Fast Times at Iguazu Falls
Looking out the window of the bus on the way back from Iguazu National Park, I watched the countryside race by. Mere seconds later, a cloud of smoke enveloped and I thought “Not again” as the bus slowed to a halt on the rural highway. So, for the second time in a total of four bus trips, engine trouble caused me to take an unwanted respite from my journey. A bit of an underwhelming capstone to what was otherwise an incredible trip to Missiones Province and Puerto Iguazu.
You know the movie Avatar? Probably not, it’s kind of obscure, but anyways, the movie was filmed in the Park. Actually, it wasn’t but it might as well have been because the park was a verdant paradise, with hundreds of cascades gushing between the palm trees. Pictures don’t do it justice as there are few sensations comparable to standing next to millions of gallons of water tumbling off a cliff. I’m posting them anyway.
The park itself occupies two countries, Brazil and Argentina, with the majority of the falls being located on the Argentine side. Besides the beautiful falls, the park teemed with wildlife. I fulfilled a long-held life goal of seeing a monkey doing the most stereotypical monkey action, swinging from a vine. I also encountered several small brown dog-sized animals that seemed to have migrated to the area only to try and eat park-goers’ food.
We also discovered a secret lagoon at the bottom of a waterfall, perfect for swimming. It was amazing. The pathway to the lagoon was marked with signs exclaiming “peligroso,” y “prohibido pasar.” However, we took these signs as suggestions rather than commands and trekked down the rickety stairs to the pool. It’s hard to imagine a more stunning location to swim. If you’re going to the Park, be sure to ask me how to get there. Es vale la pena!
While the park is very well maintained, sometimes this fact took some of the wildness out of the park. It felt more like Disney’s Animal Kingdom than an actually national park. None more so than when we took a speedboat out on the water to the bottom of the falls. Though I easily got the wettest I’ve ever been in my entire life, it was definitely worth it despite its short duration.
Not worth it, was the full-moon of the park. While it might sound magical and romantic, it was a bit of a disappointment. I saw no nocturnal animals (though perhaps my hopes of seeing a jaguar were a bit misplaced) and the falls were the same as in the day except more difficult to see. Plus the entrance fee was more expensive for limited access to the park. I recommend you spend your money on several tacos at La Fabrica del Taco in Buenos Aires. If you haven’t experienced them, you may want to reevaluate your priorities.
At the end of the trip, I also visited the tres fronteras, the location where Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet. I was pleasantly surprised by the spot, as there is a beautiful view of a river and not a 15 foot tall wall as I had feared. We didn’t have long to enjoy it though, as we had to dart to catch our bus. After being stuck an extra day in Salta, the prospect of staying in the hostel an extra night and playing foosball with random eastern-Europeans was something I wanted to avoid.
If you made it this far, I want to thanks you for sticking through this somewhat lengthy blog post. If you just skipped to the end, shame on you. I’ll be sure to update my blog shortly so keep checking back!
Roughly one-third of the falls. Yes there was more.
The Forbidden Lagoon!