Does your South America travel plan include the experience of staying at haciendas or estancias in Argentina, Chile or Uruguay? Our team explains why Argentina, Uruguay and Chile tours are incomplete without a stay in these charming accommodations.
Today’s discerning traveler looks forward to enjoying a more defined luxurious statement, where historic mansions are converted into top class boutique hotels, both comprehensive and local, rather than staying in international hotel chains. South America’s Southern Cone, meaning Uruguay, Chile and Argentina, exemplify interesting accommodation that are charming, culturally significant and historically real, melding a strong sense of place, luxury, comfort, service and food. If you are planning Uruguay, Chile or Argentina tours, you must check these out!
Most haciendas and estancias in Argentina, Chile or even Uruguay are simply enormous farms, plantations, ranches or colonial estates, owned by wealthy families who faced a setback during the industrial revolution. Today, they have been converted into beautiful accommodation, authentically reflecting deep history and perfected by dreamy landscapes.
An integral part of history, South America’s estancias and haciendas reflect their European roots with English and French styles, often luxuriously furnished and retaining their elegant colonial air. The owner of an estancia or hacienda is called the estanciero or hacendado. A hacienda or estancia stay in South America, lets you experience traditional local life, and participate in gaucho (cowboy) activities – driving cattle, sheep shearing, animal branding, and the occasional traditional guitar music and folklore.
We have handpicked our top 10 – a mix of different style haciendas, estancias and higher-end experience hotels, some of which are quite luxurious. Irrelevant of their standard, they all offer warmth, charm and an authentic taste of local life.
This is one of the oldest yet luxuriously traditional estancias in Argentina, combining comfort with elegant colonial flair. Originally built around 1830 just outside San Antonio de Areco in the heart of the lush Pampas region, this estancia was refurbished as a boutique hotel. Surrounded by a vine arbor amid a beautifully landscaped garden, it’s the ideal place to while away time with your favorite read under a shaded patio and enjoying the romantic atmosphere far away from big cities.
A visit during November is especially recommended if you wish to witness thousands of gauchos gather for the annual San Antonio cultural festival.
Things to do in Argentina: Embrace Argentinian heritage and traditions while learning about the life of gauchos, watching unique folk performances or trying your hand at being a horse-whispered, aided by a trained equestrian. Explore the neighborhood on a prized horse-drawn cart, bike in the mountains, watch polo games during season and discover the colonial heritage of San Antonio de Areco. A visit during November is especially recommended if you wish to witness thousands of gauchos gather for the annual San Antonio cultural festival.
Set literally at the end of the world, Bahia Bustamante is an idyllic seafront sheep breeding farm, featuring rooms with private terraces affording sea/garden views. One of the most unique estancias in Argentina, this hotel in the former Bahia Bustamante town was founded in the 1950s to harvest and process seaweed. On one side, a spectacular coastline with virgin beaches and crystal clear waters, and on the other, a picturesque village set again the vast Patagonian Steppes and towering, jagged cliffs in the horizon – those seeking a tranquil, romantic paradise will feel right at home!
Guanacos, sea lions and plenty of rare birds regularly gather in the region
Things to do on your Patagonia trip: Marvel at whimsical penguins go about their business at the many colonies nearby. Guanacos, sea lions and plenty of rare birds regularly gather in the region, which you can witness on your daily excursions. Go horse riding in the legendary landscape, fraternize with gauchos as you learn about their culture, or spend a tranquil day ambling about the farm, soaking in the sights and sounds.
Argentina and Chile vacations are incomplete without a visit to Patagonia. Estancia Nibepo Aike is a traditional Patagonian estancia on a sheep breeding farm, offering rural accommodation with panoramic mountain views. Set on the shores of a crystal clear glacial lake, spend at least a few days at this dreamy location, enjoying the cozy accommodation, warm hospitality and family recipes of an estancia that has beautifully preserved its old world charm.
The icing on this cake is the traditional asado barbecue with cordero patagonico (Patagonian Lamb), every evening.
Things to do: No matter which month you visit Patagonia, Nibepo Aike is bustling with activity. Participate in ranch chores as you watch sheep sheared and herded. Ride out into the vast open land with your gaucho guide to discover delightful hidden nooks of Los Glaciares National Park. Hike along the hillside or by the lakeshore, stopping for the occasional picnic in the open. The icing on this Patagonian cake is the traditional asado barbecue with cordero patagonico (Patagonian Lamb), every evening.
This Patagonian gem is strategically located inside Los Glaciares National Park, just next door to one of the most stunning highlights of Argentina – the Upsala Glacier. Remote and serene, this is one of the ideal estancias in Argentina for a Patagonian adventure while staying in former homes of farm workers. In this vast open expanse surrounded by majestic Andean peaks, expect panoramic views of the timeless landscape from each of the five cozy cabins, and delicious Patagonian cuisine and picnic boxes to boot!
Accompanied by experts, you can choose between low to medium and high difficulty levels for your activities.
Things to do: It’s the ultimate playground for adventure enthusiasts. Hike through the fossil valley or view the Upsala Glacier. Ride a 4×4 into the mountains, walk on glacier-cleaved lands, or ride a typical Criollo horse to a picturesque viewpoint. Accompanied by experts, you can choose between low to medium and high difficulty levels for your activities.
One of the most peaceful estancias in Argentina set just outside busy Buenos Aires, Estancia La Bandada is nestled a beautiful landscaped garden sheltered by centuries-old sycamores and gingkos. Expect all the generous comfort and old world charm that is typical of a Pampas manor, including welcoming interiors interspersed by unique art collected by local artist and owner Sebastián Goñi. This is one of the estancias in Argentina where you can while away time doing nothing or get busy with light farm work. In keeping with the theme of a cozy farm away from home, there’s always a cheery canine sidekick assigned to keep you company.
Expect all the generous comfort and old world charm that is typical of a Pampas manor as well as a unique collection of art by local artist and owner Sebastián Goñi.
Things to do: Soak in beautiful views of the 200 hectare farmland, or enjoy an afternoon siesta by the pool in true blue Argentinean style. Ride a horse in the open pastures, or lend a hand to the resident gauchos as they tend to the cattle and farm work.
Expect a unique blend of wildlife experiences and authentic hospitality at this estancia in Argentina. Classy Puerto Valle is a traditional manor set in a lush green park by the calm Parana River in the protected Ibera Wetlands, offering peace and comfort in the lap of nature. Catering to only a handful of guests at a time, vast rooms, cozy common spaces and the outdoor swimming pool, offer panoramic views of the gardens against a backdrop of marshes, plantations and plains where native wildlife roam free. Heritage goes hand in hand with comfort and sustainability at Puerto Valle, from luxurious amenities in your room to sustainable forestry and cattle rearing.
Expect a unique blend of wildlife experiences and authentic hospitality at this estancia in Argentina.
Things to do: The wetlands are brimming with curious creatures waiting to be discovered. Take a boat out to the biodiverse Laguna Valle, fish for your dinner, kayak in the Laguna river and watch hundreds of birds flit around palm groves and forests. After a hearty dinner with fresh ingredients from the organic garden, a quiet evening watching the landscape from the open veranda is much recommended.
This 19th century cattle ranch is a unique eco-hotel catering to only a few guests at a time. Simple yet elegant, expect sepia-toned accommodations furnished with rustic accents, a cozy library equipped with all kinds of information about the wetlands and its inhabitants, and a glittering outdoor pool where you can while away time.
We recommend a night drive to see your nocturnal favorites come out to hunt.
Things to do: With plenty of land and water-based excursions available, this is one of the few estancias in Argentina which is paradise for wildlife and birding enthusiasts. Go horse riding in the lush green countryside; take a boat out to the lagoon to watch caimans and capybaras in action; hike or bike to areas where hundreds of birds congregate. We recommend an exciting night drive to see your nocturnal favorites come out to hunt.
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Hacienda Vira Vira is located in beautiful Pucón Valley of the Chilean lake district. Luxuriously traditional, the hacienda is decorated with Chilean rugs, wood clad rooms and cosy furnishings. Feel inspired by the stunning nature on the Liucura River banks, a conical volcano mountain and the hotel lagoon. What’s more, the Swiss owners have a cheese producing farm onsite.
Learn to ride horses from experienced gauchos, or simply sit back and enjoy the unique hacienda experience on your Chile trip.
Things to do: Make the most of your time spent in this scenic location with the wealth of available excursions. Trek in the mountains or go skiing in winter, hike in the many national parks nearby, or kayak, sail and fish in Chile’s gushing rivers and beautiful lakes. Learn to ride horses from experienced gauchos, or simply sit back and enjoy the unique hacienda experience, watching life on the farm and sampling delicious and fresh farm made meals.
Nestled amid the snow capped Andean peaks of Puerto Guadal, this luxury hacienda in Chile offers an authentic Patagonian experience in an unspoiled, stunning landscape. Take your pick from traditional family rooms to contemporary designer rooms and suites. Or sign up for a floating room on pristine Lake Negro, watching the lush mountains mirrored in the crystal clear water from your private balcony. In keeping with its policy of sustainability, Hacienda Tres Lagos has undertaken several environmental projects, including reforestation, maintaining a water treatment plant and the use of organic products from its own farm.
Sign up for a floating room on pristine Lake Negro, watching the lush mountains mirrored in the crystal clear water from your private balcony.
Things to do: With a plethora activities available with varying levels of difficulty, you will be spoiled for choice! Hike in ancient woodlands or climb atop a horse and set out for a sundowner over the emerald lakes General Carrera, Negro, Plomo and Bertrand. Trek amid ‘Three Glaciers’ that connect the lakes or enjoy zip lining in the lush forest.
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Rustic yet chic, this estancia in Uruguay is set in a stunning location just outside fashionable Punta del Este. It’s the perfect leisure getaway from the urban resort town, offering a sophisticated estancia escape complete with eclectic art, wide open spaces, chic interiors and top notch service. A peaceful haven in a beautiful ranch, while away time soaking in the endless vistas from your designer rooms and sample delicious gourmet cuisine on offer.
Estancia Vik is the perfect leisure getaway from the chic resort town of Punta del Este.
Things to do: Apart from leisurely lounges by the pool, you can sign up to play polo or ride to the beach atop a Criollo horse at sundown. Indulge in spa treatments, yoga lessons or kayak, fish or hike away in the surrounding areas.
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Each South American country has its own unique beauty, and living on a hacienda or estancia may just be the highlight of your trip!
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