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Nature Travel: The Ibera Wetlands

We speak to Leslie Cook of the eco-lodge Estancia Rincon del Socorro to find out about Ibera’s great appeal and what makes it a prime destination for nature lovers.

Why go

In the north of Argentina, the world’s second largest wetlands Estero del Ibera attracts bird spotters and nature enthusiasts for its remarkable abundance of wildlife, much of which is endemic. “For me, it’s the beautiful landscape, richness of wildlife and the great outdoors lifestyle that make the reserve special,” the host of Estancia Rincon del Socorro Leslie Cook tells us, “We can ride the horses and fly over the landscape [in the Estancia’s own aircraft]. It’s the perfect surroundings for a family.”

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The wildlife

The main draw for this region is its diverse offering of flora and fauna. “With 350 species of birdlife –  5 of which are endemic – and alligators, as well as three species of deer, including the endangered Pampa and Marsh deer, there’s a lot to see,” says Leslie “and it really is a special occasion when you get to appreciate the elusive Maned wolf,”

As you horseback ride or travel by boat across the isolated wetlands capybara, caiman, monkeys and snakes are all common sights, but there’s even more to look forward to. “Anteaters are being reintroduced into the reserve by The Conservation Land Trust Foundation,” Leslie explains, “and soon the first jaguars will be reintroduced.”

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The experience

The nature reserve of Estancia Rincon del Socorro covers a huge area of 12,000-hectares. Once a cattle ranch, this land was acquired by the Conservation Land Trust to ensure its preservation as a unique environment. The estancia gives visitors to the region a base from which they can explore the surroundings, as well as experience the gaucho lifestyle.

“At our safari lodge we offer two excursions each day, early in the morning and late in the evening, ending with a sundowner on the wetlands,” Leslie tells us, “Guests usually get around by Land Cruiser, on horseback – which suits the marshy terrain and long grass of the savannah – or on boat trips over the Laguna Ibera.”

The estancia’s guests can cycle, join nature walks, try out fly-fishing, visit a cattle ranch and see the wetlands from above on one of the estancia’s air safaris.

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Stay

Dating back to 1896, the cattle ranch’s original homestead has been restored in keeping with its original design, incorporating antique furnishings, wildlife photography and historical maps.

“After Rincon del Socorro’s days of cattle ranching over 200 years, and since the area has been made a wildlife reserve, the cattle ranch’s old homestead has been refurbished and made into what is now a nine-room boutique eco-lodge,” Leslie explains, “We have single engine planes to transfer guests to Rincon del Socorro, or they can travel over land.” The lodge has the welcome addition of a pool to relax by, and serves up rustic, hearty cuisine, in true Argentinian style.

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When to visit

In this region the winters are mild, with temperatures around 15 degrees celsius, while summers are hot. Spring is the most comfortable time to visit.

Leslie Cook was born in Corrientes and has lived in both Patagonia and the US where he worked as a horse trainer. On returning home, Leslie became the host of Estancia Rincon del Socorro, where he now lives with his family.

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