Iguazu falls.. Not the widest, biggest, or highest falls.. But supposedly one of the most beautiful ones. Well, we were going to be able to judge this with our own eyes.
Stephen had booked the Sheraton Iguazu on hotel points. It hadn't been 'cheap', but it was the one single hotel that is actually in the natural park, so we figured it'd be worth it. The town Puerto Iguazu is a 30 mins drive away, and the park closes well before sunset.
Oh, and was most definitely worth it! I couldn't stop smiling when we walked into the hotel, and already had a direct view on the falls. Our room (okay, suite) on the 3rd floor gave us an even better view, and, to add to the joy, had a bottle of champagne and a platter of cakes and sweets waiting for us.
The weather forecast had promised nothing but rain (which, in a rain forest, I guess can happen..), but even the weather was playing along in the perfect picture. Okay, no actual sun, but it was dry, and already hot enough without the sun, to be honest. So we decided to make the most of it,
and went for a hike along the falls. These hikes are no simple straight lines along the falls, but proper walks through the rain forest that provide a variety of beautiful views on the falls. When Eleanor Roosevelt visited Iguazu, she is said to have exclaimed 'poor Niagara!'. And indeed, even Stephen had to admit Niagara couldn't quite compete with the splendor of Iguazu.. There is this saying that the ions that radiate off a waterfall make people happy and smiley - well, it worked for us! It does get really hot and sweaty at some point though, so we were happy to be able to wander back to our hotel (it's just as if the park is its backyard.. how amazing..) and relax a bit at the pool.
...But we made sure to be back at our balcony in time for the sunset! In our bathrobes, with a glass of pink champagne in the hand, we watched a gorgeous sunset.. It was one of these moments, when everything is perfect, and I just felt so happy and fortunate!
Online reviews of the restaurant at the hotel had been not the greatest, but we figured we'd give it
a try. It was much easier, and saved us having to pay 25 USD for a cab over. Somehow we actually ended up having a really nice dinner there despite the reviews! Maybe it was the low expectation, the champagne we had had before, the fact that we had ordered 'easy' dishes, or maybe it just had gotten better.. Anyhow, the food was decent, and the live harp music was nice and romantic. Altogether a perfect day! We had considered to also visit the Brazilian side of the falls, which supposedly provides for better picture opportunities. However, Canadians need visas to enter Brazil. People do manage to cross without one, but it's a matter of luck - and we weren't quite willing to risk losing half a day. We thought about getting Stephen a visa, but it just didn't seem worth all the money of a car, visa, and park entry fee, given the time we had. So the good news was that we could take it somewhat easy on the 2nd day.
I was quite impressed by how well organised the park is. There are elevated walkways (against snakes) that make up several hiking paths, a free boat
taking you across the water to the nearby island, and a free train that takes you to hike towards 'the Devil's throat'. The Devil's throat is the view from right above the falls where the water tumbles down. All of these offer different, impressive views on the falls. Especially the views (and sounds) from the Devil's throat are simply breathtaking.. It had been a very sunny day so far, maybe a bit too hot, but we weren't going to complain. However, later that afternoon, it suddenly started to pour. No second nice sunset.. We stayed inside and had another dinner at our hotel - this time decidedly more average, as if it was adjusting to the overall atmosphere.
The next morning it was still pouring, the way it can in a rain forest, and I was getting a bit concerned about our flight back. The weather started to clear up a few hours later though, and we decided to ditch our books, and face the rain for the last thing on our wish list: a boat trip under the falls. Although the rain had almost completely stopped as soon as we got out, the park was pretty much empty,
so we could get to the boat quickly. It's a short, but intense trip, that takes you pretty much into the falls (2, or in our case, 3 times). Saying you get soaked would be an understatement. It really gives you a sense of the power of the falls, although obviously the boat doesn't even get all the way in. Quite an impressive experience..
After that boat trip, we had ticked all the boxes of our wish list, and quickly went back to our room to dry and get ready for our flight which - miraculously - left on time.
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