After a few days chilling in Buenos Aires, on day five of our trip we’d joined our first G Adventures tour which would take us up to Iguassu Falls and then deeper into Brazil.
Day One (of the tour – day six of our trip)
Saturday morning involved an early start with the bus to the airport leaving at 6:30. We had a quick breakfast of croissants in the hotel reception before hopping in a minibus for the short trip up to the Jorge Newbury airport (this is the main domestic airport for Buenos Aires). As mentioned in our blog about Buenos Aires, as we were just on our way to the airport, we passed a horde of people leaving a local nightclub. They definitely like to party in Buenos Aires!
The flight was a relatively short one to Puerto Iguassu Airport (still on the Argentinian side of the border) and it was pretty clear as we made our approach to land that the landscape was very different to Buenos Aires. The whole area around the airport seemed to be surrounded by dense jungle to the point where it looked like we were going to land in the trees right until the last minute!
Any trip to Iguassu seems to involve multiple border crossings as it is positioned right on the confluence of three borders (Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay). This leads to a whole load of fun and games waiting around at the borders and having to switch buses – the Brazilian authorities don’t allow Argentinian buses to come into their side of the falls!
The most striking thing on arriving though wasn’t just the change in scenery but actually the number of butterflies – they are everywhere you looked. Neither of us (particularly with Sue’s slightly irrational fear of butterflies!) have ever seen so many. The colours really were incredible with reds, yellows, purples and blues.
After getting into Brazil we made our way to the national park. The first sight of Iguassu Falls was absolutely breathtaking – the scale of the falls is incredible. There just seems to be water falls everywhere you look and smaller falls, which in the UK would be considered worth a day trip in itself, pale into insignificance compared to the huge falls in areas of Iguassu.
On the Brazilian side, you get just a taster of what’s to come from the Argentine side but as we made our way around the various walkways we look absolutely loads of photos. As it was a weekend (Sunday) it was incredibly busy and we had to fight our way past the hordes and dodge the selfie sticks for any photos we wanted.
On the G Adventures tour, there is an option to do a helicopter trip which we chose not to do. One of our group did though and I think everyone was a little jealous once we saw the resulting photos. It definitely gives a picture of the scale of the falls.
In the evening we made our way back to where we were staying in Foz do Iguaçu. Our Brazilian guide, Lurdes, had organised an all you can eat and drink barbecue/pool party/samba party which we went along to. The range of meats on offer was incredible and our G Adventures CEO (Chief Experience Officer), Luz, had kindly arranged for Sue to be served fish instead. How they’d managed to cook the meat so well on the barbecue I’ll never now as it tasted amazing. Just when we thought everything was winding down, our hosts switched off the lights, whacked on some samba music and a bunch of samba dancers decked out in the full kit came out.
As a group we all retired back to the hotel, having had a great evening and with another early start coming up, all regretting that one last beer we’d had!
The next day started with another early start and a few sour heads from the previous night as we attempted to get across the border quickly and be on the first train up to the top of the [Devil’s Horseshoe] trail.
We arrived about half an hour before the park opened but there was already a bit of a queue starting so we quickly marked our spot as a group. Once the park opens everyone races to get on the first train up to the top. Although it was a bit of a pain (as we had to wait around quite a lot first at the border then at the park), it was definitely worth the effort as even with just one train load of people at the top it was already quite busy.
The walkway at the top takes you across the vast and deceptively placid river feeding into the falls before taking you right to the edge of the Gargantuan del Diablo (the Devil’s Throat). If you’re ever visiting this, make sure you hold onto your hat and be prepared to get soaked. The spray coming off this waterfall is more like being hosed down. Once we’d been thoroughly soaked we took to the upper trail which, you guessed it, goes around a whole load more waterfalls which are around a slightly different area to the Garganta del Diablo
After a lunch spent guarding against the attempted attacked of coatis, it was time for the highlight of the day – a boat trip into the waterfalls themselves. This is definitely a must not miss activity (although it can be quite unnerving as the boat approaches the waterfalls! You start with a slightly underwhelming ‘jungle safari’ where you drive in the back of an open-top truck to spot wildlife on a 5km trail down to the river. Fairly predictably, most of the wildlife has learnt to avoid noisy trucks hurtling down the trail full of camera wielding tourists! Don’t let this put you off the boat trip though as once you get to the end of the trail you’re loaded onto a powerful rib which takes you up the river to the foot of the waterfalls. You get to go up close to the Devil’s Throat and other waterfalls before then going into two of the smaller falls. When we first imagined this we thought they would be taking us into some of the tamer waterfalls but, as you’ll see from the video below, it was pretty adrenaline pumping!
Our evening finished with a relaxing pizza pool party whilst we watched a lightning storm across the other side of the city.
Being in the jungle, the wildlife in Iguassu Falls is everywhere. As I’d already mentioned the butterflies are everywhere but there’s also birds all around the jungle and falls. We were really lucky that just by where we got out of the bus, we immediately saw a Toucan in the tree next to us.
One bit of wildlife that is really easy to see but an absolute pain are the coatis. These are racoon like creatures which will attempt to be given and steal food from tourists (like a real life mini Yogi bear). You really have to keep an eye out for these wherever you have food as they can appear out of nowhere and are quite happy to climb up your back to get at the food!
There are other bits of wildlife around the park which apparently you can occasionally get sight of, we didn’t see any of them but they were out there somewhere. The signs talk about jaguars, pumas, caimans and various snakes. Maybe next time!
Photos will never do justice to the majesty, beauty and scale of Iguassu Falls but here’s a few of our favourites from both sides of the falls.
For this part of the trip we were booked onto the G Adventures tour called Iguassu & Beyond. So far it’s been really well organised and the facilities organised have been good. The group dynamic has been great for us travelling as a couple as everyone is really friendly and it’s a nice break for Sue from having to put up with my chat.
The hotel we stayed in Foz do Iguaçu was called Hotel del Rey. It was great for what we needed but from talking to others in the group, the rooms varied a lot from ours which was huge to somewhere there wasn’t much room at all. The rooftop pool bar (albeit surrounded by taller buildings) was a great place to chill out in the evenings and the breakfast was good.
Iguassu can get really busy and there’s lots of points that can delay you – its a good idea to get off early in the morning, particularly for the Argentine side. Food is also relatively expensive in the national park and generally a little naff (unless you want burgers and chips). We picked up some food in the supermarket (just bread and cheese) which we carried around and ate for lunch.