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Iguazu Falls

By marksams, 02/05/2011 - 00:00

High up on the list of places to visit in South America is the famous Iguazu Falls. You can visit these majestic waterfalls from either Brazil or Argentina and we decided on the latter for a few reasons: the main one being that we had heard you got a better view from the Argentina side.
And so we arrived in Puerto Iguazu one sunny afternoon, found a place to stay and set to planning our full day out the next day to Iguazu Falls. It was all very easy really. There were regular buses from Puerto Iguazu to the Falls (or Cataratas as they are called in Spanish), quite cheap too, that just drop you off at the ‘door’. Very stress-free.
We paid our Arg$100 entrance fee each to get into the National Park and then started the walk to the waterfalls. Fortunately there is a shuttle that you can hop on to take you up to the very top if you are pushed for time. We had an idyllic picture in our minds of a modern high-tech monorail, and were disappointed to find an old battered train full to brimming of other tourists – mainly South American ones. Oh well. It was still better than walking in the midday heat. The train dropped us off at the top of the falls, and then we had to walk for about forty-five minutes across man-made bridges and walkways crossing the river, until we really did arrive at the top of the Cataratas. You could feel the spray before you reached the edge. We were going to get very wet for this one! Garganta del Diablo is the largest section of the Iguazu Falls and translates as ‘The Devil’s Throat’ which just about sums it up. We learned that in terms of surface water gushing over the edge of the falls, Iguazu is more than twice the size of Niagara Falls. We stayed up there for a bit getting soaked (quite a nice way to cool down in the heat really) and taking photos, and just watched in awe as the water crashed down the rocks. Awesome.
From here, we walked back across the walkways to catch a train to our next stop. We had bought a ticket each for a boat trip, but had to get down to the boarding area first which was another long walk after the train dropped us off somewhere in the middle of the park. It was a nice walk and we were surprised to see quite a bit of wildlife (we had thought that maybe all the wildlife would have been scared off by the hundreds of tourists, but it seemed that some had adapted to the noise and were happily playing in the trees, whilst others used the tourists as a source of food (even though the signs say do not feed the wild animals!). As we neared the landing stage to catch our boat trip, the heavens opened and it absolutely poured it down. A bit like a recreation of the cataratas. We got absolutely drenched. We weren’t too bothered at first as we knew that we were going to get wet on the boat trip too, but then as it didn’t let up we started to get cold too and almost turned around to go home skipping the boat trip altogether! We were glad that we didn’t. In time, the rain stopped, but there was no time for us to dry out. We were handed a life jacket, given a large waterproof bag to put our belongings in (camera etc) and escorted onto the next boat for 15 minutes of fast-paced water action. Talk about an adrenalin rush. We were driven high speed right up the cataratas given enough time to take photos (we’d packed our camera away though to keep dry as it wasn’t waterproof, but a few people had waterproof cameras and were snapping away), then we were driven into (yes, into) and under (yes, under) the crashing falls. It was the most powerful shower I have ever had! The water is coming down on you so strong that you can’t open your eyes for the most part, but I was still managing to laugh hysterically like a hyena. It was brill. The novelty didn’t wear off as the boat driver whizzed us out and then back in for a few more dunkings over and over, under various waterfalls (Garganta del Diablo included) until the whole boat was rocking with laughter. After all the excitement, albeit short-lived excitement, we headed back to land to calm down.
With this as our highlight, we walked back (dripping wet) to the main entrance of the National Park to catch the next bus home. I can only assume that the bus drivers are used to people getting on dripping wet as they did well not to flutter an eyelid at us as we boarded and handed over our return ticket. Once back at the hostel it was hot shower and clean clothes time, before heading out for a bite to eat for dinner, where we recounted our day out over food.