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Published: October 12th 2007
After leaving Uruguay we crossed the border into Argentina and made our way to the city of Paraná - capital of its province and a handy enough place to stop. We spent a few days there sorting out our onward travel plans and enjoying the plentiful cheap steak. We also took in the city of Santa Fé across the river. It is a pleasant place to stroll for an afternoon, but after you have seen the museum and the old convent, you realise you have seen the highlights.
Anyway, the main reason we were in the area was to visit the truly amazing Iguazu Falls to the north. After an overnight bus (I now know what I had previously only suspected - 15 hours is a long time to sit on a bus non-stop) we arrived at the pleasant town of Puerto Iguazú. The first day was spent just enjoying the town and basking in the tropical heat (one thermometer I saw said that it was 44 degrees celsius, although this may have been a slight exaggeration). We visited Tres Fronteras, which is an excellent look out point from where you can see the Parana and Iguazú rivers as well
San Martìn Falls
The second largest Falls at Iguazu
as Paraguay to the left and Brazil to the right.
The next day we went to Iguazú Falls. Of course there is not just one waterfall here, but a series of them, spread out over a few kilometres. The biggest is called "Garganta del Diablo" (the Devil’s Throat). This is quite a spectacle - after walking on walkways over fairly calm waters, you suddenly emerge at a platform directly overlooking "the throat". It is impossible to see the falling water hitting the water below as the impact creates a huge amount of spray, giving the view an almost mystical feel. The other falls are equally fascinating and lots of our time was spent just staring at the water, wondering where it could all be coming from.
From the "Inferior" (in the Spanish, not English language sense) circuit, we caught a boat over to the island of San Martín. On the island there is a nice beach for relaxing, whilst paths lead up through the island forest and to look-out points giving especially good views of the San Martín waterfall (2nd biggest at Iguazu).
The Falls are located in a National Park, and so on the second day
we walked the Macuco trail which leads through the tropical forest. This was a great trek, giving us a close-up view of the flora and fauna of the park. Unfortunately we did not bump into a puma but I think that on reflection this was probably not a bad thing. At the end of the trail is the Arrechea waterfall feeding a small pool which is the only place in the park you are meant to bathe at. Barry jumped in to enjoy the water a minute before a very large group of school kids arrived. Warning - school groups like Iguazú!
As our final homage to the waterfalls we decided (against the wishes of our daily budget!) to take a boat ride into the falls. The motorized dinghy holds about 30 people and offers a thrilling perspective of the falls. In some 12 minutes you are taken into the spray of the 2 biggest falls and get absolutely drenched. Great fun!
On our third day we took a trip to the Brazilian side of the Falls which can be seen in my next blog. However, if you are coming to the Iguazú Falls area, I would definitely
recommend basing yourself at the Argentine side. We enjoyed our time at Residencial Uno (with its own much-needed swimming pool) and had a chance to meet other travellers ("hello" to Megan and Dave if you read this!).
Before going to Iguazú Falls I was worried that I had read and seen too much about them to be able to appreciate them. Surely, if you have seen the photos and read the books you are going to turn up and think "yep, seen it already". I was wrong. The falls truly are spectacular and because they are situated in a national park you are provided with many kilometres of trails from which to enjoy the view. As the guidebooks like to say "highly recommended", and I really mean that!
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