We visited Iguazu Falls which borders both Brazil and Argentina recently. The name Iguazu means “big water” and boy were they right. It is twice as tall and three times wider than Niagara and although not as tall as Victoria Falls, it is wider. We were really impressed with the beauty and enormity of this site. When visiting Brazil in the late summer expect heat and humidity and of course rain. Temperatures were warm, and muggy, our glasses and camera lenses fogged up many times.
Why visit Iguazu you may ask? Many reasons. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site, a Bucket List Buster and its located inside a rain forest. It is spectacularly beautiful and along the way you will discover many unexpected delights. Foz Do Iguaçu is accessible from Rio de Janeiro by a two hour plane ride, and it is possible to visit as a do it yourself excursion.
We planned three nights in a lovely boutique home/hotel named Pousada El Refugio. The absolutely delightful host, Ole immediately made us feel welcome and comfortable in Foz Do Iguaçu. He was waiting for us at the airport and was very helpful in giving us rides to locations as well as lots of information about the falls. He assured us that we could visit both the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls with its expansive view of over 230 waterfalls and the Argentinian side with more up close views in the three days we had allotted for this trip.
Although rain was in the forecast for our first full day, sunny weather prevailed. At Ole’s suggestion we entered the park (for under $40) and walked along the boardwalk to view the falls with only moderate crowds. I took hundreds of photos and still have a difficult time deciding which ones are my favorite. Next up was the speed boat tour. On the way to the speed boat we rode an open air Jeep and hiked with an English speaking guide. She pointed out various flora and fauna to us along the way. Cameras and phones were placed in a locker and off we went to the speed boat. The ride was both exhilarating and terrifying. We sped through rapids, rode under the thundering waterfalls, were bounced and jostled and I for one screamed. By the end everyone was drenched and thrilled.
Following the speed boat, we headed across the street to Parque Das Aves. The park is a combination bird park, sanctuary and botanical garden. I don’t necessarily consider myself a “bird person” but I kind of fell for these magnificent birds. We completed our visit of the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls and Parque Das Aves in about six hours. This included time to sit in the bird park and get a beer and listen to some live music.
The next day we arranged with our host to take us on a 45 minute trip into Argentina to see an up close look at the falls. The weather was filled with rain, torrential rain. Border crossing was seamless, with a brief stop in immigration. The Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls is filled with many trails and includes a 30 minute train ride to the end of the park with it’s greatest attraction, Devil’s Throat where you can view the three largest waterfalls from above.
At the end of the train we followed the crowd out to a long, long metal bridge. We trudged along for about thirty minutes in the teeming rain until we reached the end, “Devil’s Throat.” Mist from the falls and rain from about was everywhere. Most of my photos were covered with dew but the view was spectacular.
Many of the tourists were wearing long rain parkas available in the park gift shop, with the pointed hoods they looked like herds of Tellytubbies. We brought our own jackets, but have since learned that “water resistant” is vastly different from “water proof.” We trudged back over the metal bridge among the sounds of rumbling thunder and the visions of unyielding rain and lightning. Each of us thinking silently to ourselves “maybe not the brightest idea to cross a very long metal bridge in the middle of a thunder storm.” Afterwards we were able to dry off a bit inside a little restaurant where Greg was able to enjoy a nice Argentinian beer and we agreed to call it a day and return to our hotel.
In the end we both agreed EXPERIENCES NOT THINGS matter.