The Argentinian sister of Encarnación is Posadas, on the other side of the Rio Paraná. The bridge to Posadas is only open to cars, buses and trains so it is not an option to cross it on foot. Actually not al that bad, because it is raining and we have just enough Pesos left for the bus. In Posadas we wander through the city for an hour looking for a room but eventually decide to find shelter for the heavy rain at the tourist information and gather information about a few available hostels. The rest of the day it continuous pouring, so we post a new article on the blog and talk with a few roommates about potential travel plans. After a tip from a Belgian traveler, we add Esteros del Iberá to the must-sees for Argentina. Posadas is a pleasant city to look around for a while, including La Costanera: the long coastal road with small parks, statues and stalls with crafts and art. Meanwhile, we are trying to gather information about the best way to get to Colonia Carlos Pelegrin, the heart of Reserva Natural del Iberá.
At half past three we quietly sneak out of the dormitory and are relieved when the first and only regular bus that would get us to the bus station in time turns into the street half an hour later. Via Santo Tomé and Paso de los Libres we reach Mercedes ten hours later. There our plan comes to an halt. According to the lady at the bus station there is a bus to Colonia Carlos Pelegrin, somewhere between eleven and two the next day. And maybe there is also a minibus at a quarter past seven. So we decide to ask around, where the answers vary from no bus to two buses between seven o’clock and two o’clock, and prices seem to vary between 200 and 550 Pesos. We we will stop worrying about that today start looking for a place to sleep. The camping municipal is a small stretch of grass and a shelter with fireplaces next to the football field. There is even running water and something that should go through as a toilet. We decide not to go near the toilet, but to set up our tent and spend the night there anyway. Few moments later, a slightly older Canadian couple with a big pick-up truck arrives to keep us company. Two tents make it look more reassuring, but still quite lonely on the edge of the small town. The Canadian couple also are on their way to Esteros del Iberá, but the pick-up is full of camping gear. But the next morning hopes rise when the two rearrange their equipment, we can join!
The 120 kilometer drive from Mercedes to Colonia Carlos Pelegrin starts somewhat difficult, because the three gas stations in Mercedes all ran out of diesel. Again asking around, searching and hoping until we find a fourth gas station where we can refuel and can finally set of. After 35 kilometers the asphalt stops and the slipping and sliding starts. Including coffee break we are on the road for five hours when we spot the first rhea and capybaras. The Canadians turn out to be fanatical bird spotters and take pictures dozens of species, turning us into fanatic spotters ourselves. The campsite in the park turns out to be a little paradise. We opt for a spot near the water and decide to stay here for a few nights. We enjoy camping between the capybaras and amazingly beautiful birds, although we have to get used to the fact that the Yacares, an alligator species that can grow up to 2.5 meters long, also sees the campsite as part of its territory. We bought a small bottle of camping gas in Posadas so that we enjoy the sunset every day while we prepare our meal on the banks of the lagoon. Four nights later we pack our stuff and hope to hitchhike back to Mecedes. After six hours of waiting and a handful of jeeps that only drive down the road for a couple of kilometers, an actual bus turns up. Four hours and 600 Pesos later we are back at the bus station in Mercedes, waiting for the night bus to Buenos Aires.