Iberá National Park – the world’s second largest wetland

We spent two days at Iberá in a tiny lakeside village called Carlos Pellegrini, with 1000 inhabitants on the shore of the largest lake in the park. There aren’t actually very many trails to walk but you can see so much wildlife that perhaps it’s not a big deal. There are quite a few ranches that you can stay at around the whole park with their own viewing trails, but most of them are super luxury and a bit too upmarket for our trip. We stayed at Posada El Yacare and it was lovely, the owners, Hugo and Mirte, were great hosts and spoke very clear Spanish to help us communicate. For our first evening we went over the road for dinner at the Cabaña Bar where we had fantastic Lomo Completo sandwiches, with steak, egg, ham, cheese, lettuce and tomato which cost $80 pesos (£3 each) and we washed them down with plenty of ice cold beer. There was an enormous electrical storm not far away so we sat outside in the humid evening to watch it while we ate. And there had been some rain earlier while we were in the pool so there were some enormous toads out on the roads that night that we had to be very careful not to trip over. After breakfast we went to explore the park. We knew we needed to cross over the bridge near the town to get there but we hadn’t realised quite how far it was so we had to walk about 2km before we got to the entrance to the trails. It was blazing sunshine so it was lovely to walk through the shady woods near the waterfront on our hunt for wildlife. We walked the two scenic trails and the boardwalk over the reeds and we saw loads of wildlife. There were some pretty chilled out Capybaras, it was the first time I had seen them in the wild so I was really excited to see them grazing nearby. Then we also saw some deer, a caiman and some huge birds as well as the colourful little songbirds and waterfowl. We heard some howler monkeys but couldn’t spot them in the canopy. We went back to the town to find some lunch and stopped at a lovely little restaurant for some fresh grilled fish and salad then relaxed at the pool for the heat of the afternoon. We spent the evening on a boat with an Argentinian couple who had some really interesting conversations with the skipper as we cruised around seeing some incredible wildlife.

The cruise was fantastic and well worth $300 Pesos per person. We got very close to the wildlife and were able to watch them without hurrying at all.

We watched a capybara square up to a caiman that got too close to his family and we saw some birds that we hadn’t managed to see from the shore. We even saw howler monkeys running around in the trees on dry land.

The lake is enormous so we were there for a couple of hours exploring between all the floating islands and along the banks.

We walked back with the Argentinian couple and had some pretty decent conversations in Spanish. We decided to eat dinner at the same place as the night before as it was so good and really good value. This time we had chips as well and they were amazing!! The next day, 29th December, before our drive South towards Buenos Aires, we decided to stop by the trails again for another explore. We saw capybara and deer but no anteaters, armadillos or peccaries, which were the animals I was keen to see most. Still worth doing before setting off on the dirt road to the South. Before we left, I asked our host if the road was better heading south and she assured me that it was better but we still had to drive slowly because of the sharp rocks. Sure enough, the road was better than the loose sand and gravel for much of the 80km big the stones were so bumpy and sharp. We managed to get another flat tyre! We hadn’t managed to replace the one from before so we didn’t have much choice but to drive on the flat slowly. We had made it about 15km before our salvation arrived in the form of a lovely family in a beaten up old Corsa. We actually managed to change a tyre at the side of the road using his tools. Sadly the spare wheel he offered us didn’t fit but the tyre was the same size so we spent about an hour with a tyre lever and taking our shredded tyre off and replacing it with his spare tyre. He impressed us both when he used Steven’s aerosol deodorant to seal and reinflate the tyre by filling the tyre and then lighting it. We continued on the dirt track driving in convoy with the family for another 40km then had 20km on pristine tarmac (not sure why they didn’t carry the road on further – they are really good at making roads!!). We arrived in a town called Mercedes and found a tyre repair place and Steven went with the man to the bank while I sat in the shade with his daughter talking in Spanish about the wildlife in the park. Then the family had to depart as they had a long drive to get on a boat trip that afternoon. It was such a whirlwind!! We continued our drive to a town called Concordia, chosen for its convenient location on our route back to Buenos Aires. There were only one or two sights to see in the town but there is an excellent Parrilla restaurant called El Gordo where we had dinner. Our waiter was really helpful when I was learning the Spanish words for all the different cuts of meat and we actually managed to ask for exactly what we wanted this time, replacing chips with salad and ordering a perfectly cooked medium rare steak. Delicious!! Almost at the end of the road trip now. Just one more drive day tomorrow!!

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