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8 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Gaucho Tour in Buenos Aires +Review

8 Things to Know BEFORE Booking a Gaucho Tour in Buenos Aires +Review

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Buenos Aires is a big city with a lot to offer, but one of the best things to do here is take a day trip to the countryside and experience life on a traditional gaucho ranch! 

Gauchos are an important folk symbol in Argentinian culture, and booking a tour to an estancia (ranch) is a fantastic way to learn more about the gaucho way of life. Gaucho tours often involve horseback riding, traditional dancing, and horse whispering demonstrations, so they’re a lot of fun – and they take you a world away from the urban landscape of Buenos Aires.

While in Buenos Aires, I took a break from sightseeing in the city to go on a gaucho tour and absolutely loved it! Whether you’re planning on spending 3 days in Buenos Aires or an entire week, it’s worth adding to your itinerary.

So if you’re considering booking a gaucho tour in Buenos Aires, stay tuned because this blog post contains everything you need to know! 

Don’t have time to read the full article? My top recommendation for a gaucho tour from Buenos Aires is this day tour of a ranch near San Antonio de Areco. The Malbec is flowing all day, and you get to enjoy a horseback tour and a delicious barbecue while learning about gaucho culture and history.

1. About gauchos in Argentina

Gaucho couple dance on a tour from Buenos Aires
Old building at a Gaucho ranch near Buenos Aires

So the first thing you’re probably wondering is: what is a gaucho? Well, a gaucho is a skilled horseman, known for his brave and wild nature – a bit like a cowboy! 

Gauchos are revered in Argentinian folklore and nowadays are seen as quite romantic, but they’re also real people. In fact, our guide informed us that there are still around 50,000 gauchos living and working in Argentina today. 

Historically, gauchos were actually mestizos, which means that they were of mixed heritage from both Indigenous South Americans and Spanish colonists. Their dual parentage meant that they occupied an unusual place in society, and so they began working as horsemen on the ranches, and the term “gaucho” was born! 

During Argentina’s fight for independence from Spain, the gauchos played a key role in the conflict and acted as guides and spies, earning a reputation for bravery. Then, after the war, most gauchos settled in the Pampas region of Argentina. 

Another cool thing about the gauchos is that they invented the asado (aka barbecuing meat over an open flame), which is now an iconic part of Argentine cuisine. 

2. Where do gaucho tours take place in Buenos Aires?

A Gaucho on a tour from Buenos Aires
The gauchos are Latin cowboys!

Gaucho tours in Buenos Aires take you to the town of San Antonio de Areco, which is about 2 hours west of the city. It’s a small town in the middle of Las Pampas countryside, which is Argentina’s flat grassland region. 

The small town center is full of cute, historic architecture and even a small museum where you can check out the work of a local silversmith. And, of course, there are lots of estancias around where you can go and watch gauchos in action. 

This is one of the places in Argentina that’s really significant to the preservation of gaucho heritage. In 1926, the prominent Argentine novelist Ricardo Güiraldes wrote a novel about gauchos in San Antonio de Areco, and the town proudly took on the role of guardian of the gaucho tradition. Every year in November, the town hosts a festival to celebrate the gaucho culture with parades, traditional games, and of course, asado

3. What does a gaucho tour in Buenos Aires typically include?

Man lays down with his horse while a Gaucho plays music to the horse
Watching traditional Gauchos dance at a Gaucho tour from Buenos Aires

When you take a gaucho tour in Buenos Aires, you’ll usually be picked up from your accommodation fairly early in the morning and driven out to San Antonio de Areco. 

On the way out of the city, your guide will give you a little background to the neighborhoods that you pass through and even offer some recommendations of places to check out in the city after the tour. Our guide, Marcelo, gave us some great tips about hidden speakeasies to visit! 

Before you get to the ranch, you’ll stop in San Antonio de Areco town center to use the toilet at a local cafe and grab a coffee if you like. You’ll also visit a silversmith workshop, a tailor where traditional gaucho clothes are made, and a deli where you can sample some local cured meat. As you explore, your guide will teach you more about the town and the gaucho way of life here.

You’ll arrive at the estancia in the late morning and be greeted with some snacks and a complimentary drink. You’ll take a quick walk around the estancia and then take a short tour of the farm, either on horseback or a horse and cart if you don’t feel comfortable riding. 

There’s really no need to worry if you’re not an experienced horse rider, as you’ll be on flat land the entire time. You’ll also have two gauchos with you, plus your guide, to make sure that you stay safe. I had only ridden a horse once before my gaucho tour, and I was absolutely fine! 

Then, you’ll have some free time at the ranch to explore, enjoy more drinks, and snap photos before you have lunch. And since the gauchos were the original creators of the Argentine asado, it’s only fitting that this is what you will eat!

An asado typically has many courses. You usually start with salads, chorizo, blood sausage, and chinchulines, which are cow intestines. They may sound a little gross, but if you give them a try, they’re actually really tasty. I say keep an open mind! 

You’ll also get ribs, beef skirt steak, and flank steak. Honestly, you’ll probably be stuffed by the end, but you’ll also have the option of enjoying a traditional flan for dessert. I was way too full to accept, but my friends enjoyed it. The Malbec was also flowing on the tour that we did

After lunch, you’ll enjoy traditional folk music and dancing and then watch a horse whispering demonstration. We couldn’t believe it when the gaucho started spooning the horse, but our guide told us that this was actually how gauchos and their horses used to sleep during the civil war, for protection! 

Finally, you’ll head back to Buenos Aires, arriving at around 6 pm. Honestly, I wouldn’t bother making dinner reservations that night because I was way too full to eat another thing for the rest of the day!

Related Read: It’s also possible to experience gaucho culture and go horseback riding on a tour from El Calafate.

4. What are the best gaucho tours in Buenos Aires?

Two Gauchos dance while we eat and drink wine on our Gaucho tour from Buenos Aires
It’s a fun time!

Gaucho Day Tour Ranch in San Antonio de Areco

This is the gaucho tour that I did from Buenos Aires, and I loved it! We visited an absolutely beautiful ranch in San Antonio de Areco, which was a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires. 

Our guide gave us a quick but very informative tour of San Antonio de Areco and shared lots of fun historical facts with us. Then, when we arrived at the ranch, we were greeted with some warm empanadas and a complimentary beer or wine. On the Viator page for this tour, it says that alcoholic drinks aren’t included, but this isn’t actually true. The drinks were flowing throughout the day – we also got plenty of Malbec to go with our lunch. 

After our drinks and empanadas, we had a quick tour of the estancia before saddling up for a horseback ride! You can also choose a sulky cart ride instead if you’re nervous about riding or are traveling with young children. 

The horse riding lasts for around 20 minutes. Then, you get some time to relax on the beautiful ranch before lunch, which is a delicious asado. Afterward, we enjoyed watching folk dancing and horse whispering. 

What really made this tour stand out, though, was our guide, Marcelo. He was so thoughtful and went the extra mile to make sure everyone had a great day. And as a Boca fan, I also had fun bantering with him about the Boca Jrs vs. River Plate rivalry. 

This is a small group tour, which makes it feel even more personal. There were other guests on the ranch, but there were only 7 of us sharing transport and our guide, so it was a nice way to get to know some new people. 

The tour costs $169 USD per person and includes everything we mentioned. You’ll take off from Buenos Aires around 8:30 am, and the whole day lasts for about 9 hours, including travel time to and from the ranch. In my opinion, it was worth every penny! 

For a full day of new experiences, check availability and book this tour online here.

Small-Group Gaucho Day at a Farm in San Antonio de Areco

This small-group gaucho tour makes an excellent day trip from Buenos Aires and shows you a very different side to life in Argentina. 

You’ll be picked up at around 8:30 am to visit the town of San Antonio de Areco for a quick walking tour. This includes a stop at a popular local dessert spot where gauchos used to drink and a small boutique where they still buy their clothes to this day. 

Once you get to the farm, you’ll enjoy welcome drinks and snacks before embarking on a short horseback tour. The guides make you feel super safe, and the horses are very well trained, so there’s no need to be nervous, even if you’re a complete beginner! 

At lunchtime, you’ll enjoy an asado with more food than you can imagine. The meat is served bit by bit, so don’t overload your plate all at once because the waiters keep coming around and giving you more food. During dessert, which is either flan or a refreshing popsicle, you’ll watch traditional gaucho dancing, followed by music and a horse whispering demonstration. During the dancing, you’ll also have the opportunity to get up and join in, if you like. 

This tour costs $170 USD per person, including all food, activities, and transport. It’s a great way to get out of the city and experience a totally different kind of atmosphere in the countryside – without having to fly to a different part of Argentina! 

To see this traditional side of Argentina for yourself, book this small-group tour in advance here.

Private Tour to San Antonio de Areco: Gaucho Town and Estancia

This private gaucho tour allows you to dive even deeper into Argentina’s past, so it’s a fantastic option for history lovers. Since it’s a private experience with just your group, you’ll enjoy a more in-depth tour of the town center of San Antonio de Areco. You’ll also visit a few extra places that aren’t included in the group tour. 

One of these places is the Ricardo Güiraldes Museum, where you can learn more about the life of the writer who really put the town on the map. Another is La Olla de Cobre chocolate workshop, where you can find some of the best chocolates around. You can find wonderful chocolates in small towns all over Argentina – such as Bariloche and El Calafate – but La Olla makes the best ones within driving distance of the capital! 

After your tour of San Antonio de Areco, you’ll head to a nearby estancia for a horseback tour and an asado lunch. Since you’ll have a guide for just your group, you’ll be able to ask lots of questions about life on the farm and its history. There’s also music, dancing, and horse-whispering to enjoy before you head back to Buenos Aires. It’s such a fun-filled day and provides a convenient window into Argentine culture, especially if you only have a couple of days in Buenos Aires.

The private tour costs $220 USD per person or $180 USD if you have a group of 6 or more. This price covers all the food, transport, and activities we mentioned. I think this is a great option if you’re traveling in a larger group or just want to uncover more of the gaucho history and culture than you would on a shared tour. 

If a more personalized experience sounds perfect for you, reserve your private tour here!

A Gaucho tour in Buenos Aires
A gaucho tour in Buenos Aires

Estancia Gaucho Day at El Ombu de Areco

If you want a fun day trip with music, dancing, delicious food, and plenty of Malbec, then this day trip to El Ombu de Areco Ranch is sure to be a hit. 

El Ombu de Areco Ranch is just beautiful, and the grounds cover 400 hectares (988 acres). You’ll get to have a quick look inside the impressive main house, as well as explore the farm by horseback or horse and cart, depending on your preference. You’ll also learn about the history of the gaucho figure and why gauchos are such an important part of Argentine culture. 

You’ll also enjoy an al fresco barbecue lunch at the estancia, as well as watching a gaucho cultural show that includes folk songs, traditional dancing, and horse wrangling. And while you enjoy all of this, you’ll be able to sip on as much Argentine Malbec as you please – what could be better?

This tour is also great for families, as kids love the horse riding tour and all of the music and dancing. It’s an awesome way to discover what life is like in rural Argentina and enjoy some delicious food and drink while you’re at it. I also love that there are some vegetarian options available on this tour, so you can still enjoy the barbecue even if you don’t eat meat!

The tour costs $165 USD per person and includes all the food, drinks, and transport. You’ll be picked up between 8:30 am and 9 am in Buenos Aires and return to your hotel at around 6 pm. It’s quite a long day, but you can nap in the comfortable air-conditioned van on the way there and back – and all the Malbec will definitely help you to nod off. Check availability and book this full-day tour online here.

Why We Book Tours with Viator

Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:

  • Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
  • Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
  • Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

5. My review of the gaucho experience

Gauchos on a tour from Buenos Aires
Gaucho demonstration with a horse
Gaucho demonstration with a horse

I had a fantastic time on the gaucho tour that I did. It was super well-organized, and I thought it had a really nice balance between free time and guided activities. Our guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, and I loved learning about gaucho culture from him, as I knew very little before the tour! 

We were picked up right on time, and I also really enjoyed the tour of San Antonio de Areco. It was fairly quick, but it was great to see the contrast between a small rural town and the huge metropolis of Buenos Aires. It’s a good way to see different sides of Argentina.

The estancia itself was just beautiful, although, personally, I would have liked the horseback tour to be a little bit longer. I can’t fault the lunch at all, though – there was so much food, and it was all absolutely delicious. It was definitely one of the best asados that I’ve enjoyed in Argentina. 

The folk music and dancing were also wonderful to watch, and I loved the fact that everyone had the opportunity to get up and dance at the end. The horse whispering show ended the day on a high note, as I had never seen anything like it before. 

All in all, I had a blast at the gaucho ranch. I was super happy with the whole experience. It had been on my Buenos Aires bucket list for a while, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. It’s a really wholesome experience and a fun way to learn more about Argentine culture and history. I would definitely go again! 

6. Can you do a gaucho tour if you are allergic to horses?

A Gaucho plays music to a horse at a Gaucho tour from Buenos Aires

Honestly, it’s probably not the best idea. 

While horse riding only makes up a short portion of the tour, horse dander can travel hundreds of meters or yards, so just being on the ranch may set you off. Plus, you’ll be surrounded by gauchos who spend most of their lives around horses. It really depends on how severe your allergy is, but you’re probably better off considering another day trip from Buenos Aires

Related Read: Another one of our favorite excursions from Buenos Aires is visiting Iguazu Falls!

7. Are gaucho tours suitable for children?

Yes! Children of all ages are welcome on this tour. Kids who are too young to ride horses can enjoy a horse and cart tour instead, and they will love the music, dancing, and horse demonstrations. 

The tour does involve complimentary alcohol, so people will be drinking, but it’s definitely not a big party experience. No one was drinking to excess, but obviously, it depends on what individual parents are comfortable with. 

8. Is a gaucho tour in Buenos Aires worth it?

Gauchos dance on a tour from Buenos Aires
Yes!

Yes, absolutely. It was a really memorable day out and one of the best tours I have done in Buenos Aires. It’s got a little bit of everything: adventure, history, culture, scenery, food, and wine. What’s not to love? I think this is a must-do while you’re in the city. 

Related Read: Once you’re ready to leave Buenos Aires, consider heading to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia. It’s pretty remote, so our guide to tours in Ushuaia can help you plan.

Other Activities to do While You’re in Buenos Aires

Bailey sits on the colorful streets of La Boca, Buenos Aires
Even the streets are colorful in La Boca!
potatoe dishes at the Argentine Experience in Buenos Aires (2)
You won’t leave The Argentine Experience hungry!

Spending the day on a gaucho tour is awesome, but there are also plenty of other things you can do in Buenos Aires. Whether you have one day in Buenos Aires or several weeks, you’ll have no issues filling that itinerary. So if you’re looking for even more fun activities, check out some of my favorites below!

  • Wander around La Boca – This is our favorite neighborhood in Buenos Aires! La Boca is famous for being so colorful, and you’ll often hear tango music while you’re walking around here. There are some great bars and art museums, or just walk around on a sightseeing tour or on your own and see what you find!
  • Gran Café Tortoni – Gran Café Tortoni is an iconic Buenos Aires coffeehouse. It’s one of the oldest cafes in the city and has even been named one of the most beautiful cafes in the world! This is the perfect place to grab a late-morning coffee or medialunas (Argentina’s mini croissants).
  • Shop at the San Telmo Market – Located in one of the most historic and atmospheric neighborhoods, the San Telmo Market is a huge indoor market with fresh produce, amazing street food stalls, and antique stores. The market is open daily from roughly 9 am to 8 pm, although some restaurants close around 4 pm, and other stalls and shops are only open on weekends.
  • Try an interactive dining experience – Food is incredible in Buenos Aires, and The Argentine Experience takes it to the next level. When you book this immersive dining experience, you get to make (and eat) your own empanadas, taste world-renowned wine and steak, and mingle with other guests. It’s a night to remember and the perfect way to sample all the local treats!

Where to Stay in Buenos Aires, Argentina

spacious room at Hilton Buenos Aires, Argentina
Photo credit: Hilton Buenos Aires

If you’re heading to Buenos Aires soon, you might want to figure out where you’re staying! Luckily, there are many great options in the city. As you’re narrowing it down, you can take a peek at our guide to the best areas to stay in Buenos Aires.

You don’t need to break the bank to stay here, but if you are searching for a luxurious getaway, you can find that too. Here are my top picks for various price ranges!

Hilton Buenos Aires – $$$

You can’t beat the location with the riverside Hilton Buenos Aires. You’ll be in Puerto Madero, within walking distance of downtown and about a 30-minute drive from Palermo. There’s a rooftop pool to relax in or sit down for a meal or drink at the hotel’s restaurant or bar.

The service is exceptional, and the rooms are spacious. It’s a more expensive place to stay at $250-$350 USD per night, but worth it if you’re looking for a five-star experience. So for the ultimate luxury in Buenos Aires, book your stay at the Hilton online here.

Broadway Hotel & Suites – $$

Located in the heart of Buenos Aires, the Broadway Hotel & Suites offers really spacious rooms at a great price. The swimming pool on the roof has amazing panoramic city views and a sun deck to soak up some rays. The rooms feature large windows, minimalistic art deco-type décor, and bathrooms with marble fittings. You’ll also have plenty of choices for shopping and restaurants nearby.

Plus, a junior suite here can be under $70 USD! To snag this awesome deal, I highly recommend you check availability and book online in advance.

Selina Palermo – $

Stay in one of the trendiest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires on a budget! Selina Palermo puts you close to the best bars and nightclubs – in the heart of Palermo. The place feels really modern, and there are nice extras like a rooftop bar, hostel events, breakfast, and bike rentals available.

Shared dorm rooms with bunk beds are around $20 USD per night. If sharing isn’t your style, there are affordable private rooms with nice balconies overlooking the city starting at around $90 USD. You can book your stay on Booking.com or HostelWorld.com to secure your room!

Planning your Trip to Argentina

Glacier Trekking on the Perito Moreno Glacier, El Calafate, Argentina
The glacier trekking is so much fun!

Accommodation in Argentina

Booking accommodation is one of the biggest aspects of your trip, and we should know as we stay in a new hotel up to 40 times per year! Funny enough, we make 99% of these bookings on one website and that’s Booking.com – and there are a few reasons why we use this site!

Number one is the website is easy to use and sorts accommodation options. That takes the stress out of planning which honestly still affects us and we do it more than not.

Second, is the price guarantee. We have literally booked a hotel months before and then 1 week out found it cheaper (we always do a quick search), and they’ll match that price from anyone’s website including the hotels!

And third, is the Genius loyalty program. If you make a certain amount of bookings per year you get a Genius discount. We are level-two geniuses because we make more than 5 a year. At participating hotels, we get things like free breakfast included, early check-in, and up to 15% off.

You can check out all their accommodation options throughout Argentina!

Renting a car in Argentina

renting a car in patagonia
We rented a car in Southern Argentina and found that it was a very convenient and enjoyable way to travel!

We enjoyed a rental car for our second trip to Argentina when we traveled in Patagonia – and wow, what a way to travel! But the best part was that we only paid $40 USD per day for a 5-person sedan!

But how? Well, if you’re renting a car in Argentina, the cheapest company is Discover Cars. We often get questions from readers asking us if the website is fake because it seems too cheap! It’s a great website and the one we used for our rental.

If you do want to compare prices (and you should), do a quick search on Airport Car Rentals too. They’re another big competitor and each company often has its own deals to offer!

Tours in Argentina

drinking glacier water from perito moreno glacier
Drinking pure glacier water on our glacier tour!

We love booking online because we can check reviews of the tour and know exactly what to expect on the tour, such as the itinerary and inclusions. Sometimes the tours are pricier online than booking directly in person, but this is why we always book with Viator. If we happen to find the exact same tour for a lower price once we’re at the destination, Viator will actually refund the price difference!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie in Buenos Aires
Thanks for reading!

Taking a gaucho tour from Buenos Aires gets you out of the busy city and allows you to see another side of Argentina’s culture. I had such a great time on my tour and would absolutely go again. Hopefully, this blog has answered all of your questions about going on a gaucho tour!

Of course, visiting a ranch and learning about gaucho culture is just one of the many things you should do while in Buenos Aires. To help you plan your visit, check out our blog about Argentina here. We’ve also written about many other destinations in South America. Get started with one of the posts linked below:

20 BEST Things to do in Mendoza, Argentina

33 BEST Places to Visit in South America

Ultimate Guide to Visiting Puerto Madryn, Argentina +10 BEST Things to do