I know it’s been a while since my last post and I also know that if you’ve seen my Instagram you will be expecting a post about Buenos Aires. But just to shake things up (and also because we have more of Buenos Aires to do) I’m first taking you a bit further north and a lot more into the jungle to the border town of Puerto Iguazú and the magical Iguazú Falls (courtesy of Dom’s mom’s Christmas gift to us—thank you, Gilly!).
Puerto Iguazú sits on the Tres Fronteras (three borders) of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina and is home to one of the last remaining Atlantic forests (subtropical jungles) which hosts 40% of all animal species in Argentina. The town itself is a mix of tourist-catering establishments and some 80,000 locals that seem to always be merrily sitting in their front lawns sipping mate (a very strong herbal tea) and bidding us a “Buenos dias” as we pass (despite the 100+ Fahrenheit temperatures).
Exploring the namesake Iguazú Falls would have to wait for our first full day in town, so after our arrival in the early evening we headed over to the Tres Fronteras plaza (“the second biggest tourist attraction in town!” our Airbnb host exclaimed) where we saw Brazil and Paraguay just a stone’s throw away across the rivers. The plaza itself was really lovely, teeming with chatter from around the world, music from a harpist and parents creating large bubbles for their children to chase after. The plaza was also filled with young locals hawking geocrystals, which really makes me wonder how profitable that endeavor is…
The next day we headed to the falls! After a rocky start at our first pitstop in the park where I discovered just how terrified I am of raccoons (they call them coatis here and they are everywhere and people are way too eager to pet them and then they jump on your bags and steal your food) we escaped the horrible creatures and made it to the park’s biggest falls, Devil’s Throat. The falls sit on the border of Argentina and Brazil; Argentina is supposed to have better panoramic views of all of the falls (there are more than 250 water falls throughout the park!) but Brazil has the better position for the Devil’s Throat in particular. Given I was unwilling to pay the $160 visa fee for US citizens to visit Brazil (once again the UK fee was nonexistent…what did the US do to Brazil to merit this?!), we settled for Argentina’s view. No regrets.
In addition to Devil’s Throat, the park offers two main trails to view the remaining falls (“saltos” in Spanish): the Upper Circuit and Lower Circuit. Similar to the trails around the Perito Moreno glacier, these circuits are elevated metal walkways that snake over jungle and rivers and below way too many giant spiders. We had intended to spread these two trails over two days, but after completing the Upper Circuit we still had plenty of time and I didn’t want to the falls to stop. After a quick ice cream break to cool down and refuel we carried on to the Lower Circuit despite the sweltering humidity and countless mosquito bites we were racking up.
The next day we went back to the park and embarked on the Jungle Cruise adventure—a speed boat ride through river rapids and then under the falls’ spray (courtesy of my Aunt’s Hanukkah gift to us—thank you, Aunt Stacy!). It was incredible (and a bit blinding!) to be completely immersed in the force of the falls. The guides call it “la ducha” (shower) and they are not wrong—a shower with the best water pressure you could dream of!
Intent to not leave a stone unturned, we capped off our time in the park by hiking the Macuco Trail. While the trail is shown on the park map, no signs point in its direction and it is therefore rather quiet, which is a nice change of pace compared to the Lower and Upper Circuits which you have to share with throngs of visitors. The Macuco Trail is entirely through the jungle, which meant I was cursing all the twisted branches for tricking me into believing they were snakes, but also meant we glimpsed monkeys jumping from tree to tree!
I’m extremely glad we took this little diversion to Iguazú, even if it does make me fear Southeast Asia’s humidity and bugs. Guess we’ll see how well adjusted I can become in just one week…!