Declared one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in the World by Mankind Natural Heritage (site), the Iguazu Cataratas (waterfalls) do not disappoint.
Imagine walking through Jurassic Park, not the theme park with plastic sculptures and specifically planted trees and vines, imagine what it would have been like if you were actually there. A picturesque scene of over 2,000 species of plants, 400 of birds and 70 mammals flying and crawling everywhere you look. Now imagine you turn on one of those white noise machines people use to fall asleep in the comfort of their own homes. Turn it to the “waterfall” setting and listen to the soothing sound of water washing over rock. Beautiful image right? Forget it because that doesn’t even come close describing how beautiful and utterly breath-taking this park was.
Like all natural wonders that can’t be explained, there’s a legend that tells the tale. The legend of the waterfalls goes: A deity planned to marry a woman and a man but the woman fled down the Iguazu River in a canoe escaping the marriage. “In rage, the deity sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall” (site).
Planning our trip, I knew I wanted to see the falls from both the Argentinian side, the adventurous side, and the Brazilian side, the panoramic/scenic side. So we flew into Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport (IGR), got picked up by your Airbnb host, Erik, who was very knowledgeable about the town of Puerta Iguazu, the activities at the falls, other things to do in the town and good places to go eat. He was also more than willing to drive us anywhere we wanted to go at the same price as the buses or usual transit. Him and his brother have a ‘taxi service’ along with the Airbnb business which was very useful. We didn’t have to worry about where to find a bus or how much it would be, Erik calculated it all for us. One small caveat being that the power tends to go out for the whole town but usually comes back on quickly. It only went out on us twice and came back on in a matter of 10 mins…if the falls were to give power to the town, it would never go out! I don’t think they’re there yet…But if anyone is looking to go to Puerta Iguazu and wants to stay in an Airbnb, I would definitely suggest Erik.
We woke up relatively early to get to the park before the crowds. At the time of writing this blog post, the entry into the park is 330 ARG which is about $20 USD, not bad to see a new Natural Wonder of the World. There are three trails to hike and we wanted to do all of them. Erik told us the upper trail evolves the most sun so to do that in the morning would be a good idea. We waited in line for about 30 mins to get a tram that took us to the start of the upper trail, essentially a narrow two-way walking bridge over water that was about to plummet 2,000+ ft. down, we were on top of the falls. Walking on the tiny bridge, watching people trek back soaking wet with that feeling of pending doom ahead is when I truly felt like I was in Jurassic Park. At the end of the upper trail is Garganta del Diablo or The Devil’s Throat. It is a U-shaped waterfall 269 ft × 492 ft × 2,297 ft, which is absolutely massive. It’s by far the biggest and most powerful waterfall in the park and when you look over the edge and see water crashing down, you see where the name comes from. Standing on the ledge of the biggest waterfall in the world, we were soaked from the mist of tons of water crashing down into the invisible basin but we didn’t want to move. It was one of those places where you just have to stop and take it all in, there’s no way to describe it that would do it any justice. We were on top of the world, it was unreal.
After trekking back like soaked bunnies hoping to dry out in the sun, we began the hike to the middle trail. But before starting we ran into some not-so-friendly coatis. To preface this explanation of what coatis are, let me tell you the road signs we saw while driving to the park. Because the falls are the main attraction in the town of Puerta Iguazu, there’s only one way to get to them with one looong road. Along this road, like most roads around the world, there are warning signs of the different creatures to be aware of incase you come across them. The animal signs I’m used to are more often than not deer signs…but not in Puerta Iguazu, coati and puma signs. Yes I said puma but don’t worry, they had “don’t feed the puma” signs just in case people were really that stupid…The other warning signs were for animals called coatis which are one of the largest rodents in the world. The best way to describe them are raccoons with anteater noses and they are not afraid of you at all. We watched one climb onto a table and steal a woman’s pizza sitting on a plate right in front of her! They are vicious little animals with no hesitations about stealing anything from pizza to your camera. So along with the ‘don’t feed the puma’ signs, there were also ‘protect your belongs from coatis’ and ‘don’t pet or feed the coatis’ signs. Other than avoiding them, the middle trail was beautiful. We were essentially walking along the ledge of all of the other falls of the park.
Absolutely stunning views.
Finally we went through the lower route to finish out the park. Of course there were a ton of people everywhere we went but that’s part of being a tourist. You fight the crowds to get that one picture that ends of having someone else’s hand, elbow or head in it but you’re happy anyways because you know that’s probably the best you’re going to get. All in all, the Argentinian park was amazing, spending time there you start to realize how wonderfully untouched and beautiful nature can be.
We got back to our Airbnb early afternoon so the next thing on our list was the hummingbird park in town. If you don’t know this about me, I love hummingbirds. Whenever I get the chance to see one or be around them I’m all in favor. We found this tiny entrance to a small garden filled with brightly colored feeders, flowers, and a pond with a turtle. I have so many pictures but here are a few so you get the point:
After the garden, Cody and I walked to see Tres Borders which is the intersection between Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. In the picture below, we’re standing on Argentina, to the left is Paraguay and to the right is Brazil.
A day filled with hiking and walking always calls for good wine, apps, and a big ol’ pizza. We ate at a very good Italian place in town, walked home and got ready to wake up early to cross the border into Brazil!
The adventures continue…