Argentina 5: Che’s hometown Alta Garcia and the Iberá swamps


Since we had already visited the town La Higuera in Bolivia where Che died, it had roused our interest to understand how he grew up.

Auch die Sümpfe Nord Argentiniens wollten wir noch gern besuchen. So beschlossen wir, diesen langen Trek auf uns zu nehmen – noch konnten wir nicht ahnen, dass es etwas anders verlaufen würde.

After a sumptuous breakfast we took course to Alta Garciá, where we visited the museum house in which Ernesto Che Guevara grew up and where he spent his youth and we also saw the bike which he used to travel around South America (remember The Motorcycle Diaries?). The museum is well kept and very informative – worth a visit if the topic is of interest.

From here we drove through large soya mono cultures (via Rio Segundo, Pilar and Villa del Rosario up to Arroyito on the R19) and turned off at El Tio, as we wanted to reach Laguna Chiquita. We stopped at the formal camping site, but when we disembarked, we were immediately attacked by swarms of aggressive mosquitos – we fled the scene and reached a service station at Balnearia, where we got permission to camp behind the gas station.


Next day promised an early start, landscape again very monotonous with Soya, we drove via Sunchales, Nelson, through Santa Fé, then Paraná and Federal, at which point Willy and Gaby turned towards Concordia and we aimed to get to the Iberá swamps. For the night we stayed in Federal on Camping Municipal Federal – a neat park for the locals, free camping for visitors, free Wifi and good ablutions. We were the only campers and Mariana Kinderknecht of the municipality visited to ensure we are ok – what an experience!

We filled up with diesel, found gas at Ferro Fe in Federal and headed north to Mercedes (the 2 police control points gave us no grief). As we got closer to Colonia Carlos Pellegrini in the Iberá swamps, we saw snakes, red deer, various birds, Capibaras, Cayman, fox and storks.

When we reached the town we noticed the municipal camping site was quite busy and we decided to stay next door at Hacienda Camba Cua – a good decision. Family owned, Pedro ensured everything functioned and camp was clean and well kept.

He offered us a boat trip next morning into the swamps. On this trip we saw Capybaras, Caymans, Southern Screamers, Blackbirds, Herons and Bittern as well as a number of smaller birds among the reeds. Also Cumba Cua offered many opportunities for bird photography.

While camping here in the swamp, we found the number of mozzies quite bearable and not as aggressive as we had experienced near Laguna Chiquita on our way. It seems that the soya mono culture had something to do with it: the area is very wet and ideal for mosquitos. However, due to the vast mono cultures, virtually no birds or any other animals could be seen – a case of nature out of balance. Up here in the Iberá swamp all is intact – plenty of birdlife and other insects, fish and rodents.


At the various camps in Carlos Pellegrini there was no Wifi. A local gave us the password for the Municipal system and we got on the internet for essential work – albeit slow. So we managed to book at the Iberá Lodge deep inside the swamps, to which we would drive by vehicle in two days – so far the plan.

Like the few nights before, we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of fire-flies at this time of year – simply beautiful.

After a somewhat noisy night (somebody’s birthday started at midnight, so we had plenty of fireworks from the town until 3 am) we were concerned about the thunderstorm that set in relentlessly. Guides at the ranger office were concerned about our sortie into the swamps to the Iberá Lodge. The rain intensified until the road became a river. 77km of dirt and mud road and it took us 3.5 hours – the conditions forced us to head back to Mercedes. Many smaller vehicles got bogged down along this road, we could not stop to help. It was a nervy drive.

At Mercedes we treated ourselves at Cremoletti to a large ice cream and then retired for the night at Camping la Gauchada, less of a camping site, more of an entertainment complex on a farm. It was better than the Municipal, we were alone and sheltered from the rain in a barn structure.[shower and loo in one…]

Parrots woke us up early and the rain drops in a spider’s web were beautiful in the morning light.


We had breakfast at the small café Abuela Lala in town. Then we went south to Curuzu Cuatia, along Ruta 14 where we bought at a bus-like farmstall Deer Escabeche – a glass of pickled meat, fairly expensive. But it did not quite tickle our tastebuds. Escabeche seems to be a local delicacy in this area, made from all types of meat: cayman, armadillo, beef, deer, duck, chicken, pheasant etc.

Next we turned in at a large farm stall at La Alemana – apparently German emigrants settled successfully there. We found nothing that exited us other than the unique signboard for their take aways, prepared in a kiosk that had plenty of flies.

For the night we reached Federacion on Embalse Salto Grande and camped along the dam at Las Palmeras. The dam invited for a swim – warm and clear – but a paranoid lifesaver did not allow us deeper than our belly button.

This post covers 23rd Feb to 1st March 2017