Argentina is a country of amazing diversity and bountiful surprises and there is no place more so than the Ibera Wetlands where stunning scenery, weird and wonderful wildlife and luxurious accommodation all converge. Enter Puerto Valle, Hotel de Esteros, in the heart of the Corrientes region, the largest conservation area in Argentina.
From Buenos Aires we took a short one hour, 20 minute flight to Posadas where we were met by the hotel’s transfer service for the 40 minute private car drive through pine forest and grasslands to Hotel Puerto Valle. Chilled ice tea and charming staff greeted us on arrival before being shown to our stunning suite overlooking green lawns to the Parana River.
Our late afternoon guided excursion to the Ibera Wetland was simply amazing. To give some perspective, the wetland area is about the same size as the Canterbury Plains. Included in tour trip was a 40 minute drive to a private jetty to board a (very) small boat which our guide very skillfully navigated through the canals of the wetland.
With the late afternoon sun illuminating the marshes, we were treated to sights of marsh deer, capybara, black caiman, yellow anaconda, cormorants, white herons – such an amazing experience. But there was more! The wonderful Hotel Puerto Valle team provided a delicious picnic which we enjoyed on their private floating pontoon, with caiman eyeing our every move!
Back at Hotel Puerto Valle we spent a leisurely evening enjoying dinner overlooking the Parana River to the far twinking lights of Paraguay.
Our full day at Puerto Valle encompassed two trips. The first one was to the Ibera National Park, a new park which opened 2 years ago after the founder of the Patagonia outdoor clothing brand, Yvon Chouinard, purchased, then gifted, the land to the government for a national park to be created. Abundant bird life was the highlight of the day – American stalks, great igrit, turkeys, seed eaters, tero bird, white neck heron and many more. On the land, more caiman and weird creatures called capybara, the largest rodent in the world, kind of cute, from a distance!
Our late afternoon excursion took us by boat on to the Parana River, navigating our way up 2 inlets to view the bird life and howler monkeys. Again, the Puerto Valle team waved their magic wand and, voila, a picnic on a private, secluded floating pontoon, surrounded by lush forest and the chorus of birds and cicadas.
Hotel Puerto Valle is a stunning property on so many levels. Its secluded location overlooking the Parana River, sweeping lawns, lush gardens and surrounding forest ensure peace and privacy. We enjoyed the genuinely warm hospitality of the staff, outstanding cuisine including traditional barbecued pork served on the outdoor veranda where the balmy evening breeze kept the temperature comfortable. Originally built in 1868, the property has a graceful combination of refinement, history, nature and wonderful people. Hotel Puerto Valle was absolutely one of the biggest highlights of our trip to Northern Argentina.