Tigre, Buenos Aires owes its name not to tigers but to the jaguars that roamed the region up until the end of the 19th century (jaguars here are commonly called tigres or tigres Americanos). In mid winter 2012 neither animal makes an appearance but there are plenty of human visitors. Tigre is a popular weekend spot for porteños – the town is 20km northwest of Buenos Aires capital federal. On my first visit I’m reminded of towns on the Norfolk Broads in England. But similarities end with the riverfront activity, kiosks and day trippers’ boats powering along the choppy water because Norfolk isn’t known for its subtropical flora and fauna. Nor is Norfolk known for its big cats.
Tigre is located on the Paraná Delta, a 1,000 sq km-plus expanse of (in summer) humid and steamy green islands ringed by rivers and streams. Tigre is the most popular setting-off point for a boat tour of the Delta but on this crisp winter’s day we are content to wander around town and along the Río Luján.
Tigre town is home to palatial rowing clubs complete with mini train tracks to collect boats out of the water, mansions in varying states of decay or refurbishment, and a scattering of restaurants, shops, bars and museums.
The opulent Tigre Club, once the destination of choice for high society, is now the Museo de Arte Tigre. For boating and military history, there’s the Museo Naval. If you’re looking for candyfloss and roller coasters, Parque de la Costa, one of Latin America’s largest amusement parks, sends thrilled screams down the river. For more peace, walk alongside the water away from the main bridge along a path lined with trees, benches and grass. On the opposite side wooden houses seemingly held together with rope and planks teeter over the swampy banks. Tigre isn’t get-away-from-it-all quiet – for this you will need to sail into the delta – but there’s space, smog-free air and river breezes. On a winter’s day it’s a refreshing trip from the capital.
Reach Tigre by train from Retiro station (Línea Mitre). The journey takes about an hour and the train leaves you at Tigre’s riverbank station.