Published: July 17th 2012July 19th 2012
The word iguacu means "Big Waters" in the Guarani and Tupi language, and one's first look at the magnificent Iguacu Falls
reveals why these waterfalls retained the name given to them by the natives of the area. Straddling the border between Argentina and Brazil, the Rio Iguacu roars over the edge of the Parana Plateau in 275 breathtaking waterfalls that stretch like a curtain over nearly 3 kilometers of river. It was one of the most stunning sights I have ever seen, rivalled only by the Grand Canyon in sheer natural splendor. I will let the photos tell most of the story for this post, since words cannot possibly do the falls justice.
We flew into Foz do Iguacu, a city of about 350,000 people on the Brazilian side of the border, and met our friend Eric at the airport. From there, we took one of the local buses into the city for less than $2 (US) a person. The falls are about 25 km away from the city, and frequent (though crowded) buses take you to the entrance to the national park for about 3 reis ($1.40 US) a person. We stayed in a hostel called Katharina House
that I highly recommend, as the staff were both friendly and helpful and the outdoor patio area has a great ambience. I particularly liked our private room, complete with a lava lamp and a tiger-striped fleece bed cover. I think it must have been the "honeymoon suite", retro-style!
A good way to see the Falls is the spend one full day in the Parque Nacional de Iguazu on the Argentinian side of the border, and then a half-day in the national park on the Brazilian side. The hostel arranged bus transport, border crossing, and park entrance fees for us in one complete package for the Argentina side, which made it much more enjoyable to head over there for the day. If you are coming from Argentina, you can stay in Puerto Iguazu, the border town on the Argentina side. Regardless of where you stary, though, the Falls definitely deserve 2 days. The Argentinian park boasts 3 separate trails of steel catwalks that allow you to stand on the precipice of the falls, which affors a unique perspective that you don't get on the Brazilian side. There is nothing like standing on top of the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat falls) and watch 2,000 cubic feet of water per second rushing underneath you! Another plus of the Argentinian park is that it is full of wildlife (the Brazilian side makes you pay extra to go into the forest) and you can see caiman, coatis (like South American racoons), capuchin monkeys, toucans, and tons of birds. Put wildlife and stunning waterfalls together with friends and you have the recipe for a day to remember all your life!
After our amazing first day at Iguacu Falls, we weren't sure if the Brazilian side could possibly compare. I'm happy to say, however, that it is different and also worth the $25 (US) entry fee. The Brazilian park offers a better panoramic view of the falls, since the majority (70%) of them are on the Argentina side of the river. There is also a nice restaurant with a patio where you can sit and watch the river flow by before it falls over the cliffs. We spent a couple hours taking dozens more pictures - to the point where I had to buy a new memory card - before heading back to Foz do Iguacu to catch our bus to Campo Grande. Next stop, the Pantanal!