This place isn’t in the Lonely Planet but I really want to recommend it to everyone because we had such an amazing time here but at the same time it was because it wasn’t touristy that we enjoyed it so much. We caught a bus from Colonia along route 14 heading for Durazno and asked the driver to let us off at 166km. 2 ½ hours later we were walking down a long dusty track leading to El Silencio 2 km away, but luckily their neighbours were driving home so we got a lift up to the Estancia, good job though because its quite tricky to find and there are hardly any signs.
We met Gonzalo who ran the ranch but it was quite evident that we were going to struggle with the language barrier!! But it was a good job that there was another English couple there (Mat and Piumi) who spoke much better Spanish than us!
Our first outing on the horses was at about 6pm so we herd up the cattle and trot around a LOT of land. It was quite ironic though that from everywhere on the Estancia you could see the abitoire, a huge white building seen from everywhere! Sad really.
Our little companion Ronaldo a Collie cross came on every ride with us and was really sweet and obedient.
Also on the treks came Jose the gaucho and Lucia (Gonzalo’s daughter). It was kind of funny though because we had this idea of a gaucho having a simple life riding around on horseback etc but Jose had a this amazing motorbike which he scooted off on the first night we were there!!
The food in this place was gorgeous and so much of it. Maria (Gonzalo’s wife) and Teresa (the cook) did such a fab job at keeping us full!!!
Maria was really funny she struggled to pronounce Darren so ended up calling him Martin!! So Darren started to call her Victoria!
Next morning we got up at 0630 to milk the cows for milk for breakfast. It’s really hard to do! I got it with my right hand but nothing with the left hand, Mat on the other hand was the other way around! But Jose was a machine!!!! And soon the bucket was full of white frothy milk ready for the day.
The morning ride was sorting cattle out by size so that the smaller ones could be taken to better land to graze so that they caught up with the already bigger ones so that they were all the same size when they went to the Abitoire. It was amazing to watch a few horses and Ronaldo split up 130 cows according to size. Soon enough they were sorted and one load was taken away by Lucia and Jose whilst we took the other half. But actually Gonzalo thought that Piumi’s horse had had enough! Piumi had been struggling with her horse who we nicknamed Abuelo (grandad) after we found out he was 24 years old!! For most of the way back poor Piumi had to be lead by Gonzalo because Abuelo refused to go anywhere!! Gonzalo promised to change the horse for the next trip out. The horses on the whole were really responsive actually, you only needed to move the reigns a cm and they knew which way you wanted them to go which was quite good considering neither me nor Darren had never really ridden before.
After taking the cows out to pasture Gonzalo told us about a lake that we could go to where there was a canoe that we could use. So we off we go. Its about a 20 minute walk still within the land owned by Gonzalo and Maria and was set in a really beautiful spot. Mat did a bit of swimming but me and Piumi declined because we thought we’d never get back in the canoe if we got into the water!! But it was lovely just paddling up and down, chatting away.
The next morning was our last ride and was certainly the best. Jose took us for miles up the track, which we weren’t initially very impressed with. But then we turned into the fields and Jose just said ’Ride’ which we did!! It was amazing! Properly galloping along the fields, it was brilliant fun. Darren was the star of the show though and on his 7 year old horse they were having such a fantastic time, a few hair raising moments when his saddle came undone a few times at full pelt, but no accidents were had.
All too soon our time was up and we were heading to our next destination, Salto in Uruguay, quite near the border of Argentina.
The Estancia was $60 USD per person per night. I know it is expensive but the experience was amazing and we were so well looked after.