In between all the glacier viewing and mountain hiking we experienced in Patagonia, we relaxed one day with a horseback ride outside of El Calafate. We spent a day on a ranch there, seeing how the ranch worked and how the few people that live in Patagonia year-round survived. It was really beautiful.
It was still quite early when we got there, so we were served breakfast, which was a simple hearty bread and a gourd of yerba mate that was passed around as we learned about the farm by the fire. Yerba mate (mah-tay) is a traditional drink made of pressed caá leaves and drank with a group out of a single gourd and a metal straw. It’s very traditional and considered a social equalizer in Argentinian (and Brazilian, apparently) culture: Around a fire with a gourd of yerba mate, race, income, gender, etc all stop mattering.
The host always takes the first sip (it’s the most bitter) and then passes the drink. I found it extremely bitter, but a lot of people really liked it and I think it’s something you have to learn to like. If you’re interested, it’s easy to buy online – the traditional way to drink it is loose-leaf in a gourd.*
This isn’t a form of punishment. They had to tie the calve’s heads to keep them from trying to drink their mother’s milk while the farmer was milking them.
View from the horseback ride. I don’t have any photos of me horseback riding because I was carrying the camera, but I assure you it happened.
The trip to the farm was a relaxing and wonderful day, and it was a really beautiful place nestled in the mountains in Patagonia that way. If you’re looking to book a trip out of the cold northern hemisphere, Patagonia is a great place to head south and start adventuring! Check out more photos from hiking the glaciers in Patagonia or tell me below about your favorite adventure travel escape!