BY Lisa Lindblad
March 14, 2014
Located 1.5 hours by flight north of Buenos Aires, in the Mesopotamia region of Argentina, is a remarkably rich and beautiful area called Esteros del Ibera. Still one of Argentina’s secret natural wonders, the Esteros del Iberá is a vast nature reserve of lagoons and marshes and 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.
Puerto Valle Hotel is easily and conveniently sited 55 km from the airport of Posadas at the top end of the wetlands reserve. With its lakefront situation, famous gardens, and short drive to the wetlands, it offers any number of activities and excursions. From fly fishing in the lake to kayaking in the wetland channels, from birdwatching to visiting the caiman hatchery, or simply resting by the pool and gazing out on a seemingly endless expanse of water, this is a remarkable place offering a view of Argentina that few take advantage of.