Early on in the planning stage, it was decided that we would go to see Iguazu Falls, even though, it meant a big detour from our next destination in Argentina – Salta. I had never seen waterfalls in my life, and also, as I found out – the Iguazu National Park apparently teemed with little furry animals called coatis. I heard of coatis about a year ago when Carl and I were watching a National Geogrpahic programme about these little fur balls, and I fell in love straight away. I was sold.
Iguazu Falls (or Cataratas de Iguazu in Spanish) are waterfalls of the Iguazu River on the border of Argentina and Brazil (It does not cease to amaze me that most of the borders between countries in South America, are natural landmarks like rivers or mountains, contrary to the Europe were all the countries have been going at wars and kept changing the borders). The falls divide the river into Upper and Lower Iguazu and most of the falls are on the Argentina side (lucky Argentinians – they get a lot of Brazilians travelling over to see their side of the falls). Numerous islands divide the falls into many separate falls of different heights and sizes with the largest one called Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo in Spanish). Safe to say, we were eager to see this natural wonder.
The falls surrounded by a luscious greenery
As mentioned in an earlier post, it took us 4 long days to travel from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu (the city near the falls) with temperatures rising every day as we entered the Misiones Province where the falls are located. It was interesting to see how the scenery changed to lush green over the days we spent on the road, as we entered the humid subtropical climate (with me being so close to an actual jungle for the first time in my life).
We were worried about finding a good place to stay in Puerto Iguazu, as it is one of those towns that is mostly visited only because of the falls and hotels there don’t always seem up to the highest standard. But prices can be higher than in other places as the poor tourists don’t have much choice if they want to see the falls. We heard all the usual rumours of basic accommodations, cockroaches in the rooms and smelly bathrooms, yikes!
After failing to secure a room in a funky looking hostel, we found a decent looking room via Booking.com in a place called ‘Posada La Alemana’ and booked it over the internet few minutes before rocking up to it’s doorstep, where we found an older lady in the reception. She did not speak any English, so it took us ages to explain to her that we have just booked a room over the internet. She had some 3 days old print outs on her desk and when we tried to point out that she needs to have a new print out and that would have our names on it, she looked at us in that confused way my granny does, when I try to explain to her that the mexican drama series she is watching are not REAL. (The old lady in the reception had a pre-historical mobile phone, so we were not quite sure if she knows how to use the computer). After ages of me struggling with Google Translate and us getting increasingly frustrated, a nice looking younger lady appeared from somewhere and sorted us out immediately. We were put in a decent size room with working air conditioning (something you learn to appreciate whilst travelling the hot areas of the country!), a fridge, basic interior, but everything seemed clean, there was working wifi and a good shower. (no cockroaches, phew!). We were also sorted out with motorcycle parking and a 3 day no riding time begun.
We got up early-ish the next day to get to the National Park. Falls are located 17km from the Puerto Iguazu and we rode there with a motorbike as that was the easiest option for us. There is a regular transport service provided to get people to the falls, or another option is to take a taxi. For more information, have a look here.
Buying tickets was straightforward – it costs $260 per person if you are a tourist, then the prices decrease depending if you are from the South America, Brazil, Misiones Province or a local, with the cheapest ticket being $30. The national park offers few adventures like an overland trip around the park and few adventures on the water. These are all easily booked once you are in the actual park and there are lots of lovely people explaining everything. We booked a Nautical Adventure, which was going out in a boat on the Lower Iguazu and then taking you under the actual falls in a high speed so you get all soaked from head to toes. The whole thing lasted approximately 12 minutes, but was good fun. We filmed the whole lot, so I will share it once Carl sorts all the videos out.
There is also a little train running between two stations for people who might want to sit down and take in the views, but we decided to skip on that one as we like to walk around and see as much we can see on our own terms.
Just as we approached one of the train stations, which was teeming with the people, to my delight, coatis appeared from the bushes, freely wandering between people’s legs and looking hopeful for some scraps of food. Although, coatis looked even cuter in real life than in the TV, they have long, long claws and ridiculously sharp teeth, and there were lots of warning signs around the park showing the damage coatis (and monkeys) can do, if humans try to feed them. I did manage to bravely stroke one, but only as it was running away from me, clearly disappointed that I was not giving it any food. If any of the coatis find any scrap of food, they all bolt to it and there is lots of fighting and screeching, and it is wiser not to get near it all.
Looking all cute and furry
But have a look at those long claws!
The warning signs around the park
After having a play with the coatis, we started one of the routes to the Upper Iguazu which took us around half an hour or so to get to the actual falls. There is lots to take in even without seeing the waterfalls as there are coatis and monkeys to see, and the place is full with butterflies of all colours and sizes. We also saw some huge ants, which did not make me feel very comfortable, few big lizards running about and some colourful birds.
Colourful birds above our heads
Trying to snap a picture of a massive butterfly
Once we finally reached the falls, it was absolutely spectacular – it was hard to get great photos, as there was a lot of mist and haze surrounding the falls, also, I am still only trying to figure out how my camera works. There are many viewing points and platforms where it is possible to stop and wonder at the amazing creations of the nature and take pictures to hearts content.
A tip – try to get to the falls as early as possible, as, firstly, it gets very hot during the lunchtime and the afternoon. Secondly, as it gets later in the day, more and more tourists appear (specially American and European) and it gets harder to walk in a normal pace on the tracks or take pictures without someone’s head in the shot.
We spent almost most of the day in the park taking pictures and seeing what there was to see, and it was certainly worth the admission price.
Following our visit to the falls, we decided to stay in the town an extra day (which was easily sorted with our nice hotel lady) as it was my birthday and I did not want to spend it riding in the hot weather, and it gave us some extra time to sort out some bike related things, catch up with writing blogs and updating the social media.
Over those few days we did explore the little town, but as it is common with towns near large tourist attractions there was not that much to see apart from the 3 Borders Landmark – a touristic site located in the downtown Puerto Iguazu where it is the confluence of Iguazu and Parana rivers, and standing on the coast you can see the Brazilian and Paraguayan coasts. Each cost has a landmark with an obelisk painted in each countries respective colours.
Brazilian coast on the right side, Paraguayan coast – on the left
4 days of no riding went by too quickly for my liking and in no time we had to get back on the bike and start our next long trip, this time to Salta, apparently known for the best empanadas in Argentina. If this is true, you will have to read in the next blog post.