Side Trips from Buenos Aires Sights

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Laguna Iberá Review

The second-largest lagoon in the reserve has incredibly still waters that cover an area of 52 square km (20 square mi), but are on average only 10 feet deep. The lagoon is also home to more than 4,000 species of plants and animals. Every hotel and guesthouse in Colonia Carlos Pellegrini has its own small six- to eight-seater launch and arranges two- or three-hour guided trips (you can't visit the lagoon alone). Guides check in with the park rangers before speeding out into the center of the lagoon; when you're close to the floating islands of matted vegetation, they cut the motors and use long poles to maneuver the boat silently through the waters, gondolier-style.

Among the rushes, ferns, floating hyacinths, and water lilies, you'll certainly see glistening, half-submerged yacarés, paddling carpinchos (capybara), and lots and lots of birds. Bring binoculars to see them and more-timid animals like the ciervo de los pantanos (marsh deer), which rarely come close to the boats. Thankfully, Colonia Carlos Pellegrini is remote enough to keep visitor numbers to a minimum, so you're unlikely to encounter other launches. You see different animals at different times of day, so try to visit the lake more than once. Afternoon visits are the most dramatic, however: you return to the shore at dusk, when the still waters seem to burn a brilliant orange as they reflect the setting sun.

Updated: 04-01-2011

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