Spend any amount of time in the Argentine capital and you will hear people talk about “el campo”. “El campo” translates to “the countryside”, which can be found in all its sprawling glory just an hour or so outside of the capital in the province of Buenos Aires. It’s one of the most remarkable things about the city; how abruptly it ends just outside of the upscale and residential zona norte and gives way to green fields and flat pampas that stretch on for miles, all juxtaposed against uninterrupted blue skies. Spring is a time of reawakening in Argentina, as it is not a country known for its love of cooler climes, so when the temperatures start to rise and the winter rains cease, the campo becomes a prime weekend destination. People often go for the afternoon, taking advantage of the campo’s proximity to the city. El Campo refers to the countryside in general, but often locals will go to “estancias”, or ranches, “quintas”, or houses in the country, usually with a pool, “countrys”, which, paradoxically, are houses in private communities or “cabañas”, or cabins. These are often located within or close to “pueblos”, or towns, which can be historic and quaint, such as the famous San Antonio de Areco or more modern, such as Escobar.
The Argentina On The Go team recently had the pleasure of spending a day at the Estancia Fortin Frias, which is nestled amongst the soy fields just outside the rural village of Carlos Keen, just 90km from Buenos Aires. A 120 year old pink farmhouse is the focal point of the estancia and is itself steeped in traditional Argentine history, housing gauchos and ranchers for many decades. 60 hectares of land boasts beautiful woodlands and a canopy of mature trees on site, shading the tranquil grounds of the ranch. The estancia offers the possibility of spending the day or taking full advantage of the rural environment and spending the night. There is accommodation for up to eight guests spread across three bedrooms, each with their own private bathroom. Each bedroom can be annexed from the shared corridor and has its own access to the common patio area. The rooms are fresh in summer and cosy in winter, owing to the house’s thick-walled adobe construction and brick ceiling. Living and dining rooms and kitchen areas are available for the guests and provide some much needed respite from the heat of the campo.
A number of activities are catered for on the estancia. Naturally, they reflect the typical rural nature of the area and are centred around horses and gastronomy. The ranch has a number of its own horses which can be taken out by guests of all levels. From riding around the paddock to taking a trip on horseback into the quaint town of Carlos Keen just a few miles away, there are few more simple pleasures than horseriding in the countryside. All that exercise works up an appetite, and apart from the kitchen, Fortin Frias also has a traditional clay oven where typical Argentine fare is cooked. All of the food served is prepared freshly on site and the visitor can taste an array of delicious, local food. Mouthwatering dishes such as cordero a la cruz, lamb cooked in local fashion on a cross over a wood fire, deep fried empanadas and the typical asado, or barbeque, are just some of the gastronomic delights that can be tried on the estancia.
If you tire of relaxing in the lush surroundings of the ranch, the quaint village of Carlos Keen is just a few miles away. The horses can be saddled and you can experience the countryside like a real-life Argentine gaucho on a traditional criollo horse, and ride into town. A “pueblo” of 400 inhabitants, Carlos Keen is typical of the hidden picturesque villages that dot the province of Buenos Aires. With a sleepy, Western vibe, the town centres around an old railway track, where the old station house has been converted into a cafe, with a local museum opposite. At weekends there is a little market in the square, and a selection of saloon-style restaurants and bars line the periphery of the town. Artisans products craft goods, from honey to mushrooms to the typical gaucho shoe, the alpargata.
Contact us at email@example.com to find out more information or to organise a dia de campo in Carlos Keen and Fortin Frias!