From Buenos Aires, we boarded an 18 hour night-bus to Iguazu Falls. Given our previous level of comfort on night busses fell into the category of 'torture’, we thought we’d upgrade to one of the many different confusing levels of comfort offered in Argentina – ‘cama executive’, meaning something along the lines of 'executive bed'. Cama executive turns out to be a slightly more comfortable bus with meals served – and this is where it got funny. At 5pm they served ham & cheese croissants – fine, we thought it was a bit of a meagre dinner, but it was food and we like food – especially when it’s free; however, that was just the warm up… at about 9pm (when I was all but sleeping) they started their dinner service which consisted of a salad, more ham and cheese – this time with bread, crackers, dulce de leche and a scary flan-like desert. Having ploughed through our entire meal (including the desert), the hot dish of rice and meatballs was served, making us look like massive pigs for eating everything before the main part was served. Dinner included wine, followed somewhat randomly by whiskey, then – and I’m not joking – champagne. It was very weird.
Arriving in Puerto Iguazu lethargic due to too much food and demented from lack of sleep, we managed to find the only bike company in town and booked the ‘Iguazu Challenge’ - a 40kms / 4 hour bike tour through the rainforest. Given the heat and humidity during the day, our departure time was 5:15am. We assume the ride was beautiful, it was very hard to see once the sweat started pouring into our eyes, which was pretty much the second we started pedalling.
The next day we set off to see the falls from the Brazilian side. Like the beach in Villa Gesell, there is not much to say about these waterfalls except there were a lot of them and they were absolutely amazing; the pictures don’t do the falls justice - the noise was incredible. The following day we went to see them again from the Argentine side which was even more impressive.
There was quite a mix of health and safety standards at the falls - the mix being high and none. For example, all of the trails at the falls were well maintained with railings (on both sides!) so falling in would have been impossible, however, the park appeared to have a serious problem with an overabundance of a small racoon-crossed-with-a pig type rodent with very long claws called Quatis – most of whom had rabies according to the 1000 signs in the park – and which frequently attacked people for food. The presence of these signs – advising visitors, among other things, not to eat in front of these animals – were posted at the busy outdoor restaurants where the majority of these rodents appeared to live.
After deciding to give Rio a miss (the deciding factor being a 24 hour bus ride, which would result in 50+ hours to get back across to Santiago) we were a bit at a loss where to go next. As the random traveller - who suggests a ridiculous idea which we act on with little further thought - was absent, we decided to try a new tact – we went to the bus station to look at where the buses go and hope for inspiration. It took about 20 seconds to recognize this was a stupid idea; after another 20 seconds of arguing whose stupid idea it was, we were forced to engage our underused brains and eventually decided to head to the coast of Uruguay – next stop – Montevideo!
I hope everyone likes waterfalls because you are about to see more waterfalls pictures than you've ever wanted to!!!