- BA – Puerto Iguazu
- Iguazu Falls Argentinian Side
- Crossing the border to Brazil
I landed in Iguazu at 3.30pm, picked up my luggage and made my way to the bus stop for a shuttle service to the main city. The hostel wasn’t far from the bus terminal but I was shocked by how small the room was. The staff however, were very greeting.
I dumped my stuff and got changed immediately as Puerto Iguazu was 30 degrees and a million % humidity, being in the rainforest. With flip flops and shorts on, I head to the supermarket and town although very little was actually happening about the place (as had been frequently mentioned on reviews of Puerto Iguazu).
No one at the hostel appeared to be a native English speaker and I don’t think I said more than 2 sentences to anyone that evening as the language barrier was a real problem. I was feeling quite lonely and it appeared to be shaping up to be an even lonelier Valentine’s Day the following day.
I did however, book my accommodation in Florianopolis and read some of my book so it was at least some time productively spent. The girls in my room were from Israel and could muster a short conversation in broken Spanish and English so at least I had some human contact that night!
The following morning I had been advised to wake up early, get one of the first buses out to las cataratas (the waterfalls) and get in the park before the tourists. I seemed to be 1 of 3 people up early in my hostel, so I head to the bus station on my own and luckily bumped in to two lovely, lovely English girls, Amelia and Lauren. They’d also come down with two Scottish guys, Connor and Ian, and an American girl, Frances, from their hostel. So it wasn’t to be a lonely V day for me afterall!
Before I begin, let me first tell you that no picture will do my day at Iguazu Falls justice, but I will try, along with the descriptions.
What wasn’t so forgiving was the weather. It really was a ‘Welcome to the rainforest’ kind of day. Humid and rain chucking it from the sky by the gallon, like God was crying real hard for me and my single life on the day which celebrates love (I’m only joking, boys are far too hard work for my liking!). But it wasn’t anything that a decent raincoat (£17 from lilliwhites) and some moisture-wicking gym kit (thank you Adidas) couldn’t deal with. After all, I spent half my life in a pool, I can deal with a spot of rain and I was in one of natures most unbelievable wonders.
The group I was with had pre-booked a rather expensive boat trip up to the waterfalls for first thing. I chose not to buy this with my entrance fee and instead walked the 1.5km “lower circuit” of the Iguazu National Park which incorporated some of the smaller falls and a panoramic view of the main falls – the Devil’s Throat and the rest of the Argentine Falls.
The views were spectacular and certainly something to marvel at. With the birds of prey soaring through the rain clouds and the mist of water rising from the pool at the base of the water, it was like a fairy land which should be home to unicorns, fauns (is that what Mr Tumnus is, because that’s what I mean here) and other mythical creatures. And all I could do was stand back and admire its beauty.
Once I finally drew myself away from the lost land of the fairies and came back to reality, I continued the trail to the base of one of the larger falls. From here the trail ran run under the water spray so that you could get a picture in the water and soak yourself through to your skin whilst doing so!
I still had some time to kill before their boat trip finished so I leisurely wondered down towards their docking station. Along this walkway, I found a completely secluded spot which looked out on the Falls. It was just me and a Brazilian guy there (happy V day) so we marvelled at this very intimate view and took it in turns to take our pictures at this spot.
Proceeding down the walk a little further, I sat down on the perfect boulder. It looked out across the entire river, up to the Devil’s Throat and across to the part of the Falls I had just visited. Here, I sat and ate lunch and enjoyed my secret find for 20 minutes until the group eventually came up the path to join me. They were as soaked as I was and the rain had become more relentless so we took to embracing it and off we went to continue the day.
The next natural activity was to walk the ‘Upper Circuit’. This time a 3km round-trip which took us on top of the falls we’d just seen below. Along this walk, I really got to know the rest of the group. Connor worked for Adidas in Germany, in their sustainability section, and had lots to talk to me about since our research interestests and academic backgrounds were so similar. Ian worked in sports marketing; Frances was an English teacher; and the girls had just graduated from Sheffield and Leeds.
From above, it was incredible how much water was shooting across the cliff of the rock when the river seemed so calm in the lead up to the drop. We spotted crocodiles and fish swimming upstream (salmon?) and the rain even stopped for a short while which allowed my gym clothes to work their magic. Work, they did. But not until after I’d eventually decided to put my hood up, sending the pool of water which had collected in it to rush down my back!
We stopped for a spot of lunch and coffee upon completion of this circuit before getting on the train up to the Devil’s Throat i.e. the main attraction of Iguazu Falls. From the Argentine side, you can view the Devil’s Throat from above, literally walking on a bridge built across on of the cliff faces under which the water falls. From the Brazilian side, you can view the Devil’s Throat from its base, with the whole panoramic view available. Just 20% of the park sits on the Brazilian side of the border but they get one of the best views.
With all that in mind, I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing when we got to the end of that walkway. I was first stunned by how on earth they had built the bridges in the first place, and then how many people were likely to have died in the process. But if just one thing in your life is going to make you believe in a deity, this is it.
Considering the rainy day, the clouds formed a deep mist from above the water whilst the Falls caused a giant mist to rise from below. The water itself just seemed to disappear in to the water equivalent of a black hole and a real sense of the unknown lay below our feet. Everywhere was white, other than the water. The spray would build until it was taller than the river height and then blow across on to the tourists, die back down and build again. And the weather helped set this pathetic fallacy, given the impression you were almost inside the waterfall. It was surreal, unreal and extraordinary (and a whole lot scary!).
After about half an hour of the 6 of us simply ogling at what we were on top of, we did draw ourselves away and back on the train to the park exit and then the bus towards Puerto Iguazu. What a day it had been. I agreed to meet back with Connor, Ian and Frances in a few hours so that we could get dinner, whilst I said goodbye to Lauren and Amelia as they were crossing the border that evening.
After a short rest, catch up with the girls, and a spot of Bitmoji entertainment with Jordan, I had a warm shower and put on some dry clothes. At 7pm, I re-met the group and we ended up (although not much choice) at ‘Colour’; a local restaurant with almost anything available on the menu. Since it was Valentine’s Day and we’d had such an incredible experience, we splashed out. Connor and I chose the local fish (Iron-made Pacu) and the other two shared an Argentinian meat-taster for 2. We accompanied this with the finest bottle of Malbec (the £8 cheap and cheerful bottle) and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.
I really felt like I’d had the most perfect single, and yet somehow romantic, Valentine’s Day.
Fast forward 12-hours and post-breakfast and check-out, I returned to the same bus station. This time paying $20Pesos for a public bus to cross the border and enter Brazil. The exit of Argentina was simple and the bus stayed waiting with our luggage. The entry to Brazil was also relatively simple however, we had to take off all our things and then wait for the next bus to come through to actually make it to Foz du Iguacu city. Simple enough however some poor souls didn’t take their luggage and were left concerned and hurriedly finding taxis to chase after the bus!
There was some confusion about how to actually get to the Foz intercity bus station but luckily I wasn’t the only person headed that way. I jumped in a cab with two other travellers from a city bus stop to the bus station, exchanged my ticket for the bus and then set up camp for my 2 hour wait until the bus came.
The bus itself was fabulous! I’d only paid for 2nd class (semi-leito) but the seats were so luxurious, with oodles of leg room, leg rests and almost full recline. Perfect for overnight and certainly putting New Zealand and Australia coaches to shame!
And so, 107 days in to ‘life from a bag’ and now in to my fourth country. I have seen one of the wonders of the world, had the most perfect Valentine’s Day and have XXL bites around my ankles from the mosquitoes in the rainforest. All is swell and I am well and truly excited for a beach in Florianopolis. Brazil, here we go!