Swamps in Esteros del Ibera

Around 6:15 we arrive in Reconquista, where we plan to take a boat over the mighty Parana River, the same one which houses the immense Iguazu Falls… But in the bus station we hear that the boat already left at 6:00 for a 3 hour crossing today. Gives you an idea how wide that river is by moments!
Aiai bad luck, so we order a bus to Corrientes, where we can cross the Parana by bridge and have a connection to Mercedes. It is now some 20 hours since we left Cordoba… Today ends here, with a great hotel room near the bus station in Mercedes, a nice colonial town. We go for a stroll, book our transfer and two trips in the Esteros estuary for the following days and eat some delicious pizza’s in a local restaurant.

The only bus to Esteros leaves around 11:30 the next day… An hour special for the locals, since the bus leaves around 4 AM in Esteros. This allows them to do all their shopping in a few hours and return the same day. Esteros is a small pueblo with very basic facilities, but great nature.
The road into the swamp area is all gravel, so rain can cause a lot of retardation. After one year in Australia, we know how this kind of roads behaves when the rain passes by. (see Australia – Southern Australia – Mud Party)
When we arrive at the campground, two kind of animals greet us… The mosquitos start immediately with their vicious attacks, while the alligators slowly gaze at us hidden in the waters. Or they don’t pay any attention while they are sunbathing. After all a great, relaxing – the only disturbance are the many stings and itchy feeling afterwards – place.

We set up our camp near a shelter at the municipal campground, where we have a barbecue, electricity and a couple of tables all for ourselves. Perfectly equipped! Thereafter we relax along the waterside. Our only trip into the swamp area today is planned after dark, a 2-hour walk. At 8 we head to the office, from where they take us for a boat trip to the other side of the lake. There we debark and start walking.
In the first field the capybara’s – the worlds greatest rodents – greet us lazily, accompanied by a couple of foxes. When we head into the forest a lot more capybara’s can be seen, some birds and lots of alligator eyes.

We enjoy the luxury of the barbecue to prepare a stew. On a woodfire…
After lunch we have a boat trip on the lake, where again lots of alligators and capybara’s – now swimming – can be seen. We also spot some herons and a couple of deer. On the way back the rain starts, a huge pour down. Heavily and strong… From the waterfront we hurry inside the office, to wait till it is all over. During that hour we see the rain transform the roads into mud parties and our poor tent also shows a couple of leakages. This tropical storm was way too much. Luckily our fireplace and shelter allow us to dry everything.
The passage of that rainstorm means that there are no buses for the next couple of days… And we really want to meet Andrea and Eugenio in Buenos Aires! So we can charter a 4WD who crawls through the mud, into civilisation again. He drops us of in Gobernador Virasolo, where we have a direct connection to Buenos Aires. Thanks to the crisis here, we get a nice reduction on the bus tickets…
But we cannot leave without a good meal, so in a small restaurant we watch our empanadas being freshly prepared and order a real hamburger from the house. After that we’re ready for the 13 hour bus trip, on which they offer us once again a nice meal.