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Argentine sanctuary: Posada Puerto Bemberg

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Located in the Misiones jungle, in the Argentine province of Misiones, Posada Puerto Bemberg is what remains of a familial estate and yerba mate plantation that, at one point, encompassed nearly 125,000 acres.

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The land was owned by the illustrious Bemberg family, founders of one of Argentina’s largest breweries, Quilmes, and it was the Bembergs who, in 1925, with their yerba mate plantation, brought running water and electric power to the Province of Misiones.

At that time, access to the falls was only from the river – and the first posada was built in 1940 as an overnight respite for visitors to Iguazú Falls. After years of national tumult and upheaval, the Bemberg heirs came together to create an eco-reserve with what remained of their property.

It’s fitting that the reborn Posada Puerto Bemberg (which has been listed on Conde Nast Traveler’s Hot List) quotes King Lear in its mission statement: “He’ll shape his old course in a country new,” for the latest incarnation of the posada, which opened quietly in November of 2008. The posada divides its nearly 1,000 acres into a 700-acre reserve, while utilizing 123 acres for a jungle recovery plan, which has, already, replanted more than 5,000 indigenous trees and plants.

The current owners of Posada Puerto Bemberg had a dream to create a place for those who love the comforts and intimacy associated with family homes – while also complementing the jungle’s indigenous pleasures. In short, Posada Puerto Bemberg seeks to create a haven where culture, wine, and decorative arts commingle with hummingbirds, toucans, and maybe a puma or two.

Dinner is served in the 2,500-volume library cum dining room (complete with grand piano) where a half dozen tables are laid with silver cutlery and crystal. The atmosphere is not unlike being in a private home for a weekend visit, albeit one where the domestic staff has been in residence for years and where the owners are happy to share their good fortune, even when absent.

Posada Puerto Bemberg has 13 guest rooms and one suite (with private balcony). All the rooms are spacious, with high ceilings and en suite bathrooms (with L’Occitane toiletries), and all furnished with earth-toned artisanal pieces with splashes of tropical color.

Each room has its own patio, perfect for morning coffee while listening to birdsong – or for reading one of the books from the shelves of the curated library in every room. There is also a 65-foot swimming pool, as well as a watchtower, which enables viewers to gaze across the expanse of the property, over the treetops to the Parana River and the banks of Paraguay beyond.

Breakfast is an opportunity to taste the incredible bounty from Posada Puerto Bemberg’s organic fruit and vegetable garden. As the Posada is staffed almost entirely by residents from the neighboring small town, Puerto Libertad, the cuisine is an amalgam of indigenous recipes supplemented by Chef Joselina Hoffmann’s years of culinary experience.

The overwhelming temptation at Posada Puerto Bemberg is to wander off and discover what fascinating treasures lie in wait: a hummingbird path, for example, or a treetop skywalk, leading to an open space, perfect for meditation or a cocktail at sunset.

There’s also La Cave, a wine cellar stocked with 1,600 bottles, selected from strict tastings, resulting in 60 labels from 20 vineyards, emphasizing Malbec and Torrontes, Argentina’s most emblematic varieties.

In addition, Le Pavilion is a 120-capacity space with a commanding river view. There’s also a chapel on property, built in 1930 by Bustillo, one of Argentina’s foremost architects, which also has superb river views, all the way to the banks of Paraguay.

Posada Puerto Bemberg prides itself on being a sustainable, eco-reserve. Biodegradable cleaning products are used exclusively, while recycled wood was used for the library and La Cave (both of which were built with planks from a former athletic club). And apart from the organic garden, there is also an indigenous plant nursery, where a broad range of medicinal plants is cultivated (including stevia, with leaves 45 times as sweet as sucrose).

On a map of the surrounding area, you might see the town of El Dorado listed as further to the south – but it might be argued that the mythical El Dorado with all its attendant claims to happiness can be found at Posada Puerto Bemberg.

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