Friday, 31 March 2017

Esters de Ibera

The Esteros de Ibera are the second largest wetlands I'm south America after the Pantanal in Brazil and not the easiest place to visit.

First you need to get to a small town called Mercedes. Coming from Buenos Aires the only buses run overnight. Then wait.

At about 12 a dirty yellow bus marked Crucero del Norte leaves for Colonia Carlos Pellegrini in the wetlands. After 30 minutes the tarmac stops and for the next three hours the road is made of sand. Eventually the road crosses a wooden bridge and arrives at Carlos Pellegrini, where I was dropped at my guesthouse.

Very little of the wetlands is accessible to the public. There are a series of walkways that take 2-3 hours and boat tours of the one lake nearest the town. Even in this small area I saw lots of capybara, caiman and some marsh deer, which if I understood correctly are endemic to the Ibera wetlands.

Getting out was a stroke of luck. The only way by public transport is back to Mercedes, which for my plan to get to Iguazu falls would have meant at least four different buses and 18 hours on the road. Instead it turned out a Belgian couple were going the same way so we split the cost and paid the guesthouse owner to drive us to Posadas to the north. Again this was a long, straight sand road. This time for five hours. The landscape gradually changed and we came out of the wetlands and passed huge farms and stands of woodland that seemed to be pine.

Then quite suddenly we came to a junction with a busy surfaced road running into the suburbs of Posadas. From there it was easy to get a bus through to Puerto Iguazu. As I walked out of the bus station there was a place called Tango Inn opposite so I checked into a dorm.

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