Where to Find Cowboys in South America

Gauchos riding horses to round up sheep, El Chalten, Patagonia, Argentina, South America
Matthew Williams-Ellis/Getty Images

Breeding cattle has long been an important part of the economy of many countries, and while Argentina is probably most famous for it, the Gauchos or similar groups of people are found across the continent.

There are several areas of the continent where the South American cowboys can still be found carrying out their work and in some areas still celebrating the way of life that made them such heroes in those cultures.

Argentine Gauchos

The gaucho culture is the strongest in Argentina, where cattle herding is still one of the biggest industries in the country, and the way of life that comes with looking after herds of cows is as necessary as it ever was.

There are several areas across the country where the Gauchos can still be found, from the pampas outside the suburbs of Buenos Aires, through to the areas around Salta, a city which actually has a museum dedicated to gaucho culture. If you find a rodeo, you will often get to meet many of the Gauchos at the same time, as here they will come together to show off their horsemanship and herding skills, as well as partying and performing traditional folk music.

Rio Grande Do Sul, Brazil

This area of Brazil lies in the far south and has borders with Uruguay and Argentina. This geography has helped to develop the same culture and industry that is found in its neighboring countries, and the people here have even adopted a few Spanish phrases to accompany their Portuguese.

You will find the majority of the gauchos here in the south-west of the state, where the culture is at its strongest. There are some great gaucho experiences that you can enjoy in the region, and listening to the music and drinking chimarrao, a type of mate herbal drink, are among the traits of the gauchos here.

San Jose, Uruguay

Northwest of the capital Montevideo in the San Jose province, the combination of vineyards and cattle ranching helps to keep the economy in this part of the world working, and there are some great places to visit if you are thinking of traveling to the area.

The culture here is very similar to that found in Argentina, and it is no surprise that Uruguayans, with their strong agricultural heritage, are among the highest consumers of beef in the world.

Llanos, Venezuela and Colombia

The grassland in the west of Venezuela and eastern Colombia is one of the best areas in the country for cattle ranching, and the Llanos area has actually given its name to the cowboys of the region, who are known as Llaneros.

As well as the work of herding the cattle, the music and cuisine of the Llaneros has led to a distinctive culture developing in this area of Colombia and Venezuela, with its harp music being particularly distinctive and worth exploring if you get the opportunity.

Ayacucho, Peru

The cowboys of Peru have a particularly challenging role as they have to deal with the conditions to be found in the plains of the Peruvian Andes, and these have made them a particularly hardy folk.

Known as Morochucos, they wear a distinctive type of warm clothing made from Alpaca wool, while every year in the city of Huamanga, bulls are released through the streets in a festival that is similar to that which is found in Pamplona.