Before crossing back into Argentina we dropped in to a border town, Paysandu, to buy some supplies. When driving into the town we saw a parking area full of old rusty cars. I assume they are for sale.
In Argentina we followed the river Uruguay up north and stopped at the national park, El Palmar. The main feature of the park is the Yatay palm tree forest. This is the last standing section of what used to be a band of palm trees circulating this part of the earth. We were also introduced to our first wildlife the ”capybaras “. It looks like an oversized hamster. Also some impressive monitor lizards slowly crossing the road. At night we camped near the starting point of one of the walks. The sky was full of stars and at sunset the birds and insects performed a concert. You really feel being in the middle of nowhere, were it not for the guard that dropped by and said we should not drive after 20:00 hrs and in the morning a ranger came by to say that we are actually not allowed to camp anywhere in the park, except at the official park campsite. No problem, we were just about to leave.
Further north at Mercedes we took a dirt road which after 100 km brought us to Lago Ibera (Reserva Provincial Esteros del Ibera). This is a lake in an otherwise flat swampy area. It is known for its bird life. The campsite is right on the shore of the lake with again a golden sunset. In the morning we took a boat tour over the lake through the marshland. The boatman steered us towards many capybaras families which basked in the sun on the edge of the water. Also keeping an eye on them were the many Caymans sunning as well with their mouth open waiting for an un-expecting prey. We were lucky to see a Orange-coloured Marsh deer in the distance although I am afraid the pictures are too vague. In-between the reeds, we also spotted various birds. One is the Southern Screamer which looks like a big turkey.
Upon leaving the campsite, we drove another 100+ km on unpaved (clay) road north east on the RN40 till we got back to the main road. We were lucky that it had not rained for a few days, otherwise we would not being able to make this trip, as it will be too slippery to drive on
In Northern Argentina on the way to the province Misiones, the land is dotted with large forest plantations of mostly Eucalyptus and later also pines. There are sawmills in the fields and logging trucks on the muddy roads.
The landscape changes when entering Misiones. There are native forest covered rolling hills. This is the area where the Jesuits in 1609 began their missions. These missions were large communities (5000+) of Guarani living together under the guidance and protection of one or two Jesuit monks. These communities could resist the frequent raids of the Brazilian slavers. In total there were some 30 of these settlements. The powers at the time were however not happy with them so the Spanish and Portuguese kings kicked out the Jesuits in 1767 and as a result all these, native communities disappeared. In the early twenties the ruins of the monasteries were rediscovered and in some cases restored. We visited three such places on the Argentina side and two on the Paraguay side of the Rio Parana river. These Utopia type communities were unique in the world. Her the goal was living together in harmony. The large church complex was the centre of the community. The locals lived in front of the church around the central plaza in rows of stone houses. Where else in the world are large temple complexes where the locals live within the complex. The god was not central but the community. God was only a way to unite!
In total we visited 3 missions in Argentina and 2 in Parguay. The first 2 missions were stil very much overgrown. The others were cleared and 2 had a sound and light show during the evening. Only a few of the photo’s we took are shown here. You see the large central tempel in various stages of decay/restauration. Also some restord native dwellings have been preserved. The decoration in brick are impressive especialy since they were made by local craftsman.