Argentina’s biggest unsung attraction, Esteros del Iberá is a breathtaking wetland covering up to 13,000 square kilometers. Recharged almost exclusively by rainwater, it’s really a broad, shallow river, covered by semisubmerged marsh grasses, reeds, and other water-loving plants; it flows diagonally but almost imperceptibly from the northeast toward the southwest, where the Río Corrientes enters the middle Paraná. There are also, however, open-water stretches like Laguna Iberá, a 24,550-hectare lagoon that’s protected under the Ramsar convention on wetlands of international importance. In terms of wildlife, Iberá is an American Serengeti—while it may lack the total biomass of Africa’s famous plain, the variety of species and the sheer numbers of birds, mammals and reptiles is still awesome.
Flora and Fauna
Iberá’s flora and fauna make it a wonderland of biodiversity. Scattered open-water lagoons lie within an endless horizon of marshland grasses, aquatic plants, and embalsados (“floating islands”), which some ecologists have compared to tropical peat bogs. Even relatively large trees like the seibo (Erythrina cristagalli) and laurel (Nectandra falcifolia) flourish here and in gallery forests along faster-flowing waters.
Biologists have catalogued over 40 species of mammals, 35 species of amphibians, 80 species of fish, and 250–300 species of birds. The most readily seen mammals are the carpincho (capybara, Hydrochaerus hydrochaeris), marsh deer (Blastoceros dichotomus), and pampas deer (Ozotocerus bezoarticus; the mono carayá (Alouatta caraya, howler monkey) is more easily heard than seen. Less easily seen are the lobito de río (Paraná otter, Lontra longicaudis) and the largely nocturnal aguará guazú (maned wolf, Chrysocyon brachyurus).
Among the reptiles, there are two species of caimans, the yacaré overo (Caiman latirostris) and the yacaré negro (Caiman yacare). The endangered water curiyú (water boa, Eunectes notaeus) is also present.
Birds are far too numerous to mention more than a sample, but the signature species include the chajá (horned screamer, Chauna torquata), mbiguá común (olive cormorant, Phalacrocorax olivaceus), several species of storks, herons, and egrets, and many waterfowl, including the endangered pato crestudo (comb duck, Sarkidiornis melanotos).
Sights and Activities
Iberá is a year-round destination, but the summer months can be brutally hot and humid, and rain can fall at any time of year. Activities include bird-watching and other wildlife watching, hiking on a gallery-forest nature trail, and horseback riding.
Fly from Buenos Aires to Posadas and continue by light plane directly to Estancia Rincon del Socorro in the heart of the magical Ibera Wetlands. At this authentic and extremely comfortable estancia expert gaucho guides will take you out by 4WD, boat, on horseback and on foot to see the amazing and abundant wildlife.
Here you’ll have our best chances to find birds with highly restricted distribution ranges in Argentina, such as Strange-tailed Tyrant, Ochre-breasted Pipit and White-tailed Goldenthroat. Mammals and reptiles are also abundant in Iberá. Black-and-gold Howler Monkeys can be spotted regularly in the surroundings of our lodge. Marsh Deer are common sightings in the marshlands and Capybaras thrive in every lagoon, sharing their realm with Caymans and Yellow Anaconda.
There are also opportunities to take part in the seasonal cattle round-ups or simply relax and get to know the gaucho lifestyle as you share a mate tea with one of the friendly estate workers. Fly back to Buenos Aires for a final night before returning home.
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