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Rupert Edgedale Reports on his recent trip to Argentina and Uruguay

by Roxtons

To ensure that we continue to offer the best shooting that South America has to offer, I travelled to Argentina and Uruguay in May to visit our existing lodges, and to visit a selection of exciting new ones.

I flew from Heathrow to Buenos Aires, which was very straight forward and hassle free. While there is unfortunately no longer a direct flight available, the late departure time of 21:55 is very civilised, with only a brief 1 ½ hour stop in Rio De Janeiro.

On arrival I was met by Alex Kostovetsky, who with his wife Leticia, have been looking after our shooting and fishing clients on the ground in Buenos Aires. Their acute attention to detail make arrivals & transfers seamless and stress free.

After a night in Buenos Aires, I had a short early morning flight to the Tucuman region, the gateway to the north of Argentina, known for its lush vegetation and abundance of nature.

Tucuman Lodge was opened in 2023 and is located 150km south of the region’s airport, a stone’s throw away from the foothills of the Andes. The lodge has six ensuite bedrooms in a courtyard, adjacent to a large fire pit and an inviting plunge pool for guests to enjoy after a busy day’s shooting. The bar is always fully stocked, the hospitality was immaculate, and the lunches and dinners, all cooked on an Asado (Argentinean barbecue), were exceptional.

The team at Tucuman have access to more than 120,000 acres of land and the lodge has one full time scout, whose sole purpose is to locate the best flight lines, ensuring guests make the most of their time at Tucuman.

Whilst the land around Tucuman is noticeably flat, you are during the summer months driven east, away from the lodge to fields that are more gently undulating.

In the winter months, when the birds are in the fields, there is such a variety of shooting and plenty of doves that you can decide how difficult to make your own shooting. The hides are strategically placed with their backs to belts of trees and the roost woods, so even on the flat ground they can show exciting, testing doves.

Our morning’s shooting was quite remarkable, we arrived at our hides to meet our ‘bird boy’ just before sunrise and by the time I was in position and the sun was starting to make an appearance, the roost seemed as though it erupted, lasting for almost two hours.

By mid-morning the volume of doves had tailed off, although a few of the other guests were still steadily shooting away until we were picked up and taken back to the lodge for lunch. Some members of the team headed for siestas before the afternoons shooting commenced at around 3pm.

The afternoon’s shooting was fantastic with vast quantities of doves, enough to satisfy the appetite of any Gun. After a couple of hours of shooting, the doves reached their peak, for as far as the eye could see they were wing to wing – a sky absolutely packed with doves! So much so, most of the line put their guns down and took out their phones to capture the spectacle.

 

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My next stop was a lodge called Santiago Del Estero. I arrived in the dark which made for an impressive sight as the lodge was beautifully lit.

The Santiago Del Estero lodge is nestled away, accessed by a secluded dirt road, giving a wonderfully private feel. With the lodge being as remote as it is, our operators have installed a 1.5km runway, near to the lodge, where visitors can fly directly from Buenos Aires in just under two hours. Alternatively, the lodge is a three-hour drive from the city of Santiago Del Estero, which has the closest airport.

Santiago Del Estero and the neighbouring region Tucuman is slightly different in that the doves are resident and do not migrate, providing consistent shooting for much of the year and the opportunity to shoot high volume doves, pigeons, ducks and perdiz.

The lodge was originally built in 2008 in the style of a traditional Spanish finca, with sprawling courtyards. The lodge underwent a complete refurbishment in 2020 and I have to say it is a stunning, first-class shooting venue, while very much maintaining the traditional hunting lodge atmosphere.

The lodge has 11 generous ensuite bedrooms along with a swimming pool, hot tub, small gym, and treatment room for Guns who are looking to relax and cool down after a busy day in the field. In the centre courtyard is a fantastic fire pit – a great place to congregate after shooting.

I was with a group there for one day and two nights and they had shot their socks off! The shooting was excellent with high volumes of doves and pigeons to satisfy even the most enthusiastic shot. A real highlight of the lodge is the opportunities to shoot such a diverse range of species.

Santiago Del Estero is an excellent lodge with great staff to match. It is plenty spacious enough to host groups of all sizes endeavouring to shoot high volume doves.

 

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Leaving Santiago Del Estero I drove south to the Cordoba region. My first impressions were that this area is much more affluent than further north, and the land looked more fertile with farms appearing to be more advanced.

I visited the Pica Zuro lodge, which sits at the foot of the Sierras Chicas hills. This elegantly restored 19th century lodge has the charm and decor of a traditional Estancia and is surrounded by wide verandas overlooking beautiful gardens and orchards.

The lodge has nine ensuite rooms, a large dining room, sitting room, together with an outside game’s room complete with a fully stocked bar, pool table and large TV. For relaxing after shooting or for non-shooting guests to enjoy, there is a sauna, outdoor stone hot tub sunken into the ground, and a large swimming pool.

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My next stop was La Portenita lodge, which is located 45 minutes north of Cordoba. The lodge was different to any I had seen so far, positioned on top of a small hill with beautiful views towards the Cordoba mountains.

La Portenita has six large ensuite bedrooms and in addition, a separate villa in the garden, offering another three bedrooms with private bathrooms. The property’s many porches, along with the large swimming pool and sunken fire pit lounge, provide ample areas for relaxing and enjoying convivial conversation.

La Portentia is a traditional hunting lodge with very attentive staff, it is small enough to be able to take exclusively with a group of friends and there is a great selection of activities for non-shooting guests to enjoy from horse riding, polo at the local clubs, spas and cultural tours in Jesus Maria and Cordoba.

Arriving at the lodge, I joined three Austrian clients for lunch in a beautiful building in the gardens, which had recently been finished. An annexe would be an understatement, as inside there is a large dining room, a bar with sliding glass doors opening to a comfortable outside seating area, and kitchen. It really made you feel like you could be in Tuscany with such dramatic views.

After eating too much fantastic beef and a glass of delicious Malbec, I left the lodge with Pato, one of the three guides at La Portenita. Pato has been guiding at La Portenita, alongside his brother, since they left school over 25 years ago. His unwavering enthusiasm and passion for the lodge and the shooting was a delight.

During the afternoon, we visited three seperate arable farms which covered almost 5,000 acres. Our ground operators have grown sunflowers on these fields in an arable rotation with corn, in order to concentrate the doves so that Guns can enjoy shorter drives to the fields in the morning and reliably see plenty of doves.

In recent years, due to fires and droughts, doves in the Cordoba region of Argentina are spending less time in the hills and more time in these arable areas. After seeing flocks of doves feeding on the fields, I joined the Guns who had been shooting that afternoon’s flight – their beaming smiles said it all.

 

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I then headed to the west of Cordoba to visit a wonderful lodge called Escondido. Escondido was fully refurbished five years ago, and they have created a very modern lodge with eight ensuite bedrooms and a lovely outside pool and hot tub.

The land here is much flatter, with more intensive agriculture than in the other parts of Cordoba I had already visited. The views of the high Cordoba mountains were spectacular. There really is not a more impressive back drop to a days shooting.

The lodge sits on the edge of a 37,000 acre farm with multiple different dove fly ways. Escondido lodge was described to me as ‘Argentina’s hidden gem.’ For 20 years the part owner, Havre, has been sustainably shooting pigeons.

I was lucky enough to sneak in an hour’s shooting and WOW! It was electric. I don’t think I have ever had such an enjoyable time shooting. From the moment I stepped into the hide I was inundated with pigeons from every direction.

The decoying of pigeons in Argentina is very much like shooting pigeons here in the UK, they are tricky and exciting, coming from all angles. However, unlike the doves, there is a limit per gun of 250 pigeons per day, which is still a great day’s pigeon shooting in anyone’s book!

 

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I left Escondido the following morning to head back over the mountains to the Guayascate lodge which lies c. 90 minutes north of Cordoba.

Arriving at Guayascate my first impressions were that I had arrived at one of the most spectacular shooting lodges in the world. The lodge sits in the hills overlooking the Churqui roost.

Guayascate was built from scratch to provide luxurious accommodation for dove shooting guests, while retaining a typical rustic Argentinean feel. The lodge has ten individually appointed bedrooms, all of which are a good size, with two large king size beds in each, ensuite bathrooms with baths and walk in showers.

Shooting - South America - Argentina - La Guayascate

The après shooting facilities will also meet the expectations of any Gun or non-shooting guest who enjoys the finer things in life, with inside and outside heated jacuzzis, a large infinity pool, spa, and massage rooms – it is a lodge for those who want the best. Though, some might prefer a more personal atmosphere.

 

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Sadly, I was only at Guayascate for one night. After a quick morning tour of the shooting fields, I headed back to Cordoba for the short flight to Buenos Aires.

A quick transfer through the city to the Buquebus ferry terminal, heading for the town of Colonia in Uruguay. The ferry was a breeze only taking an hour, with very little queuing or hassle. On arrival in Colonia, I was met by a representative from the team at Carmelo lodge.

The Carmelo lodge is located 60km northwest of Colonia and is set in beautifully kept gardens, which run down to a small vineyard, which provides most of the wine for the lodge. The lodge has a large sitting come dining room, and eight ensuite double bedrooms, with a further two more ensuite bedrooms in the main house. The interior of the lodge is more simplistic compared with some of Argentina’s offerings, though teams still get looked after impeccably.

After an early knock on the door, I joined an American team of Guns for the day. Heading away from the lodge for the morning flight it was evident the topography was much more undulating compared to the other areas I had previously seen. The land was very pretty and comparable to the UK with dark rich soils, woods and treelines, the ideal setting for a day’s sport.

Shooting at Carmelo was fantastic, the height and quality of the doves was enough to challenge the most competent of shots. Using the wonderful topography on offer, the guides creatively position the hides to present the best sport possible.

The morning and evening flights may not last as long as those in Argentina, but that is no compromise for the quality and the height of the doves – certainly the highest of the lodges I had seen.

Carmelo lodge is a brilliant location for guns looking to shoot high challenging doves in a beautiful setting whilst enjoying superb hospitality.

 

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Argentina and Uruguay are possibly the most exciting sporting destinations in the world. The reason for this is quite simple, they offer teams exceptional shooting with excellent hospitality and their own delightful culture encapsulating the whole experience

It was evident from my time in the two countries that our operators, having provided outstanding shooting for so many years, understand that the staff, food, wine, and lodges must match the quality of the sport, and this is plain to see in their attention to detail and enthusiasm.

I would love to discuss the various options with you so please don’t hesitate to contact me. I will also be hosting a trip next year so for further information on all the lodges we represent, please contact Rupert Edgedale on 01488 683 222 or rupert.edgedale@roxtons.com