One day after my horse riding experiencing with the Gaucho Facundo in the local community Nirihuau, Analia Garcia who is employed by the local ministry of agriculture offers me to join her for one day of work with the network of families “Red Argentina de Turismo Rural Comunitario” (RATuRC). What an opportunity! Hailing from an international tourism development background myself and working to promote Creative Travel in Austria, I have long been a fan of interactive travels with the local population. On the one hand, this day offers me the opportunity to experience the magic of local travel – what are “farm holidays” like in Argentina? – on the other hand, I can take an active part in the tourism development of these local communities. A truly worthwhile experience both for me personally and professionally.
We start by visiting a family high up on the “Cerros”, or hills of the local community Villa Llanquín: The daughters have to spend their entire school week at the school building, since the only access is by horse or 4×4 vehicles. Crazy! I put all my trust in Analias know-how and the power of her 400 HP strong company jeep to manoeuvre us up the hill and onto the plateau of Villa Llanquín …
Arriving at the family house, we are welcomed with a traditional Mate tea ceremony, lunch and a visit of the new accommodation building for visitors, which has been made possible thanks to grants from the agricultural development fund: Analia is in charge of coordinating all activities related to the monetary support of these families when wishing to invest in tourism development.
Besides offering basic accommodation options, Fernán and his wife undertake hiking, horse riding or bird watching excursions with visitors into their local surrounding land, they also sell home-made textiles. Part of the farm are cats, dogs, horses, sheep, goats as well as goose and even a domestic pigeon that allows me to pet her!
During our walk, we chat to Fernán and his wife about what milestones they have already reached as well as their vision for the future of tourism: “We would like our visitors to feel what it means like living here on the countryside, what riches we have and what our values are. Many people, especially those living in the cities, do not even know what real treasures are – and often that’s exactly why they come to stay with us.”