Islas de Santa Fe National Park

The Islas de Santa Fe National Park is a protected area by the Argentine National Parks System, also known by its name in English as the "Santa Fe Islands National Park" and by its name in Spanish as the "Parque Nacional Islas de Santa Fe", where wild beauty and hiking trails make the visit an unforgettable journey. From its river islands to its diverse ecosystems, this park offers a unique experience in the Argentine country of South America. Get ready to be amazed by its diversity of wildlife and to enjoy exciting outdoor adventures and excursions. Let yourself be surprised by its imposing presence and the must-see points of interest.

National Park Information

Islas de Santa Fe National Park

Historical Background

The region where the Islas de Santa Fe National Park is located has a rich history that dates back to the times of indigenous peoples such as the Quiloazas, Corondá, Timbúes, and the Guaraní. According to Schmidl’s accounts, these tribes inhabited the islands of the region.

In 1527, Sebastián Caboto, a Genoese explorer commissioned by the Spanish crown, founded the fort Sancti Spiritu in the present-day territory of Puerto Gaboto, in the province of Santa Fe. This was the first European settlement on Argentinean lands. During his expedition, Caboto was searching for riches such as precious metals, especially silver. The native inhabitants informed him about Potosí, a mineral-rich region located inland and at the same latitude. They also indicated that he could reach this place through a river that flowed further south, the Paraná River.

The fort of Sancti Spiritu was attacked and possibly destroyed in July 1529 due to mistreatment of the local population. This incident led to a trial against Caboto upon his return to Europe. Following the foundation of the city of Santa Fe in 1573, the Coronda River became the main navigable route to the port of Santa Fe. In 1660, with the relocation of Santa Fe further south, the Coronda River remained the primary route from the port to the Paraná River, playing a central role in the creation of the Islas de Santa Fe National Park.

In 1891, the town of Puerto Gaboto was founded, experiencing significant economic development due to its natural port and the establishment of a tannery and a salting factory. During the 20th century, the railway reached the town from Maciel, further promoting its growth. However, over time, economic changes and the development of other ports led to the decline of Puerto Gaboto, and in 1945 the pier was dismantled. Despite this, some historical facades dating back to the early times have been preserved.

Today, the port of Puerto Gaboto has a natural draft of 9 to 11 meters and is recognized as a spot for fishing species such as dorado and other fish that inhabit the rivers surrounding the Islas de Santa Fe National Park.

History and Establishment of the Park

The Islas de Santa Fe National Park, established on October 13, 2010 (Law No. 26,648/10), was created to protect and preserve the biological diversity of the region and provide a space for public recreation. Its establishment stands as a testament to Argentina’s commitment to environmental conservation.

The Islas de Santa Fe National Park was established from the El Rico Provincial Reserve (provincial decree No. 4070/1968), which was provincially managed and was created in 1968 over an area of 2,600 hectares of the delta. During the 1970s, El Rico was used as an experimental area to reintroduce native species such as the marsh deer. However, during the civic-military dictatorship, this area became a military training ground.

In the 1980s, a local family was designated as caretakers of the reserve. From that point onwards, efforts were initiated to protect and preserve the biodiversity of the region. These historical precedents showcase the evolution and transformation of the area, from a provincial reserve to the creation of the Islas de Santa Fe National Park, with the aim of conserving ecosystems and promoting wildlife in the region.

Subsequently, through provincial law No. 12175 on October 30, 2003, it was included in the Provincial System of Protected Natural Areas and granted the status of a protected natural area subject to its regulations.

On August 14, 2008, provincial law No. 12901 was passed, authorizing the provincial executive branch to transfer jurisdiction and dominion of the islands to the National State for the purpose of creating a national park.

On January 19, 2009, the government of Santa Fe transferred dominion and jurisdiction of the El Rico strict nature reserve to the National State through decree No. 26/2009, with the aim of creating a national park.

On October 13, 2010, the National Congress approved a law presented by Senator Rubén Giustiniani, in which the transfer of dominion and jurisdiction of 8 insular parcels was accepted and the Islas de Santa Fe National Park was established. The law was promulgated by the Executive Branch on November 15, 2010, under No. 26,648, currently covering an area of 4,096 hectares of protected land.


The Islas de Santa Fe National Park is situated in the province of Santa Fe, in the department of San Jerónimo, northeastern Argentina. It can be reached by car, bus, or boat from several nearby cities. It can be geographically located using coordinates: 32°25′59″S 60°49′01″W / -32.433, -60.817 and the address: Alameda 1530, S2208 Puerto Gaboto, Santa Fe, Argentina.

How to Get There

The main access to the park is located in Puerto Gaboto, where you can take a boat that reaches the park in approximately an hour.

Puerto Gaboto is a picturesque fishing village located 65 kilometers from Rosario and 110 kilometers from Santa Fe. You can reach Puerto Gaboto via the highway that connects both cities, as well as through provincial route 95 (RP 95). From this charming village, visitors can embark on a short boat journey to enter the park and enjoy its natural beauty.

Opening Hours

The park is open from 7:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

Geography and Climate

Geographical Features

The park covers an area of river islands with a variety of ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, and meadows. It belongs to the Lower Paraná River freshwater ecoregion and the delta and islands terrestrial ecoregion.

Located in the island system of the Paraná River floodplain, in its middle section, this floodplain is characterized by its vast expanse, with a width ranging from 10 to 20 kilometers in the province of Santa Fe. This area is composed of alluvial deposits that are constantly modified by the dynamics of the river.

The presence of extensive bodies of water, whether calm or flowing, generates particular climatic effects in the region. High environmental humidity and attenuation of daily and seasonal temperature fluctuations are experienced. These conditions have fostered the uniform presence of communities and species characteristic of humid subtropical ecoregions.

In this unique environment, the Santa Fe Park offers a suitable habitat for an extraordinary diversity of plant and animal life. The characteristics of the Paraná River floodplain contribute to the beauty and uniqueness of this natural treasure in Argentina.

Climate and Best Times to Visit

The climate is subtropical, with mild winters and hot summers. The best time to visit is during spring and autumn, when the weather is more moderate and wildlife is more active.

Santa Fe’s climate is classified as a subtropical Pampean climate. It is characterized by not having dry months and has higher temperatures than the typical Pampean climate. The winter’s minimum temperatures allow for the presence of megathermic species that descend through the biological corridor represented by the Paraná River floodplain.

The park experiences a hot season from October to April, with temperatures ranging between 18°C and 32°C, reaching peaks above 40°C. The cold season lasts from early June to the first half of August, with average minimum temperatures of 5°C and average maximum temperatures of 16°C. Annual average temperatures range between 10°C (minimum) and 23°C (maximum).

Precipitation is more abundant in summer than in winter, with a total volume between 800 and 1300 mm per year. The distribution of precipitation varies according to the climatic hemisphere, being wetter between 1870 and 1920, and between 1973 and the present.

Snow phenomena are exceptional in this region. There is a feasible risk of tornadoes and severe storms, most frequently between October and March. These events are generated by the encounter of a warm and humid air mass from the northern part of the country with a cold and dry mass from the southern Argentine region.

Here is a table with monthly climate data for the park:

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Monthly Max Temperature (°C) 30 28 26 23 20 16 15 18 21 23 26 29
Monthly Min Temperature (°C) 18 17 15 10 7 2 -2 3 7 11 13 15
Precipitation (mm) 98.3 124.1 120.2 88.0 64.9 19.5 29.5 31.0 56.4 100.6 107.4 93.3

Park Zones

The park is divided into several zones, including areas for hiking, wildlife observation, and outdoor relaxation.

Biodiversity: Fauna, Flora, and Emblematic Species

Flora: Native and Endemic Species

The park hosts a rich diversity of plants. The vegetation is characterized by the dominant presence of grasses such as reeds and tussock grass. These plants form dense herbaceous carpets that cover the ground and provide food and shelter for various animal species. Woody species are also present, contributing to the structure and diversity of the landscape. Among them, river alders stand out, trees adapted to riparian environments that play an important role in soil stabilization and river channel regulation. Another type of tree present is the curupí, known for its resistance to flooding and its hard and durable wood.

Additionally, ceibos, iconic trees of the region, can be found. They stand out for their splendid flowering and the presence of thorns on their trunks. These woody species contribute to biodiversity and provide vital habitats for many bird species, mammals, and other organisms.

Together, the combination of grasses and woody species such as river alders, curupíes, and ceibos creates an environment rich in flora, providing a solid foundation for the functioning of ecosystems and the sustainability of wildlife in the Islas de Santa Fe National Park.

Fauna: Iconic and Rare Animals

From colorful birds to rare mammals, the fauna of the Islas de Santa Fe National Park is a gift for nature lovers. It is the habitat of a rich diversity, with representative species of both mammals and birds, reptiles, and fish. Among mammals, you can find river otters and capybaras, which are aquatic animals adapted to live in wetlands and rivers of the region. These cute rodents are a common sight in the park’s watercourses, where they feed on aquatic vegetation and are an integral part of riparian ecosystems.

In terms of birds, the park is home to a notable presence of species such as the rufous-sided crake, wattled jacana, moorhens, and Southern screamer. The rufous-sided crake is a water bird with vibrant and striking plumage, while the wattled jacana stands out for its ability to walk on water lilies. Moorhens are smaller water birds, and the Southern screamers are terrestrial birds known for their striking head crests, making the protected area a suitable habitat for their breeding, feeding, and resting.

Regarding reptiles, you can observe freshwater turtles and painted turtles. These turtle species are native to the region and find a suitable environment for their survival in the park’s bodies of water.

In terms of fish, the park is home to species such as sabalo, bogas, catfish, and tarariras. These fish are common in the rivers and lagoons of the area and are an important part of the aquatic food chain.

The diverse and varied fauna of the Islas de Santa Fe National Park is a natural treasure that reflects the importance of conserving and protecting these spaces for biodiversity preservation and ecosystem balance.

Emblematic Species

The capybara (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris) and the Victoria water lily (Victoria cruziana) are two prominent emblems of the Islas de Santa Fe National Park.

The capybara is the world’s largest rodent and is closely associated with water. It is a skilled swimmer and moves easily thanks to the webbing between its toes. Capybaras move in family groups and feed on aquatic plants and vegetation along rivers and streams. When they sense danger, they emit a barking-like sound and dive into the water for protection.

On the other hand, the Victoria water lily is an impressive aquatic plant. Its huge circular leaves float on the water’s surface and can reach up to two meters in diameter. In the Guarani language, its name means "water plate" due to the shape of its leaves. Its flowers are striking, with white and pink tones.

These two emblematic representatives of the park’s fauna and flora reflect the importance of water and aquatic ecosystems in this natural environment.

Biodiversity in the Wetlands of Santa Fe

The park boasts a variety of plant communities that cover the shores of lagoons and wetlands. These include species such as white peach, reed beds, bulrush stands, tussock grasslands, sedge beds, spike rushes, reed beds, cattail stands, and cattail swamps. The tall sedge, known as "junco," is often dominant and can completely cover bodies of water. Additionally, small forests of "espinillo" or "aromito" are found near watercourses, known for their colorful and fragrant flowers in winter.

High Sandy Banks, Areas Elevated on Riverbanks

In the high sandy banks of Santa Fe, you can find riparian or riverbank forests that vary in width and exhibit constantly changing vegetation based on their degree of maturity. The native willow and river alder are dominant species on the riverbanks, forming almost pure stands. These species are the first to colonize newly formed high sandy banks or areas stripped of their natural vegetation due to disturbances.

In higher areas, other species like the ceibo tree, river laurel, white timbó, and curupí flourish, enriching the composition of these riverside forests. Additionally, shrubs such as "espinillos," "chilcas," "rama negra," and "sarandíes" can be found, as well as grasslands of "cortadera," "totora," "espadaña," "carrizo," "canutillo," and various species of grass.

These riverside forests on the high sandy banks are valuable habitats that contribute to the diversity and ecological balance in the park.

Activities and Attractions

Hiking and Trekking Trails

With a well-maintained network of trails, the park offers ample opportunities to explore and enjoy its beautiful natural environment.

  1. Riverside Forest Trail: This trail will take you through beautiful riverside forests that border the park’s rivers and streams. You can enjoy the lush vegetation and observe the diversity of birds and other animals that inhabit this area.
  2. Birdwatching Route: This route will take you to strategic points from where you can observe and marvel at the variety of birds that inhabit the park. With binoculars and specialized guides, you can identify different species and learn about their behavior and habitats.

These routes offer unique opportunities to enjoy the nature and wildlife of the Islas de Santa Fe National Park through walking and exploration.

Wildlife Observation

The rich biodiversity of the park offers an incredible opportunity for wildlife observation, making it a prime destination for nature enthusiasts. Bird species can be observed by following the birdwatching route or other trails within the park.

Visitor Regulations and Recommendations

Behavioral Rules in the Park

Visitors must follow all park rules and regulations to ensure the protection of its ecosystem and wildlife.

Respecting and Protecting Wildlife

Respect for wildlife and nature is essential for a safe and enjoyable visit to the Islas de Santa Fe National Park.

Accommodation and Services Nearby

Nearby Accommodation Options

There are various accommodation options nearby, ranging from luxury hotels to cozy campgrounds within the park.

Available Services: Shops, Restaurants, Information Centers

The park and its surroundings offer a variety of services for visitors, including shops, restaurants, and tourist information centers.

In Puerto Gaboto, the nearby town, you’ll find lodging options in inns and camping areas, as well as restaurants specializing in river fish dishes, where you can enjoy delicious and authentic meals.

Both the provincial capital, Santa Fe, and the city of Rosario offer comprehensive tourist facilities to meet visitors’ needs. You’ll find a wide range of accommodation options, from hotels to vacation rentals, as well as restaurants, shops, and tourist services to make your stay a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Along the Rosario-Santa Fe Highway, which connects both cities, you’ll find numerous gas stations to refuel your vehicle and ensure a hassle-free journey.

What to See Near Islas de Santa Fe National Park

Puerto Gaboto

In Puerto Gaboto, the town near Islas de Santa Fe National Park, there are some points of interest worth visiting during your stay in the area. Some of the highlights include:

  1. Historical and Archaeological Site of Puerto Gaboto: This site commemorates the foundation of the first European settlement in Argentine territory. Here, you can explore the ruins and learn about the history of the region.
  2. Costanera Promenade: Enjoy a pleasant stroll along the edge of the Paraná River. This waterfront promenade offers beautiful panoramic views and opportunities to relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.
  3. Museum of History and Culture "Puerto Gaboto": Immerse yourself in local history at this small museum that displays objects and stories related to the history and culture of the area.
  4. Sport Fishing: Puerto Gaboto is known as a popular destination for sport fishing. If you’re a fishing enthusiast, you can enjoy the experience of casting your line and trying to catch some river fish species.

These are just a few of the attractions you can find in Puerto Gaboto. Exploring the town will give you a closer insight into the life and culture of the region.

Convent of San Lorenzo

Just 38 km from Puerto Gaboto, via RP 95 and RN 11, you’ll find the Convent of San Lorenzo. This historic convent is a site of cultural and religious interest that’s worth visiting during your stay at Islas de Santa Fe National Park.


The city of Rosario, located 65 km from the park via AU Rosario-Santa Fe, offers a wide variety of attractions. Discover its rich cultural offerings, impressive architecture, and enjoy its location on the banks of the Paraná River.

Santa Fe

Located 110 km from the park via RP 95 and AU Rosario-Santa Fe, the city of Santa Fe is the capital of the province. Santa Fe combines history, colonial architecture, and a beautiful riverside location. Make a stop in Santa Fe to explore its charms during your visit to Islas de Santa Fe National Park.

Ruins of Cayastá

The Ruins of Cayastá are located 192 km from the park via RP 95, AU Rosario-Santa Fe, and RP 1. This historic site is where the first Spanish city in Argentine territory was founded. Admire the ruins and immerse yourself in the fascinating history of the region during your trip to Islas de Santa Fe National Park.

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