Thursday, 19 March 2015

0231 El Palmar NP to Iguazu

18th & 19th March
From the open pampas to forested jungles !

As I drove out of El Palmar NP, I realised how lucky I had been to have driven into the park at dusk last night, when all the capybaras and other animals were out and running (or laying) around.  This morning ?  Nothing….Nada….rien.  They were obviously all snuggled up in their holes or wherever, and trying to keep out of the heat of the day ! On the way out of the park, I went down several side trails to see what they had in store – And was surprised to find ruins of a town started by the Jesuits in the 18th century – I was to find out over the next few days that the Jesuits had a major impact and presence in this part of Argentina.

The El Palmar National Park that I was in is named after the tall yatay palms that abound in this area.  Apparently they used to found extensively all over this part of Argentina, but have been largely destroyed to make way for agriculture, ranching and forestry.  And in the middle of it all I found the ruins of what I understand was a Limestone quarry operated, or at least supervised by, the Jesuits.  Interesting little side trail.

Another trail to a bird lookout was a bit of a washout – It seems birds don’t fly around in the heat of mid morning – Like the other animals, they were hiding in the shade !  So from there it was back on  the main road (Ruta 12), and heading north.  When driving through the little town of San Antonio de Giles a few days ago down nearer Buenos Aires, Ezekiel and Victoria had suggested I go up to see a friend of theirs in Carlos Pellegrini, up north in Corrientes.  To get there I had to get off the main road and head north through a place called Mercedes, and on the way up, I went on some
sections of road that were black top, but were in really bad condition, with deep ruts in the road from the heavy trucks, and quite a lot of bad sections on the edge of the road that you could avoid as long as nothing was coming the other way.  At one point it was so bad that I started seeing some bricks beside the road occasionally, and then eventually I came up to a truck just pulling off the road, whose load had shifted so badly over the bumps that it was hanging off the side of the truck - They were his bricks !  And he was not going to have fun trying to stabilise a lot of pallets of bricks that were all leaning over the side of his truck.  Poor chap.
As I headed further north and turned onto the last bit of road to Pelligrini, the road was much better and by about 5 pm I was only half an hour away. Then disaster – The good road suddenly ended and I was on ripio again,  and it wasn’t even good ripio – It was quite rough. I persevered for about 10 minutes but really did not feel like subjecting the car to any more of this, especially since I was now in sight of the end –
And so were my tyres !  Much more ripio and I was going to have to get more tyres before I left.  So I did a U turn and headed back, and had to go a long way back down the road to the south before I could find a suitable place to park for the night – An enormous gas station where I was able to tuck myself out of the way of all the trucks, cook my supper, and get a good night’s sleep.  Shame I didn’t make it through to Pellegrini, but sometimes it is better to just play it safe, and I have just had enough of these really rough stone roads that chop your tyres to pieces.

The next morning I had breakfasted and was on my way by 9 am.  It was still flat country, but more and more forestry with pine tree plantations, and lots of trucks hauling lumber to the local saw mills.  Continuing north, now up the narrow strip of Argentina that is wedged in between Brasil and Paraguay and Uruguay , the soil was getting redder, the rivers were getting bigger and more frequent, and the temperature was increasing !  By 2.30 it was 35 deg C, and the scenery was changing quickly, to a much more jungly look – With the red earth, it reminded me a lot of the jungle roads I have seen on documentaries which they have carved out of the Amazon jungle.

Finally, by 4.30 pm, I started to see signs to Iguazu, and also  to Brasil and Paraguay.  I was getting close. And by the time I pulled into Iguazu at 6 pm the roadside scenery was dense jungle more reminiscent of Central America.  I knew of a camp site, and despite some misgivings as I was led down cobbled
streets through the town by my GPS, it took me right to the door of Costa Ramon and the camp site, where I was greeted by Ramon and shown around.  Basically it is in his garden, but is quite extensive with individual places for several tents, a swimming pool, kitchen a relaxing area – Very pleasant.  And Mrs Ramon does laundry too !  So I set up camp, cooked my supper, and went to bed relieved to at last be in Iguazu.  It has been a LONG drive up here from Ushuaia.   

Pics are here :-

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