Missiones is a province well worthy of more detailed exploration, as most visitors usually stop only for a night or two at Iguazu before moving on. You will be well rewarded for heading beyond Iguazu National Park, especially wildlife lovers. This vast province of dense Atlantic rainforest and seasonal floodplains has the same flora and fauna as Brazil’s Pantanal, although it is considerably less well-known.
After a day or two exploring the mighty Iguazu Falls, head south for a very different experience, discovering the rich flora and fauna of this Atlantic rainforest and the ruins of former Jesuit missions. Look out for beautiful endemic bird species, such as toucans and mannakins deep in the heart of the Atlantic rainforest from a beautiful lodge facing the Parana River.
The naturalist guides here are very knowledgeable and engaging, helping you to uncover the richness of the native wildlife of this area, well away from the crowds. Even tapir and jaguar still roam the denser parts of the rainforest here, although they are rarely seen.
Further south still into Corrientes province brings you to the Esteros del Ibera, whose vast marshlands are wonderfully appreciated from the air as well as on horseback or by boat. Ibera receives a tiny fraction of the visitors that flock to the border to see the dramatic waterfalls of the Missiones province. This region is a little know gem for bird-lovers and horse-riders alike.
Ride across miles of vast plains in search of capybara, Jabiru storks or Marsh deer and as dusk falls, after stopping for a sundowner, you may see chinchillas, foxes, owls and possibly even a Geoffroy’s cat. Float among the reeds of the wetlands by boat where you will see large caiman and capybara, the world’s largest rodent, on the shores and spot hundreds of bird species such as kingfisher, southern screamers and numerous hawks, to name but a few.
Sweep across the water by small aircraft as startled brocket deer look up to land at one of the finest remote lodges in the country and meet your genial hosts, Valeria and Leslie, who carry out extensive conservation work through their Trust. Expect beautiful, rustic style rooms, delicious food using homegrown and ranch-raised produce, sundowners and snacks as you gaze across the plains, traditional asado barbeque lunches and wonderful lively polo ponies to ride. The hosts and the gauchos themselves bring up their own children on the estancia and there is a small school you can visit, also making this a wonderful destination for families with older children who like to ride.