Estero (Swamp)

After a few days of catching up on work (and listening non-stop to Pearl Jam) we headed out to the province of Corrientes for another adventure. In the middle of the province sits the massive Estero del Iberá, about 6k square miles in size.  American businessman turned philanthropist Douglas Tompkins has managed to get state park protection for this area and is working on turning into a national park.  In the meanwhile, he owns and operates a small hotel on the banks called Rincon del Sicorro.  We opted to skip the 6 hour bone jarring drive from Posadas and instead took two small prop planes directly to the Estancia.

 

The hotel itself is quite isolated, set right on the edge of the swamp with nothing around it for miles.  Our first outing was a hike around the property.  Any thought of keeping ourselves remotely dry was immediately discarded as we trudged through knee deep water.  The animals were amazing.  Thousands of capybara and ostrich cousin nandu roaming the property along with broadest collection of birdlife I’ve ever seen.  The kids were delighted by the fact that they  were permitted, nee encouraged, to get soaking wet.  After our walk Kate and Jake met a couple of the local kids who ran wild around the place (their father is the resident biologist) and played with the parakeets that the kids had rescued from a fallen nest.

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Swamp deer
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Lots of capybara
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Making friends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Herons

After a huge night of electrical storms, which woke me up but the kids and Michele slept right through, we began the following day with a morning horseback ride through the wetlands, with an emphasis on the word wet.

Not only did we ride knee deep in water (that is our knees, the horses were up to their necks) but we had a little “incident” where Michele’s horse decided it was too damn hot too cary a person around began to cool himself down by rolling over.  Luckily Michele had the good sense to jump off before the horse rolled over on her.  Unfortunately, the meant that Michele too was neck deep in swamp water.  Michele showed a lot of grit by wading through the muck and jumping right back on the horse without a word of complaining.  If only I had it on film… Despite our little incident it was an incredible outing.  After a nice lunch and shower, we took a different (drier) route via truck through the wetlands and got some spectacular vistas and some birdwatching.  We then had a little drink and snack while the sun set so that we could do a bit of a night safari, using a spotlight to ferret out a fox and a large cat.

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Kate emerges unscathed
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Poking head out

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Beautiful vista
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Capybarapalooza!

After a lovely Asadado with our new found friend Jorge, we got a great night sleep and then headed off to the laguna for a boat tour of the swamp.  The main attraction of the trip were the caimans, the South American alligators.  There were also a spectacular collection of bird life, including cardinals with only red heads and white bodies, cormorants, herons, thrushes and more.  We had a brief walk after the boat tour, followed by a lunch and a “tour” of the town.  Although our outings were super high quality, we were slightly disappointed in the length and breadth of them, particularly when compared to Atacama. We’d advise visitors to work to create agendas before arrival to maximize the trip.  On the bright side, we did get a chance to really relax and that was nice.

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Hola Amigos
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Caiman!
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Bird
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Heron’s at Sunset

We ended our trip with a morning ride through a drier patch of the wetlands.  A couple of great photos and then we hopped on the plane home.

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Nests
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At the swamp’s edge

We arrived safely home in time to catch up on tasks from the prior week and ready ourselves for our final 6 weeks in country and reflect back on an unforgettable part of an unforgettable trip.

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