November 4, 2019
Today was sort of the last day of our ad hoc replacement tour of northeast Argentina, as we would be starting the long trip back to Buenos Aires. The plan was to drive to Posadas and fly to Buenos Aires, so there was still scope for birding. And so we were up at 4:15 am, all packed and ready to leave at 5 am!
The hotel gave us a packed breakfast of—no prizes for guessing this—a ham and cheese sandwich, as well as an apple and a bottle of water. We ate that and fell back asleep as we drove down the road to Urugua-í Provincial Park, which we had also visited last year.
We got there at 6:50 am, and we didn’t have to look for the piping-guans because we’d already seen them back in Iguazú. So we were ready for some forest birding. But the place was infested with swarms of bees! They landed everywhere, which was very unpleasant. The group divided up again, some going with Patricio on a long walk while the majority of us stayed with Keith and Glen.
Everywhere we went the bees were with us, and several people got stung. (Not us.) After a while Rosemary retreated to the bus, where she caught up with three days of journal writing and photo editing. But she and the other refugees came out after a while to rejoin the group. Today’s forest birding had different birds than previous days of forest birding, such as Southern Bristle-Tyrant, which we both saw well.
But now we had to head south. We stopped in a town named Wanda, a town based on mining of semi-precious minerals and for lunch we went to a place with a salad bar and parilla, similar to the one at Iguazú. Then the rest of the afternoon was spent travelling to Posadas, where we would spend the night before flying to Buenos Aires tomorrow.
As we reached the city we could see clouds massing and then the lightning and rain started. It rained as we drove through Posadas in rush hour, as we got out of the bus, during dinner, and into the night. But the Maitei Hotel, where we stayed, was a nice place.
Tonight we were all seated at one long table for dinner, and it was interesting to see all of us at one table. We ordered our main course and then did the daily bird call, which we finished just before they started to serve the meal. Rosemary had a mushroom omelet with stir-fried vegetables, which was quite a change from our usual meals.
As we returned to our room the power kept going off, but it quickly came back on every time. And the lightning storm was still raging outside, as well as the torrential rain. We went to sleep hoping that it wouldn’t be an airport-closing storm!
November 5, 2019
The storm had passed, so that was good. Breakfast was the usual buffet and we had already packed our bags so we didn’t need to rush. The bus arrived at 8 am for the last time and took us on the short 10-minute ride to the airport.
Last night’s storm had indeed been an airport-closing storm, so there were a lot of people there whose plane hadn’t taken off yesterday. But all that meant was that they would get on their delayed plane and we would get on our regularly-scheduled plane. We were checked in as a group, which speeded things up. Some people had been concerned about excess baggage fees, but nothing was said about that.
The flight to Buenos Aires was on time and uneventful, except for a few turbulent patches. After landing we collected our bags and then waited while some people went to ATM’s and others went to Aerolineas Argentinas to cancel their tickets from Ushuaia. We then loaded into minibuses, which would take us to the Lafayette Hotel.
En route we stopped for lunch at a really good buffet restaurant named Siga La Vaca (Follow The Cow). Its food was fairly standard buffet food with lots of choices, but the desserts were great and they included beer and wine in the price!
The buses then took us to our hotel; we were in the second bus and it couldn’t park outside the hotel so it had to go “around the block”. But this area of Buenos Aires is full of one-way streets and transit-only streets, so it took about 15 minutes to do that. And on the way we noticed some pigeons being hunted by a Peregrine Falcon, a new species for our Argentina list!
By the time we finally got checked into the hotel it was after 3 pm. We met in the lobby to go birding at Costanera Sur; the group was smaller now as some people chose not to come. Late afternoon was a great time to visit the park! The temperature was lovely and with no humidity, and it was a “no bicycles” day which made things easier for birding. It was a lovely outing. We got out of the park gate just at the 7 pm closing time.
We all had dinner together at the Lafayette Hotel—it was still part of the tour, after all. Unlike many of the other places we had stayed, the food was served very promptly and we finished dinner just after 9 pm!
November 6, 2019
We had the day in Buenos Aires with not much to do except move to another hotel, since the Lafayette was full for tonight. Our original schedule had us arriving here from Ushuaia tomorrow, so now we were almost back to our original plan.
So we went to breakfast and then joined the group for a morning birding trip to Costanera Sur. This time we walked along a different trail that took us out along the river’s edge. From there we could look back and see One Ocean Expeditions’ ship Resolute, which was currently under arrest for non-payment of bills.
The highlight of the birding walk was a great encounter with a Dusky-legged Guan: as we were walking along the path it was walking along the path towards us. We stopped and waited as it slowly approached us, getting quite close before veering off onto the grass so it could go past. This is a species which likes to be in trees and bushes and doesn’t like to be close to people!
We arrived back at the Lafayette at 11:30 am, retrieved our bags from the room, and checked out. Our new hotel, the 474, was nearby so the easiest way to get there was to walk. And that didn’t take long. The 474 was really nice, much nicer than the Lafayette. It was only noon but we checked in and could go up to our rooms, where we deposited our bags.
After that our remaining small group went out for lunch. The tour was officially over so we were on our own for paying, though. We found a place not far away and the twelve of us trooped in. It was a bit confusing but eventually we figured out the system. After we finished, the two of us headed back to the 474 to do some catching up with documentation. Rosemary had a week’s worth of photos to be identified, and some of them were quite difficult, even with Paul’s notes on what birds we had seen and the order we had seen them in.
At about 6 pm our group went out for dinner, this time choosing a pizza place. We had a great time, lots of laughter and sharing of stories. Back at the hotel we had goodbyes to say to some of our group, including Craig and Dougald, as they were catching a very early flight to Trelew.