Although Esteros del Ibera has not been on the top of the list for travel destinations in Argentina, it is without a doubt one of the most stunning and naturally vibrant areas in Latin America. This fairly impenetrable wilderness has allowed the area to remain uncrowded, turning it into an iconic wildlife sanctuary. The stunning wetland reserve of Esteros del Ibera is the world’s second largest wetland reserve and Argentina’s largest natural reserve; it is one of the finest places to see wildlife in Latin America. Over 4,000 animal and plant species reside in the Ibera Wetlands, accounting for almost a third of Argentina’s biodiversity. Few places in the world are more peaceful or more magical than this vast reserve and having been featured in National Geographic Travel’s World Best Trips for 2015; making the detour to Esteros del Ibera is well worth it, especially before everyone else does.
Where is Esteros del Ibera?
Esteros del Ibera is located roughly between Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls in the central north-east part of the Province of Corrientes in Argentina. Covering over 3.2 million acres, it is without a doubt one of the most important natural regions in the world. As a drainage basin, the area is characterized by flooded and dry lands with half of Ibera being actually underwater. At first glance Esteros del Ibera looks like a never-ending body of water, however when exploring Ibera, it is actually made up of some unique landscapes making it so much more than just wetlands. In the lower areas, the rainwater fills the basins creating the stunning wetlands and more than 60 lagoons some with floating plant islands. At higher elevations, remnants of Parana jungles, palm groves and grasslands with various areas of forests dominate the landscape. This range of landscapes producing both wet and dry ecosystems creates the great diversity of flora and fauna found in this area. Declared a Provincial Natural Reserve in 1983, the reserve’s borders are set by the drainage basin and therefore the area, its diverse flora and fauna has maintained a pristine and untouched natural paradise.
Traveling to Esteros del Ibera
Part of the beauty of Esteros del Ibera is the fact that it is not as easy to reach as Argentina’s other natural wonders such as Iguazu Falls. Perfectly summing up traveling to Esteros del Ibera is Babs Hoffman’s travel quote: ‘Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey’. To reach Esteros del Ibera from Buenos Aires, there are daily flights to the nearest major airport of Posadas, located approximately 4 hours’ drive away. Passable under most conditions, though with its fair share of bumpy sections, reaching this virgin environment on its muddy roads is all part of the adventure and reason why it has managed to stay relatively unexplored. Esteros del Ibera has only recently received the full-attention of travelers looking to explore Argentina. Having been included in National Geographic Travel’s Best Trips for 2015 and with an increase in eco-friendly development taking place; Esteros del Ibera is becoming one of Argentina’s most important nature and eco-travel destinations.
The best time to go to Esteros del Ibera
Esteros del Ibera has a subtropical climate and its changing landscapes and flora and fauna that you can see at different times of the year makes it a year round destination. The fall, winter and spring months provide some of the best times to visit but if the intense heat of summer is not a worry for you, there is really no bad time to travel to Esteros del Ibera. Spending summer (December-February) can be intensely hot yet this time of the year is ideal to see flowering plants and migratory birds that come to Esteros del Ibera. Fall (March-June) is the low season for the region and is therefore a particularly good time to travel as the more timid wildlife come out of hiding. The winter months (June-September) coincides with Argentinean holidays and therefore despite the colder temperatures, it is one of the busiest times to visit. Spring (September-November) is the rainy season, which can make access along the dirt-tracks somewhat more challenging. However, the wetlands are arguably at their most colorful and vibrant during these months as it is also the breeding season for most of the animals. Whatever the weather or season, the vibrant destination and its flora and fauna are always ready to impress.
Wildlife galore in Esteros del Ibera
With the first wild jaguar cubs set to be born in 2015, after more than 50 years of dwindling numbers due to previous hunting activities, the wetlands are set to be restored back to their full beauty. Wildlife plays a central part in visiting Esteros del Ibera and puts up a good fight against many of the other nature-centered destinations from the Cloud Forests of Costa Rica to the Amazon Rainforest. The flat wetlands and wide open expanses allow for better wildlife spotting opportunities than perhaps the Amazon. From river otters, yacarés (type of caiman), snakes and howler monkeys to rare marsh deer, 350 species of birds and beautiful flowers; you’ll be treated to the very best that this natural reserve has to offer. The landscapes offering unobstructed views to the horizon are just as stunning as the flora and fauna on show. With such a diversity of landscapes, the possibilities to explore like the views are endless and add a unique sense of adventure. From horseback riding with traditional gauchos, exploring the wetland areas by boat or hiking through the various nature trails; Esteros del Ibera is at last becoming recognized and known for all its natural wonders.
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