Esteros del Iberá is one of Argentina’s best kept travel secrets. A wildlife reserve in the wetlands of northeast Argentina, this national park offers one of the most unique experiences you can have in a country known more for its rich malbecs, dramatic tango, and even more passionate football. Iberá lies far off the typical tourist path and it’s certainly not for everyone. Nonetheless, its spotlight on caring for the environment, protecting nature in all its forms, and the serenity and untouched feel of the place only adds to the charm of this conservation project that has opened its doors to tourists.
Part of the Tompkins Conservation rewilding projects across Argentina and Chile, Iberá Park spans over 700,000 hectares (1.7 million acres). Its marshlands and forests are home to an impressive range of over 4,000 species of wildlife – this is what makes this place incredible. You can even visit an island to spot the illusive jaguars that have been reintroduced to the region.
If you’re looking for a safari that’s a little different, or you’ve already seen the African savannahs the forests of Costa Rica, or the snowy landscapes of Antarctica, this is the place for you. Open plains of luscious marshlands, uncharacteristic of Argentina, where crocodiles lurk in wait of their prey, where deer wade through the water, and where capybaras roam freely across the grasses, make the Iberá Park a must-visit for any wildlife lover or birdwatcher’s next vacation.
You can arrive at the park from Misiones airport, just an hour and a half flight from Buenos Aires. From there it’s a 5-hour off-road drive through the park to the accommodation but the time flies by. Gazing out the window, you’ll find yourself surrounded by tropical green trees and grassy plains occupied by ñandus and deer as some of the exquisite birdlife flies by overhead.
Despite the park’s remoteness, the accommodation options on offer here offer a touch of luxury typical of the Tompkins projects. With wooden beams and flowing curtains, the decor pays homage to the safari lodges of Africa with a local touch.
On the banks of Laguna Iberá, Casa de Esteros has an elegant rusticity with spectacular views from its many terraces. From here, the nighttime safari will show you the secrets of nocturnal life: boars, foxes, vizcachas, and nocturnal birds all come out to play, carefully (and respectfully) located and spotted by the expert guide.
The next day, you can visit a forest to see the curious howler monkeys and colorful birds that occupy the trees and canopy. For the more adventurous, head out to the lake on a kayak or camp under the stars in the village.
Rincón del Socorro, in the southeast of the park, boasts a very well-deserved five-star rating and the finishing touches not only show the care of the staff and quality of service, but also the respect and admiration of the nature that surrounds the hotel. This truly is a bird watcher’s paradise. Ñandus, herons, and a host of woodpeckers and other birds with brightly colored heads surround the accommodation and are tastefully included in the artwork.
It’s easy to lose track of time just sitting on the terrace watching the birds fly past, but the activities are what make this place unique. Explore the hotel’s surroundings on horseback or ebike, or take to the trails on two feet as you hike the exclusive trails. Stopping for lunch at picnic tables with white table cloths in the middle of the forest, you’ll sample the delicious produce of the hotel’s kitchen garden. In the evening, take in the slow, relaxed atmosphere with a bonfire or even a traditional Argentinian asado (barbeque) under the full moon.
Puerto Valle is Iberá’s most impressive accommodation, as much for its decor, service, and amenities as for its sustainability record. As the only hotel in the province with Greener Hotels sustainability recognition, this former estancia minimizes its energy usage and maximizes its positive social and environmental impact by preserving local biodiversity and cultural heritage. The hotel’s exclusive activities include a magnificent boat trip or kayak expedition along the Paraná river, a magical horseback ride along the river’s banks, or an unforgettable safari in the national park where you can spot the reintroduced red macaw.
Ibera isn’t a place for moving quickly or for adrenaline-inducing activities. Its calmness and focus on nature makes it a great escape for those who enjoy slow travel, who are looking to relax and spend time admiring the intrinsic beauty of nature. It serves as a great complement to the buzz and popularity of the Iguazú Falls and a striking contrast to the pampas and wine valleys that typically characterize Argentina.
If you want to know more about visiting Iberá, have a look at the itineraries below or contact us today with your questions!