“Traditional family farm with award-winning cuisine and wonderful horse riding to the lakes and forest. Great value and ideal for families”
The accommodation consists of 4 rooms and 2 self-catering barn conversions. Tucked away behind the columns of a sunny galleried terrace, the simple rooms are decorated in the old-fashioned style used in all of Argentina’s estancias and fincas. Rooms are high ceilinged with big old beams, and whitewashed, and floors are the original terracotta and ochre tiles. Wrought iron beds, wood-burning stoves for winter nights and local weavings on the walls evoke life in the late 19th-century.
The private bathrooms, while not from yesteryear, do need an upgrade: our shower door was broken for example. There’s nothing flashy about the simple toiletries (soap and shampoo) provided, but plenty of hot water.
There are doors on both sides of the rooms, and it’s a pleasant surprise to throw open the original shutters in the morning and see hummingbirds hovering at flowers on the terrace, or a horse clopping by on the tree-lined lane. Step from the terrace onto the enclosed garden, fragrant with flowers and grand algarrobo trees. Cockerels wake you up in the morning, and tropical insects chirrup at nights (watch out for mossies), giving you a taste of sub-tropical Salta.
Two rooms sleep 4 (ideal for families), there's 1 triple, and 1 spacious twin. The first 3 are adjacent to each other on the galleried terrace, the twin (El Escritorio) is the other side of the dining room and opens onto the garden.
Self-caterers can take over the 2 old tobacco-drying houses on the finca. Just across the lane, these stout old buildings have been completely gutted, designed in modern style, and equipped with all mod cons for a large group. Very reasonably priced, they are also popular with couples and small families. You get mostly single beds, decent bathrooms, and an internet connection. Kitchens come with an electric oven, separate hob, kettle, crockery and cutlery, dining for 8, pots and pans and a BBQ.
Argentina has been slow to cotton onto organic produce, because they quality of what’s available is generally so high. But Santa Anita is special because much of what you’ll eat is produced in the biodynamic kitchen garden or raised on the finca. Their rich eggs are delicious, and their goat's cheese has won international prizes: it's delicate, fragrant and tangy.
Eat breakfast on the galleried terrace if the weather is fine; it’s a real pleasure to stroll directly from your room and lounge on the sofas here, watching morning birds flitting around as you sip your juice. You get leaf teas, good coffee, drinking yoghurt, goat's milk (not cow's), a selection of local pastries and breads (the flaky tortillas from the local bakery are particularly good), homemade jams (utterly divine), and cereals.
Lunch can be a picnic eaten out on your ride, with locally made salamis and Valentina’s goat's cheese. Back at the finca you may be invited to an asado - the Argentine way of cooking meat over an open wood fire; often there’s a group of people including Carlos and Valentina’s children and friends. Evening asados often end with guitar playing long into the night (far enough from the house not to keep you awake); the best introduction to the local folclore music you could have.
Dinner is a set menu and can be eaten on the terrace or in the cosy dining room (let them know of any dietary requirements prior to arrival). Carlos will join you if he’s around, and he’ll give you an insight into Argentine life, local history and traditions, passionate about the area (he used to be the local mayor). Valentina is the chef, so she might be busy in the kitchen; one of the children may be your server.
The meal usually begins with light starters - all the produce is fresh and locally grown, there may be salads and home-made cheese or meat empanadas (pasties). Valentina is reviving traditional regional delicacies, and creates marvellous concoctions. Her puddings are amazing: pears steeped in Malbec were a favourite; we loved the array of home-made chutneys. There's a (home-made) pizza night once a week, we also had beef one meal and mildly spiced chicken another. There’s plenty of local wine; take your glass onto the terrace after dinner and look up at the stars.
The nearest restaurant is 2km away in Coronel Moldes - we had no desire to sample anything other than Valentina's cooking so didn't venture out.
Children of all ages are made very welcome at this family-run ranch, which suits older active kids best. Carlos and Valentina's children are friendly and kind. On the finch itself, kids can play football, darts, swimming and enjoy messing around in the gardens. We were mesmerised by the life bursting forth all around us in the gardens: fireflies, dozens of beautiful bird species, toads, exciting insects and spiders.
Children over 10 can try riding - or younger if they have some experience - and the horses are very tame and biddable. Carlos will take special care of children on rides (and they'll be utterly impressed by the gaucho outfits!).
Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
There are plenty of options for families. The Superior Triple has space for 3 people, The Superior Quad has a double bed and 2 singles, and the Standard Triple/Quad has 4 single beds. If you have a larger family or want to self-cater, the 2 old tobacco drying houses (Self-catering Barns) have been converted to modern barns sleeping 10 with decent kitchens and plenty of space.
Babysitting is available by arrangement.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
There are no specific provisions for children's meals, although the food on offer will suit even fussy types, with grilled cheese sandwiches, picnics and family-style communal dining some evenings. You can stay here on a half or full board basis.The nearest restaurant is 2km away in Coronel Moldes.
Getting here from overseas involves flying to Buenos Aires, getting to the local airport and flying on via internal flight to Salta which is a good hour away - it's a fairly taxing journey. There are also heaps of mozzies, make sure you bring mosquito repellent.