Unknown Argentina: Esteros del Ibera

Dear Reader,

our guest-blogger of this week is Tristan Libault, French national, adventurer and editor of the Argentina Exception travel website and today he will tell us about precious off the beaten path jewels of the southern cone.

Everybody’s heard about Argentina. The marvellous Iguazu Falls, the glittering Buenos Aires, the beautiful Andes Mountains, the mysterious Patagonia… Many famous-sounding names have unfortunately become just touristic destinations, where truly beautiful landscapes are packed with too many people. But, Argentina has one wild spot you haven’t heard of yet…

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Into the wild

Welcome to the Esteros del Ibera! Located north of Buenos Aires in the Corrientes province, this nearly untouched region of Argentina is worth a visit. Ibera means “brilliant water” in the Guarani language. The Esteros del Ibera spreads over 8,000 square miles, and is filled with virgin swamps where you can admire the most astonishing wildlife in Argentina. This site, in the middle of nature, is largely unknown to tourists. Who has not dreamed of treading upon unknown soil? When you arrive in Esteros del Ibera, you almost feel as though you’re intruding on a world that has never had human contact, or had any need for it.

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In this nature reserve you can find 300 bird species, 85 mammals, 45 amphibians and 35 reptiles. Among this many species, you’ll find caimans, carpinchos, monkeys, and the rare swamp deer. The carpincho is much like a guinea pig, but it’s nearly the size of a bear. This incredible beast is the biggest rodent of the world. In this wild place it’s very common to see yakares, Argentinean caimans you can find on the banks of the swamps. These dangerous reptiles thrive here, and cohabit with birds like toucans, parrots or rheas.

What to do in Ibera?

If you want to go deep into these swamps, you can ask one of the locals to take you to a boat ride. Many fishermen live in this region, and can help you get right up close to the nature and wildlife. Lift your gaze to admire the birds flying above your head. Listen to the cries of monkeys and try to distinguish between their mischievous and fleeting silhouettes. Sail between caimans and reeds, and keep an eye out that they don’t come too close! During the night, take your flashlight and observe the red eyes of deers and carpinchos.

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Esteros del Ibera is also an area of gauchos. Go to one of the many estancias (gauchos’ farms) nearby and ride a horse among the wild plains, lowlands and swamps. Alone in the desert Pampa, this getaway will be unforgettable for you.

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How to go to Esteros del Ibera?

This is a hard place to reach, as the roads are bad and it is not a much inhabited region. The Esteros del Ibera are organized around a small town called San Carlos Pellegrini. This town is cut off from firm ground because of the swamps, so there is only an earth ramp to enter and exit the city… From Buenos Aires, you must take a bus to Mercedes and then find a car or a private transport to spend the next five hours on the lonely road. But don’t sleep during the trip, or you’ll miss the many animals along the road! Sometime, you can observe a herd of cows being led by a gaucho, an Argentinean cowboy, in the middle of the Pampa. In this wild place, you’ll get a real and unique change of scenery!

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Buenos Aires in pictures

Buenos Aires,

city of Carlos Gardél and Mafalda, of the best meat in the world, dulce de leche, cowboy culture, Tango dances on the streets, home to the first subway system in Latin America, the biggest leather market, and the location of the second biggest cross-roads in the world (since 2006 the number one cross-road is in Rio de Janeiro, the Eje Monumental, 250 meters long).

These are only a few curiosities from this wonderful city, and yet there is so much more to know!
For example, did you know that in Buenos Aires you can find the smallest house ever in Argentina? That’s right, it’s called Casa Mínima (cleverly) located in the San Telmo neighborhood, built in the XIX century by a slave allegedly, it’s entrance door is barely 2.2 meters wide.
It’s door is green, a tiny balcony on top of it and a torch. Everything in very small dimensions.

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The Government House is pink!

The Pink House (Casa Rosada) is one of the most emblematic buildings in Buenos Aires, it’s color came from the mix of lime and bovine blood. Through the years, the color tone changed but it remained basically pink.

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The Pink House with a 6 pm light (Blackberry phone quality)..

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And again the Pink House by night, filled with protest signs, looks like a disco.

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The Cemetery, located in the Recoleta neighborhood, hosts the mausoleums of famous people like Evita Perón, a granddaughter of Napoleon and the founder of the Argentinian Navy.

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It’s the city (actually country) where you can find multiple religions: Christianism, Judaism, Cows and Maradona.
La Bombonera, the holy shrine of Boca Junior supporters.

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Bife de Chorizo, a typical Argentinian meat cut, absolutely delicious and soft. Waiters bring it to the table and cut with a spoon, that’s how soft it is…

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And because meat is so important and amazingly good, it is also important that people learn about all the different cuts and varieties. Please see the map below:

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Near La Bombonera you can find the popular neighbourhood of Caminito, where every house is multi colored.

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The Obelisc, built in 1936 and located right in the middle of city, is a monument that commemorates the first foundation of the city of Buenos Aires, Santa María del Buen Ayre, and where the Argentinian flag fluttered for the first time.
The obelisc even has an address and door number, if there was anyone living on Av. Corrientes 1066 they’d be living inside the obelisc. Isn’t that nice? 🙂

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