Iguazu Falls

Trip Start Jan 10, 2008
Trip End May 29, 2008

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Where I stayed
Mi Abuela

Flag of Paraguay  , Ciudad Del Este,
Sunday, May 4, 2008


The Igauzu Falls was one of those cumpulsory places that we needed to visit during our trip and since it was only a few hours away from Asuncion we decided to head over while we were staying there.  Technically, the falls border Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay but in practice most people only visit the parks on the Brazil/Argentina sides because on the Paraguay side you can only see the falls from behind, pretty much nothing.  Even though the two of us followed this same conviction we did decide to make our base for visiting the parks on the Paraguay side, in Ciudad Del Este.   Paraguay lacks a view of the falls but it makes up for it with cheap, frantic shopping in Ciudad Del Este.  We got advanced warning from the Ceglas that for buying imported goods, this was the cheapest place to do it so we saved up all our purchasing power until we got there.  Shopping would have to wait until our second day though, because as much as Becca wanted a new pair of designer sunglasses and I, a Playstation 3, Iguazu was beckoning.
The Iguazu Falls is actually a collection of 275 falls spanning a distance of over 1.5 miles that peak at the Garganta Del Diablo (The Devilīs Throat), which is a U-shaped fall 500 feet wide and 2300 feet long...stunning.  My recollection of Niagra is a little hazy but Iīm pretty sure these falls kick itīs ass.  Actually, by comparison only the Victoria Falls in Africa are longer but Iguazu is by far the widest in the world.  We were really excited to visit them but nothing could prepare us for the first glimpse we got.  First up for us was the Brazilian side, which is the more panoramic of the two.  The park is surrounded by a rainforest that includes several hikes, jeep trails and a boat ride (all at extra cost) but we decided just to stick to the main trail in order to save time for the Argentinian side.  The trail is an easy hour and half walk that gives you a gorgeous view of about 1/3 of the total falls before you eventually end up right against the base of the Garganta Del Diablo.  Here you can elect to go out on a metal walkway, where you get soaked by the water vapor coming from the massive plummage created by the power of the fall.  Itīs hard to describe in words how you feel from seeing the fall so close and hearing the sounds of the water crashing down; the best way I can explain it is to say that it had the effect of turning me into a 3rd grader as I jumped up and down screaming with excitement.  Due to timing issues with the park on the Argentina side, we were forced to take an expensive taxi over that were only able to swallow by splitting the fare with a Portuguese traveler trying to do the same thing.
In the Argentina park you have to take a half hour train to reach the walkway that leads to the top of Garganta Del Diablo.  We did this first (again timing issues, we always have damn timing issues) and to explain this experience you need to understand that as soon as we left the park in Brazil it started raining on and off for the rest of the day.  The walk along this path is actually really cool since it is built above the Iguazu river and is surrounded by nature,  yet that was not enough to overcome the terrible attitude that we developed walking in the rain.  Our negative feelings and level of wetness rose mutually as we sped along the walkway all the time cursing ourselves for being so gung-ho, wondering if we had wasted our money going.  That all changed the moment we reached Garganta Del Diablo; I thought that after seeing it earlier in the day it wouldnīt be as impressive but I was totally wrong.  I felt as if the raw energy from the falls was eminating outwards and recharging my own.  It was then as I felt high after being at rock bottom that I was better able to understand the power of the falls.  There really is an umeasureable energy that people draw from nature, though you might have to stand next to a giant waterfall in order to feel its effects.  After that, we were really rushed for time and raced back to the train to make it into the lower trail.  If the Brazilian side is more panoramic, the Argentina side is more intimate, which the lower trail provides.  As you walk along winding paths you are greeted by falls right in your face and a few far off views of falls in the distance.  The funny thing was we got the wettest from stepping right up to one of the falls but we didnīt seem to mind as much as the rain that was constantly pouring down on us during the trail. 
Even though the Brazilan side had better views, I enjoyed the Argentina side more because of the feeling I got from being so close to all the falls.  Certainly though, you get more for your money on the Argentina side; the train ride, lower, upper trails, some nature hikes and even a quick boat ride (we missed the latter three because the park was closing) are included in the entrance where as in the Brazil park all you get from the entrance is the one walk we did.  I felt like we got a really good full day of the falls but I would have preferred to have an extra day to hit the Argentina side early in the morning and do all the different trails and also take a boat ride around the falls, which is much cheaper in Argentina.
Anyway, after sleeping for about twelve hours from total exauhstion we awoke for a half-day of shopping in Ciudad del Este.  Enrique arranged for one of his employees from the local office to take us around to the choice spots in the downtown area to find Becca a pair of sunglasses and my Playstation.  Although Becca was successful I was dissapointed to find that all the prices for the PS3 were higher than the retail value in the US.  It was a little overwhelming squeezing by the crowds of people that all come there for one reason and one reason only...shopping.  I guess we were lucky though because our guide said it wasnīt very crowded, apparently when itīs high season it resembles the crowd that forms right up against the stage at a big concert.

I can now say Iīve been to 3 countries in 1 day, which is just cool. Go us! Though seriously, I donīt know if Iīd recommend our route, since it was quite rushed and damn tiring, especially after riding on a bus all night. But, I agree that the falls give off this awesome energy and my feelings of grumpiness due to being cold and tired dissapeared as soon as we saw the first views. I think its definitely the vastness and enormity of the falls that draws so many visitors and inspires awe. Looking out at the various different levels, or even more so down the devils mouth, really reminds you how small and insignificant you are. These falls could swallow you whole. Asaf was telling me how a long time ago people used to go in boats on top of the falls, while a rower would row against the current. Then one day (obviously) a boat went over and they stopped doing that. Who would be dumb enough to ever want to do such a thing is beyond me. I was just amazed/terrified by the powerfulness of the water. I def have to agree and give the prize to the Argentina side as well, really because of the Devils Mouth - you are on a platform right on top of it and its just insane - this crazy frothing water cascading down so fast that cloud vapors rise out of it at the same time. Really does look like a mouth. Its a shame we didnīt get to do the rest of the things in the park but we wanted to see both sides and Iīm glad we at least got to do that. 
The good-feelings from the falls only lasted so long, however, and I was practically crying by the end of the day because I was soaked to the bone, tired, and it was freezing. Getting back was quite an adventure too, because the Brazilian bus wouldnīt drop us close and we were therefore forced to to run through the torrential downpour across the Paraguay border meant for cars and into a taxi. Quite a sight...they didnīt bother checking out passports. Despite the rain and cold, when I think back on this time I mostly just remember how beautiful the falls were, and thats what counts. Oh, and Iīll remember my beautious Fendi sunglasses :)
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