Visit to the estancia María Behety

We spent a day at the legendary Estancia María Behety, a model establishment which welcomes visitors to take part in their daily activities.

Determined to understand rural life in a remote Patagonian sheep breeding estancia, we visited María Behety. We set off early from Río Grande and drove past Laguna de los Cisnes (Lake of Swans), much appreciated by bird lovers as unusual species can be spotted during high tide.

The huge maroon shed at the entrance was impossible to miss. We were met by our friendly guide who took us on a tour of the shearing shed (the largest in the world) which can hold up to 7000 sheep.

At that moment they were weighing bales of wool, about 300 kg each, and we were shown how the press works.

  • An entire symbol

    An entire symbol

  • One of the most renowned fishing reserves

    One of the most renowned fishing reserves

  • The shearing shed

    The shearing shed

  • The fields full of cattle, criollo horses

    The fields full of cattle, criollo horses

  • The huge maroon shed at the entrance

    The huge maroon shed at the entrance

  • Corriedale sheep

    Corriedale sheep

It was really interesting to learn about the wool production of Corriedale sheep, well-known in the world market. Their famous pure bred rams are presented every year at the Exposición Rural in Buenos Aires, as well as at other international fairs where they have won top prizes. Their grand champions are the basis of new breeding estancias of great renown.

Their model meat processing plant not only supplies the national market but complies with all the export requirements as well.

A Little History

The land was purchased in 1899 by José Menéndez, a businessman from Punta Arenas where there already was a sheep breeding establishment. He organized Estancias Primera Argentina and Segunda Argentina. The latter came to be known as María Behety and became the largest and most productive.

When we visited Cabaña Vieja (Old Cabin), the farm hands were busy at work carefully cleaning and preparing the corrals as order and cleanliness are of the utmost importance to ensure high quality flocks. The sheep were grazing outdoors.

The main house and the surrounding ones are examples of typical ‘fueguian’ construction, painted in soft pastel colors, pleasantly blending with the green grassland.

The main road leads to the Menéndez Behety family house, the guest house, the farm workers quarters and the tourist dining-room. Farther on, the sheep workers quarters, the chapel and the bakery complete the main area.

The estancia is self-sufficient and, because of its size, it could be a township. Visitors interested in fishing stay at the lodges: María Behety by the river, 20 km from the estancia or Villa María, near the main houses. Both offer fishing outings 40 km along the coast of Río Grande, boasting large, good quality brown and rainbow trout.

As we were leaving, a last look at the fields full of cattle, criollo horses and llamas made us realize we had only seen part of what this incredible estancia has to offer.

Autor Mónica Pons Fotografo Gentileza

How to get hereHow to get here: Take National Route 3 towards the airport, then Route Complementaria C for 17 km.


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