Published: March 13th 2008March 13th 2008
Dear "avid readers",
I apologise in advance as the length of this piece shall be somewhat restricted due to time and memory constraints, and the fact it centres mainly around seeing a large set of waterfalls, which though impressive, I quote, "Oh poor Niagra" (Eleanor Roosevelt), they will probably be self explanatory via the photos.
As the falls lie on the border of both Argentina and Brazil, it is recommended to view the falls from both countries, Brazil for the panoramic oversight, and Argentina for the up close and personal approach.
Our first port of call was Foz Do Iguacu, a relatively large town on the Brazillian border. Whilst here we stayed in Hostel Bambu which went down a storm with us as a result of its facilities and approach. It boasts a swimming pool, pool table, pro evolution on the PS2 and most impressively a mechanical can-crusher for recycling pursposes: endless fun and an excuse alone to get on the cerveja's. It also had a lax attitude towards payment, a tab method, which when combined with a 24 hour open bar could only lead to one thing: drunken jumping into the swimming pool whilst trying to simultaneously
catch and open a can of beer mid-air, a game we played with fellow hostel goers and Lisa and Martyn, the couple we met up with in Ilha Grande. I hasten to add I was not successful at this.
So, to the falls. After a near scare on a bus which headed perilously off route and towards Paraguay, we arrived at the Brazillian side of the falls. We were greeted by an enthusiastic worker who asked where we were from: "Inglaterra? God Save the Queen!", was his response. Ahh, patriotism.
The falls themselves received their name from the Guarani Indian word meaning 'great waters´, and I am not one to argue with this, they are both vast in size and 'Tony the Tiger' Grrrrrreat. The above Parana river splits into 275 different falls which splash down with some venom making muchos racket all around. The tallest fall (named Devil´s throat) stands at 1 and a half times the height of Niagra Falls, and from the Brazillian side you walk along a path facing head on, and get wet. The panoramic view was very enjoyable indeed and after walking around, taking things in and snapping away for a few
The Devil´s Mouth
The largest fall, again seen from Brazil
hours we headed back to the hostel.
After a trip up to the Pantanal, we went back to what felt like our home from home, Argentina, to Puerto Iguazu, a much smaller town on the other side of the border, to sample the Argentinian side of the falls. I say home from home as it was back to the gargantuan steaks, the slightly more comprehendable Spanish and cheap empanadas for which we had a particular craving. Again the hostel had a pool, though it was a quieter hostel, and had a male owner with a female body.
If in competition with Brazil, and I suspect they probably are, the Argentine´s can be proud of their side of the falls, which cover much more land, and allow for more varied and arguably more spectacular views. The downside of this was that it was incredibly touristic, thousands attend the falls each day, and without being snobbish as I am one myself, many tourists are annoying, asking guides (who needs a guide to see a waterfall?) loud inappropriate "just to check I´m right about this" questions.
Off the soap box and onto the falls, overlooking the Devil's Mouth was probably
the clearest view from this side, from where you witness the water being plunged down into the spray below. Due to cost we decided we would do our falls activities in Argentina, so we boarded a speedboat which fearlessly powered us straight into the falls, luckily with a "put your camera away you might get a little wet" warning beforehand, and we were sodden. It was incredible how much what seemed like mere spray could soak a person. We also saw a few rainbows pop up here and there, as well as some more interesting wildlife, as the falls themselves are the main attraction of a huge national park.
We left Puerto for Salta where I am currently, though not without surviving a few scares from Argentinan bus drivers who prefer not to check if people are back on board after stops before setting off at 100mph.
Hope you like the falls!
There are more photos below