Blown away by Iguazu Falls

Published: March 22nd 2013
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El Calafate to Iguazu

El CalafatePuerto IguazuFoz do Iguacu

The Iguazu river borders 3 countries – Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. The falls themselves can be viewed from both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides and it is recommended to see them from both to complete the full picture of their wonderment. These are regarded as one of the most amazing falls in the world and I’ve read and heard only Victoria Falls in Africa can rival them. I’ve seen Niagara Falls so I was looking forward to comparing Iguazu with those. US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt once did and exclaimed 'Poor Niagara!'.

First things first, I needed to obtain my visa for Brazil which I applied for at the Brazilian embassy in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina. It was a fairly painless process and took only 24 hours to come through. This is the quickest place to obtain one as other cities take up to a week and more than that if applying in Australia.

I spent a day and half on the Argentinian side of the falls first. Here you can get up close and personal with the falls as there are some 150-300 separate falls depending on the water level. The most impressive section is Garganta del Diablo, or Devil’s Throat in English. It is around 80 metres high and half the total water flows through here. The sheer volume of water disappearing over the falls is mind-boggling. It is funnily quite a soothing experience watching the falls and looking away is a difficult thing to do. This place is definitely a wonder of the world and a must-see if you find yourself in South America one day.

I also had fun in a speed boat which powers up close to the falls for that full immersion experience - meaning everyone gets completely drenched. The weather was so hot in the jungle though that it was a welcome relief. The Argentinians certainly loved it. Lots of shouting, cheering and clapping came from every boat that drove up into the falls. There was not so much cheering during the 40 minute wait to get on the boat. There were a lot of sneaky people pushing past the line using the classic manoeuvre of pretending the other members of their party were up further. It became a little annoying after a while.

Being in the jungle, it was also a good place to see some wildlife. I spotted a
Cayman (crocodile cousin), various butterflies, birds and lizards, and the Coati. Coatis are kind of a cross between a monkey, a possum, a cat and a thief, sporting long-snouts and tails. The Coatis in Iguazu are very much accustomed to people and are quite often seen sneaking up on unsuspecting tourists or springing onto tables and snatching sandwiches.

After seeing everything there was to see in Iguazu Argentina I hopped on a bus for the short ride across the border into Brazil. It was a local bus so they don’t wait for you to get your passport stamped; you just wait for the next one. I spent half a day on the Brazilian side of the falls as there is not as much ground to cover as in Argentina. While the Argentinian side allows you to get close to the falls, the Brazilian side gives an overall panoramic perspective. You can still get close enough to the falls to receive a drenching though. After completing the picture of Iguazu Falls, it was time to catch a flight to Rio for Carnival. The highlights just keep rolling.

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