As Argentina’s largest natural reserve and the second largest body of fresh water after the Pantanal in Brazil, the Esteros del Ibera wetlands are a haven for wildlife spotting and outdoor activities. Just as diverse as the wildlife on display, there are a number of unforgettable ways to see the wild animals in their natural habitat and explore this stunning environment. From boat trips, horseback riding with local gauchos to twilight safaris and bird watching; you will be spoilt for choice when visiting Esteros del Ibera. With so much to choose from, here are our favorite Esteros del Ibera activities which should not be missed off any itinerary to this pristine and beautiful nature reserve.
♦ A Wildlife & Bird Watching Paradise
The Ibera wetlands and its wildlife sanctuary are a real treat for birders and nature enthusiasts alike with wildlife watching being the main reason to come to this area. You don’t need to be a seasoned ‘twitcher’ to be able to appreciate the diversity and beauty of the birdlife on display. With 350 different bird species, 90% of which are believed to be native species you will be able to enjoy views of vultures and smaller, less well-known species. Thanks to the flat landscape of open grassland and wetland you will be able to easily spot many species of bird. The Esteros del Ibera wetlands are home to some of South America’s most iconic wildlife such as the capybara and caiman. More than 85 mammal species, 35 reptile species and 45 amphibian species reside in the nature reserve along with some of the most endangered species in the world. The diversity of Esteros del Ibera’s flora and fauna is magical and comforting, filling your heart with enthusiasm and opening your eyes to the natural world around you.
♦ Exploring the Lagoons of the Ibera Wetlands
With 63 lagoons, one of the best ways to appreciate the area is by boat and there are a number of boat excursions in the area where you’ll see a myriad of bird and animal life. It is only once you are deep in the enigmatic Ibera wetlands, amongst the aquatic vegetation that you’ll find the true inhabitants of the Esteros. Within the Ibera Lagoon and its surrounding floating water plant islands you’ll be able to spot capybaras, marsh deer, otters, yacare caiman and a variety of aquatic birds all of which live in perfect harmony. Interestingly, these large green floating islands are in constant motion as they are made up of aquatic roots and sediments. Their thickness can vary from a few inches to more than 6ft. and it is not uncommon to see marsh deer walking on top of them. Exploring the Ibera lagoons by boat will not disappoint and is certainly one of our highest recommended Esteros del Ibera activities.
♦ Horseback riding through Ibera’s swamps & wetlands
In the land of Argentina’s iconic gaucho, Gauchito Gil, there is nothing quite as unique as exploring the marshlands and palm groves of the Ibera wetlands on horseback accompanied by a local gaucho. Learning about the history and importance of Argentina’s very own Robin Hood figure as well as the nature and environment around you is one of our favorite things to do in Esteros del Ibera. As your horse walks, trots and gallops through the swamps, marshes and wetlands you’ll be shown the characteristic Ibera scenery of immense estuaries, forest, savannas and wild groves. Many of these hidden corners of the Ibera wetlands and the wildlife spotted in these particular areas can only be reached and admired by traveling on horseback.
♦ Discover the Ibera Wetlands under the moonlight
The excitement and sense of adventure as you explore the Ibera wetlands by day does not stop as the sun goes down. You will get to meet and experience a different side to Ibera’s natural beauty and wilderness at night with spine-tingling calls from the wildlife around you. As during any other daytime activity in Esteros del Ibera, there’s wildlife at every step you take but this time while beginning to look for the wildlife, you’ll be surrounded by oranges, reds and pinks as the sun begins to set. This is when you will get to see a unique illusion as it becomes more difficult to determine between the real landscape and the reflection on the water surface. It is a flurry of movement and life as flocks of birds go on their way to their favorite night spots and the caiman begin to hunt fish or fight over their territories. As the amount of human influence on the Ibera wetland environment is almost non-existent, the clear star cloth above with reveal delights such as the Milky Way, as you’ve never seen it before.