Most people rush to see the spectacular Iguazu Falls in the very north of Argentina, and then fly 1-2 days later south to Buenos Aires or further. But they miss one of the jewels of the north, the Iberá Marshes. Those who see it return enthralled. Need convincing? This article by Canadian photographer Tommie Sue Montgomery describes her trip there with stunningly beautiful photos.
She stayed at the Irupe Lodge, in the middle of the national reserve and one of the best places to stay. She describes the local villages, people and the marshes. Oddly the local cemetery, not a normal attraction (except for places like La Recoleta in Buenos Aires), is fascinating: the colour of most tombs depends on the person’s political party!
That the Iberá Marshes are the world’s second largest wetlands, after the Pantanal, is hardly known. According to Wikipedia, it is part of the Iberá Natural Reserve, a protected area since 1982 and the largest such area in Argentina. 4 species there are even designated as “provincial natural monuments”….
Where Iberá is
Most foreign travelers to the Iberá Marshes visit Iguazu at the same time. Return travelers to Argentina often visit just Iberá, as they have already been to Iguazu. Iberá is approximately 500 kms south of Iguazu, a one day trip which usually includes stops along the road, for example at the Jesuit ruins of San Ignacio (an UNESCO site). A 2 hour private air transfer, overflying the Falls and the Wetlands, is an attractive alternative.
Iberá vs Pantanal
How does Iberá compare with Pantanal? Iberá doesn’t have a rainy season and never floods nor dries which means it can be visited all year around. Temperatures in winter range between 8°C and 25°C during the day and in summer between 25°C and 38°C during the day.
There are no longer jaguars but on 2-3 hour trips, it´s common to see around 20-30 caimans (two species, between 30cm up to 2.5 meters), 30 capibaras, 2 to 6 swamp deer (a huge animal that you hardly see in Pantanal), 1 to 2 pampas deer, around 10 howler monkeys and around 50 species of birds. That’s pretty good! On half of the excursion and along the sandy roads its common to see anacondas, water cobras or other snakes too. With a bit of luck you can also see the Geoffroys cat, the neotropical river otter, turtles and sometimes at night the maned wolf.
Many special bird species that birders are looking for are extremely easy to observe such as the jabiru, the yellow cardinal, the black and white monjita, the streamer and strange tailed tyrant, the scarlet headed blackbird, and the rufescent tiger hero.
Finally as Iberá is much smaller than Pantanal, getting there is easier and cheaper than for Pantanal. The nearest airport, Posadas, with two daily flights from Buenos Aires, is just 200 kms away.