Saturday, April 11, 2020

Saddle up for stellar views and gaucho culture in Patagonia - Full Article and photos

At Argentina’s isolated ranches, stunning mountains, homegrown food, and cowboy customs reign.


BEYOND THE TREELESS spine of the Andes’ Desecho pass in Argentina’s far northern Patagonia, below a steep 1,500-foot scree slope, on the far end of a lush spring-fed pasture—it’s here Saul Jara tends his herds each summer.

Jara and his family have been puesteros (a type of gaucho) for generations. It is a life of seasonal rhythms, moving their goats, cows, and horses between winter invernada lowlands and summer veranada mountain pastures. His government-granted rights to this grazing foothold on public land have been passed down father to son.

A proud Criollo gelding stands tethered outside Jara’s puesto—a corrugated iron shack with no plumbing or electricity where Jara stays. Inside, a blackened pot of goat lard boils over an open fire. Flattened balls of dough sit nearby, ready for a feast of fresh tortas fritas (fried bread). Jara beckons us from his door with a broad smile and his boina cap off, as is customary when gauchos share a meal...

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