Posted by: robinson2000 | July 29, 2011

The Magnificent Iguazu Falls

22nd – 25th July

Our time in Buenos Aires had been excellent but exhausting, so it was nice to leave the noisy metropolis behind and head to the quieter town of Puerto Iguazu. The 19 hour bus ride passed comfortably and quickly as the landscape changed from dry desert to lush green forests as we neared the small town of Puerto Iguazu, which is only 18 km northwest of the falls and serves mainly as a centre for visitors. We found a great little hostel close to the bus terminal, complete with hammocks and a pool. We hadn’t planned much that afternoon apart from resting, washing dirty clothes and treating ourselves to a nice meal out to make up for the night spent on the bus. As it was our penultimate night in Argentina, we took full advantage of the inexpensive wine and thick juicy steaks in a fine restaurant just down the road from the hostel. I ordered a tenderloin steak smothered in a red wine juice that was so thick and tender that you could slice through it with a butter knife.

The following day we headed for the Parque National Iguazu that encompasses the falls and much of the surrounding area. From the park entrance you can wander around the catwalks that have been constructed across the Rio Iguazu to the parks centrepiece, the Devils Throat. We began by walking the first two trails that take you along the first line of falls. It’s difficult to describe the scene that greets you, but it is overwhelmingly spectacular as multiple waterfalls cascade over the Paraná Plateau for as far as the eye can see. In fact the edge is about 2 miles long and has about 275 separate waterfalls varying from 60 – 80 metres high. We spent a couple of hours wandering the walkways and absorbing the view before heading down to the dock and taking a quick speed boat ride beneath a couple of the waterfalls. The ride was fun but you get completely drenched so you have to spend an hour sunbathing to get dry, which wasn’t too bad. We watched a small child play with a couple of Coatis’, which are these small bear like creatures who run wild around the park and terrorise the visitors for food.

After lunch we headed to the main attraction in the park, the Devils Throat. The Devils Throat is a U-shaped waterfall that is80 metreshigh,150 metreswide and700 metreslong. The majority of the water that flows over the falls goes down Devils Throat and it is magnificent to watch and very mesmerising at the same time as the water crashes down from all angles into the chasm below. It was a great ending to Argentina and definitely one of the highlights of the trip so far.

To really appreciate the Iguazu Falls, its best to view it from the Brazilian side as well as the Argentinian side. We left Puerto Iguazu bright and early, catching the 10am bus over the border and to the town of Foz de Iguazu. Due to our complete ignorance of the Portuguese language, we were dropped off at the wrong terminal and had to take an expensive taxi to the long distance bus terminal where we somehow managed to purchase a couple of tickets to Rio de Janeiro for that evening. Our plan was to visit the falls, watch the Copa America final between Uruguay and Paraguay, grab a good meal and get back to the terminal for our 6pm bus. We ended up cutting it pretty fine as we seemed to be delayed at every step. To get to the National Park took two further buses, followed by a long queue to get into the park, then another bus to take you through the park before we were able to spent a couple of hours admiring the falls. The falls were equally spectacular from the Brazilian side, giving you more of a panoramic view of the waterfalls, but weren’t as good as the previous day as you were quite far away.

Once we were ready to leave, we queued again for another bus out of the park before finally catching a painfully slow bus back to Foz de Iguazu. We missed the first 20 minutes of the game but were able to enjoy the rest over a pizza, as Uruguay easily beat the Paraguayans in a lacklustre match. A short cab ride took us back to the long distance terminal where we caught our seventh bus of the day to the lively city of Rio de Janeiro; unfortunately this journey was 23 hours.

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