Map of Argentina and Chile
Gaucho argentina Gaucho argentina Gaucho argentina

The gaucho: an identity of his own

The gaucho is another true symbol, a myth for those who travel through these southern countries. To many of us, he is the image of “freedom”. Who hasn't dreamt of riding a horse in the middle of thousands of hectares, alone, far from every human activity and with only one companion, a loyal horse?
To most people, the gauchos (which means "orphan") originated as the children of mixed races, Spanish and indigenous. Rejected by society, they became free rough men who wandered on horseback through the infinite landscapes looking for wild animals which became their livestock after taming them. It was said that they had no other father or mother but the Pampa...
With this journey I organize for you, you have the possibility of getting even closer to this myth, among the sky, livestock and fields, while we accompany and share their daily life.
For centuries, the gauchos were a symbol of freedom. They inhabited a territory of 800,000 km², wore wide trousers (bombachas), a hat or beret, a neckerchief, leather boots or alpargatas (similar to espadrilles), a belt decorated with silver coins and were always accompanied by his loyal friend, the horse... you will easily recognize these famous gauchos.
The gaucho made his own saddle, also known as recado, using mainly braiding leather.

The Gaucho
With a beret or leather hat, he wears a big poncho that hides, on his waist, his knife, called facon (a big knife) or dagger according to the size. The gaucho never leaves his knife, which he uses to eat, carve wood or leather and, eventually, protect himself.
The rope and the boleadoras (throwing device made of weights on the ends of interconnected cords, designed to capture animals) complete his outfit. Let’s not forget the gourd, the utensil he uses to drink mate on horseback!
Not always did the gauchos have a good reputation. During the 17th century, they were considered to be horse thieves or tramps. Before 1856, Argentina was a group of provinces in which the gauchos lived freely, watching the livestock in the vast lands of the Pampa.
For the gaucho, to live in the open air and to be free was the same thing. He was just interested in taking care of the livestock as a job, since such a job provided him with the liberty and autonomy that he needed to be happy.
The gauchos love the silence and solitude of the vast lands. So it was common for them to spend their whole life in the pampa. The noise and bustle of the city was not suitable for his temperament. Even though they seem shy and introverted, they start telling stories and laughing happily once you join them.
In 1856, the government decides to sell the country as a way of introducing money to the State. This is the beginning of the end for the gaucho’s traditional lifestyle.
Under that speculation system over the lands, the pampa looses its freedom as well as the gaucho. To work for a boss on these enclosed lands (the ranches) was not for the gaucho's character. They tamed his rebellious spirit by force and under violent rules he was sent to fight in border wars. He was also used as a slave in many ways. The survivors of these "cow-boys" from South America still work nowadays with livestock in important ranches or small fields of their own, from Rio Grande do Sur (Brazil) to the Patagonia. The gaucho tradition is still present.

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Patagonia in all seasons menu. For example, according to the climate, from Bariloche, in Patagonia Argentina, it is possible to go to Puerto Montt, in Chile, crossing successively three lakes by boat, as did the Jesuits and the first German settlers. I offer a tour that leads to the Pacific Ocean. It is quite long, but the beauty of the sites - forests, volcanoes and crystalline lakes - is such that it is worth to be carried. The Argentine side, cross the west arm of Nahuel Huapi and Lake Puerto Alegre and, the chilen side, Lake Todos los Santos. Moving from one lake to another by bus. This tour is feasible in all seasons, but in winter, it takes two days to reach Puerto Montt, stopping for one night at Peulla. We returned to Bariloche by air or by the same way, after a night in Puerto Montt. Borispatagonia is also responsible for visas to go to Chile and to book hotels. In Patagonia, winter and summer are tourist seasons. In summer, besides explore the surrounding, many activities are available: climbing, torrent fishing, sailing, horseback riding, hiking, rides, visits to Aciendas... In winter, the main activity is, of course, skiing, especially in July and August on the side of the Andes, but not only: snowshoe hikes, thematic tours, many walks to admire the beauty of Patagonia Argentina and Chile in this season, due a unique light, the warmth of the people of Patagonia... Just to talk about, I get goose bumps!