“Fabulous horse riding in the foothills of the Andes at this working cattle ranch in the Northern Patagonian Lake District”
It's thanks to an Englishwoman that Huechahue (way-cha-way) is such a special place. Jane Williams built this estancia with her husband, who was born here, breeding horses and cattle for 20 years before taking guests. It's with a real passion for the place that she takes you on incredible rides to see condors and visit Mapuche communities, and on gallops through virgin mountain landscapes: all spectacularly beautiful. Comfortable wooden guest cabins look out to orchards, and everyone gathers in the main house for dinner - as riotous or sedate as you want. This is a place where all are made to feel welcome and included, and firm friendships are made.
- Unbeatable horse riding. Novices are looked after, but seasoned riders will also find plenty to challenge them
- This is an utterly authentic cattle and horse ranch - nothing is forced or touristy. It's only 2 hours from Bariloche, but it feels a world apart
- You don't have to be a rider: birding, hiking and fishing are also on offer
- A maximum of 16 guests (and rarely more than 12), ensuring a great private-house feel - everyone seems to feel immediately at home. But there's plenty of space when you want to be alone
- Your host and guide, Jane, is a remarkable woman - kind, funny and a brilliant horsewoman
- Don't expect luxury or chic accommodation. Prepare for life on the land - but with rather more home comforts than any gaucho enjoys!
- You'll need to allow at least 3 or 4 days to get the best out of Huechahue
- At 200km northeast of Bariloche, this is (wonderfully) off the beaten tourist track - but there is a small airport 50km away and transfers from there are included
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Working Ranch
- All meals included
- Over 16s welcome
- Open all year
- Plunge Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Tennis Court
In keeping with the traditional estancia feel, accommodation is simple but comfortable. The 8 double and twin rooms are spread across 3 wooden cabins, and lead off a central sitting area with a log fire. Each cabin also has a veranda for sitting out and admiring the view.
Décor is homely and welcoming: lots of wood, polished floors, indigenous woven rugs, wooden bed frames, pretty patterned curtains and bed covers, and duvets - a rarity in Argentina. Your private bathroom is spotless, though not luxurious, with plenty of hot water - which you'll need for aching muscles after a long ride. Don't expect direct-dial phones or TVs, but you'll sleep well in the silence and wake to sunshine through large windows overlooking the apple orchards outside.
The main house has a slightly English feel, with its brick and pitched roof, and a pond surrounded by lavender and roses. Inside, though, it's the Argentine rural life: big leather sofas to sprawl on, huge wood fires, and wonderful gaucho prints all over the walls. There are quiet places to sit everywhere, and always a thermos for taking tea in your room if you need it.
- Central heating
- Coffee / tea making
- Internet access
- Plunge pool
Food really is a feature here. The great thing about riding around outside all day is that you feel you've earned a great feast for dinner. Though you'll start the day with a seriously hearty breakfast: organic free range eggs, bacon, sausages, muesli, yoghurt, freshly baked bread, fruit jams and compotes, all produced on the estancia.
Day rides always stop for a good picnic, perhaps eaten on a picturesque bank on a curve of river. You'll get homemade quiches and salads, followed by pudding and freshly brewed coffee, or perhaps a traditional asado (barbecue) - there's nothing like the taste of home-reared beef sizzled on an open wood fire.
Dinner is a jolly affair: everyone gathers for olives and nibbles with copious quantities of wine to chat over the day's adventures, and then the whole group sits around a big table for a huge feast. There's almost always beef from Huechahue's own cattle, venison from local deer (carefully managed), or salami and sausages made from the farm's own pigs. Vegetarians are well catered for with delicious quiches and flans. Dining together might sound daunting, but this is the magic of Huechahue, and Jane makes you feel immediately at home and amongst friends.
- All meals included
- Coffee / tea making
- Communal dining
- Organic produce
- Head off on amazing day rides on Huechachue's 15,000 acres in the foothills of the Andes. Ride to the Mapuche Indian reservation, to see condors roosting, along rivers to find ancient burial caves, or to see gauchos working the cattle
- Highly recommended is the 3-day pack trip across the forests and mountains of the Lanín National Park, camping out in the wild for 2 nights. You'll experience incredible landscapes and real adventure - a dream for the intrepid. There are usually between 4 and 6 hours of riding a day with breaks for rests and lunch, although hours are flexible
- Longer trips are also available, including a 10-day programme which combines a 3-day pack trip with local rides, and a 9-day estancia to estancia ride, moving from Huechahue to the nearby farms of Cerro de los Pinos and Estancia Collun Co (2 nights in each)
- Working the herd of 900 Hereford cattle - mustering, lassoing, helping with the branding - is another amazing experience
- If you don't fancy riding, there are wonderful places to hike directly from the estancia
- You can also go bird-watching. Amongst the wildlife to be seen are black-necked swans, ibis, eagles, the Andean condor, red deer and wild boar
- World-class fishing on the River Alumine, which borders the property, can be arranged (mainly wet fly-fishing for wild brown and rainbow trout, from mid-November to mid-April). Experienced guides can be organised for an extra charge
- Back at the ranch, play tennis on the court near the house, or relax in the hot tub, sauna and plunge pool. This is a great place to chill out. If you want a massage Jane can arrange for someone to come in
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Horse riding
- Plantlife / flora
- Traditional cultures
- Well being
There are no discounts for kids, and children are normally only accepted if they can ride and are over 16 - they will have a fabulous adventure here. Younger children are sometimes invited if they're part of a family group. There are no extra beds.
Estancia Huechahue is in the Northern Patagonian Lake District, 200km northeast of Bariloche (also called San Carlos de Bariloche), 70km east of San Martín de los Andes, and 28km east of Junín de los Andes. It's on the Ruta Nacional 234, 4km from La Rinconada, and about 1,600km southwest of Buenos Aires.
Chapelco (50km away) is the nearest airport, but you could also fly into Bariloche (200km away). Both are served by domestic flights from Buenos Aires' Jorge Newbery Airport. Bear in mind that most international flights to Buenos Aires land at Ezeiza International Airport, so you'll have to transfer between the two.
For a list of airlines serving all the above airports please click on the links at the bottom of the page.
From the Airport
It's about 50km / 40 minutes' drive from Chapelco airport to the estancia; transfers can be arranged and are included in the room rate. Bariloche airport is 200km away (2 hours' drive) - transfers can also be arranged from here but at an extra cost.
There are very comfortable buses from Buenos Aires to Junín de los Andes which stop at the estancia's front gate - it takes 18 hours, but is a great way to get a feel for Argentina's vast open spaces. There are also 2 daily buses from Bariloche to the estancia, which take 2 hours.
You can hire a car in Chapelco, San Martín de los Andes or Bariloche, but we recommend arranging a transfer with the estancia. You won't need a car once you're here, and it's a bit of a waste to pay the car hire for those days. However, if you do want a vehicle, see our car rental recommendations.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.
More on getting to Argentina and getting around
- Chapelco 50.0 km CPC
- Bariloche 200.0 km BRC
- Beach 200.0 km
- Shops 30.0 km
- Restaurant 30.0 km