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Argentina - Up North

From Uruguay, we crossed back into Argentina just north of Salto at the hydro-electric dam on the Rio Uruguay. We were now heading to the north east of Argentina towards the Esteros de Ibera, the Jesuit missions and Iguazú. On the route north, the road surface for long stretches became dusty rutted track.

Dogs in South America appear to the fall into one of three categories: bike chasers; car chasers; and the can't be bothered unless it involves food. Games of Fetch are one sided - you throw a ball or a stick and you might as well go fetch, because the pooch isn't interested. Although on one occasion in Argentina a dog once dropped a round rock in front of me and proceeded to play fetch with the rock all day. That aside, the ones we fear are the car chasers, of which there are many. We are not worried about being bitten as most street dogs we've come across are super friendly. The fear is how close they get to the moving van. Anyway, this leads up to a lunatic dog deciding that it was a better idea to start the chase ahead of the moving van and simply ran into our path. Wrong move and under the van he went with a yelp. I think he may have had prior experience and was just developing technique, as he chose dead centre - no wheels. Bit of a sickening feeling - no chance to stop. He went under the full length of the van and as we pulled to the side of the road, we saw he was still in one piece, still sprinting like a loony looking for his next exhaust. The chicken I nailed in Chile tried the same technique, sadly without success.

On the route, with water often on either side, we were treated to the sight of numerous birds and a few mammals. We saw family groups of Capybara, the largest living rodent, grazing by the waters edge or sometimes just wandering on the road. Fortunately, we didn't hit one - they look pretty solid. We stopped and spent three nights camped by Laguna Iberá at Colonia Carlos Pellegrini. We were in the Parque National Iberá, a vast protected area of wetlands. We took walks in the local forest and the main event was a boat trip out into the wetlands, where there were birds galore, several species of caiman, marsh deer and capibaries.

Moving on and after a dusty drive, we found ourselves in the heart of the Jesuit missions. The first mission was the ruins of Santa María Mayor, founded in 1626. This was one of thirty missions in a relatively small area, which were set amongst the Guarani Indian population. Next up, Nuestra Señora de Santa Ana founded in 1633, followed by Nuestra Señora de Loreta founded 1610. On the following day, we headed to the impressive ruins of San Ignacio Mini, founded 1610.

Leaving the missions behind, we headed to Puerto Iguazú, a large town just inside Argentina, overlooking the border with Brazil and Paraguay, on the Parana and Iguazú rivers. We visited Iguazú Falls National Reserve and spent a full day walking in this large park. The Iguazú Falls are immense and spectacular from all angles. Added to the sights, an extraordinary amount of butterflies, including a favourite, the 88. For me, the falls are in my Top 5. The day ended with a beer and a great view out to the falls.

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