our guest-blogger of this week is Tristan Libault, French national, adventurer and editor of the Argentina Exception travel website and today he will tell us about precious off the beaten path jewels of the southern cone.
Everybody’s heard about Argentina. The marvellous Iguazu Falls, the glittering Buenos Aires, the beautiful Andes Mountains, the mysterious Patagonia… Many famous-sounding names have unfortunately become just touristic destinations, where truly beautiful landscapes are packed with too many people. But, Argentina has one wild spot you haven’t heard of yet…
Into the wild
Welcome to the Esteros del Ibera! Located north of Buenos Aires in the Corrientes province, this nearly untouched region of Argentina is worth a visit. Ibera means “brilliant water” in the Guarani language. The Esteros del Ibera spreads over 8,000 square miles, and is filled with virgin swamps where you can admire the most astonishing wildlife in Argentina. This site, in the middle of nature, is largely unknown to tourists. Who has not dreamed of treading upon unknown soil? When you arrive in Esteros del Ibera, you almost feel as though you’re intruding on a world that has never had human contact, or had any need for it.
In this nature reserve you can find 300 bird species, 85 mammals, 45 amphibians and 35 reptiles. Among this many species, you’ll find caimans, carpinchos, monkeys, and the rare swamp deer. The carpincho is much like a guinea pig, but it’s nearly the size of a bear. This incredible beast is the biggest rodent of the world. In this wild place it’s very common to see yakares, Argentinean caimans you can find on the banks of the swamps. These dangerous reptiles thrive here, and cohabit with birds like toucans, parrots or rheas.
What to do in Ibera?
If you want to go deep into these swamps, you can ask one of the locals to take you to a boat ride. Many fishermen live in this region, and can help you get right up close to the nature and wildlife. Lift your gaze to admire the birds flying above your head. Listen to the cries of monkeys and try to distinguish between their mischievous and fleeting silhouettes. Sail between caimans and reeds, and keep an eye out that they don’t come too close! During the night, take your flashlight and observe the red eyes of deers and carpinchos.
Esteros del Ibera is also an area of gauchos. Go to one of the many estancias (gauchos’ farms) nearby and ride a horse among the wild plains, lowlands and swamps. Alone in the desert Pampa, this getaway will be unforgettable for you.
How to go to Esteros del Ibera?
This is a hard place to reach, as the roads are bad and it is not a much inhabited region. The Esteros del Ibera are organized around a small town called San Carlos Pellegrini. This town is cut off from firm ground because of the swamps, so there is only an earth ramp to enter and exit the city… From Buenos Aires, you must take a bus to Mercedes and then find a car or a private transport to spend the next five hours on the lonely road. But don’t sleep during the trip, or you’ll miss the many animals along the road! Sometime, you can observe a herd of cows being led by a gaucho, an Argentinean cowboy, in the middle of the Pampa. In this wild place, you’ll get a real and unique change of scenery!