Posted by Bethany | December 1, 2015
We decided to splurge on a big excursion in Buenos Aires and stumbled on Argentina Polo Day on wikitravel.org. We researched it a bit on Trip Advisor and it had incredible reviews. After experiencing it for ourselves we can see why 746 people agree it’s one of the top attractions in Argentina.
We booked via email, and Celia got back to us right away. Our guide Cony picked us up the next day at our Airbnb at 9:40 a.m. It was supposed to be a 45-minute ride to the polo club, but it took about 45 minutes to pick up other passengers around Buenos Aires.
The day got off to a bit of a rough start when we hit a bad traffic jam on the highway and had to take back roads. It ended up taking close to three hours to get there, so we were more than ready for our welcome glass of wine and beef empanadas when we arrived!
Surprisingly there were only four people visiting that day. It was us, an American woman there on business and a French woman traveling solo. Apparently there are typically 10-20 people, which is more what we expected. While it would have been nice to have more travellers to connect with during down time (specifically those interested in indulging in the all-you-can-eat and drink beef and red wine as the two of us were), having such a small group enabled us to received more personal attention.
Argentina Polo Day takes places at an actual polo club. It’s a huge, beautiful farm with several fields and a very nice clubhouse. There are roughly 20-30 members of the club and every day a group of them (along with others) come together to play a match. Once we had wine and fresh empanadas in hand, Cony walked us around the fields and explained the rules of polo and equipment needed.
Then we had the chance to watch an actual polo match between aforementioned club members. Because it rained the day before they played on the sand field instead of grass, so they played with teams of three, instead of the typical four. They played four “chukkers,” or time periods, and we took turns tossing the ball into play at the beginning and ringing the bell at the end of the periods.
Between periods we had the chance to practice different shot techniques with the foot mallets and visit the pony line to watch the grooms saddling up the horses. The chukkers are seven minutes each, and the horses get tired running all out for seven minutes so they switch horses each time. Thus each match requires about 20 horses, you can imagine how this sport got the tagline “The Sport of Kings”.
Next we enjoyed a typical Argentine BBQ for lunch on the outdoor patio with the players. The steak was really the star of the day! They just kept it coming hot off the grill. I almost gagged on the blood sausage, but the multiple cuts of steak, homemade sausages and chimchurri were the best we had in Buenos Aires. There were also grilled vegetables, bread, salad and fruit for dessert, and of course, more Malbec.
After lunch we had the chance to ride the horses for about an hour and a half. First they let us get comfortable riding around the field and hitting the balls, and then we attempted to play a friendly game.
Our team was Caleb and I and a worker named Manuel, who was awesome, but we got crushed by a middle-aged woman with three grown children on the other team. The trick seemed to be getting your horse to trot or gallup in the correct direction, instead of walk aimlessly. Other than Manuel, our team was rather inconsistent in this particular aspect of the games. When we’d had enough playing we took the horses for a trail ride around the property, then headed back to the clubhouse for more refreshments.
There is a pool at the club and though they told us to bring suits and towels, we never had the chance to take a swim. There was plenty of down time where we could have though, so be sure to ask if you want to. If we had brought a change of clean clothes I definitely would have jumped in after getting off the horses but didn’t want to put my sweaty clothes back on.
We would highly recommend Argentina Polo Day if you happen to find yourself in Buenos Aires with a full day to spare. It was one of the highlights of our trip so far and definitely something we’ll remember because it’s so unique from everything else we’re doing during our travels.
The price for the full polo day and is about 2,100 pesos each but there are several other options and an english website to walk you through those. They are also extremely responsive to emails and inquiries. In comparison to other experiences we have had in Argentina, it is well worth the cost!
Thanks to Argentina Polo Day for the sponsored experience!