Making up the northeast corner of Argentina, Mesopotamia is a wonderful part of Argentina to explore, as it is home to some of the most astounding scenery imaginable. Dominated and, in many ways, defined by the Parana and Uruguay rivers that run through it, the region was actually named after Mesopotamia in modern-day Iraq, by Spanish settlers who saw similarities between the two landscapes.
Map of Mesopotamia, Argentina
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When traveling around the region, you will never be far away from the two rivers, as many of its main sights and cities hug the riverbanks. While Iguazu Falls is the undoubted star of the show with its immense and incredible waterfalls, cities such as Gualeguaychú and Corrientes are well worth a visit for their colorful, fun-filled carnivals. The crumbling ruins of Jesuit missions such as San Ignacio Mini are also fascinating to check out. All in all, Mesopotamia offers a great mix of history, culture, and breathtakingly beautiful nature.
Lying in the northeast of the country right on the border with Uruguay, Concordia is a delightful, laidback place that is at the heart of the nation’s citrus production. As such, agriculture plays a significant role in the city’s identity, and lots of picturesque fields and orchards stretch away from it.
While there is not all that much to do in town, Concordia’s location on the Uruguay River means there are some great riverside beaches for you to hang out on, while the fantastic El Palmar National Park makes for a lovely day trip. The main reason that people stop by Concordia, however, is to pass over into Salto in neighboring Uruguay.
Set in a beautiful location on the eastern shore of the Parana River, the city of Corrientes is a delightful mix of old and new, as elegant colonial buildings lie side by side with more modern additions. Due to the pastel-colored buildings and fruit trees lining its streets, the city is awash with color. As such, it should come as no surprise to learn that Corrientes hosts one of the most vibrant carnival celebrations in the whole of Argentina.
Although it boasts a lot of fine colonial architecture, such as the beautiful Church of La Cruz, Corrientes also proudly showcases local Guarani culture in the shape of all of the indigenous arts and crafts that can be found around town. A great thing to do when in town is to take a peaceful stroll along the city’s lovely waterfront and gaze out across the waters to Resistencia, Corrientes’s twin city, that lies on the opposite bank.
A very chilled out town for most of the year, Gualeguaychú really comes alive during carnival; its boisterous festivities are among the largest and loudest in the world. Hordes of people pour into town from all around Argentina and further afield, contributing to the cacophony of sounds and colors and the party atmosphere.
The rest of the year, Gualeguaychú is a quiet place to visit which is known for its hot springs and beach resorts rather than its nightlife. The banks of the river upon which Gualeguaychú lies have lots of resorts, hotels, and camping sites for visitors to choose from, and its proximity to Buenos Aires, Rosario, and Santa Fe means that lots of people come here for a relaxing getaway.
Lying on the banks of the Mirinay River, the small village of Colonia Carlos Pellegrini is a very peaceful place to spend some time as it is very rural. Most people simply visit because it is located on the outskirts of Ibera National Park, which is home to vast expanses of wetlands and swamps boasting many types of fauna and flora.
In the village itself, there are only a few restaurants, bars, and hotels for guests to choose from. Most people spend their time trekking or horseback riding in the wetlands. With some of the most untouched and unspoiled nature in the country, Colonia Carlos Pellegrini certainly warrants a visit if you have the chance.
Very impressive to behold, the Mocona Falls are the second-widest waterfalls in the world. The seemingly endless wall of water that gushes forth from the Uruguay River actually stretches for a remarkable three kilometers. Formed by a geological fault that created a trench in the riverbed, the falls and the river act as a natural frontier, and the border between Argentina and Brazil follows its course all the way down to Buenos Aires.
To get a good view of the majestic falls, visitors can either walk along the opposite riverbank or take a memorable boat trip beneath the cascade, both of which offer a myriad of great photo opportunities. As the falls sometimes disappear under a flood of water during the rainy season, they are best viewed from November to March, which is the region’s dry season.
After having seen the falls, many visitors head over to Brazil to explore the spectacular wilderness on show in Turvo State Park.
Located on the southern shore of the Parana River overlooking its sister city of Encarnacion in Paraguay, Posadas acts as the commercial and cultural center of the region. As such, it has all the amenities you would expect of a city of its size.
While it may not have all that much for you to see or do around town, there is an enjoyable atmosphere about the place, and wandering along its riverside boardwalk is a delightful way to pass the time. ‘La Costanera’ – as it’s known – is where you’ll find lots of great bars and restaurants, and its parks and beach are perfect if you want to kick back, relax and take in some rays.
The main attractions, however, are undoubtedly the marvelous Jesuit ruins of San Ignacio Mini, Santa Ana, and Loreto, which lie outside of town. Many people also take day trips to any one of the wonderful nature reserves that lie nearby.
Lying on the western bank of the Uruguay River just across from neighboring Uruguay, El Palmar National Park was established in 1966 to preserve and protect the natural habitat of the distinctive yatay palm trees. Rising majestically towards the heavens, the unique palm trees tower over the surrounding savanna. Outlined against the bright blue sky, they really do paint a pretty picture.
One of the only places in the country that you can find so many of the once widely-spread yatay, the park’s subtropical landscape is lovely to navigate, whether on foot, horseback, or canoe. Both grasslands and forest, as well as sparkling streams, can be found in between the clumps of palm trees.
While the Jesuits first founded the mission all the way back in 1610, it wasn’t until 1696 that San Ignacio Mini was actually built; they first had to find the ideal location, away from marauding bandits. Once a very impressive, richly ornamented mission that used to house around three thousand people, much of San Ignacio Mini was destroyed in 1817 by Luso-Brazilian forces, after which the site was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
Despite this, the ruins are among the best preserved in the country, and seeing the remains of the church, monastery, and plaza up close and personal is an awe-inspiring experience. The Gurani baroque architecture is particularly delightful. Located in the San Ignacio valley around sixty kilometers from Posadas, the mission ruins are well worth a visit; history lovers, in particular, will love wandering around the site.
Located in the northeast of the country just south of Paraguay, the Ibera Wetlands cover a huge swathe of land. Nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts will revel in exploring all that it has to offer. Encompassing rivers, lakes, swamps, and wetlands, the watery world is fascinating to hike, horseback ride, or kayak through.
Wildlife abounds, and residing within the confines of the park are everything from anacondas and armadillos to howler monkeys and wolves, with over 350 species of bird also present. Stretching as far as the eye can see, the Ibera Wetlands will leave you feeling free and unencumbered, at one with all the fantastic nature around you.
1. Iguazu Falls Where to Stay
One of the natural wonders of the world, Iguazu Falls is the largest waterfall system on the planet and is a must-see when in Mesopotamia. Nothing can truly prepare you for what you are about to witness, as the sheer size and scale of the falls needs to be seen to believed.
Straddling the Argentine-Brazilian border, the waterfall stretches for almost three kilometers. Everywhere you go, you are greeted with the tumultuous roar of gallons of water pouring down rock faces and plunging over drops. While about 80 percent of the falls lie in Argentina, the other 20 percent are still well worth checking out, and visitors can easily cross over the border to see the Brazilian side.
Gazing upon the falls from below is an unforgettable experience as you feel the spray of the water cover you from head to toe. A boat trip on the river is a must if you want to get as close as possible. With verdant rainforest surrounding it and clumps of plants hanging to the sides of the waterfalls, Iguazu Falls really is the highlight of any trip to the region.