We were looking forward to our trip to the Iguazú Falls since we were at the planning stages and had a rough idea of going through there on our way from Argentina into Brazil. The falls, now classified as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, are on the border between the two countries and can be viewed from either side. We chose to visit from the Argentinean side where they have developed a National Park and where the town of Puerto Iguazú has grown to cater for the tourists coming to see the Falls. To get there from Buenos Aires we had the option of a 20 hour bus journey or a 1 hour flight. The flight was only about €30 more expensive than the bus at €120 so we went for that. Even though we have done 15 hour nightbuses, I think I’d crack up on a bus in the same seat for 20 hours.
The temperature in Puerto Iguazú was similar to Buenos Aires at about 30 degrees Celsius but it was much more humid so when we checked into our hostel it was great that it had a powerful air con unit. There wasn’t really much in the town except a ton of bars and restaurants but enough to keep us occupied for a few days.
The first evening, when it was cooler, we walked down to the Three Frontiers landmark where you can look at Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay all at the same time. The corner point of the Argentinian border has a big blue & white marker and a colourful water fountain display. You can see across the River Iguazú to Paraguay and to Brazil who also have their own coloured markers and fountains. There were lots of people gathered around for sunset and some cyclists on a cross-country cycle had stopped for a breather and to take some photos.
The next day we went to the bus station along with half the town to get the 30 minutes shuttle bus to the National Park. The falls are made up of a huge network of 275 individual waterfalls, the most famous being the semicircular collection called the Garganta del Diablo – Devil’s Throat.
The park was set up really well with several routes where you can get the best views of the falls. We paid the admission of 260 Pesos which is about €15. Foreigners pay more, about double what Argentinians pay! We stared with the top route and walked through the forest track to get the mini-train up to the top. All around the park there are racoon-like animals called Coati that looked really cute and tame but I’d say would bite the hand off you for some food.
The walking tracks are a bit like being in a theme park as there are multiple raised wooden catwalks that bring you right up over or under the falls so you can get the perfect view and photo! The catwalk went through the tropical rainforest and over the swamp which was full of fish including a few giant catfish swimming about.
As we got closer to the falls you could hear the water thundering over the edge and then all of a sudden the catwalk opened out to a viewing platform and the magnificent sight of the Devil’s Throat. The views were amazing – the power and size of the waterfalls is unexpected. Water thundered over the top from every angle and the spray drenched everyone on the platform. From here you could see the river flowing slowly from the Brazilian side and then crashing down 200ft to the Argentinian side. Apart from the main semicircular falls there was jets of water cascading from every gap in the cliff-face. There was a lot of people on the platform but enough room for all the selfies sticks and group photos to be taken.
After about half an hour, we walked back along the catwalk and got the train to the lower loop that was split into two walkways. We had a quick bit of lunch bemote tackling the first walkway that was about a 5km loop walk that went through the forest to the smaller waterfalls and lakes. These were really beautiful and impressive in their own right and this loop also gave great views of the main falls. It was getting to the hottest part of the day so it was nice to get a bit of shade from the sun. We were surrounded by wildlife, there are 400+ species of birds, butterflies, some monkeys and even a crocodile that seemed to be in its own lake but I wouldn’t fancy swimming in any part of the falls knowing this guy was around.
Last on the list was the bottom falls loop where you can also access a boat that goes out to an island and very close to the main waterfalls but it wasn’t running the day we were there due to works or so we were told! The bottom loop meanders through the valley, past smaller waterfalls & lakes and up and over small hills. There was lots of steps up and down until you reach right under one of the falls. It’s a total different view and much wetter than the top. There is such force and noise that it’s hard to stay right at the base for too long without being drenched and deafened. The valley is so lush and green and definitely the stereotypical image of paradise. I can image the awe the first explorers felt when the came across this natural wonder.
After an hour or so exploring we made our way back uphill to the visitor centre and museum which had some more info of the park and falls but doesn’t compare to actually seeing them up close. We got the bus back exhausted after a long days walking and packed the bags again for our next stop, across the border to Paraguay.
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