Each year Earth Day grows more pertinent and urgent. This year, having witnessed the pause and risin...
Condor Valley is a magnificent 70,000-acre property in Salta (Northwest Argentina) that is home to vineyards, mountains, waterfalls, and horses as well as nut-tree agriculture, cattle and Diaguita Indian sites. With vast tracts of wilderness and a range of micro-climates, diverse flora and fauna have adapted to the land over hundreds of years — including wild cat species like the Ocelot and Andean cat. The 10,300-foot summit of Mount Creston, the highest point in the province, towers over the valley. Home to the elusive taruka deer (only hundreds are thought to remain) and condors, makes Condor Valley home to two of Argentina’s three ‘signature species’ (condor, taruka and whale).
Condor Valley has been working with Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) to heighten scientific research. In the short-term, the GWC hopes to conduct an extensive assessment of flora and fauna: in the long-term, they hope to create a large protected nature reserve and conservation education institution. By concentrating economic activity (mostly tourism and wine) in a small part of the estate, conservation is the priority in the remaining acres. Developing tourism will provide economic opportunities for locals too — through employment and exposure for local artisans, musicians and food-makers.
Visitors are drawn to Condor Valley by the allure of conservation-led adventure, spectacular scenery, astonishing stargazing and wine from grapes grown on the property. Guests can enjoy on-property horseback rides and wine-tasting experiences, as well as nearby opportunities for white-water rafting and zip-lining. Guided by Martin Pekarek and his sons (all tri-lingual), guests experience direct contact with the magic of the property and region. With a background in anthropology, Martin is well placed to educate guests about Condor Valley’s Diaguita Indian sites and Argentina’s indigenous history. The “estancia” (old ranch area), which was renovated using traditional materials and techniques by local architects, is a wonderful refuge from the modern world.
Condor Valley joined The Long Run in 2017 and committed to a holistic balance of the 4Cs – Conservation, Community, Culture and Commerce – as a means to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of their local region.
Condor Valley is home not just to condors, but to a wide and diverse community of wildlife species. As such, the management of this historic estancia, known locally as “La Bodega,” is working with Global Wildlife Conservation (GWC) to create a more sustainable model for this 150-year-old historic estancia. Core to this focus is the plan to create a large, mountainous nature reserve and a conservation institute to support environmental research and ecotourism. Since 2011, small teams of scientists and volunteers have informally conducted studies of the wildlife and biodiversity at Condor Valley, starting with the North Andean Deer (Hippocamelus antisensis), better known as the “Taruka.”
Condor Valley works closely with residents of the nearby towns of Moldes and Chicoana to provide employment and service opportunities. A positive consequence of growing tourism and winemaking on the property is that the opportunity for locals to provide hospitality goods and services and maintain the land increases. Part of the longer-term goal for tourism is to bring local artisans, musicians, and makers of regional food specialties to the property to provide experiential education opportunities for visitors.
Indigenous people (known as the ‘Diaguita’) lived in the Salta region for over 12,000 years. Condor Valley is home to multiple Diaguita archeological sites. Martin Pekarek (the manager and chief guide at Condor Valley) has an educational background in Anthropology and deep knowledge of Northwest Argentina’s indigenous culture. Martin incorporates compelling stories about the history, culture, archeology and preservation of the Diaguita world into the visitor experience at Condor Valley.
When the Condor Valley ownership group led by Hank Bannister and Eric Frothingham bought Condor Valley in 2005, it was an abandoned cattle farm. At one point this abandoned farm is thought to have been one of the biggest early vineyards providing grapes to Salta City, however previous owners abandoned that endeavor in favor of cattle in the 1930s. Hank, Eric and the Pekareks have transformed this abandoned area into a magical rustic jewel. Condor Valley now offers visitors the chance to experience wine, wilderness, horse-back adventures, hospitality, and conservation education.
Lapa Rios and Pacuare owners and avid conservationists Luz Caceres and Roberto Fernandez recently p...