Had we gone canoeing here on our own, we would surely have been lost for days.
The Parana Delta in Argentina is a maze of tiny waterways through a wetlands jungle forest. It is one of the largest deltas in the world covering over 8000 square feet. The Parana Delta is only smaller than the Amazon river system.
The Parana Delta is also called the El Tigre Delta because El Tigre is a town between the delta and Buenos Aires. Tigers used to roam the area, hence the name. The dark orange part in the photo below is Buenos Aires, then El Tigre, with the Parana Delta to the North.
Locals live along side the narrow river ways in houses on stilts and buy their groceries from a boat grocery store that stops along the river sides.
Initially it was supposed to be a canoe trip, but when we arrived, it was in kayaks.
We slid down the narrow lanes of water taking branches of the water highway left and right, and right and left, until it was difficult to know which direction you were going. The water was gray-black in the warm sunlight but the quiet slurp of the canoe slicing through the water was the only sound beyond the chirp and squawk of a few tropical birds. It was relaxing and full of the solitude one experiences on the water.
Farther down the multitudinous veins of the river, the guide pointed out some young boys on the side of the river who had a pet beaver. This was clearly something new to us, and especially since beavers are a national symbol of Canada, our home country, we were intrigued. Later we discovered that it was not a beaver at all, but a Carpincho, the largest rodent in the world and native to South America (thanks Oscar).
Pulling up along side the boys, I asked permission to take photos, and one of the boys dumped the beaver in my arms while asking in Spanish if I wanted to hold him. It didn’t bother me in the least. Indeed, I was quite thrilled to hold a real beaver.
In Canada, while D and I were once canoeing down the North Saskatchewan River, we saw a beaver family near the shore. The big male beaver, seeing our canoe approaching his family and babies, slapped his tail warning his family of danger, then darted out in front of the canoe swimming away from his family down the river. His head was clearly visible and he was swimming slowly. Once in a while he would check to see if we were following him. Clever old boy. But never ever had I been close enough to a beaver to actually touch one. South American beavers don’t have the big flat tails though – they have skinny round tails like below. This guy was not only big, his web back feet were huge, and he was heavy.
The thrill didn’t last long.
The beaver peed on me.
Ugh, oooooh, Dammit…
While D was nearly falling out of her kayak laughing…
I pushed the beaver back to it’s owners rather abruptly amidst chuckles and repressed smiles. Ugh. All over my shirt and shorts. Yuck.
It looked to me like this boy was scolding the beaver for his poor manners, before he let him back into the water. The beaver even appeared to be listening.
“You know you oughtn’t do that to visitors!”
I imagined him saying… “You do that in the water! Now scoot…”
Continuing our mesmerizing glide through the jungle, reminded me of both Venice and the Amazon.
And whatever you do, don’t cuddle a beaver while kayaking, unless you want to get wet.