Last weekend I managed to get two days away from skiing and get myself off on an amazing drive across a small portion of Argentina. I was assured by my compadres’ that the drive was easy. However, it was 300kms away and across various areas of differing terrain! As long as I turned right, then stayed on the 40 route road for 120kms I would be fine……that was until the car hire chap asked if I would like to have the wheels balanced.
A speedy trip into Bariloche following the previously mentioned car hire owner… left me in the middle of a city with no traffic rules…well, apart from red traffic lights! Anyway I managed to ease myself out of the town via the surrounding suburbs. Easy if you have driven here before and easy if you know where you are going!
Finally I was on the right road and following my map kindly drawn for me by my new friend here at Romero Restaurant , Guido. The plan is to get to Jane Williams farm. Seen below here, Guido working hard to look intelegent!
Jane, kindly sent me written directions which proved invaluable when seeking her out. I headed for ‘La Rinconada,…La Rinconada is a junction in the road….I had visions that it was a town or at least a few houses.!
The roads here are enormous, once you are on a road you had better make sure it is the right one otherwise you will be travelling for hundreds of kilometres before you find out if it is indeed the right one! Scary thought when you are used to A & B roads of Devon UK!
The point of this exercise was to visit Jane and see for myself the amazing farm and her even more amazing exploits. The views on the way left me breathless, the sights are amazing with such varied terrain and awe inspiring vistas. Every turn you take in the car has a picture waiting to be taken. There are so few cars on the road that it feels that it all belongs to you, the space, the views the sky! The light, if you are into any kind of artistic pastime is just fantastic. The light makes everything so much more vivid just superb for photography. There are rock formations which you generally only see in the National Geographic magazines.
Once I arrived at the farm I was greeted firstly by a goat which thought it was a dog, and a dog which was bigger than the goat and still only 4 months old!
Jane, the farm owner, has lived in Argentina for the last 30 years and her family, of two sons both currently working in the UK. The farm has an outstanding 15000 acres, 850 cattle and over 70 horses and has views which quite frankly take your breath away. The area, being in the middle of ancient volcano activity, has mountains which many are un-named, with flat tops and near vertical cliffs surrounding them. To go horse riding in this terrain must be the ultimate in any adventure. The farm is completely self sufficient having its own hydro electric power supply and own water etc. All this is kept up by Jane and her 10 workers on the farm. She is an inspiration and a true pioneer!
As well as looking after the farm and the up keep of this, Jane and her fellow workers, organise various trips across the surrounding areas, from just a few days to an awesome 3 week crossing the continent horse riding trip. Starting on the Pacific in Chile and ending up on the Argentinian Atlantic coast. Camping along the way in completely desolate areas where there is no access by car and to add to the remoteness, no rescue helicopters or help! Now that’s what I call real life. To enable this mammoth trek, Jane needs to arrange that the backup horses are taken via a huge truck across dirt roads to rendezvous with you every 2-3 days. The horses are kept in a corral by the gaucho’s who travel with them, and you! This whole adventure is amazing and to see this in more detail you need to visit the web site which is at the end of this blog.
The accommodation which is supplied on the farm is of a very high quality and Jane also caters for ‘non’ horse riders as there are various other adventure activities in the area such as white water rafting…..big stuff over here!
My stay was fantastic even though it was for only a day and a half! A walk around the ‘deer fenced’ off part of the farm followed by assisting in the vaccination of 40 odd horses, only to be asked if I would like a ride across the hillside. Well, having NEVER ridden a horse I thought it was about time I did. I loved it! None of the ‘pomp’ of what I felt was British horse riding, this was; a case of, here’s a horse, here’s a saddle’ here are some reigns and this is how you steer the horse, let’s go…That’s my kind of riding! Off we went, which must be bread & butter to Jane, across the volcanic hillside above the farm. For me, unforgettable.
Returning back to Bariloche was, again, an awe inspiring trip. Thank you Jane for your time, I have learned so much about the Argentinian way of life and an insight into how to live out here.
The real way to do it is like Jane, take it for what it is and live life to the full! Hope to ski with you soon Jane!