There are several polo clubs and ranches around Buenos Aires where one can go to learn how to play the game of kings, but the Retiro Polo Club near the city of Escobar is different from the rest: in addition to teaching polo, it offers a quickie program for tourists that aims to make novices reasonably knowledgeable about this equestrian sport in which Argentine players have long excelled.The club is 50 km from Buenos Aires – a 40-minute drive in a car or minibus, or 15 minutes by helicopter. Visitors are picked up at their hotels at 11am and are taken back at 4pm, or later if they want to see all the chukkers played by club members during the rest of the afternoon. Upon arrival they are treated to empanadas and a glass of fine wine, and during the following tour of the premises they are told about the history and rules of the game; the selection and training of horses; and riding tack and gear. They watch club members play two chukkers, and later sit down with some of them to a sumptuous barbecue lunch beside the playing field. The game continues while they eat. Afterwards there are two options: expert riders can learn how to do a bit of stick-and-balling (US$50 extra), and those who know little or nothing about horses can ride some tame retired polo ponies around the property beside the Luján River (included in the rate). The polo day costs US$140 per person, including minibus or car transport. Minimum group: two. For more information, visit http://www.argentinapoloday.com.ar/, and call 15-3108-1025.
If you want to fly there, visit the online search, price estimation and reservation system http://www.helijetsonline.com/, and call 5917-6137. A helicopter flight starts at US$450 round trip in a three-passenger chopper, plus US$150 if the wait exceeds the time it takes to have lunch.
PHOTO CREDITS: Armando Herrera / Retiro Polo Club.