Estancia Rincón del Socorro is a 12,000-hectare former cattle ranch on the edge of the Esteros del Iberá, wetlands in northeastern Argentina that have been turned into a nature reserve by the Conservation Land Trust. The trust was started in 1992 by Douglas Tompkins, co-founder of The North Face and ESPRIT clothing lines.
There are two lodgings in the wetlands. Rincón del Socorro is a small, refined accommodations in the ranch’s refurbished main house. There are six rooms in the house and three more small bungalows, all with private bathrooms and one with a sitting room and a kitchenette. No two rooms are alike. The main house has a large living room, a screened veranda, a large dining room, and a terrace dining area. Guests can partake in boat rides, horseback riding, biking, wildlife viewing and bird-watching, nature walks, and fly-fishing for dorado.
Estancia San Alonso, a 56,000-hectare ranch located in the middle of the Esteros del Iberá, was a cattle operation until purchased by the trust in 1996. Today it serves as one of the key areas for the trust’s ongoing species-reintroduction program in the wetlands.
The main house of San Alonso, which has five rooms, sits at the shore of the Paraná Lake in the middle of the Esteros del Iberá and is coolly shaded by a grove of old lapacho and timbo trees. Many of the vegetables come from its own gardens. Visitors can walk or ride out onto the savanna, through native forests, around waterways. There is also a boat to go on the lake and up the Carambola River.
ALLIGATORS & DEER
There are few regions in Argentina that can compare to the wealth and diversity of species found in the Esteros del Ibera. The trust is not only dedicated to the creation and expansion of national or provincial parks but also supports programs for the protection of wildlife, the reintroduction of locally extinct species, land restoration and programs for local development.
Though there are notable species that have been wiped out by overhunting and loss of habitat because of ranching and forestry plantations, there are also lots of species left to see, including carpinchos, freshwater otters, alligators, marsh deer and, with a little patience and good luck, the elusive maned wolf, howler monkey, or the sprocket deer.
As part of a 30-year management strategy, biologists employed by Tompkins plan to reintroduce species such as the giant river otter, pampa deer, giant anteater, talking parrot and, eventually, the jaguar. After 30 years’ absence of anteaters in Corrientes, there are now seven in the wetlands. The transfer to the reserve of four pampa deer, which used to roam northern and central Argentina, took place in July this year.
“Our hope is to contribute towards promoting the ethos of a healthy earth, raise the management standards for protected areas, and create national or provincial parks by means of direct purchases and re-categorization or expansion of existing ones, so that the continuity of their natural processes is ensured. In this way we can maintain some parts of the territories in which we operate alive and healthy, so that these areas remain as seeds and genetic banks to revive the ecosystems in the event of a collapse.”