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Often over-shadowed by nearby Iguazú Falls, the provincial park of Esteros del Iberá is quickly becoming a top-flight destination for eco-travelers, especially birdwatchers looking for a more intimate, remote outing.

 

 

Occupying 13,000 square kilometers in the province of Corrientes, the park uniquely blends rural charm with rich biodiversity. The 118 kilometer dirt road from Corrientes’ capital city, Mercedes, leads to the tranquil, 500 person town of Colonia Carlos Pellegrini, and the gateway to the park.

 

 

The park was once the floor of the Paraná River and slow drainage has allowed for most of the water to be recycled by the vegetation. Deeper lagoons (two meters at the deepest), marshy fields of aquatic plants, and stands of subtropical trees spread across the flat horizon, housing Iberá’s main attraction: the flora and fauna.

 

 

Outings arranged with the various lodges by boat or on horseback are the best way to take in the astounding natural beauty of Iberá. Flat-bottomed aluminum boats power visitors across deeper waters and pole through shallow canals while docile horses plod through the marshlands amongst the park’s many wonders.

 

 

With its abundance of water and convergence of three distinct climatic zones, Iberá is perfect for ornithologists. Counts vary from 350 to 400 species, including large populations of lapwings, egrets, storks, ducks, herons and a number of endangered species. Among signature species are the olive cormorant, jabiru, horned screamer (chajá) and the nearly extinct yellow cardinal.

 

 

Basking broad-nosed caiman (yacaré) are common, and glimpses can be caught of more furtive species such as marsh deer, bracket deer and grey wolves. Also among park residents are howler monkeys, otters, curiyus (yellow anaconda), skunks, tegu lizards, and the ubiquitous carpincho, a large rodent that acts as a lawn mower on the park’s drier, grassy stands. Multi-colored and abundant butterfly populations are bountiful, as are a long list of tree species, aquatic plants and flowers, including orchids.

 

 

Beyond the typical tours, some lodges, such as Rincón del Socorro, provide fly-fishing, canoeing, and mountain biking excursions. The friendly, colorful locals combine with natural beauty and a wealth of activities to make Iberá a true paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.



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