Estancia Rincon del Socorro

Esteros del Ibera, Iguazu & Northeast, Argentina Book from

A luxury eco-estancia in a spectacular nature reserve covering the vast unspoilt wetlands of northeast Argentina
Travel across flat, unexceptional lands, then board your boat at the private jetty to plunge you into another world. In the seemingly limitless laguna, you’re in a watery paradise of reflected sky and floating islands, surrounded by an incredible array of birdlife. Herons rise around the boat, quaint chajá birds screech above, and capybaras cavort with their young. Within striking distance, alligators bask on rocks. Best of all, your bilingual guide makes even the clueless feel like expert twitchers.

Rincón del Socorro is the ideal base for all this because it’s not just an exclusive retreat, it's also the chance to participate in Douglas Tompkins’ ambitious conservation project. Immaculate and strikingly stylish, the 9 rooms in sepia tones preserve the original feel of the 1896 estancia, and give guests an intense contact with nature. Add tasty organic food and great hospitality and this is one of the most relaxing and interesting spots in Argentina.

Highs

  • Stylish accommodation: the most luxurious way to see the Esteros del Iberá, but with a relaxed atmosphere
  • An extraordinary conservation project: Douglas bought this 12,000-hectare former cattle estancia with the aim of reintroducing extinct species
  • Welcoming hosts Leslie and Valeria, plus lovely staff and brilliant guiding
  • Excellent food: organic, delicious and produced from the biodynamic land. All meals and soft drinks are included
  • Nature begins outside your door: ñandues (rhea birds) and capybaras roam freely, and astonishing birdlife flies past as you swim in the pool. There are wonderful night-walk safaris to see vizcachas, owls and other nocturnals, too

Lows

  • It’s a long way from civilization, but you’re unlikely to miss it thanks to great hospitality, phones, and communal TV for those who need their fix
  • The remote location means it's a hike to get here: either an overnight bus and a transfer, or a plane from Buenos Aires and a long 4x4 drive
  • It’s not the cheapest place to stay or reach, but it's luxurious and good value when you consider what’s included

Best time to go

The Esteros are home to astonishing wildlife all year round, so there's no ideal time to come (and no peak season prices). September to April is the best time to see animals with their young, though September and October are often busy months with European tourists, so plan ahead and book well in advance. The quietest months are December and June, but it’s rainiest in June and July. Avoid the Argentine holidays in July and August if you can, and be aware that temperatures can drop to 0C in the evening all year round.

Our top tips

Rincón del Socorro is nowhere near any shops, so bring everything you might need with you. Binoculars and sunglasses are a must, as are sturdy shoes for horse riding, swimming gear for the pool, and warm clothes for the evenings. Bring lots of socks as they may get muddy.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Ranch
  • 9
  • All meals included
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Premium Room (Chajá)

Rooms

Douglas is a visionary in many respects: as owner (with his wife Kris) of clothing company North Face, he clearly knows a lot about design. It’s no surprise, then, that his projects in Argentina and Chile share his signature style, with natural materials that sit in harmony, rather than compete, with the environment outside.

The casco - main house - is charming and traditional, built in 1896 in classic Spanish style. A long white building with a typical red zinc roof, surrounded by abundant flowers and palms, it’s been carefully restored to maintain the original structure. Inside are 6 beautifully designed Premium Rooms, (Yacaré, Tuyuyú, Jabirú, Vizcacha, Ipacá and Chajá) leading off a long veranda at the front, with windows overlooking the pool at the back.

There are also 3 quaint cottages in the grounds, 2 are categorised as Premium Rooms (Nandubay and Lapacho) and 1 is a Standard Bungalow (Timbó), the only difference being size. Built in adobe with thatched roofs, these were part of the original farm; they’re just 50m from the main house. The largest, Nandubay, has a sitting area and a kitchenette, plus a veranda (screened against the abundant wildlife) where you can sit out in the evenings and absorb the bird sounds.

All rooms and cottages are similarly styled in harmonious chocolate and cream. Original tile floors have been preserved in checkerboard brown and white or earth-toned sienna and ochre, and walls are adorned with antiquated maps and sepia prints of wildlife. Furniture is made from local wood, either reclaimed and restored or specially created to retain the 1900s style. Bathrooms are old fashioned, with reclaimed sinks and showers or tubs. The overall effect is welcoming, stylish and relaxing, with a touch of the old colonial feel.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Phone
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

It’s strange how being in this natural paradise sharpens the senses and whets the appetite. Fortunately, the food at Rincón del Socorro is a special feature. Almost all of it is organic, and much of it comes from the estancia’s own kitchen garden, which is planted according to strict biodynamic principles. The orchard bursts with lemons, oranges, mandarins, pears, apples, quinces and figs; check out the cherry tomatoes and fresh peas as you chat with the gardeners.

Mealtimes are totally flexible as guests go out early for trips on the water, and if you're on a full-day excursion, you might eat lunch on the reserve. Return at tea time to leaf teas and delicious homemade biscuits, before dinner is served around 8pm.

Menus are impressive - designed to match the best of Buenos Aires' restaurants. The food is simple but exquisite, and there’s always something surprising to excite the palate. The whole menu is carefully balanced to be nutritious and not over-filling. The house speciality is passion fruit ice cream. Vegetarians are gladly catered for, and there’s an excellent wine list, too. Breakfasts feature fresh fruit, regional specialities, and cakes and breads baked on the premises.

The great Argentine tradition of the asado is maintained here in considerable style, too. Every large home in Argentina has its own quincho, a sheltered outdoor space where meat is cooked over wood on a massive grill, and where family and friends congregate to eat and drink. It's part of Argentina’s love of the great outdoors, and Rincón del Socorro’s version is lovelier than most: fully enclosed to keep the mosquitoes out, typically built with a straw roof and local tiles, and surrounded by old lapacho trees. Here, you’ll tuck into home-reared beef, organic salads and superb Argentine wines.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Organic produce
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

The great thing about Rincón del Socorro is that most activities are included in the price:

  • Bird-watching - astonishing 2-hour trips on the water with a bilingual guide, who knows the whole area in incredible detail. You can go out in canoes afterwards, for an even more tranquil experience of the wildlife
  • Horse riding - there are several rides on offer, and it’s a gentle way to explore the landscape and wildlife from a different perspective. It’s highly recommended, and great fun for kids
  • Night safaris - these were the highlight of the trip for us. Go out by Land Rover with your guide and an assistant who shines a light to reveal all kinds of creatures carrying on their nocturnal lives, including cute vizcachas and mysterious owls
  • Trips to Iberá lagoon, where you'll see caimans, capybaras, deer and monkeys
  • Watching gauchos at work, rounding up cattle at a nearby estancia - it’s fascinating, and definitely a quintessential part of rural life in this country
  • Cycling - there are bicycles for spins around the estate
  • Swimming - one of the unexpected pleasures of Rincón del Socorro, though the pool is unheated, so only really usable in summer. It’s situated amongst ancient trees, with open views of grassland and birds swooping around in the high sky above
  • Fly-fishing - it’s extraordinarily good at their sister estancia, San Alonso. For an additional cost, guests can take the 10-minute flight there (with fabulous views over the Esteros) and stay a couple of nights to take advantage of the fishing, as well as horse riding and bird-watching in another habitat

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Swimming
  • Wildlife

Kids

Children are warmly welcomed. Hosts Leslie and Valeria have 2 children themselves, and you might see them tearing around on bikes or riding horses as if they were born on them. Children will love exploring the grounds, and your kids will be well looked after, with activities adapted to suit their age and abilities.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Premium Rooms in the main house (Yacaré, Tuyuyú, Jabirú, Vizcacha, Ipacá and Chajá) have an additional single bed or sofabed, and some (Yacaré, Tuyuyú, Chajá and Vizcacha) can accommodate a further bed if needed. Two of the rooms (Ipacá and Vizcacha) are interconnecting, so that you can use the space for the whole family.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kids Activities on site:

  • Games room
  • Horse riding
  • Swimming pool
  • Bikes to borrow

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Boat trips
  • Watching the gauchos
  • Night safaris
  • Wildlife watching
  • Fishing

Kid Friendly:

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