Perhaps partaking in an all-afternoon Easter Sunday lunch where the wine glass was never half empty, followed by a catch up dinner with two of the Tucan tour group might not have been my best best idea. Not when I got back to the hotel at 1130pm and had to be up at 330am for a 545am flight to Iguazu Falls.
We all slept on the plane, through food service, to arrive 90mins later into Iguazu. Our hotel was the only one located in the Argentinean Iguazu national park which meant that we could be in the park before the throngs of tourists had arrived and we could also take in the the rising and setting of the sun. We could see the falls from our room, the cloud of mist that it forms from the spray was just amazing to see. And of course the pool was in a beautiful setting and near perfect weather of 29 degrees. What more could you want from a few days away.
Iguazu Falls are one of the natural wonders of the world and is based on the Argentine and Brazilian border. It is made up of many cascades producing vast sprays of water, it is known as one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. The permanent spray from the falls forms impressive clouds that soak the forested islands and river banks resulting in a visually stunning and constantly changing interface between land and water. Due to this there is a rich biodiversity that includes over 2000 species of plants, 400 species of birds and possibly as many as 80 mammals including jaguar, puma and giant ant eater to name but a few.
For the following day a car and driver were organised to take us to see Brazil’s version of the falls. They say that this is the more impressive side as you get the panoramic aspect of the falls; the concept that there is 200 individual falls all interconnecting, creating the spectacle that makes it one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. The Brazil side encompasses a more compact area north of El Río de Iguazu (Iguazu River or Iguaçu River). The walkways and trails are short but sweet on this side. That’s because in general, you’ll get distant panoramic views of the Argentina side. However, you get more frontal views of Devil’s Throat and are so close, you can feel the intensity of the water pouring down as the spray comes down upon you.
There are also the coatis that can be found on both sides. They are like large rats with big noses. As I stood looking at the falls I was attacked by three of them. I suddenly felt something on my back, and then another heading up my leg. They had smelt the nuts in the bag and decided that they must have them (because the rest of the tourists there were not feeding them). I had to be saved by a fellow tourist who pulled the bag off my back and the coatis with it. Bloomin’ rodents.
Of course the other way to feel the intensity of the falls is to do the boat ride that brings you up to where the water is hitting the Rio. Its intense. Being a non water person, I have to admit to it being very intense and at time claustrophobic as the water just kept coming. I think I was almost under my seat. When I did peak up, all i could see water the water pouring down as the captain of the boat holds it there.
All the walkways for the Argentinean side of the falls were a short walk from our hotel, The Sheraton. The Argentinean side encompasses a much larger portion of Iguazu Falls than the Brazil side (at least from an area standpoint). This includes all of the San Martin Island (a large parcel of land that comprises one of the series of islands splitting the falls into two main components – Devil’s Throat and then the rest). The walkways are far longer in length than its Brazilian counterpart and meaning you get right up to the majority of the network of waterfalls that make up the greater Iguazu Falls. In addition to getting up close to the immensity of the Iguazu Falls, there are also smaller waterfalls that are part of the greater network that you can get right up to for a much more intimate experience. This is exclusive to the Argentinean side.
So which side was better? I think you have to do both. They are different but both are beautiful.
For my last day in the area, I signed up for the mountain bike tour with Iguazu Bike Tours. Turns out I was the only person on the tour. Alejandro and I headed off on a 24km cycle which would involve heading towards the old road that used to bring people to where the canoe rides would commence for the falls many years back. This road is now closed and is only open to the park rangers, researchers and Alejandro. It was great to escape from the tourists and time to get back out into nature and we seen a puma – that’s big! Rarely seen. Alejandro was waiting for me to cycle through puddles. He spotted two of them walking across the old road about 75m ahead. By the time I joined him, I (with no specs on) I saw one. It was the first spotting of the year. Lucky or what! Add that to the monkeys who were regular visitors to the hotel balconies to see if they could get into rooms and find food, well we had all wildlife boxes ticked.