- Encounters with locals
- Nature Reserve / Wildlife Observation / Safari
- Hiking / Trekking
- Archaeological Site
- Place or Historical Monument
- Sustainable Tourism
- Unesco World Heritage
- Off the beaten track
I visited and explored the ruins at San Ignacio when the bus made a stop there on the way to Iguazu Falls. I still have very strong memories of visiting this site during my trip to Argentina.
We'd been on the bus for fifteen hours and finally got the chance to stretch our legs. As soon as we got off the vehicle, however, there was just one thing we wanted to do: get back inside to enjoy the benefits of the air conditioning! The air was humid and the heat overwhelming outside. Welcome to Misiones Province!
We quickly forgot about the heat once we arrived at the Jesuit mission site after a few minutes' walk however. Before us in the verdant grass stood some enormous orangey coloured walls. Our guide explained to us that the colonists first arrived in Cordoba then came to Misiones in the 17th century, with the intention of evangelising and educating the indigenous Guaraní population.
The Jesuits were allies and supporters of this oppressed people in those days, and they were actually responsible for recording and documenting their language. When the Jesuits left, the Guaraní of San Ignacio returned to the forest, where they continued to live in extremely difficult conditions. Today they are one of the most disadvantaged and underprivileged ethnic groups in Argentina. Unfortunately, it's not unusual to see children begging in the streets in San Ignacio.
After looking around the site for two hours and spending some time talking to members of the local population, we continued on our way to one of the new seven natural wonders of the world, Iguazu Falls, with the images of the hopeful eyes of those young Guarani children still in our minds.
I loved this little village which is very typical of the region and which seemed very picturesque compared to the tourist town of Puerto Iguazu. The undeniably charming village, threaded with red earth roads edged with tall palm trees, seems to have been planted in the middle of nowhere.
A few tourists make it there during their trip to Argentina in order to visit the ruins at Quilmes, where the site has the distinct advantage of having signs translated into several languages. In the evening there is a good son et lumiere show.
But if you have the time, try to stay a few days so you can make some trips into the surrounding countryside and visit some other beautiful natural sites that are less accessible and touristy, like Iberá Natural Reserve, which merits a stay of at least 3 days; or, a bit closer and accessible by bike, Teyú Cuaré Park where you can walk on ochre coloured paths whose only other users are the hordes of multicoloured butterflies.
Beware! If you are going to Teyú Cuaré Park don't make the same mistake that I did. Be careful to look out for the signposts so you don't end up pedalling for hours because you've missed the one showing you where to get into the park!