Argentina - Part 5 (Iguazu Falls)

Trip Start Jul 03, 2012
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Trip End Nov 12, 2012


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Flag of Argentina  , Misiones,
Monday, October 22, 2012

I think Argentina really landed with its bum in the butter when it comes to South American land distribution.

Bordering on three countries, namely Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay; the best part of Iguazu Falls could so easily have fallen within any one of these countries. Admittedly Brazil also does have claim to this majestic wonder of the world, but the Argentinian side of the falls are by far the most spectacular and beautiful. Sorry Paraguay, you pulled the shortest end of the straw here even though a guy from Paraguay discovered this place back in the mid-1500s!

We arrived after yet another painstakingly long bus trip from Buenos Aires to the little town of Puerto Iguazu. This place reminded us a bit of Rurrenabaque in Bolivia. Hot, humid and sticky with loads of dirt roads and palm trees dotted about all over the place.

Arriving at the bus station we were directed to the area where we could catch a local bus to our hostel. Having no idea of the bus number etc and with not a word of English being spoken (and us feeling irritable and tired), we decided to take the easy route out and grab a taxi instead. Turns out the bus option was actually pretty easy to grasp and instead we ended up supporting the local taxi industry here for the next few days as we were ripped off by our taxi driver who drove us the 5km's out of town to our hostel for 40 pesos ( -R100) when a bus would have cost us just 5 pesos - oh well you live you learn!

We arrived at the "Hostel Inn", an almost oasis-like setting with a massive pool sweeping around the entrance with gringos just chilling about drinking nice cold brewskis! Oh yes, the next few days were going to go down a treat!

After being cooped up in a bus so long and sweating like beasts you would think the first thing we'd do is order a cocktail and hit the pool. Well, I'm sad to say we did not. Stupidly we had forgotten to draw money in town when we first arrived and there were no ATM's to be found near our hostel. So, red faced, we caught the bus we should have originally taken back into town to draw some cash given that our hostel needed payment upfront for our room. Ah the joys of travel!

After getting lost in town, drawing money, having a bite to eat and pre-booking our bus tickets to Campo Grande in Brazil 2 days later, we rushed back to the hostel. It was now time to chill out like sloths by the pool (G&T in hand naturally), work on our still non-existent tans and plan our trip to Iguazu Falls for the following day.

The next day we were like toddlers on Christmas morning. Up and about early, super excitable and eager to be one of the first to get to the falls. Lucky for us the local bus which takes people to Iguazu National Park stopped right outside our hostel. Unlucky for us though is that the rest of the tourists in Puerto Iguazu had the same idea, and so we crammed into an already overcrowded bus en route to the falls.

After paying the entrance fee of 130 pesos each to get into the park we rushed to the little train station which takes you up to "Devil's Throat". This is the part of the falls where around half of the Iguazu river's flow falls into a long and narrow chasm. The Devil's Throat also demarcates the border between Brazil and Argentina. On the right bank of the "throat" is the Brazilian territory, which has just over 20%25 of the jumps of these falls, and the left side jumps belong to Argentina, which make up almost 80%25 of the falls - See what I mean about Argentina having it all!

After a rather uncomfortably warm wait in the queues we finally managed to get our seats on the ancient train which takes you up to Devil's throat. It was then us trying to navigate through what felt like a thousand tourists (who all seemed to walk at a well below average pace) before finally reaching the mammoth falls.

I must say, you see photos of this place and you hear how impressive it is but to actually experience the sheer volume of water coming over those falls and to hear the incredibly loud roar of the water, really is something quite unique and special!

After taking numerous photos of the "throat" (and the backs of other tourists heads), we had had enough of the crowds and decided to take the train back down so we could walk along the upper and lower circuits of the park.

Walking along the beautiful walkways and being able to see the 100's of other spectacular waterfalls which make up Iguazu Falls, in my opinion, is even more impressive than the Union Falls (Devil's Throat). We spent the next couple of hours exploring every nook and cranny of this place, taking countless photos and just chilling out in this tropical haven.

After some overpriced lunch in the park (we should have taken our own lunch I know!) we decided to catch a boat over to San Martin Island. Here we would be able to get some different views of the falls and, best of all, were able to take a wonderfully refreshing swim on the island's "beach" - very cool indeed! Because you have to pay to take the boat over here this island is also much quieter and less tourist-laden than the rest of the park.

It was then time for the more adventurous part of our excursion - A rubber duck boat ride which basically takes you underneath the San Martin waterfall and claims to be the largest waterfall that a motorboat can approach safely in the world. We also managed to get some great views of the Devil's Throat from the bottom this time, not to mention the fact that the driver of the boats mission is to get his passengers absolutely soaked! We had a bunch of very enthusiastic South Americans on our boat who, I can only assume, were chanting "soak us more, soak us more!" as the driver took us as close as he could to being underneath the falls where the spray was so strong you could not open your eyes! Although it's a little pricey at 150 pesos ( -R300) a pop (Argentina is very expensive if you haven't figured already!), I would highly recommend this to anyone who is lucky enough to make it out here.

Our day at the falls had sadly come to an end, but given that we'd pretty much spent three days worth of budget in a day, we were more than happy to head back to our hostel and chill by the free pool.

We decided to have a nice relaxing day at our hostel the next day. This pretty much involved working on our tan's again (to no avail I might add!), swimming, catching up on our blog and doing as little as possible really. We had arranged a transfer to Foz de Iguazu for 4pm that afternoon which would take us over the border into our final country in our South American travels, Brazil.

Here we would catch a 13 hour bus into the centre of the country to a place called Campo Grande where we would catch another 5 hour bus (yuk!) to a little tropical haven of a town called Bonito.

Think, snorkeling in crystal clear limestone lakes with hundreds of dorado fish around you; toucans and red and green macaws flying around everywhere; abseiling down into beautiful hidden caves to swim and dive...sounds amazing doesn't it? Check out our Bonito blog next to find out what happened!;-)
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Comments

Mom Julie on

Look forward to seeing you soon.Enjoy the rest of your trip.

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