Iguazu Falls, only second to Niagara in volume of water but for me the best waterfall in the world. Victoria Falls is a close second but this beast blew me away. We arrived into Foz do Iguazu, the town that is on the Brazilian side of the border after a nineteen hour overnight bus. We got here from Florianopolis arriving around 11am and we were shattered! We managed to jump on two local buses and smoothly found our hostel for the night, Bambu Hostel. It was a great place and the staff were bang on. We new we had to shake ourselves because we had just the afternoon to explore the mighty Iguazu Falls from the Brazil side of the National Park. Ok, fuel stop needed so we headed to the local supermarket only one block away and it was awesome. The dining hall there offered a buffet for only R$20 per kilo! I piled high my plate for £2. It was a luxury to the usual banana sandwiches! The bus stop to the falls was opposite so we jumped on for the 30 minute ride. It is proper touristy and quite a commercial setup at the national park but it is still beautifully green and we were in for a treat of white water.
Iguazu Falls – Never Ending
We rode the national park bus from the entrance and got dropped at the start of the walking trails that run riverside all the way until the mighty face of the falls. We headed down through the forest and seen the massive falls. They were bursting through numerous cracks in the rock face, it was a mesmerising sight, dozens of almighty white cascades. They were quite far away but as we walked we couldn’t believe that they just kept on going, the width of the falls is unreal, it is hard to grasp how far they keep toppling over the plateau. It is an astonishing 2.7 km wide, thats a hefty river eh! It was fantastic to be able to get super panoramic views, you just couldn’t take it all in otherwise, superb.
As everyone takes in the sight of one the wonders of the world, away from any city, and quite at ease in regards to security, there is a lurking shadow watching your every move. We were checking out the falls, a young couple beside us, taking photos of each other and their backpack just beside their feet. All of a sudden it was smash and grab. Two little critters, what most people would like to Racoons dive bombed head first into the bag and with seconds had thrown all of its contents out for its pals to clean up and do a runner! They are called Coatis and clever little beggars! It was well impressive and the girlfriend wasn’t to impressed with her boyfriend either, especially as all the tourists are taking pictures of them getting ransacked! It was quite funny though! The Coatis have an immense sense of smell, food is sniffed out from miles away!
Walking on Water
The Brazilians have built an ace walkway on top of the river at the base of the falls right in front of the almighty Devils Throat. It is brilliant but you get absolutely soaked. The spray from the falls is unforgiving and it is like having a shower! The camera had to be looked after here but we still got some wicked pics. It was so cool to be right there, in the torrent of water, just safely hovering about a meter above the water. The noise is deafening too, the power, rage and ferocity of Iguazu Falls is second to none.
To Argentina and Puerto Iguazu
So after an impressive afternoon yesterday on the Brazilian side it was time to cross the border and check out the raved about Argentinian side. First we checked into our new hostel, called Timbo. They are lovely people here but we had our first bed bug run in! Luckily I have plenty of experience with these guys and know where to find them. The other guys in the room said there was a problem with our bunk beds so I got the torch out. There was tons of dead ones but I know they are really hard to wipe out and I found one lurking in the actually cracks of the wall. It worked out well, we got a free upgrade to a private room and stayed for three nights in there too! Bed bug bonus, they are not always bad, ha ha!
Black Market Currency – it’s Blue Dollar Time!
So the money thing in Argentina is a bit wacky. There is a black market in currency exchange and you can get an awesome exchange rate. The best way to do it is bring US Dollars in cash and exchange them. The normal rate at this moment is ARG$8 peso to the US Dollar. On the back market, which they call the “Blue Dollar”, the rate is ARG$11 peso to the US Dollar. That is a massive difference. So we went in track of dodgy guys on the street to do the money exchange. We heard in Buenos Aires it is easy, here was a different story. Because it is so close to the borders of Brazil and Paraguay foreign currency is a bit easier to get hold of, we were only getting offered ARG$9 peso to the US Dollar. We ask a few people and ended up going into an official money exchange shop. First he said the official rate, I looked at him and said “Blue Dollar?” He looked shadily into my eyes and said “How much?” When I said US$800 it took him a split second to say 9.5. I’ll take it, I weren’t going to get a better offer on the street!
Right, we were now fully loaded up with cash, ARG$7,500 peso to be exact, it was a right wad! Off to falls it was, on the bus again for about 30 minutes and upon arriving at the park entrance you could see you were in a different country. The Argentinian side seems a lot more organised and not over geared for tourists like the Brazil side. They have a mini train that gets you quickly around the park, although it is walkable we jump on the train. Choo chooing through the park we went to the start of a really impressive series of walkways over the mighty upper Iguazu River. We were on the river before it hit the falls and it was massive. There is so many little islands and the walkways link them all up until you eventually see clouds of rising water vapour. There they are, the wonderful falls but nothing could prepare me for the sheer sight that awaited. We got to the end of the walkways, the spray like dense light rain, soaking you at times. I walked to the fence and the sight in front of my eyes was breath taking. Shivers of emotion ran down my spine, wow what an amazing feeling. I couldn’t take in the view, the power, the size, the volume of water pounding in a complete loop mode, the water just kept on coming. The falls kept going sideways too, there was just a huge fall of water right across the plateau, and right in front of my eyes. I likened it at the time to a movie, a big screen playing in front of me, an Indiana Jones epic.
We Want More!
The day got better and better, following trails and trails leading to so many different waterfalls. The views were brilliant and the tourists became less. We saved our final close encounter with the mighty falls to the very last, a jet boat trip under the falling walls of water. It was quite a sight, the boats engine revving away, fighting against the almighty currents, the spray hitting you in the face and then full throttle! We headed into the actual falls. It was blinding, i was trying to protect my eyes just to stair straight into the face of it but it was near impossible. The power and sound was crazy. We went under two sections several times, we were soaked but the buzz was brilliant. The falls got the better of me, next time I need some goggles!
The Triple Frontier
After fantastic adventure with Iguazu Falls we spent our final day relaxing and taking an easy walk to the Triple Frontier. This is where you can stand and see all three bordering countries from one spot. We were standing in Argentina and looking across the Iguazu River to Brazil and then across the mighty Parana River where Paraguay lies. It was a beautiful day, but roasting hot. We stretched our budget to a litre of the best beer i have tasted yet, Patagonia Beer. It was ice cold and our table came with the views to all three countries too. A good finish and a perfect place to reflect on our Iguazu Falls encounters.