Esteros del Iberá

Still one of Argentina's secret natural wonders, the Esteros del Iberá is a vast nature reserve of lagoons and marshes, home to an astonishing array of bird and animal life. The area has been loved by ornithologists for some time, and they still come here in great groups to tick off rare species, which can't be seen elsewhere, and certainly not at such close quarters. But you don't have to be an expert to appreciate this natural paradise. Among the 370 species of birds, herons and egrets soar elegantly from bush to bush, swifts and kingfishers swoop low on the water, giant storks nest on the many floating islands, rich with plant life, and there are tiny bright red-headed federal birds, long-tailed flycatchers, families of southern screamers - chajá-with their fluffy heads and rasping cry, amongst many species.

These immense and beautiful wetlands are among the largest expanse of virgin lagoons in South America, bettered only by the far more famous Pantanal in Brazil. Fed by an expanse of freshwater the size of Belgium, the Esteros (marshes) del Iberá host an incredible diversity of bird and animal life in one of Argentina's most exquisite landscapes. Great stretches of water are interrupted by embalsados, huge floating islands where marsh deer can be glimpsed among lush foliage, and on whose banks alligators wait, half submerged, for something to eat. The great appeal of a stay here is that you don't have to be an expert birdwatcher to find the varied bird life fascinating. Stay in one of the estanciasat Colonia Carlos Pellegrini, or further south at Rincón del Socorro, and your accommodation includes at least one boat trip on the lagoons, with a guide who can tell you all about the flora and fauna. In this country of so many natural wonders, it's one of the most unforgettable experiences. Come here soon before everyone else does. For more information, see (in Spanish).

On the western side of the region, in an area of lowlands and higher woodlands, is the Parque Nacional Mburucuyá, where natural conditions are ideal for a close view of the local wildlife.

Best time to visit

Autumn, winter or spring are the best times to visit to avoid the intense heat of mid-summer. There is less chance of rain and thunderstorms during these months.


This beautiful area at the heart of Corrientes province has only just opened to tourism, since until recently it was a rich territory for hunters and grazing land for cattle ranchers. Since the creation of a nature reserve here in 1983, several local estanciashave opened to guests, keen to enjoy the perfect tranquillity here as much as the bird life. The Esteros have yet to gain national park status, however, which would ensure their greater protection. North American conservationist Douglas Tompkins is campaigning for this, and has been buying up huge sections of the land from private owners, in order to rescue it from cattle farming and rice growing which pollute the pristine waters. Though he's a controversial figure, his aims are sincere: he plans to give all the land to Argentina if it can be guaranteed national park status.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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