Published: April 26th 2012March 10th 2012
Our bus from Floripa left us on the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls. The hostel we booked was on the Argentinian side, and we soon found out the process of crossing from one side to the other was not a quick one. Somehow we struggled to find the bus stop where the transfer would pick us up. After wandering around for a half hour with our front and back packs on we found it, directly across the street from the bus terminal. Once we arrived to the Brazilian border, we had to get off the bus to receive our exit stamps. After waiting through the line, we had to wait for another transfer bus to pass in order to continue. During this moment I found that I´d lost the ticket stubs and we had to pay again. After next to no sleep from the bus journey, Chloe was pretty tired and in turn, upset that I had been so careless to lose the $2 tickets. I was pretty tired too, and probably didn´t react or respond very kindly to her scolding. Regardless, we caught the next bus and continued in silence. Life on the road ain´t always so smooth and carefree!
It seemed that as soon as we boarded, we had to get off again, this time for the Argentinian customs. We got stamped and fortunately did not have to wait for another bus as it was still there waiting for everyone. By 10 am we reached the bus station and soon there after, our hostel, 2 hours after arriving to the Iguazu area. Once we checked in and put our stuff down, we debated on what to do for the day, as we only had 2 nights booked. After weighing the options presented to us by the very helpful staff, we decided to head back to Brazil to see their perspective of the falls and save the following full day to explore the Argentinian side.
Luckily, we didn´t have to follow the same route as how we´d arrived; there was a direct bus to the Brazilian falls that handled all the passports and customs crossings themselves. Regardless, with a bus load of tourists, the crossing itself took us an hour and we arrived to the Brazilian falls by 2 pm. With much anticipation we began walking the paved trail, listening to the loud roar of the water and dreading
the intense humid heat that characterized the region. As Iguazu Falls covers almost 3 kilometers in length, with around 275 separate waterfalls (depending on the water level), many of the falls we saw were beautiful, but didn´t impress us with an overwhelming volume of water. We stopped quite a few times to check out different sets of waterfalls, and take pictures of the numerous colorful butterflies or coati, a rocoon-anteater type animal. Towards the end of the trail we began to see the impressive nature that we had originally anticipated. Somehow they had engineered a steel grate path with concrete pylons supporting it all the way to the edge of a set of falls, with another set above that had such a volume of water crashing down that one´s clothes were soaked in minutes by the backspray created. From the end of the trail one could see the massive Garganta del Diablo in the distance, clouded by its own ¨mist¨. Since Argentina has exclusive rights to access the Devil´s Throat, we´d have to wait until the next day to get a closer look. At the moment though, we were pretty blown away by the quantity of water coming down all
around us. After relishing the natural beauty of the place, and getting somewhat cooled off by the mist, we hopped back on the park bus that transferred us to the visitor center. We waited for a bit and caught the last bus back to Argentina. After crossing the border for the third time that day, I´m surprised we weren´t taken aside and questioned for trafficking. Once we arrived back in Argentina we went about our normal routine of food shopping and cooking dinner. Of course, as it was routine, during our walk from the bus terminal I caught Chloe as she slipped down a stair (there were only 2 in this set). She gets so caught up in what´s going on around her (a store window this time) that she forgets to look in front of herself. Good thing I´m around though! After a good dinner we headed to bed in our 4 bed dorm with air conditioning. Thank goodness for the a/c; not only since it stayed swealtering hot outside, but also because a girl in the room was a chain smoker and all her stuff reaked of stale smoke. The a/c helped tone down the intensity of the
gross smell to a point so we could rest.
The following morning we ate breakfast and walked to the terminal to catch a bus to the Argentinian falls. Once inside the park, there were a maze of trails to choose from, all giving a different perspective on the various falls. We started from the lower set and worked our way up to the Garganta del Diablo. Right off the bat, we could tell the Argentine side was going to be more interesting and spectacular. Much of the trail system skirted alongside the cliffs and over the river water. With trails both below and level with the waterfalls, one was really able to appreciate the endless cascades from all angles. They even offered a short boat tour that would take you to the base of an enormous one so you could be sure to fully cover every perspective, but $40 for a 15 minute ride didn´t fit our budget. We carried along, completely content with big smiles plastered on our faces, aweing at the natural beauty we were walking through. Along the way we encountered more colorful butterflies, familes of coatis, 3 foot lizards, ginormous ants, and various species of
birds. We stopped and ate our packed lunch at a shaded bench where we had a panoramic view of innumerable waterfalls surrounded by dense green lush forest. For the umpteenth time we thought ¨Wow, we are really living it up; life is amazing!¨ After we finished the lower and middle paths we headed to the upper trail that led to the Garganta del Diablo. We had the option to catch a tiny put-put train that reminded me of the one in the Berkeley hills that I rode when I was a child. As we would find out later, we could walk the foot path in the same time it took the mini train and sweat the same amount, as they packed the 4 person cars with 6 people. After the train ride, we began the steel grate path over the calm plain of water that led to the various falls. However, the thundering sound coming from the Garganta del Diablo grew ever louder, letting you know the calm wouldn´t last. As we passed through some trees on a mini island, the view cleared to reveal the river dropping away and a giant mist arising from the void. The path led
right to the edge of the largest waterfall in the world, at 82 meters high, 150 meters wide, and 700 meters long, averaging 1,750 cubic meters/second. The backspray creates a 150 meter high mist that travels 300 meters downriver. The feeling of being on the edge of this natural spectacle cannot be captured by words or pictures; it is simply breathtaking and awe inspiring. Chloe at a point became a little emotional, as the soul inspiring location reminded her of her Argentine grandfather, Papa Guillermo, who she´d come with to this place years ago. I took notice of a new father with his baby on his back, sipping on a beer and taking in the sights and thought of Hunter and Miranda with their daughter in the making, and how they could still travel to these amazing wonders even with a child! We spent a half hour taking in the sights and feelings before it got too packed with people and we started the walk back. By 7 pm we arrived back to the hostel, still in awe at the beauty we saw throughout the day.
For dinner I cooked up some sauteed veggies and chimmichurri chicken that I
had marinating for a day. This is far from customary, as Argentines only use chimmichurri as a garnish, and consider it verboden to marinate or put dry chimmichurri directly on the meat. But I like to think out of the box, and the chicken turned out amazing, to the approval of many of the guests who turned up in the kitchen and asked what smelled so good. After dinner we read and wrote respectively before heading to bed. At some point as I was getting ready for bed, Chloe called me over in a very worred tone. There was a very cute baby gecko on the wall above the headboard and Chloe said there was no way she could sleep knowing it was there. I tried to explain that it was harmless and would actually help her by catching spiders and other unwanted insects but she had her mind set. So I shoed away the gecko who scampered up the wall to a hole in the plaster ceiling. Again, how are we going to survive the Amazon?! Now with the evil gecko gone, Chloe was able to rest in peace, and I followed suit.
Our last day, we decided
not to go back to the park and pay the entrance fee, as we felt we already got the experiences and sights we needed. Our bus to Buenos Aires didn´t leave until the evening though, and as the tempereature rose to 38 degrees, we tried to stay out of the sun and sweat as little as possible. I caught up a little on the blog as Chloe read, and we relaxed for the day until the evening. By this point, we´d got our system down for long bus rides. The dinner always sucks on board so we cook something up beforehand and bring it on in tupperwear. Many times if the bus didn´t serve booze we´d bring a bottle of wine to share and help put us to sleep. For our upcoming two leg journey to Bariloche, Argentina, we ´d booked first class seats, with a night in a hostel in Buenos Aires to break up the trip and stretch our legs for a day. With first class, you get a 180 degree reclining seat, private cubby with personalized movie choices, dinner, wine, and a champange or whiskey nightcap. Needless to say, it is totally worth the extra $25! So,
as we had everything set up to be as smooth and comfortable as possible, we began our 42 hour bus journey to Bariloche, a town in the lake district of the Andes, where chocolate, pastries, parrillas, and amazing big mountain hiking awaited us in ample quantities.
There are more photos below