Buenos Aires province

Shutterstock/47007448/A JellemaThe Pampas is the perfect antidote to the frenzied pace of Buenos Aires. These peaceful flatlands, stretching out in all directions towards dramatic mountains in the south and the unspoiled Atlantic coast to the east, are wonderful places for escape and relaxation within a few hours' drive of the capital.

Argentina's estancias (loosely translated as ranches) produce the superb beef which once made this country the breadbasket of the world, and staying in one is a quintessential part of Argentine life, complete with gauchos (cowboys) and asados(much more than a barbecue). Whether you choose a grand colonial mansion, or a simple working farm, you'll be welcomed as part of the family, and will gain a real insight into the culture, while enjoying the pleasure of life on the land. Ride your horse across the plains, and then tuck into a meal of succulent home-grown beef cooked on an open fire under the stars: an unforgettable experience. Gauchos are still very much part of Argentine rural life and you can enjoy their music and fine horsemanship in quaint Pampas towns such as San Antonio de Areco and Chascomús, virtually unchanged since the early 1900s.

The Atlantic beaches are a great way to cool down in the summer. Avoid the tawdry casinos of famous Mar del Plata and head instead for the chic resorts of Mar de los Pampas and Carilóor, or escape to Pinamar where in summer you can party with the youth of Buenos Aires. Two of the oldest mountain ranges in the world pop up from the flat pampas at Tandil and Sierra de la Ventana, attracting climbers, hikers and anyone looking for a relaxing weekend in beautiful countryside. For information on the region, see www.probairesturismo.gba.gov.ar (in English).

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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