Introducing Parque Nacional Río Pilcomayo
East of Laguna Blanca are the wildlife-rich marshlands of 600-sq-km Parque Nacional Río Pilcomayo. Its outstanding feature is shallow, shimmering Laguna Blanca (not to be confused with the town) where, at sunset, caimans lurk on the lake’s surface. Other animals are likelier to be heard than seen; species such as tapirs, anteaters, and the maned wolf are present. Birds are abundant, with rheas, parrots, cormorants, jabirú, and raptors easily spotted. The park has grasslands studded with caranday palms, and thicker riverine vegetation.
There are two distinct parts of the park that you can access. The visitor center at Estero Poí is 11km from the center of Laguna Blanca, 3km east along the highway, and 8km north along a dirt road. From the center, a roughish 14km vehicle track runs down to the Pilcomayo river; it’s along here that you’ve got most chance of seeing wildlife.
The center at Laguna Blanca is 3km north of the main road from the turnoff 2km west of Laguna Naick-Neck, and 9km east of Laguna Blanca town. Here, there’s a small nature display (from roadkills) and a boardwalk leading to the lake itself, where there’s a rickety wooden observation tower, platforms out on the water, and boats that the rangers can take you out in. The water is shallow, and the caimans not a concern, but a sign advises swimming with footwear because of the piranhas… It’s especially tranquil and appealing here late in the day, after picnickers and day-trippers have left, but take repellent.