Known for its diverse wildlife and tranquil setting, Iberá is a rising destination for travelers looking to immerse themselves in secluded, unspoiled nature. Before you go, here are “10 things you didn´t know about the Iberá Wetlands” that lend context to this magical place.
1. It is the second largest wetland in the world
Iberá’s freshwater system of lagoons, streams, and marshes covers over 3.2 million acres of land, making Iberá the second largest freshwater wetland on earth. Over twice the acreage of the Florida Everglades, Iberá is exceeded in size only by Brazil’s Pantanal.
2. “Iberá” means “bright water” in Guarani
It’s no wonder why Iberá natives gave the wetland its name. On a clear day, the surface of Laguna Iberá is dazzling. With its smooth water and open horizon, Iberá sets the scene for some breathtaking sunsets.
- The founder of North Face played a monumental role in Iberá’s conservation
Douglas Tompkins, founder of The North Face, was so moved by the beauty of South America that he established the Conservation Land Trust, an organization dedicated to the expansion of provincial and national parks and the preservation of their ecosystems. Since Tompkins’ introduction to Iberá in the late 1990s, over 400,000 acres of the wetlands have been acquired for the purpose of conservation.
- It’s off the beaten path
Two hours by car from the nearest city, the town of Carlos Pellegrini serves as a base for most travelers exploring Iberá. You can get there by bus or by car, but only with good weather. In the rain, the rutted dirt road through the wetlands becomes hazardous if not impassable.
- Yerba mate comes from this region
With caffeine levels comparable to coffee and the health benefits of green tea, it’s no mystery why this slightly bitter beverage is Argentina’s most popular drink. The leaves only grow in two regions of Argentina– and Iberá’s Corrientes Province is one of them. Yerba mate was first consumed by Guarani natives, and was later discovered by Jesuit missionaries who cultivated the plant into a cash crop.
- The wetlands are gaucho territory
The route into Iberá cuts through wide expanses of grassy estancias (cattle ranches). Travelers may glimpse gauchos on horseback and herds of cattle ambling dangerously close to the road. Drive carefully!
- The wetlands are in the process of a becoming a national park
Established as a provincial reserve in 1983, the wetlands are predicted to reach national park status within the next three years, largely thanks to the Conservation Land Trust (CLT). The CLT pledged to donate over 150,000 acres of land to the project, 23,000 of which they have already donated. Their donation will gradually combine with state-owned land to form the Iberá National Park.
8. The Iberá Reserve is a refuge for many threatened and endangered species
From the giant otter to the jaguar, several endangered species native to Iberá have already disappeared from the wetlands. Luckily, several programs to re-introduce these animals are ongoing. Some threatened populations, such as the anteater, have already been successfully re- established, and efforts are currently being made to reintroduce the jaguar and stabilize the ecosystem’s food chain.
9. The wetland is composed entirely of rainwater
It’s hard to believe that such a large body of water has no river or underground source. While the wetland does filter into one of the largest underground lakes in the world, the Guarani Aquifer, the wetland itself is the result of rainwater pooling in a basin created by shifting tectonic plates.
I0. Hunters of Iberá’s threatened wildlife later became the first park rangers
Before the wetlands became a reserve, inhabitants of the region sold animal skins to support themselves and their families. As a result, many of the hunted species disappeared from the wetlands. With the rise of ecotourism, however, opportunities emerged for hunters to use their knowledge of the terrain to protect the animals they once hunted. These former mariscadores (hunters of the wetland) are known today as the first park rangers of Iberá.
These and many others are the perfect reasons why you should visit this fantastic “Off the Beaten destination”. Explore Ibera Wetlands with us and check Say Hueque Web Page to see what other wonderful destinations are waiting for you
Written by Madeline Russo