Buenos Aires to Posadas - Day 4
Alarm set for 5:30 to be up for an 8:00 am flight from the BA domestic airport to Posadas which is the city and airport closest to the marshes and wetlands in Iberà where we're going to spend the next three nights.Hugh arrived with his driver at 6:30 to pick us up and drive us to the airport and just as he did the skies opened up with torrential rains so we raced to the car through an overflowing stream that had already overrun the gutter. Given the weather, happy to be leaving.
Arrived in Posadas in the hot sunshine at about 10:30 and were picked up and driven to Porto Valle. A beautiful old renovated estancia, it sits on the bank of the Paranña River which separates Argentina from Paraguay and which is downstream from Iguatzu Falls and about 40k wide at this point The rooms are huge and very comfortable, a 5 star property with only 5 rooms, and if anything, reminiscent of the safari camps in Tswalu and Mala Mala. A well stocked wine cellar and a very good kitchen whose Exec Chef runs a well-reviewed restaurant in BA, seems very promising.
Will be taken out to the wetlands by boat later today and plan on packing lots of photo gear. In the meantime a very good lunch which featured a bulgur risotto with saffron accompanying braised cayman (alligator) tail. All right in a pinch I suppose, and yes, it does taste like chicken, chewy overcooked chicken breast.
Just returned from an afternoon on the lagoon. While the hotel sits on a river, the nearest border of the wetlands is about 5 or 6 kilometres inland and reached by 4x4 over a rough track, the drive taking about 1/2 hour. The wetlands are protected by the Province and no hunting or fishing is allowed. Their area is extensive and comprises about 14% of the area of the entire province of Missiones, so very large indeed. The hotel has exclusive use of one of the hundreds of ponds and lagoons that make up the wetlands and V and I along with Gabriel our guide and Orlando our 4x4 and boat driver made up the party.
After a very rough ride inland to the dock, we took a small boat with a long-tail propeller such as are used on the Phraya River in Bongkok, and for the same reason, the weeds are very thick and foul the propeller so it must be mounted only inches below water level. We wove our way slowly along a narrow channel, barely wide enough for the boat, among the reeds and tall water plants for about 2k until we reached the lagoon, a large open body of water about 40 hectares in area, and landed at a large platform built about 3 metres above the level of the swamp to give a wide view of the countryside. Fortunately and surprisingly it was bug free but then again, since it was about 38 or 39C under a blazing sun and with no shelter or shade, even mosquitoes know are smart enough to take cover. Very hot but a very pleasant couple of hours and then we retired to a floating raft for maté and sandwiches as the sun began to set. No spectacular sightings but an afternoon that was inspired by the Zen ethos, "take satisfaction in small things" and we did; scattered small jewels of minute yellow flowers scattered among the swamp vegetation and barely visible; a black bump in the water that slowly resolved itself into a cayman's eye; a mating dance on a floating mat of vegetation between a pair of unknown wading birds; and the discovery of maté, the gaucho's drink, as a pleasant social ritual amongst the four of us on the raft. Finally, and not a small thing, a richly hued and explosive sunset reflected in the perfect mirror of the lagoon.
A wonderful afternoon and evening, a pleasant dinner to follow and a long, deep sleep; pleasure in small things indeed!