TravelTango - Estancia El Ombu

El Ombu Ranch - San Antonio de Areco, Province of Buenos Aires

El Ombu

El Ombú de Areco, an historical estancia (ranch) just over an hours drive from downtown Buenos Aires, is located in San Antonio de Areco, birthplace of the gaucho tradition. The Late-Colonial style mansion, built in 1880 by Lieutenant-general Pablo Riccheri, offers visitors a magnificent setting for an unforgettable stay.

Enrique Boelcke, grandfather of the present owner Eva Boelcke, purchased it in 1934. Eva's father, Osvaldo, a well known botanist, ran the estancia as a working ranch until his death in 1992. Her husband, Alberto Viaggio, an international businessman with a flair for authentic restoration, provided his expertise and support to renovate and modernize the original ranch house and outbuildings. Eva was trained as an agronomist, but since 1993 has expanded her role as farm manager to include local and international estancia tourism.

El Ombú offers nine spacious, modern bedrooms (6 doubles and 3 triples), with en suite bathrooms, large windows and an interesting array of period furniture. In winter, guests enjoy the warmth of central heating in every bedroom, augmented, if desired, with the friendly glow of the gaucho's typical wood-burning salamander.

The estancia's living room is now a spacious common room, in which guests can enjoy satellite TV or movies, a round of billiards, a game of chess or a cards game. On the adjacent gallery, there is ping-pong and foosball.

The main house is surrounded by a covered gallery typical of the late-Colonial period, with a richly tiled floor and cascaded steps that lead into the gardens of the park.

Presiding majestically over the park is the estancia's namesake, the great ombú (Phytolacca dioca), a plant as characteristic of the pampas as the baobab is of the African savanna. Nearly as ancient as well: gauchos have been hitching their horses to the estancia's main ombú for over a hundred years.

Centennial oaks, araucarias (monkey-puzzle trees), palms, eucalyptus, casuarinas and magnolias adorn the four-hectare (ten-acre) park, tempting guests to stroll about and enjoy the scent of gardenias, roses and lime trees. The park and surrounding ranch land, with its natural lagoons and small water courses running to the Areco River offer a rich habitat to a large proportion of Argentina's 1000 bird species.

El Ombú provides all the comfort required by the most demanding guests, together with a kind and personalized attention by professional staff, against the backdrop of the big-sky beauty and pastoral quietude of the Argentinean pampas.

In the cozy and commodious dining-room, facing a large hearth, guests are treated to a wide selection of international or creole cuisine served with local wines. No stay will pass without at least one asado, the typical Argentinean barbeque of the world's finest beef raised free-range on the estancia.

In the summertime lunch is served al fresco in the shadow of the great ombú. Drinks and snacks are available at any hour, and, of course, guests are always welcome to share the famous Argentine mate  with Eva and her family, your friends and the gauchos.



Guests can choose either two types visit: the Overnight Stay or the One-day Visit: The Overnight Stay can last one or several days. This gives guests the chance to immerse themselves as much as they wish in the lifestyle of a working estancia, dedicated mainly to raising cattle, Hereford and Aberdeen Angus.

Guests are welcome to observe and take part in the various stock-rearing activities as they happen on the ranch: milking, driving cattle to harness, vaccination, ear-tagging, de-horning, branding, etc.

Guests can explore the 300-hectare (ca 750 acre) estancia on foot or, accompanied by seasoned gauchos, on one of the 38 horses that are part of the working drove. Horse drawn carriages are also available. Those who would like to learn about some of the thousand species of Argentinean birds are provided binoculars and guide books.

Other recreational activities include: a swimming pool with solarium; ping-pong; foosball; volleyball and football (soccer); bicycle rides; golf and tennis at a friendly country club only 15 minutes away from the estancia.

Twenty kilometres away from the estancia sits historic San Antonio de Areco, a picturesque pampas pueblo, with its museums, such as the famous Ricardo Güiraldes Gaucho Museum, silversmiths, leather craft and wood workshops, a delightful little chocolate factory and frequent country auctions, all of which serve to keep very much alive the traditions of the gaucho culture.

The popular One Day Visit, on the other hand, offers a taste of any of the above activities - guided horse rides, an outing in a horse drawn carriage, the swimming pool, or strolls along the meandering Areco river, and so on - with the guarantee of a delicious asado (barbecue) served with fine Argentinean wines.

Optionally on special request, El Ombú offers gaucho folk dance troops, local music groups, as well as creole horse-back skill events, such as sortija races, horseback sprints, bullock lassoing and hog-tying.


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