In simple terms haciendas and estancias are estates and farms which have opened their doors to paying guests. Hacienda tourism is really starting to take off across the continent and many more places are seeing the potential in hospitality. Many of these estates/farms/plantations are very large with a thriving agriculture and livestock business while others are no longer in the farming business. Many are also very old with a long and colourful history and a considerable number belong to descendants of the first owners.
They can vary enormously – from grand and luxurious colonial farming estates to smaller and more rustic farms but all make wonderful places to spend a few days. One of the main reasons for this type of tourism is to see a unique South American environment, learn about the traditions and customs of the countryside and participate in a wide range of farm and other leisure activities.
What they offer is a taste of rural life from the comfortably rustic to the luxurious. Many of the haciendas retain their historical furnishings and atmosphere, such as their traditional tiled floors, murals and colonial decor. Some have whitewashed walls, pantile roofs, courtyards, arches, fountains, pretty gardens and far reaching views of the surrounding countryside.
Another good reason to stay at a hacienda is for the gastronomy. Most places provide their guests with delicious food and of course depending on which country you are in, fabulous local wine. You can enjoy gourmet meals in historic surroundings set amidst the beautiful countryside. For the carnivores an estancia stay with their endless asados (BBQs) will undoubtedly be a highlight.
When staying on a working ranch you may meet the gauchos, the ranch hands and perhaps assist the hacendado or estanciero with some daily tasks. You may also have the opportunity to partake in the everyday life of the gaucho by working alongside them during their long days in the saddle.
If you want to be welcomed and treated as an honoured house guest, discover and explore the past whilst enjoying some scenic views then a stay on a hacienda or estancia might be what you are looking for. Soak up the atmosphere, take day trips to nearby attractions, sit on the terrace contemplating the beautiful country before you and receive generous hospitality from the most welcoming and engaging hosts.
For the continent's best collection have a look at Historic Haciendas
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