“Fabulous horse riding in the foothills of the Andes at this working cattle ranch in the Northern Patagonian Lake District”
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.
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.