As border crossings go, crossing by road is usually our least favourite – often involving long waits in car parks, less organisation than ferry ports and airports, and a higher chance of some creative additions to entry taxes (looking at you, Cambodia) – but the land border between Argentina and Brazil had one major draw: the biggest waterfalls in the world!
Iguazu Falls (or Iguaçu if you’re coming from the Brazilian side) were the perfect way to finish up our time in Argentina. Roughly 80% of the park is on the Argentinian side with paths winding above, below and alongside the falls, boats that take you pretty much into the falls, and even a little train if you don’t fancy the hiking trails. There is a Sheraton hotel actually inside the national park, but everyone else stays a 20 minute (130 peso) bus ride away in Puerto Iguazu town and pays 330 pesos entry to the park.
Impressive is an understatement. Apparently Eleanor Roosevelt’s reaction when she first saw the falls was simply “Poor Niagra!” We started with the Superior Trail that took us above different cascades and to look out points near the edge. On one side of the wooden walkways the water looked completely placid and still, more like a lake. It only started churning and frothing up right at the edge where it abruptly plummeted down a rock face to more pools and cascades below.
Next up was the Inferior Trail (their words, not ours – it was great, just lower down than the Superior Trail), that took us much closer to the different falls and down to the jetty where a small boat shuttles back and forth from Isla San Martin. Other than a little strip of sand where the boat lands, the island is essentially a tree-covered cube of sheer-sided rock. The stomp up the steps to the top was worth it, though. We found a shaded picnic bench with a view of the Devil’s Throat cascades in the distance, and the main viewing platform was a great vantage point to watch the boats edging into the spray of a huge waterfall.
The grand finale was the Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo) – a chasm between the Argentinian and Brazilian side of the park where about half of all the rivers’ waters tumble into a u-shaped mega-fall of thundering torrents of water and spray. Looking at the sheets of water constantly streaming over the edge gave us motion sickness when we stared at one spot too long. This walkway along the edge of the Devil’s Throat cascade is surely the perfect location for a new sport: Extreme Pooh Sticks!
Iguazu park is also home to different types of wildlife. The most commonly spotted are these badgery-racoony-anteatery looking things – coati – that congregate near the cafes in the hope of swiping snacks. Their cuteness is just a ploy. In fact they have no manners and will bite and claw at your for your biscuits! We steered clear of these guys. Vultures perched high in the treetops and in quieter parts of the park we managed to see a plus crested jay and even an aracari toucan – although it wouldn’t stand still long enough for a decent iPhone photo.
The falls themselves were incredible, and seeing a toucan will automatically make it an awesome day, but our favourite moments have to be the ones when we suddently spotted the rainbows appearing in the spray.