A 1 hour 50 minute flight from Buenos Aires with LAN Argentina Airlines got us safely to Puerto Iguacu in the late morning. We had no trouble catching the bus, direct to our Hotel Garden Stone. The owners of the Hotel were very friendly and immediately went through suggestions on how to approach the day on the Argentine side of the Falls. We were also given a map of the Falls and the town.
The Hotel had a pool (cold water so no swimming for me!), outdoor kitchen, many hammocks and areas to sit in the garden. We had a private garden setting outside our room, which we used on several occasions.
We found some lunch and then walked around the town as well as finding the junction of the boundaries of the 3 countries, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay which was separated by the Rivers Iguacu and Parana. We also found a massive hotel for dining and we were the only people there. From this restaurant we had a fantastic view of the river border junction. We had a local beer which was wonderful as we had been
walking for at least 2 hours (!!!) and the weather was beautiful. This obviously wasn’t the high season for tourists which was really good in many ways. The retail and restaurant outlets were geared for 1000s of tourists in the high season which is from January to March the locals told us.
That night we had dinner at La Mamma on San Martin Avenue in the town. We had fresh, homemade pasta as we realised we hadn’t had any pasta since being in South America. We gave the chef lots of compliments and tipped him appropriately.
Just a note on tipping in South America: Argentina has been the country that expects tipping and in fact on one occasion, one of our group members didn’t give a bus porter a tip when the suitcase was loaded and he refused to put the bag in the bus. The 10% ‘service fee’ is the usual expectation plus any additional amount if you are really pleased with the service or meal. In Chile, tipping was optional but in restaurants the 10% rule applied. There was no expectation for tipping in Peru, Bolivia or
Ecuador but most of the time we did in restaurants. In Brazil there is an expectation for tipping similar to Argentina and they have a 5% VAT.
The next day (1 June) we caught the local bus out to the Falls on the Argentine side. The bus terminal was only 3 blocks away from our hotel. After a 20 minute ride we arrived at the entry of the Park and payed our 100 pesos for entry (local residents of Puerto Iguacu pay nothing and other Argentineans pay 40 pesos). We were provided with a really good map of the Park and right throughout the Park there were officials to help us if we wanted guidance on where to go...not that you could get lost in the Park.
The Iguazu Waterfall is a true wonder of nature and is heralded as the most beautiful waterfall in the world by many visitors. The waterfall is located right at the border of the countries of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
The waterfall itself is physically located in Argentina, but it is very common to also visit the
Brazilian side as well. We planned to visit the Brazil side on the day we flew to Rio, from the Foz Iguazu International Airport. The town of Foz do Iguaçu is about 20 kilometres away and the airport is in between the park and the town.
On the Argentinean side of the waterfall we walked right around the falling water, took a boat tour to the mouth of the waterfall, and explored the National Park next to the waterfall. On the Brazilian side it offered beautiful panoramic views and displays the full splendour of the wonder of the world.
On the Argentine side we first caught the Park’s Rainforest Ecological train to the Central Station and got to walk to the 1st viewing point. We walked on the Circuito Superior (Upper Circuit) which provided us with a 1 kilometre trail to view the Dos Hermanos, Bossetti, Ramirez, Chico and finally San Martin waterfalls, as they all plummet into the Rio Iguazu (Iguazu River) below. We just gaze at an endless stretch of falling water and its white foam as it exploded into the river.
We then walked passed a tower and walked to the Circuito Inferior (Lower Circuit) which is an 800 metre loop along a protected catwalk that is surrounded by spectacular views of the "Devil's Throat" and the magnificent waterfalls of Iguazu. We approach the falls at a close distance, for an unparalleled experience of a natural wonder. Tom and I were overwhelmed at what we were looking at. It was spectacular. We just stood there and took it all in.....and took lots of photos!
On the Lower Circuit was also the pier for us to catch the “Nautical Adventure” which was in a speed boat that took us for views from inside the Devil’s Throat Canyon and the wet close-up to the Argentine side as well as approaching the San Martin waterfall which is the 2nd largest waterfall.
We certainly got wet even though we had raincoats on. But to be close to the base of a power of water was an amazing experience.
We could also so San Martin Island which has walking tracks on it but because the water
was too high, no one was allowed to go on the island.
Other Information about the Falls, athough Iguazu is best known for their waterfalls, we found the surrounding jungle as well worth exploring. A plethora of animals and birds make their home in the lush vegetation around the Iguazu National Park. Several times we came across these cheeky, possum-like animals, the coatis. They constantly prowled around the cafes and restaurants throughout the Park for dropped food. We were warned not to feed them and to keep away from them as they think they own the place and your finger might just get in their way!!
The first European to find the falls was the Spanish Conquistador Alvar Nunez abeza de Vaca in 1541, after whom one of the falls on the Argentine side is named. The falls were rediscovered by Boselli at the end of the nineteenth century, and one of the Argentine falls is named after him.
The waterfall system consists of 275 falls along 2.7 kilometres of the Iguazu River. Some of the individual falls are up to 82 metres
in height, though the majority are about 64 metres. The Devil's Throat (Garganta del Diablo in Spanish or Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese), a U-shaped, 82-metre-high, 150-metre-wide and 700-metre-long cataract, is the most impressive of all, and marks the border between Argentina and Brazil. The Argentine side comprises three sections: the upper falls, the lower falls, and the Devil's Throat.
Two-thirds of the falls are within Argentine territory. About 900 metres of the 2.7-kilometer length does not have water flowing over it. The edge of the basalt cap recedes by 3 mm per year. The water of the lower Iguazu collects in a canyon that drains in the Parana River, a short distance downstream from the Itaipu Dam which has the biggest hydro electric system in the world. The junction of the water flows marks the border between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. There are points in the cities of Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, Puerto Iguazú, Argentina, and Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, which have access to the Iguazu River where the borders of all three countries can be seen. As I mentioned above, we only saw the junction from the Argentine side.
The falls are shared by the Iguazu National Park (Argentina) and Iguacu National Park (Brazil). The two parks were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1984 and 1987, respectively.
On the Brazilian side there is a long walkway along the canyon with an extension to the lower base of the Devil's Throat. Helicopter rides (which we decided not to do) offering aerial views of the falls are available only on the Brazilian side; Argentina has prohibited such tours due to their harmful effects on the environment
Iguazu is often compared with Southern Africa's Victoria Falls which separates Zambia and Zimbabwe. Iguazu is wider, but because it is split into about 275 discrete falls and large islands, Victoria is the largest curtain of water in the world, at over 1,600 m wide and over 100 m in height (in low flow Victoria is split into five by islands; in high flow it can be uninterrupted).
Iguazu Falls was short-listed as a candidate to be one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature by the New Seven Wonders of the
World Foundation. As of February 2009 it was ranked fifth in Group F, the category for lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. We were asked to vote on line also.
On the way out of the Iguazu Falls on the Argentine side, we visited an interpretive centre which included not only information about the flora and fauna of the Park but also the history of the region. It was beautifully presented. We caught the bus back to Puerto Iguazu and when we got back to town we looked through our photos we had taken and was amazed again at what we had seen during the day.
On one of the evenings while in Puerto Iguazu, we visited the Jardine de los Picofloria garden to see hummingbirds. There is a locla lady who has been feeding hummingbirds for years and every afternoon from 3.30pm to sunset, she opens her garden to visitors. Check out the photos.
The 2nd night in Puerto Iguazu we went to a restaurant for a casual meal. Argentineans love their football (soccer) and there was a TV in the restaurant. As soon as the game started, the TV
was turned up. I looked around the restaurant and everyone was faced towards the TV. A quiet dinner was over!! ...which we didn’t mind.
The next morning we caught a taxi to the Foz Iguazu International Airport, put our bags in lockers at the airport and caught a bus to the Brazil side of the Falls. Once finished, we caught a bus into the Foz Iguazu town and then back to the airport. It was wonderful to sit on the plane, thinking about the last few days. Fantastic.
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