During my recent trip to Argentina, I was lucky enough to visit the Esteros del Ibera wetlands in the northeast of the country (Corrientes Province). Covering an area of approximately 20,000 km2 the wetlands are made up of swamps, bogs, lagoons and natural water courses that are home to an abundance of wildlife, including 2 species of caiman, marsh deer, otters, howler monkeys, capybaras, bats and over 350 species of bird. They are the second largest wetlands in the world after Pantanal in Brazil.
My rustic estancia (Rincon del Socorro) was located in the heart of the wetlands near the sleepy village of Carlos Pellegrini. The journey from Posadas (at the northern end of the wetlands) to the estancia takes about 4½ hours as the road is primarily a dirt track (a 4×4 vehicle is recommended). An alternative option is to fly to the property (charter flight) as it has its own airstrip.
It is a charming old ranch house dating back to 1896 with 6 comfortable bedrooms (plus 3 additional bungalows on the garden), a communal lounge/library with an open fireplace & comfortable sofas and a restaurant that uses organic fruit and vegetables grown in its own gardens. With 12,000 hectares of land, Rincon del Socorro was a cattle ranch until 1999 when it was bought by The Conservation Land Trust (CLT), that is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the natural environment and reintroduction of native species.
Walking around the property the following morning I saw variety of wildlife including a flock of rhea, caracara, parakeets, a great kiskadee, red crested cardinals and a 2 meter caiman!
Later on in the morning I arranged to go horse riding and my ‘Gaucho’ guide Domingo who took us on a 2 hour ride through the grasslands and down to a nearby lagoon. This was an incredibly relaxing experience and during the ride I saw finches, warblers, screamer birds, capybara, marsh deer, wild pigs, red foxes, herons and egrets (amongst others).
In the afternoon I arranged a boat trip on the Ibera Lagoon at Carlos Pellegrini. The road from Rincon del Socorro to Carlos Pellegrini is very good for wildlife observation and tours usually include a slow drive to the village stopping at regular intervals, followed by lunch next to the lagoon and then an afternoon boat trip. On the drive to the village I saw a jabiru, american storks, marsh deer, grey foxes and savannah hawks. The boat trip itself was a fascinating experience as my guide was able to punt our boat through the reed beds and get us very close to the wildlife (completely unfazed by my presence), and in particular the caiman!
Returning to the estancia early evening I enjoyed an excellent dinner before getting an early night in preparation for my onward journey. My lasting memories will be of a wonderfully peaceful and remote location that offers an amazing wildlife experience.
Note: There are ongoing plans to upgrade the area to National Park status to ensure it remains unspoilt.