With an extension of 12 thousand square kilometers, Esteros del Iberá -in Guaraní language means “water that shines”- is the second largest wetland in the world and home to more than 4,000 species of animals and plants. In the lower areas, rains feed the estuaries and lagoons that characterize these sectors, while in the higher areas there are small remnants of parana, jungle, palm forests and endless pastures interrupted by some mountain islets.
Let’s talk about history
During the first half of the XX century Iberá suffered a sustained process of environmental degradation, which generated the displacement of its fauna and its beautiful landscapes. Depredation reached its peak in the 1970s, when emblematic species such as the tapir, the yaguareté and the deer of the pampas became extinct due to indiscriminate hunting. The giant anteater, the collared peccary and the wolf were the same fate, not only disappeared from Iberá, but olso the entire province.
This terrible process began to be reversed in 1983, with the creation of the Iberá Provincial Reserve, which brought with it the implementation of ecotourism. The hunters became gaurdaparques and the fauna began to recover: deer, capybaras and yacarés, that were on the brink of extinction, saw themselves again.
Invited by an Argentine conservationist, Douglas Tompkins met Iberá in the 90s, almost by chance. Impacted by the breadth of its landscapes and the ease with which large mammals could be seen, through the organization “The Conservation Land Trust” (CLT) bought the first lands from different owners. In 1999, CLT began its environmental restoration work, in order to return its actors to Iberá and its heritage to the community. After several visits and the acquisition of other lands inaccessible for traditional production, but full of wild animals, Tompkins began to work firmly in the conservation of Iberá. This is how the Esteros del Iberá Project was born.
Within the framework of this process, the first inns were opened, the first anteaters and deer of the pampas were released to achieve their repopulation, and ten touristic portals were opened to access the Esteros so that each town in the basin had its opportunity to development through ecotourism. Throughout the years, the organization committed itself to the restoration of the landscape: the traces of livestock production were erased, the native plants were prioritized and the wild life found its place again.
Within the Iberá Natural Reserve, which covers some 750,000 hectares and is built on privately owned land, is the homonymous Provincial Park of 482,000 hectares. In 2016 National State received the donation of 23,700 hectares of CLT and Flora and Fauna Foundation, corresponding to the Cambyretá site. In the coming years, the Government will receive the remaining lands until the donation of 150,000 hectares that the widow of Tompkins, Kristine McDivitt, donated for the creation of the Iberá National Park.
How to arrive?
-Airway: Take a flight to Corrientes and then hire a transfer or rent a car.
-Terrestrial road: It can be reached by bus or car.
What to do?
The landscape changes abruptly when arriving to the south of the Iberá Natural Reserve, home of different species and scenery to perform different activities in the hand of local guides, such as flora and fauna watching, horseback riding, trekking and cultural exchange with artisans of the area.
The navigations, diurnal and nocturnal, deserve special mention, because they guarantee direct contact with the fauna and the possibility of contemplating the landscape with absolute tranquility. The transparent waters allow observing the vegetation from the surface and invite snorkeling to discover an underwater world. There is also the possibility of fishing with return from November to April.
In short, Iberá is a destination to visit all year round, which offers diverse options to take contact with nature in the context of an adventure or a relaxing stay. Also, to the natural attractions is added the charm of the local cuisine, which seduces with the flavors of “homemade” products.
We also invite you to read OUR EXPERIENCE.
Where to stay?
-Iberá Lodge: located 70 km from the city of Mercedes, south of the Ibera Reserve, it was conceived with a unique architectural design, according to the lines of the Corrientes countryside construction and with the natural resources of the area. The lodge has two double rooms (2 beds of a square and a half), two triple rooms (2 beds of a square and a half and a single), and a room apartment with two bedrooms, a bathroom and ample living, ideal for families with children . In terms of amenities, has a large living room with outdoor galleries, swimming pool with whirlpool, games room and gym. Also, Iberá Lodge has a private track and its own dock with direct access to the Esteros.
Location: Provincial Route 29 km 50, Mercedes, Corrientes, Argentina.
More information: +54 9 3773 475114 | email@example.com | www.iberalodge.com
-Casa Santa Ana del Iberá: located in Carlos Pellegrini, on the shores of the Iberá lagoon, Santa Ana is a typical construction of the estuaries. The adobe and local materials give the feeling of living inside a village ranch, with the comforts and service of the professional hotel. Santa Ana has three triple rooms with matrimonial bed and single bed; a twin room; and a quadruple room with two bedrooms (double and twin), connected by an interior living room, a bathroom and semi-private garden, ideal for families with children. The house also has a living room with a library, parks and gardens with a spring on the lagoon and pool.
Location: Capivara, between Pehuajó and Caraguatá, Carlos Pellegrini, Corrientes, Argentina.
More information: +54 9 3773 475114 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.casasdelibera.com
Text and photos of Gabriela Naso.