I know this statement rolls of the tongue too readily sometimes but I genuinely had one of the best times ever when we stayed at an estancia called Panagea close to the town of Tacuarembo in northern Uruguay.
Getting the chance to help on a working estancia and experience gaucho life was one of things I most wanted to do when we decided to travel South America and our time at Panagea delivered in bucket loads.
Before we left the uk most ‘working estancia’ that we researched seemed to offer more tourism with a hint of reality rather than the a proper experience we craved. Panagea run by husband and wife Juan and Susannah, seemed the real deal… And it was!
The place is a gem for any one interested in getting involved in understanding gaucho life and the running of a Uruguayan Estancia. This isn’t ‘hum drum’ easy going escapism, this is memories, moments and skills I’ll take with me for the rest my life.
Did I think I’d end up rustling cattle on a horseback before I arrived there, no… Did I think I’d end up coaxing cattle through the ‘pit of hell’ with flagged sticks or checking them for naval infections, definitely not! Was the food gritty gaucho brilliance, yes. Did I think I’d learn how to straddle a horse gaucho style and ride with confidence after 3 days… No way!
Couple all this with a proper close up of a real life gaucho doing his stuff together with meeting some wonderful, interesting people and it made for a very special time. We could even fall asleep in hammocks under beautiful shooting star skies.
We left the place with wide smiles on our faces, not just from Juan’s comical sense of humour but from the total experience, the many moments that made it amazing. This post doesn’t do the experience justice but hopefully you will get the impression of fun we had from the galley of photos below.