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“Patagonian retreat. Rustic luxury. Exploring the wilds!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Estancia Ranquilco

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Estancia Ranquilco
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El Huecu, 8349 , Argentina   |  
Hotel amenities
Ollantaytambo
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Patagonian retreat. Rustic luxury. Exploring the wilds!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2010

I first came to know Ranquilco in December 2007. One month of volunteering (as horseback guide) quickly turned into three months. I reckon I was just about ready to throw my passport into the river, hang up my hat and forget about life elsewhere, but previous commitments carried me reluctantly and morosely off-ranch.....to Peru actually, where I still (happily) live today.

But that doesn't stop me thinking Ranquilco-wards every time winter rolls around. In 2009 I gave in and returned for another season. Different to the first, of course; even Ranquilco, in its magical little corner of the world, is in constant flux - people come and go, horses come and go. One thing's for certain - and that's that almost everyone who goes, swears they're going to come back.

As a visitor or as a volunteer, Ranquilco is unlike any other holiday experience I know. As a visitor ( I wish I could be one) it must be the epitome of rustic ranch luxury...... gourmet breakfasts in bed (free-range eggs and home-smoked trout), candlelit suppers, roaring open fires and wood-fired saunas beside the chilly but crystal-clear waters of the Trocuman river.

Stayed January 2010, traveled solo
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14 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (3)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Leeds, United Kingdom
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2010

Ranquilco is an amazing adventure .....gorgeous landscape, beautiful horses and wonderful people. A great way to get away from the humdrum of day to day life and get back to nature.

  • Stayed October 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
London
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 24, 2009

We followed the trail into Ranquilco on our horses as the sun was setting on the mountain tops and crossed the river that runs below the estancia by moonlight. We were warmly greeted by Georgie, the embodiment of the perfect hostess, and shown to our room by candlelight. Doors were open onto a balcony with a view over the river and down an immaculate valley, a bottle of red wine was waiting and a fire had been lit in the wood burning stove that provided hot water for showers. We then went through to dinner at the grand dinning table with the friendly and entertaining owner and his partner and ate perfect food grown and prepared on the estancia.
This unique arrival was representative of our stay at Ranquilco. It is a magical place where harmony rules all. From the nature surrounding you at all times, to the gauchos who live from the land as they have always done to the owners, host and other guests you may find.
We spent our days riding around the enormous lands, swimming in crystal clear rivers, taking saunas, fishing in teeming trout rivers, sharing a mate with friends, rounding up cattle or watching nature pass slowly by.
We also went on a camping trip up to the higher hills. A full day's riding took us to where the cattle were grazing for the summer in a meadow in a valley between striking peaks. We spent time with the gauchos cooking freshly slaughtered goat over the fire (asado), walking up the hills or swimming with the horses in the lake. Experienced travelers and those who are not fond of being 'tourists' treasure authenticity. This was as authentic as it comes.
Our last evening was spent on our balcony where the estancia had laid on a feast of trout from the river, vegetables from the garden, sumptuous Argentine wine served on silver and crystal and prepared with lots of love.
We had an uplifting and life-affirming time at Ranquilco and we will never forget it. The moods, feelings and experiences are still very much in our minds much later.
If you like nature, adventure and harmony, go!

Stayed January 2009, traveled as a couple
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Lagos, Nigeria
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 5, 2009

I spent 10 days in Ranquilco in April 2009 and I wished I planned to stay longer. The location is amazing, you reach the estancia only on horse back. It is a four-hour riding and you immediately feel you are leaving the world behind. The landscape is breathtaking: hills, spring waters, the peak of the mountains, the blue sky all around you. If you love nature, horse, animals, that's your heaven. You wake up in the morning and you arrange your horse track, you choose with the staff your horse and he becomes your companion for the whole time. The atmosphere is laid back, relaxed, you can take part to the estancia's activities or relax in the garden with a good book. You can have a chat in the kitchen, maybe cooking bread with chef, or just sipping a glass of wine. You leave behind the rest of the world and the nature, the warmth of the staff and the beauty of the animal will overwhelm you.

  • Stayed April 2009, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
British Columbia
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 13, 2009

Ranquilco is not a hotel or resort as much as it is an adventure. To get there you will travel by horseback for 4 hours across the big sky plains of northern Patagonia. We rode in, a slow motion beginning to our timeless journey on the cattle ranch located on a trout filled river of dreams. Some come to ride, we came to fish a remote and little known river.

Our week there was filled with excellent fishing, superb dining, and enjoyable interactions with the owners and staff. If you're looking for what may be a once in a lifetime experience that takes you to the far reaches of the Andes mountains, beyond the reach of phones, computers and the ever accelerating pace of current western civilization, you won't be disappointed. You might even find the peace you've been seeking. And you'll certainly leave so much richer, in so many ways.

  • Stayed February 2009, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bioston, MA
1 review
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 6, 2008

In January and February 2008 I spent six wonderful weeks at Estancia Ranquilco in Patagonia, or the Argentine Andes. I fell in love with the place and regard my stay there as the best vacation of my life.

Staying at Ranquilco was not like visiting any other resort I’ve ever experienced. The scenery, the accommodations, the activities, the people – all were unique and exceptional. Staying there is more like getting invited to visit as a friend of the family than going to a resort as a paying customer. There’s something about Ranquilco that seems to bring the best out in everyone. Part of it is certainly the breathtaking grandeur of the region. Another part is that everyone, owner, staff and clients alike, seemed to enjoy simply being there and making the best of their stay. Another important element was the atmosphere of peace and tranquility that pervades the region. The weather was ideal – warm in the day, cool at night, dry, with crystal clear skies day and night. The Estancia’s main compound is best described as “rustic elegance” -- just rustic enough to make you feel like you’ve stepped back a couple of centuries to a simpler and less hectic time, yet, at the same time, very elegant and comfortable. The horse riding and camping were great fun, just challenging enough to give you a sense of accomplishment, but not over-taxing.

Ranquilco is very remote and pristine. Consider this – the only sounds I ever heard were horses snorting and whinnying, a few human voices, an occasional dog bark, the almost constant breeze in the trees and the faint rush of the river rapids in the gorge just below the main compound. In my six weeks there I never saw or heard an airplane or saw an airplane contrail

The staff and accommodations were exceptional. The owner was a gracious host who interacted with his guests daily and genuinely took pleasure in seeing them enjoy themselves.

The gauchos working the ranch, and with whom I interacted regularly, are really great guys -- helpful, capable, good humored and just all-around fun to be with (they speak no English and I speak little Spanish, but that never proved to be a serious problem). They do the heavy work around the estancia. The horses are strong, sure-footed and “user friendly”. The food was excellent – wholesome, wonderfully prepared, organically nurtured and right out of the ground or off the range.

When I was there, a typical day at the main compound started with breakfast at about 9:00/9:30 AM, lunch around 2:00 PM and dinner around 9:00/10:00 PM. Breakfast was generally served in the kitchen, lunch on the patio and dinner either on the patio (by candlelight) or in the elegant formal dining room (Wedgewood china, sterling silverware and sterling candelabra). If a group of us wanted to go for a ride they’d pack us a lunch to take with us. Best of all, every week or so they had an “asado”, or barbeque, with a meat cooked before a wood fire, accompanied by numerous side dishes, breads, wine and more. My free hours were spent doing some combination of reading, horse riding, gardening, exploring, napping, performing small maintenance/repair projects (voluntarily) around the compound and chatting with the volunteers and other clients. Around 6:00/7:00 I’d light a small fire in my bathroom’s hot water heater, give it a half-hour to heat up, and take a nice, hot shower. Darkness fell at about 11:00 PM, and I mean total darkness. The only light pollution in that area is from the moon and the incredible canopy of stars!

Then there were the camping trips! A typical one involved four to six hours of horse riding to the first campsite high in the mountains, each person carrying their own personal gear in saddle bags. Pack horses and mules transported the heavy gear, food and wine (an essential and plentiful commodity at Ranquilco). Everyone set up their own tent and sleeping arrangement while the volunteers and gauchos prepared the meals over an open fire. The scenery we rode through and camped in was awesome, really beyond imagination. The grandeur and scale of everything was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. During the days we spent the time exploring by foot or horseback, taking care of the horses, helping with gathering firewood and cooking or just relaxing around the campfire and chatting. The time absolutely flew by. After a couple of days we would move on to another spectacular spot and set up again, for a total outing of five or six days.

Another important aspect of a stay at Ranquilco was working with the cattle. If you are there at the right times, you can, if you want to, participate in cattle round-ups for branding, for sales and to simply move herds from one location to another. In doing this you work side-by-side with the gauchos. As inexperienced as I was in horsemanship and cattle herding I was made to feel like a valuable member of the team. At times it was hard, dusty work, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Making the task even more rewarding was the fact that the round-ups for branding and cattle sales were always followed by a big “asado”, or barbeque, with some of the gauchos providing guitar music, much dancing by guests, volunteers, gauchos and their families, and lots of wine. Those parties would go into the wee hours of the morning.

I’ll end with a few miscellaneous points. First, while the Ranquilco area is very dry and dusty, water in the form of mountain rivers and pure, cold, crystal clear springs are everywhere. The springs provide wonderful and plentiful drinking water for the estancia and wherever you travel throughout the countryside. Second, the meat served most often is goat cooked in various ways. It was a new experience for me and I found it delicious. Beef, right off the range, is the next most frequently served meat. They also cater to vegetarian diets. Third, electric power at the main compound is limited but adequate for all the needs I had. They have a solar panel array that can charge batteries, run laptops and power a few lights. They had a small hydro-turbine system that provided power throughout the compound until late 2007 when it wore out. I happen to know that a new one is slated for installation later this year. We used flashlights to move around after dark and candles in the rooms. Truthfully I did not miss the hydro-turbine power. Fourth, as hinted at earlier, wine is plentiful, very good and does not contain sulfites, making it headache free. Fifth, bird watching is incredible there, with Andean condors, numerous raptors, flamingos and dozens of other birds unique to the area encountered everywhere. Sixth, this is still really a wild area. As you ride through the countryside you will frequently come across skeletons of various animals, large and small, as well as spot live rabbits and foxes. Puma still roam the area. The hides of two of them hang in the barn at Ranquilco, one quite large that was shot in the compound last year. Puma tracks showed up in the main compound once while I was there.

Bottom line – would I go back to Estancia Ranquilco? The answer to that is I’ve already booked another visit for February/March 2009. This time I signed up for one of the special 14-day mountain camping trips offered by the owners
's son. He is a highly qualified wilderness survival expert and knows the area intimately. I will learn how to pack horses, start fires without modern aides, cook over a campfire, take care of my horse, set up a camp site, etc. The word is that these programs are great fun and immensely educational. I plan to stay a few weeks beyond the course as well.

  • Liked — The rustic elegance
  • Disliked — Can't think of any.
  • Stayed January 2008, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Estancia Ranquilco

Address: El Huecu, 8349 , Argentina
Location: Argentina > Patagonia > Province of Neuquen
Amenities:
Free Breakfast Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #38 of 269 Specialty Lodging in Province of Neuquen
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Experience the real Patagonia… its landscape, animals and people. Estancia Ranquilco is a remote family-owned horse and cattle ranch nestled in the foothills of the Andes. It’s a vast expanse of land in Patagonia, stretching across leagues of high steppes, river valleys, grazing meadows, and jagged cliffs, into the very heart of the Argentine cordillera. Ranquilco’s western boundary is Chile – the high country - graced with lakes, waterfalls, condors, hot springs, and weeks of wandering. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Estancia Ranquilco Argentina/Province Of Neuquen, Patagonia

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