Nestled in the northern tip of the Misiones province lies Awasi’s Yacuí Reserve. Bordering the Iguazu National Park, Yacuí is a 90 minute drive on dirt tracks through pristine Atlantic Rainforest from our Relais & Chateaux lodge, Awasi Iguazu. With access limited solely to Awasi guests, it is a wildlife enthusiast’s and birdwatcher’s paradise, with the dense jungle creating a home for multiple rare plant and animal species.

Guests can explore the forest on foot, admire the scenery whilst kayaking on the Yacuí river, or simply enjoy their surroundings resting in a hammock with some food and drink at the quincho. One section of the reserve is used to cultivate a local crop, yerba mate, used to make Argentina’s famous mate drink – why not take a tour round a farm to learn about its cultivation?

To help understand which animals live in Yacuí, we installed some hidden cameras to capture a sample of the large amount of wildlife that can be found roaming the Reserve, something we’ve also done with great success at Awasi Patagonia.

Here are some of the creatures we have snapped:

South American or Crab-Eating Racoon (“Aguará Popé” – Procyon cancrivorus)

This species of racoon regularly visits the Yacuí river to hunt crabs, fish, snails, insects, turtles and frogs. These racoons have often been observed “washing” their food, dunking it into water before they eat it. Theories abound as to why they do this – some think it is to soften the shells of the crabs that they eat, while others think it is to enhance the tactile experience involved while eating. Either way, this is what has led to its local nickname Osito Lavador, or Washing Bear.

Southern Long-nosed Armadillo (“Tatu” – Dasypus hybridus)

When guests walk the trails of the Yacuí Reserve, they often find armadillo burrows in the red earth – well-worn, free of leaves and debris – where they sleep during the day. The photos taken by the hidden camera are testament to their busy nocturnal lives, as they forage and snuffle around on the forest floor in search of insects, in particular ants and termites, as well as plants and dead animals to scavenge.

Pygmy Brocket Deer (“Poca or Corzuela Enana” – Mazama nana)

This little deer, which stands at half a metre in height with reddish-brown fur, is very rare – it is a threatened, endemic species to the Atlantic Forest. The Reserve is proud to be home to such an elegant yet vulnerable species.

Ocelot (“Ocelote” – Leopardus pardalis)

Out on excursions, it is very common to find Ocelot droppings and footprints in the damp trails that criss-cross the Yacuí Reserve. Although we know they must be close, the Ocelots vanish, well-hidden amongst the branches of the trees – they are notoriously elusive. But the hidden camera shows them in their full splendour, trotting stealthily across the forest in search of coatis, agoutis, rodents, weasels, lizards and snakes.

Forest Fox (“Zorro de Monte” – Cerdocyon thous)

Normally seen in pairs, these animals are notoriously territorial, as the photos taken by the hidden cameras show – see how they mark their territory by urinating on trees. These foxes have young every year – with luck, our cameras will capture the new habitants of the Yacuí Reserve when the next litter arrives.