Best time to visit Argentina

Pato in Argentina

Discover the extreme world of Pato in Argentina invented by the Gauchos over three centuries ago

Best time: February–mid-December

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Pato is the native equestrian sport of Argentina, which combines elements of polo and basketball. Since 1953, it has been the official national sport.

Pato in Spanish means "duck." Why duck? Initially, a live duck was sewn into a leather bag so that the head protruded outward, forming a ball. The game begins when the two most powerful players pull the handles until one of them does not possess the ball. At this moment, the player rushes from his place on horseback to the goal, closely pursued by another team, which, overtaking him again pulls the ball in the opposite direction.

The goal of the game is to have one team run all the way to their goal with the ball. The game was usually played between two neighboring ranches, and the team that first reached its ranch was declared the winner. Of course, the treatment of a poor duck was not at all humane. So, later it was replaced by a real ball.

Today, the ball has six handles of convenient size. Two teams of four people, each of which rides a horse, try to take the ball from another team. At the end, they must put the ball in a vertical ring similar to the basketball hoop, which is located at opposite ends of the field.

The field for the game is large, so Pato is played in special areas and usually outside of cities. Since Pato is a national game, there are Pato clubs and tournaments in Argentina. They usually take place from February to mid-December. The most popular tournament is the Abierto Argentino de Pato, in which the most famous Pato Clubs of Argentina compete for the title of the best team.

The most famous Pato matches are usually held in Campo Argentino de Polo, located 18.64 mi (30 km) from Buenos Aires.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Argentina to attend a Pato tournament?

To catch most Pato clubs and tournaments, a visit to Argentina between February and mid-December is the best. While the famous Pato matches are held at Campo Argentino de Polo, located 18.64 mi (30 km) from Buenos Aires, the peak season could attract crowds. Instead, travelers could visit during non-peak months like April to June or September to November. Show more

Where is the most famous Pato tournament held in Argentina?

Campo Argentino de Polo is host to the most famous Pato tournament in Argentina- the Abierto Argentino de Pato. It’s where Argentine Pato teams compete to emerge best. Spectators may enjoy watching the best Pato players from Argentina at this iconic location located 18.64 mi (30 km) from Buenos Aires. Show more

What are the differences between Pato and polo?

Despite the similarities in game facilitators, several differences distinguish Pato and Polo. Pato uses a ball with six handles, while polo uses a wooden ball. While playing Pato, there are four players on each team, but polo could have up to four or more. Finally, Pato is a more contact sport with players often employing force during play. Show more

What is the origin of the name 'Pato' in the sport?

Initially, players created a ball by sewing a live duck into a leather casing, leaving only its head exposed. Two players would compete fiercely with the ball until one lost control. Then the player would ride with the ball strongly pursued by the opposing team, attempting to change direction. Since 'Pato' means duck in Spanish, the sport adopting this name became notable. Show more

How has the ball changed since the game's origins?

From its use of live ducks, the Pato ball has undergone significant changes. Initially, a leather shell and core fashioned it. Presently it comes with six handles for ease of play. These significant modifications have reduced the game's violence, making it safer for players and horses. Show more

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