1 Estancia Huechahue, Argentina
Horse-riding is the chief draw at this 15,000-acre ranch in northern Patagonia. Head here for an authentic taste of the gaucho lifestyle to muster cattle, visit Indian burial caves, raft the Chimehuin River and fly fish for trout. The self-sufficient estancia has 10 rooms and serves communal meals featuring home-produced beef, pork, cheese and orchard fruits.
2 Estancia Cerro Guido, Chile
This 250,000-acre working ranch near Puerto Natales offers the best of two worlds: an insight into estancia life including sheep-rearing, cattle round-ups and horse-riding, plus the majestic scenery of Torres del Paine National Park. Open from October to April, Cerro Guido’s 15 rooms are set in two 1920s buildings while meals are served in a dining room with views of the surrounding wilderness.
3 Fazenda Catuçaba, Brazil
Set in more than 1,000 acres, this organic farm is a two-hour drive east of São Paulo. With no TV or internet, it’s a place to tune into nature through walks, horse rides, lake swimming and a trip to the dense rainforest of Serra do Mar State Park. At the heart of the fazenda is an elegant 1850s casarão (mansion) while the 12 rooms are set in nearby stone or timber buildings. Highlights include barbecued meats, estate-produced coffee and cachaça.
4 Estancia Guardia del Monte, Uruguay
Only a 30-minute drive from the sea, this 2,500-acre working cattle ranch near Rocha dates back to the 1800s. Accommodation is limited to three rooms in the main house with open fires and a rustic atmosphere, while meals feature grilled meats and artisan liquors. Activities include horse-riding, kayaking and birdwatching in the wetlands, and joining in with farm life and visiting a rare forest of venerable ombú trees.
5 Hacienda Venecia, Colombia
Love coffee? You can learn all about the bean on this century-old farm that offers tours and lessons in ‘cupping’ (smelling and tasting the drink). This is a hacienda that won’t blow the budget with 17 simple rooms plus a hostel with bunks. The colourful main house comes with a veranda and a dining room serving traditional soups and stews, and there’s also a pool and hiking trails.
Published in the South America guide, distributed with the October issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)