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Villa Pardo – Sustainable rural tourism in Buenos Aires Province

Ecotourism

Argentina

Villa Pardo is much more than a rural tourism destination; it is a small town that has harnessed its history, identity and natural heritage to look towards the future. Located just 220km from the Argentine capital,  members of the community have come together to reverse the town’s decline and champion a kind of tourism firmly rooted in the principles of sustainable development. Today, Villa Pardo offers travellers the chance to experience a new and forward-thinking form of rural tourism in Buenos Aires province.

Villa Pardo is one of the many towns that sprung up alongside the railway tracks of the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway in the second half of the nineteenth century. Once described as “one of the best towns in the world” by its most famous son, multi-award-winning author Adolfo Bioy Casares, the town has since suffered from a decline in fortune. A fate shared with many provincial towns, Villa Pardo has seen its population dwindle due to a lack of local opportunities and youth leaving in favour of bigger towns and cities.

Rural tourism and sustainable living

Faced with these challenges, members of the community got together with the aim of instilling a new lease of life into the town. They settled on the twin concepts of ‘rural tourism’ and ‘sustainable living’ and have built an innovative and exciting tourism offering around these pillars. Central to their objectives are the provision of local employment and the revitalisation of local identity and traditions.

Attending a sustainability workshop in Villa Pardo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Attending a sustainability workshop in Villa Pardo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The aim was never for the town to reinvent itself, but for it to harness its existing strengths and pave the way for an inclusive and sustainable development. This new form of rural tourism in Buenos Aires province enables Villa Pardo to celebrate its cultural patrimony and beautiful natural surroundings whilst simultaneously providing for its inhabitants. It also offers its visitors a variety of authentic and low impact activities and attractions.

Enjoying local daily life and savouring local flavours

To fully appreciate Villa Pardo, it is best not be in a rush. Here, daily life happens at a slower pace than in larger towns and cities and this is part of the appeal. Visitors are encouraged to saunter around town, take in the relaxed rural atmosphere, enjoy the historic buildings and visit the local stores. Local shopkeepers will nearly always have time to share with visitors some of the many stories and anecdotes that make up the town’s identity.

The promotion of local gastronomy and regional produce are key to the town’s vision of rural tourism and sustainable living, and visitors will not be disappointed by the Villa Pardo many tasty offerings. These include varied menus at the hotel, regional cuisine at the local taverna and the opportunity to try traditional delicacies made by Stella Maris. Stella Maris is a local company specialising in the production of gourmet foods such as artisan cheeses and charcuterie – all perfect ingredients for picnics. There are also the recently reopened Crosta Bakery and the Lámaro grocery store to check out.

A sky full of stars in Villa Pardo, near Buenos Aires in Argentina

A sky full of stars in Villa Pardo, near Buenos Aires in Argentina

The town is surrounded by the fertile plains of Argentina’s vast pampas and the nearby countryside is perfect for bicycle and walking excursions. The area offers great bird-watching opportunities as well as the simple pleasure of enjoying the smells and sounds of the pampas. Villa Pardo is also said to have some of the clearest skies in Buenos Aires province, making stargazing a popular activity and another way to fully appreciate the beauty and vastness of the natural world.

The home of author Adolfo Bioy Casares

It is in Villa Pardo that Adolfo Bioy Casares, author of acclaimed novel ‘The Invention of Morel’, spent most of his younger years and where he came to focus on his writing. The Bioy Casares family had their ranch, ‘Rincon Viejo’, in the nearby countryside and Adolfito, as he is known locally, enjoyed the peace and tranquility the town offered. He brought his fellow writers Jorge Luis Borges and Silvina Ocampo to Villa Pardo to spend many weekends, and these three literary greats now feature in many of the town’s anecdotes.

The railway station of Villa Pardo near Buenos Aires, like travelling back in time

The railway station of Villa Pardo near Buenos Aires, like travelling back in time

Today Villa Pardo’s former railway station has been transformed into the Bioy Museum and Library and is the focal point for visitors to learn about the town’s rich literary heritage. The old general store, built by Adolfo’s grandfather, is now the ‘Hotel Casa Bioy’ and offers comfortable tourist accommodation with a touch of history.

Yamay, the perfect setting to reconnect to nature

On the outskirts of Villa Pardo is Yamay, the town’s ecotourism centre. It is here that the concepts of rural tourism and sustainable living really come to life. In addition to being a welcoming place to stay, the property offers its guests the chance to reconnect to nature and truly appreciate simplicity. Yamay plays host to many talks and workshops on themes related to sustainable living. Guests can learn about a whole range of topics including sustainable building materials and techniques, organic farming, permaculture and recycling.

Eco-friendly accommodation in Villa Pardo, Argentina, built with natural materials and off the grid, perfect for relaxing

Eco-friendly accommodation in Villa Pardo, Argentina, built with natural materials and off the grid, perfect for relaxing

There is no electricity, internet, TVs or radios at the property, offering visitors a rare opportunity to disconnect from the pressures of the modern world. Accommodation is provided in two buildings constructed with adobe, a brick made from mud and other organic materials, and guests are also welcome to camp in the grounds. Yamay provides the perfect setting for guests to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and each other’s company.

Visitors learning about a rural, eco-friendly lifestyle with Pardo Autentico, in Buenos Aires province

Visitors learning about a rural, eco-friendly lifestyle with Pardo Autentico, in Buenos Aires province

Innovative rural tourism in Argentina

Villa Pardo’s innovative and successful approach to rural tourism in Buenos Aires province has received official approval and since 2015 the town has been recognised as a ‘Pueblo Turistico’. This endorsement has lead to improved road access from ‘Ruta Nacional No. 3’ as well as new promotion opportunities.

More importantly, Villa Pardo is a positive example of how communities can work together to reverse their town’s decline. Here the holistic approach has lead to job creation, a new injection of pride into the community and a revitalisation of the town’s identity and traditions. Guests are able to enjoy the simple pleasures of small-town daily life – and hopefully return home with new energy and new ideas. All in all, Villa Pardo has become a rural tourism offering in Buenos Aires province that truly works for the benefit of all.

Stargazing while experiencing rural tourism in Buenos Aires province, Argentina

Stargazing while experiencing rural tourism in Buenos Aires province, Argentina

This post was a contribution by Hervé, a local expert from our trusted tour operator in Argentina. To learn more about the activities and adventures available in the Buenos Aires Province, you can visit our Argentina Holidays page and send a travel request.

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