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  • Writer's pictureRob Jansen

It's a Wild Life! - Ice Ice Baby

After we finished our Spanish Course in Buenos Aires we went to our new friends for a very nice parrilla (BBQ Argentinean style). We were also able to fix some things on the car with their help. After that we left Buenos Aires and we still had 1,5 months left on our Argentinean visa, and that just for the north-eastern part of the country! The first place we visited wasn’t too safe and we got warned by locals to not walk there with our camera gear. For this reason we wanted to also sleep safely on a camping, but nobody there responded to our calls. This made us decide to sleep in our car instead of in the tent on top of our car. Guess what: bad idea! Sleeping inside your car while it has been 30-35 degrees Celsius outside is like sleeping in a sauna. Opening the windows even for a second would invite at least 10 mosquitos, who each brought at least 5 friends with them. So we spend a really sweaty warm night in our car and we were happy to be up again in the morning.

After this we only wanted to sleep in the roof top tent above our car. The first night a bit hesitant alongside a random road with cars and men on horses passing, but we got more and more confident. We also found more and more campings, sometimes even with a swimming pool.. This is great because day temperatures go up as high as 35-40 degrees Celsius.

We spent four nights at National Park El Palmar, with the main objective to search for a special little cat: Geoffroy’s Cat. Most naturalists that spend 3 or more nights here observe the cat at least a few times. However, spotlighting (searching the fields/forest etc with your flashlights while walking or driving) is forbidden in the park. On top of that they closed off the side roads by putting a sign in the middle of the entrance. Especially those side roads are the best for this cat! Every night and morning we went out searching, spotlighting and driving those side roads anyways and waiting on good spots. We were quite nervous, and I don’t know if we were more nervous of seeing the cat or a park ranger😊. On our 4th and last night we got caught by a guard and had to go to the camping. Without the beautiful cat species… But with a good story^^

As they predicted quite some rain we hastily drove to NP Iberá. The gravel roads to and from this park are good when they are dry but are like slush puppy when it rains. Then it is forbidden to drive there, even with a 4x4 (and our car is a 2x4). Also one would make deep tracks, and once these dry up the road can’t be driven when dry again either. We were glad to arrive, only to discover most of the park has been burned because of fires after the draught. This made the two days of constant heavy rains way better to endure; nature needed it. As it was still hot we were happy to find a small supermarket that also sold ice cream. Three flavours, in total 0,5kg for 2€. Needless to say this is how we spend the day, and even the owner had to laugh when we arrived for the third time that day.

As NP Iberá has a lot of really rare species we hired a guide to find one of them. We already searched for this bird quite some time at different places in Argentina: the Yellow Cardinal. This pretty bird is rare because of trade; people keep it because it looks nice and sings beautiful as well. We couldn’t find a wild one ourselves in the previous weeks, but birding is sometimes just knowing the right spot. The guide still on his phone we walked to some open Espinal Forest next to a farm, and the pretty birds hopped right in front of us on the ground!

The guide helped us to arrange the next place as well, as this was a reserve which was normally a bit off limits for visitors. A rare and special species of Nightjar was common in this reserve. At night we were allowed to walk the normally closed off roads, but only found a female. After 2 hours searching the two researchers drove up to us and commanded in Spanish to get in the car. An hour in the reserve with them gave a lot of nice information about their research, the species and best of all: two males! Even after the search they hardly accepted a donation towards their research. This shows how friendly Argentinean people can be, really wanting to help when they can!

As we were actually on a camping in a small town we had 4G internet on Robs (my) birthday. I woke up to find that I got many very sweet video messages from lots of people. I enthusiastically woke up Romy to show her what a coincidence it was that everyone had the same idea. Romy had pie and coffee, and after that we went on our way to the very North-east of the country. During my birthday video messages kept coming in. It was only later that day that Romy told me she coordinated this as a surprise. Too sweet, but it clearly shows that I’m getting old as I didn’t figure this out myself^^

In Puerto Iguazu we went to see lots of hummingbirds and afterwards went out for dinner (sushi!). The candles that they put there for me came in handy during the power outage and even there they had a special desert for me. A great birthday! Thanks all for those sweet messages and videos!

Where in other countries prices for gasoline skyrocketed, we had problems even getting any fuel. The two main gas stations were out of gasoline all three days we tried. So we tried two gas stations in the city. We went to the back of the line (40+ cars), but it turned out we actually cut in line and that all the parked cars were also waiting for fuel. As we couldn’t get out of the line anymore because of the chaos we played the ‘no hablo español’-card towards all the people knocking on our window to tell us the end of the line was somewhere else. When we got to the actual pump it turned out there was a separate line for Argentines and foreigners. The foreigners (mainly Brazilians and Paraguayans) get fuel in Argentina because it is half the price. After lots of awkward looks we got to back up our car on the other side of the pump to fill up our tank with (max) 40L of the most expensive type of fuel specially for foreigners… We have a 80L tank, so Romy went to stand in line at another gas station. This time she was in the right lane for foreigners. After more than an hour somebody told her that they don’t give gasoline to foreigners after 18.00 anymore. As we already tried to get enough fuel for 4 days, Romy made up an excuse about having to leave for the airport. She succeeded in filling up a jerrycan with 15L on the Argentinean side of the pump (which does operate after 18.00). Lots of awkward looks again when she manoeuvred out of the lane where still lots of foreigners were waiting in vain… At least we are able to drive to the remote parts of the region again.

On the 7th of March we visited the famous Iguazu Waterfalls on the Argentinean side. It was great to see this place again, after I visited it with a friend from Paraguay 7 years before in 2015. After this great place we relaxed a bit more in a hotel in Puerto Iguazu, finished some trip reports and edited pictures. After Puerto Iguazú we will spend about 1-2 weeks more in this region with a lot of rainforest. Then we will hopefully cross the border to Brazil, to spend the next 3 months of our World Travel in the Atlantic Rainforest!


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