Sayta Ranch

Enrique and Eddie in the Gunroom

Our main reason for going to Salta in the first place was because of a recommendation from Mark and Eimear who we met on the Stray bus in New Zealand. They wanted to do some horse riding in Argentina so they spent a day and a night out in the Sayta Ranch, a Gaucho station about 40km south of Sayta. The promise of horses that were easy to ride, meals of as much steak as you could eat and a never ending supply of local wine sounded perfect and a month after hearing about it, we´d arrived at the ranch hoping that we hadn´t built it up too much and wouldn´t be disappointed – we weren´t!

After being collected from our hotel and brought to Sayta, we were met by the owner Enrique, a big man with an even bigger personality who looked a bit like an evil drug lord with a knife hanging from his belt and three big dogs (a dobherman, Argentinian hound and big black labrador) at his side. Enrique turned out to be one of the nicest people we met in Argentina and after showing us around his ranch and sitting us down for breakfast in the sunshine, we got chapped up and brought to our horses.

Enrique and Riona Riona on her Horse

The horse riding itself was great – we’d gone out for an afternoon a few weeks before in Chile so had got used to the western style of riding where only one hand is used to control the horse and the other used for shooting Injuns or throwing the lasso. We didn’t have a gun or a lasso so we brought a camera instead. After trekking for about an hour, we got to practice our cantering which had mixed results. My horse knew exactly who was boss and made frequent stops to eat the bushes but everyone else seemed to get on fine! Two hours later we’d arrived back at the ranch and had the first of many glasses of wine – it was organic stuff that came from a monastery down the road and was said not to give you a hangover (sounded like a lie to me but turned out to be true). After sitting down to a meat and wine fest (where I set my new personal steak-eating record to five) we were on the horses again, but this time the effects of the wine were in full effect and we all thought we were real cowboys. It worked wonders – our new found confidence and authority meant that horses were easier to control and I wasn’t taking any of the shit from my horse that I took that morning – this bad boy wasn’t eating anything until I let him! Our new friend Debbie who we met at the Ranch slipped over the front of her stead at one stage, maybe she should have gone a bit easier on the vino :-) After two more hours of riding, we went back to the Ranch again for more wine and a snooze before dinner. This was turning out to be a great day but it was only half over yet!

Outdoor Living, Sayta Post-Lunch Banter

At ten o’clock, dinner was ready, but this time it consisted of salad and tamales, a local food made of corn dough and mince. We ate outside in the sunshine for our breakfast and lunch, but went into the house for dinner. After eating as little as we could get away with (we were all still full from lunch but Enrique doesn´t take no for an answer), we got to see Enriques´s gun room. Enrique´s father had been a collector for years and when he passed away had split his huge weapon collection between Enrique and his other son. This had to be seen to be believed, there were knifes and guns all over the place, he even had a missile and a collection of mortars and landmines. I´ve no idea where they came from in the first place and Enrique told us not to ask such questions. We got the camouflage makeup out for the craic and had a bit of a photoshoot.

Handguns Big Guns

Makeover Time Standing to Attention I'm Gonna Get You Sucka!

After the dinner and the guns, we went back outside to sit and drink under the stars. This is what life should be about, sitting around without a care in the world with good company and good wine :-) We sat around talking about all sorts of everything and spooked ourselves out with local (and not so local) ghost stories. One of the girls from Amsterdam gave us all the heebie-jeebies with tales from the house she lives in that used to be a Nazi prison during the war. It was early morning by the time we knew it and we headed off for bed with a nice content feeling and big winey heads on us, hoping that the no-hangover myths would prove true.

Dinner Time Into the Night...

The following morning we were supposed to go back into Salta but decided to hang around for lunch (which was just as good as the previous days, I even managed another five steaks!). Sayta had been just great and we didn´t want it to end, but that afternoon we said goodbye to our new friends and returned to Salta tired but with full bellies and no hangover. If I have one piece of advice for visitors to Argentina, it´s to make sure you visit this place, it´s just magic.

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One Response to “Sayta Ranch”

  1. Isa Johnston Says:

    Hi Riona and Ed,

    Reading your latest news sitting in an internet cafe in Berlin. It sounds amazing. Looking forward to the next chapter. Adios xxx

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