Along the drive from Punta Arenas to Torres del Paine, we had the chance to stop at Cerro Negro Ranch. This ranch is owned and operated by the same family who runs Las Torres Hotel and it has been in the family for over 100 years.
Normally, you transfer in the morning with a larger group, and stop at the ranch for a tour, sheep show and big Patagonia BBQ. Since Kepler and I were transferring in the afternoon, we happened to be the only ones on our “tour”. This gave us a fun and more intimate experience at the ranch.
We toured the family farm house that was full of unique treasures, and then enjoyed a quiet snack of homemade breads, meats and cheeses. The sopapillas were incredible. After relaxing for a bit, they asked if we wanted to watch a sheep be sheared, fully expecting us to say “no”. They were shocked and amused by our enthusiastic “yes!” and happily led us to the barn. The gaucho did a series of intricate whistles, and the two dogs we were petting jumped up and leapt through the barn, returning with a dozen sheep that they quickly sorted into pens. The gaucho pulled one out and sheared it for us. He did it with such skill that he was left with one giant fleece of super soft merino wool! After explaining their full process to us, they asked (again, waiting for a “no”) if we wanted to see a sheep-dog show. Again, laughing as we excitedly answered “Yes!”. The gaucho took the sheep and dogs out into the field and performed a private show for us before we loaded back up and made our way off to Torres del Paine.
While we were sad to miss the BBQ, the private show and the hospitality and joy of the employees more than made up for it!