cattle, canter up to El Gato stream and catch your supper to slap on the parrilla later, or relax by the pool as the sun sets over the soy fields. For US$140 a night including four meals and drinks, you’ll leave full, content and relaxed. The environmentally conscious estancia also works with The Laundry Company, planting trees to offset the launderette’s carbon footprint.
The word on the street is that the best waves in Argentina can be found in the little Atlantic town of Quequén (pronounced kay-ken). While it may not offer the ultra glamorous beach clubs of Pinamar or Cariló, Quequén attracts the serious surfers and is definitely a more pleasant coastal option than sprawling, sweaty Mar del Plata in summer. Surf virgins can take lessons at the Monte Pasubio surf camp, while those in the know will plan their wave time carefully by checking out this surf report. Kite surfing and body boarding are also popular in Quequén, which is 512km from Buenos Aires and summer 2012 prices for accommodation aren’t as outrageous as at some other resort areas.
Puntonto Límite, photo courtesy of eMaringolo.
Kick back in the dunes, wind your way up 163 steps in the lighthouse or make the ocean your oyster with a deep-sea fishing trip – Quequén is worth a weekend trip away. If it does get a bit too quiet, hop across the eponymous river to sister town Necochea for some nightlife action.
A sleepy weekend away is a trip south to General Madariaga, near Pinamar, where the siesta rules the working day and gauchos roam the streets. Although this small city hosts various countryside-focused festivals, few people know about the nearby lakes – Salada Grande and Los Horcones – which attract serious fishers who are into hooking up some silver smelt (pejerrey) or bagre (which is catfish and not ‘old hag’, according to this translation.
Fishing at Quequén, photo courtesy of Alex E. Proimos.
Head off for the day to Laguna Salada Grande, 5,500 hectares of watery fun just 20km from town, and hire a boat with a captain for the day, or set up camp at the Club de Pesca y Náutica General Madariaga for AR$6 per person. Rod hire costs around AR$25. Be sure to call ahead, however, as the 2011 spring has been relatively rain-free, which means the lakes may be a bit low. Los Horcones is close by – the lake is about half the size of Salada Grande – and it also offers windsurfing. If you do have a lucky catch, here’s a tasty “pejerrey in the pink” recipe from Dan at Casa Saltshaker.
Despite its waters looking rather brown and murky, trust me, the Delta is fine for dipping into – I am the living, breathing proof. Just a 50-minute train ride from Retiro in Buenos Aires is Tigre, located in the fabulously watery Paraná Delta which comprises interlinking rivers and islands – it’s the perfect tranquil spot to escape the frantic city and chill out, or the more adventurous can participate in some killer kayaking activities.
Kayaking on the Tigre, photo courtesy of Alex E. Proimos.
If your paddling skills are akin to a kitten learning to swim, why not take a course with the Escuela del Remo school. The more active and confident among you might prefer an overnight stay on an island, combining trekking and kayaking with Fabián and Patricio from Delta en Kayak. Note to readers: don’t forget to take a vat of insect repellent in summer. Wildlife prevails in the Delta, from happy turtles taking in some sun, to an abundance of birds to spot, making it an ideal way to cool off and put the sweaty city behind you, even if it’s just for a day.