Amazing nature and wildlife in Argentina’s Northeast
10.04.2019 - 14.04.2019
From Rio de Janeiro we took a flight to Foz do Iguaçu, located on the Brazilian side of the Tri-border area shared with Paraguay and Argentina. More importantly, it is the closest town to the Brazilian side of the mighty Iguazú Falls. We arrived in the evening and spent a night in town before taking the bus out to the falls. The national park on the Brazilian side features one boardwalk that takes one to two hours to explore. We were very impressed with the first panoramic views of the falls and it only got better as we walked farther. As we figured out, those first views were from the lower, less impressive part of the falls. The boardwalk culminated in a path out over the river and very close to the loudest and most spectacular part of Iguazú Falls, the Devil’s Throat. We had to wear our rain jackets for this part since it got pretty wet in there. The Iguazú Falls consist of around 300 individual waterfalls, with the largest ones being 82 meters tall. On an average day, 1.75 million liters of water drop down there every second, about half of which runs through the Devil’s Throat.
Since it did not take us very long to see the falls, we decided to visit Parque das Aves afterwards. This zoo specializing in tropical birds was located right next to the entrance of the national park. We are not big fans of zoos, but this was a different experience. The bird cages were huge and we could walk inside of the cages. That way we could get really close to the birds and there was no barrier between us and them. Our favorites were the toucans with their huge bright beaks and the macaws, which came in many different colors.
From Foz do Iguaçu, we took a bus over the border to Puerto Iguazú in Argentina. This was a bit of a painful experience, because unlike Brazilians and Argentinians we had to get off the bus on the Brazilian side of the border for the exit stamp. Despite the fact that it only took a minute to get our passports stamped, the bus left and we had to wait an hour for the next one.
The national park on the Argentinian side of Iguazú Falls was much bigger. Three long boardwalks let us explore different parts of the falls. We woke up very early to be among the first people to enter the park and it was totally worth it. We saw few other people in our first three hours at the falls, so we had all the time and space that we needed to enjoy the views and take photos, something that was not always easy on the Brazilian side. The most amazing view was the one from atop the Devil’s Throat. A boardwalk led one kilometer out over Río Iguazú, right to the edge of where the masses of water thunder down into a cloud of mist.
After walking all day in Parque Nacional Iguazú, the next day involved very little walking. We travelled all day to a little village called Colonia Carlos Pellegrini. First, we took a 5½ hour bus to Posadas and from there, we had a private 4x4 taxi for the 4 hour ride over dirt roads to our accommodation. Why did we go through all that trouble? Colonia Carlos Pellegrini is located at the edge of Esteros del Iberá, the second largest wetland in the world after Pantanal in Brazil. Unlike Iguazú Falls, this is a rarely visited part of Argentina, certainly in parts because it is so hard to get to. We stayed in a nice lodge there for three nights and it was great to fall asleep to the sounds of birds instead of cars.
Our lodge included four guided wildlife watching trips. On the first morning we did a guided walk at the edges of the lagoon and in the afternoon, we did a boat tour on the lagoon. The most common animal we saw was the capybara. It is the world’s largest rodent and looks like a supersized guinea pig. We loved watching the capybaras, but sadly we could not take one home with us. They weight around 50 kilograms, which makes them too heavy for our check-in luggage.
On the second day we kayaked on the lagoon, which was another fantastic experience. Besides the capybaras, we also saw a lots of caimans, which are related to crocodiles and alligators. The largest ones we saw were around two meters long. We sometimes got within a hand’s reach of the caimans, but we were smart enough not to try and pet them.
We also saw marsh deer, howler monkeys (officially the worlds loudest land animal, though they were quiet in our presence), armadillos and lots of birds. On the last evening we did a guided night walk, but we were not very lucky and only saw more capybaras and one armadillo that night. Overall, Esteros del Iberá was an outstanding experience for us. We loved the quiet atmosphere of the place and it was fascinating to get so close to so many animals in their natural habitat.