Water-way to spend a few days!

Trip Start Feb 06, 2011
Trip End Jul 24, 2011

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Where I stayed
Che Lagarto Iguazu

Flag of Argentina  ,
Saturday, February 12, 2011

Our last full day in Buenos Aires was spent in a barrio called La Boca – famous for the football team, brightly painted houses and – unfortunately – being a wee bit dodgy. We'd heard some dubious accounts of the place, including from the hostel owner Kato, who confessed that despite being born and bred porte˝o (from Buenos Aires) he had only been there twice. Nonetheless we applied our newly learnt bus skills and decided to give it a shot. In reality it felt more like Disneyland – teeming with tourists and with row upon row of tacky souvenir shops and tourist tango shows. There were even giant caricature figures peering out of the windows. It was great fun and we were glad we saw it – but we were quite glad to escape back to reality! You can find a couple of pictures I’ve just added to our previous blog post.

Our next adventure was more exciting though. No, I am not talking about the Iguaz˙ Falls, possibly one of the most amazing natural sights in the world. Rather the long-awaited trip on one of Argentina’s famed luxury buses! James has developed a rather unhealthy interest in road-based transport (see the last post) since arriving so this one – a double decker bus with flatbed seating and airplane style meals delivered to your seat – was a real highlight! It did live up to the hype - thankfully as we spent 17 hours on it. The food was dubious, but I did manage for sleep for much of the journey. Unfortunately James didn’t - but I think that may have been down to him playing with the seat features rather than anything else!

Puerto Iguaz˙ was a complete contrast to Buenos Aires. It’s a small one storey town right in the far North East of Argentina, surrounded by wetlands and jungle. Everything in Puerto Iguaz˙ is coloured the deep red-brown of the earth, including us after a few hours there! The place is mainly in existence to serve the tourist trade for the Falls, so there was no shortage of restaurants, bars and other essentials to keep us happy. Our love affair with the Argentine beer Quilmes continued – particularly as in Iguaz˙ it comes in its own futuristic cooler (see photos). Valentine’s Day was spent with a trip to the Brazilian side of the Falls, followed by a meal and a tasty bottle of Malbec.

It’s impossible to describe the scale, power and beauty of the Falls unless you have been there. So I won’t try… But the photos should give you an idea and I do recommend to anyone to try and get there at some point. We managed to visit both the Argentine and Brazilian sides, which was well worth doing as they ended up being completely different experiences. The Argentine side is up close that lets you walk right next to and – thanks to a network of walkways – on the waterfalls. The Brazilian side gives you the full panorama of the falls as you walk through lush green forest. Only a couple of similarities – both experiences were incredible and both got us completely soaking wet! Apparently it’s wet season so the waters are really high… Certainly the calm, picturesque waterfall you see on the postcards was not the one we experienced – the waters were just below the walkways and thundered past us. The main waterfall – the Devil’s Throat – certainly seemed to warrant its moniker.

Next we get back on James’ favourite bus to head back to Buenos Aires for one night, before catching an early morning flight down to El Calafate in Patagonia. More updates then!

South American top tip #2

South American bus journeys are not just for kipping and admiring the flat bed seats. The in-bus DVD service provided us with this musical treat, which we couldn’t resist sharing with you. Step down, Wagner. Step forward, Ricardo Montaner:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7c4a78H3MA
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