Photographer Manuela Stefan captures Rancho Las Cascadas on camera

BY Jody Dahl | Sun 29 Dec, 2013

Rancho Las Cascadas: I have been to Mexico before and absolutely loved it, but at the time I experienced it in a completely different way. Never had I thought that my passion for horses would allow me to explore this rich culture on a totally new level.

Rancho Law Cascadas Manuela Stefan

While doing some research I read about a place in the mountains of central Mexico where Swiss management and Mexican hospitality formed what seemed to be, a very unique and appealing blend. It did not take long before I knew I had to go and see it with my own eyes. The visit was what I expected… and much more.

Mi casa es su casa

“Mi Casa es su casa” is definitely no overstatement at Rancho Las Cascadas. Here, everything is about making sure that everybody who visits feels at home. I finally had the chance to unwind, feel nurtured while thinking of absolutely nothing. I had everything that I could possibly desire to fully relax, forget about everything and just be: fabulous accommodations, delicious food, inspiring surroundings, colours and textures to make the photographer in me go nuts, great company of like minded people, the chance to swim every day in the most amazing infinity pool and last but not least, some of the nicest horses I have seen.

Rancho Las Cascadas pool Manuela Stefan

Into the saddle with an experienced host

Thanks to Swiss owner Uschi Wiprachtiger, I got to experience the horses on a new level: she persuaded me to ride! Not only that, but I found myself on the back of a gracious…stallion, named Gigolo. My life changed and, as I mentioned to Uschi at the time, this was one of the best gifts I could have received. The world surely looks different from the back of a horse.

Rancho Las Cascadas wranglers Manuela Stefan

Uschi came to Mexico 20 years ago as a representative of a luxury Swiss travel agency, Kuoni Travel. Later she moved to Mexico City and about 12 years ago, through an interesting chain of events, she became the owner of a beautiful piece of land in the San Agustin Buenavista area.

Rancho Las Cascadas courtyard Manuela Stefan
With the intention of building a weekend home for herself where she would have just a couple of horses, Uschi’s initial plans grew into something bigger, expanding her vision and surely, stretching her boundaries. Not only her dream of a Spanish home with a courtyard materialized, but it is now a luxury boutique hotel Uschi gladly shares with the rest of the world. Lucky us, guests!

My definition of an ideal destination: somewhere where I could be with horses all day, enjoy good weather and swim every morning. All this (and some Margaritas in between) make the Rancho a place where I could surely see myself living…forever, if that was an option…

Food in fantastic surroundings

Meals at Rancho Las Cascadas deserve a chapter of their own. Not only the ingredients (and the way they are put together) are simply a feast for the senses, but a few more elements add up, making for an ultimate experience: eating while hearing and seeing waterfalls, staring into the vastness of the surrounding countryside, watching the occasional Monarch butterfly fly by and sharing all this with fabulous guests that have lots in common. 

Rancho Las Cascadas Manuela Stefan lunch

Horses to make a holiday

The horses at the Rancho are an interesting cross between the Spanish Criollo and Quarter horse, which gives them special attributes. Considered one of the toughest breeds in the world, the Criollo is renowned for it’s amazing endurance and hardiness. It has descended from the horses which enabled the Spanish conquistadors to dominate the New World, becoming even stronger over the centuries. To this, the Quarter horse ads its own reliability and responsiveness. The blend makes for a very special, versatile horse that can easily cater to both the novice (trust me on that!) and the expert rider.

Rancho Las Cascadas horses Manuela Stefan

With impressively unique and romantic names like: Palomo, Mercurio, Allegro, Napoleon, Vivaldi, Diamante, Gigolo (to name a few), this happy 30+ bunch of stallions and geldings is a big part of the reason why guests keep on returning: they graciously take people out for over 30 different rides through the open range, under the big Mexican sky. For the avid, versed rider, the ‘no restrictions whatsover’ galloping through the vastness of the countryside is priceless and surely, a signature offer at the Rancho.

Rancho Las Cascadas stables Manuela Stefan

Rancho Las Cascadas is located 1.5 hours away from Mexico City and is a fantastic retreat for all those who love nature and want to move away from the big city buzz.

Find out more about Rancho Las Cascadas on their Top50 Ranches page. For more writing and stunning photography from Manuela Stefan, visit GracefulHorses.com.

- Jody Dahl

TAGS: manuela stefan, photography, ranch photography, equine photography, rancho las cascadas mexico, mexico dude ranch

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