Freezing in Argentina

Trip Start Jun 23, 2011
1
8
27
Trip End Aug 30, 2011


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What I did
Saw waterfalls, took goofy pictures, shivered in the cold

Flag of Argentina  ,
Monday, July 4, 2011

We flew from Sao Paulo to Foz de Iguacu, the little town on the Brazilian side of the Iguacu falls, and then took a taxi to the border, walked through border control, and jumped on a bus to Puerto Iguazu, the little town on the Argentinian side of the falls that we had heard was nicer. Not having booked anything in advance (again), we wandered around a bit until we found a place that had availability and was not too expensive. It's a sprawling hostel complex. To get to our room you have to enter the front door, go through the common area and outside through the courtyard, down some steps, up some steps, down a steep ramp, turn the corner, past the first set of steps you see and then up the next set and there you are: room 10, our home sweet home.

Puerto Iguacu is a nice little town, and the falls are absolutely breathtaking (more on that later), but there is one major obstacle to this being a great stop - the weather. According to weather.com, the normal highs and lows for these dates are 73 and 48, respectively. On Monday the actual high was 52 and the low at night was 34! Since it's normally never that cold, the buildings are not really insulated and certainly do not have heat. We were huddled together, wearing all of our clothes, under two thick quilts to get some sleep. After all that, though, the sleep wasn't too bad. It was very hard to get up in the morning, though, when it's so toasty under the covers and so cold above them. To top it off, It's forecast to be 82 here next weekend, when we will be long gone.

The great thing about being in Argentina now is that it is so cheap compared to Brazil. We are eating and drinking like kings now. One example, in Brazil, a caiprinha was usually 8-10 Brazilian Reals. At 1.6 BRL to the dollar, that's not too expensive, but it can add up over the course of a night. Here, the caiprinhas are usually 8-12, but this time it's Argentinian Pesos. At just over 4 to 1, this is a much more friendly price. Liters of beer are around 15 pesos, pizzas are around 25-30 pesos (again, about the same as they were in BRL). We love it so far.

Monday was the 4th of July, so we got up, said the pledge of allegiance, and began our day. We crossed back into Brazil to visit that side of the falls first. Both sides have huge national parks surrounding the falls, and we'd heard that you really have to go to both sides of the falls. The Brazilian side allows for a more panoramic view of the whole shebang, while the Argentinian side gives a more close up view of a bunch of the 275 individual falls that make up the Iguacu. So we got on a bus and headed back through immigration to Brazil.

The falls are incredible. Neither words nor pictures can come close to doing them justice. The falls are 2.7km wide. From the Brazil side you can really see all of the falls spread out in a line in front of you as you hike along the river and stop at multiple viewing platforms. The big payoff on the Brazil side is at the end when you come to a huge horseshoe shaped fall called La Garganta del Diablo - the Devil's Throat. There you can walk out onto some platforms that are built into the middle of the river in between all of the falls. The water falls from such great heights that it throws off tons of spray, and when you walk out to the platforms, you get soaking wet. 

In the summer this might be great fun, but as I said earlier the high was about 50 when we were there, and the driving mist was freezing cold. K-money had her sweet Outdoor Resources rain coat, but I wasn't able to get mine before we left, so I bought one of the little panchos they sell there. It was an endurance contest to get out there. Needless to say, I won this contest and stayed out taking pictures and videos (luckily both our digital camera and video are both waterproof) while K-money went back to the path to dry off. 

The other thing that the photos can't capture is the sound. When you get off the bus you can already hear the low rumble of 275 waterfalls. As you hike through the woods, the increasing volume of the roar only serves to heighten the anticipation. When you are on the platforms in the middle of the river getting buffeted by the wind and spray, surrounded by the highest waterfalls, the sound is truly overwhelming. It was amazing to see.

That night we had some great (cheap) pizza and Argentinian beer and watched Copa America games. Then we tried to stave off hypothermia while we slept. The next day (Tuesday) we got up early to see the Argentinian side, because we had a 2:00pm flight to Buenos Aires. As we got on the bus to the park, we thought of something that had bothered both of the day before, but we hadn't quite realized it until now.

When you go into the parks, you enter this lush, green, dense jungle. And it comes right up to this little skinny newly paved road that cuts straight through it. There are all kinds of signs about staying away from the animals, not feeding them, etc. There are pumas, jaguars, lots of birds and tons of coatis (little raccon-like things with long noses that want to attack you and steal your food) around. At the end of the road you come to this little theme park-like area that has been carved out of the jungle. There are cute little huts with souvenir shops and food courts. On that Argentinian side you then get on a little train that goes through the even denser jungle out to more small paved oases where you start the various hikes out to the falls. The whole thing really reminded both of us of Jurassic Park. 

The Argentinian side was really cool. You hiked across the river on a platform above the falls to the very top of the Devil's Throat and had a great view of the water going over the edge and all of the spray coming up. Then we walked on another platform across the top of some other falls and around the bottoms of some of them. You should take more time at the Argentinian side. There are more different views from there and more different paths built. We, however, had a flight to catch, so we were virtually running down the paths, stopping to take pictures with military precision and resuming our jog. We did the 2 hour path in 35 minutes, the 1 hour path in about 20 and the other lower 2 hour path (2.3 kms) in about 40 minutes. It was impressive. 

Then we went back to Puerto Iguazu, grabbed our bags and headed to Buenos Aires. Check out the pictures of the falls. Don't worry, this isn't all of them. We went a little picture crazy and now have at least 60 pictures that all look pretty much alike.
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Comments

Sarah on

I wondered why you did not go swimming in the falls, but then I saw the sign.

Sarah on

P.S. Stay warm!

Nemo on

OK, I'm catching up a bit on the journal - we were away in San Antonio this past week for a pharmacy conference. Had a sweet time one day in Austin with GP and Sean.

Saying the pledge on July 4 is my favorite moment of your trip so far. You give the reader a great visual.

Sorry to hear about the cold weather and colder bed. I noticed you left out the part about Jeff suggesting that you make out to keep warm and Munro saying no and punching him.

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