IGUAZU FALLS IN THE JUNGLE
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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Journey: Buenos Aires to Iguazu – 1,200kms, a 2 hour flight
Weather: overcast, high 20's, humid and some showers
We arrived at the domestic airport in Buenos Aires early as there was little traffic around at 7am.
There had been some recent upheaval with Aerolineas Argentinas being grounded with the government stepping in to take over following strikes and big losses. LAN is considered more reliable and we were booked on their 8.50 flight to Iguazu; obviously few Argentinians use the online check in as that queue remained empty and the regular check in line wound around the airport like a snake. The locals seem complacent about long waits, and we were an hour standing in line but eventually it was done and we were on our way. You are always instructed to leave for the airport early!!
It’s close to a two hour flight to Puerto Iguazu airport, which is 20kms from the falls; we had booked a package- flights, transfers, tour and accommodation and we realised that this was a mistake – we could have done better to book the Sheraton Hotel, expensive but sits in the national park with views of the falls and walked the park ourselves. The tour was a waste of money.
Anyway, we were collected at the airport and taken to the Hotel Orquideas, which was quite luxurious and well maintained. We had read some negative reviews of this hotel on Trip Advisor and noted that someone had been robbed of their luggage in the lobby so we were alert and protective but apart from indifferent service from the staff our 2 night stay was enjoyable and they granted us a late check-out.
We were located about 5 kms from the town so found the local bus and ventured in to investigate, change money and grab a bite to eat. We walked for ages looking for the "cambio" to get some more pesos, so saw the whole town before eating some delicious empanadas. The main restaurants were closed for the afternoon – it was now close to 4pm so we rested in a café with an expensive, nearly $4, coffee and air-conditioning.
The town was not too exciting, seeming to exist as a transfer point for the famous Iguazu Falls, but it had a nice feel to it. The roads were a bit rough and buildings pretty basic.
The day was hot and very humid and we encountered a few showers as we made our way through an interesting market doing brisk trading and seemingly selling pickled vegetables, cheeses and olives. There seemed to be quite a number of tourists perched on stools at counters having snacks and beer and wine! Colourful!
The local supermarket was well stocked so we bought wine, cheese, ham and biscuits and hailed our bus back to the hotel, hot, weary and sweaty. The air-conditioning was a lovely relief and we made good use of the generous shower. We even found some English news channels to catch up with world events.
Iguazu National Park and Iguazu Falls
The park borders Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay and consists of a sub- tropical rain forest that once spread vast distances over these countries and now is just 6% of its original size!!!
The word Iguazu translates to great waters and the the falls can never be exaggerated; we were herded onto a little train and along some very narrow walkways across the very calm Iguazu river and then you see and hear the “Devil’s Throat”.
The river thunders over the edge and creates clouds of mist and spray and the spectacle is incredible- so much water, so much power, so much natural beauty, you wish selfishly that you could be here alone. They are many of us here on this platform today and it’s only 9am.
The day is cloudy and I guess a sunny day would give a better contrast between the lush green forest, blue sky and misty falls but we were amazed and grateful to have witnessed such an incredible natural wonder.
The busy Dusky Swifts ducked in and out of their nests in the cliffs with speed and ability and gorgeous ferns defied odds and sprouted from behind the massive amounts of water. We met another bird, the urraca, as we traversed the metal walkways and he seemed happy to pose for the photographers and we all clicked away.
We glanced a caiman, similar to an alligator slouched on a branch in the river but never got to see the resident Toucans. The high humidity, high temperatures and high rainfall are similar to the Amazon forests to the north and are home to over 2000 flora species , 430 birds, 70 mammals and so on!
The funny little coatis were everywhere and had adapted well to tourism in the park hanging out in the food areas to win some morsels; we walked all the trails and continued in awe to gaze at the waterfalls- did they say they stretched for 2kms?
We watched the busy ''boyero de lomo rojo" speeding in and out of the palm trees and admired their long pendulous nests that were swinging in the breeze.
Perhaps 2 days at the Sheraton might have provided the chance of a sunny day and a quieter time to view the falls but heh! That’s what we got and that was pretty good.
We found a place to get a hamburger and beer at $8 each and then spent some time in the information centre learning more of the forest and history.
You may remember that the 1986 movie ”the Mission” was made here and the history of the Jesuits in this province of Misiones is incredible; they came to the jungles in 1600, creating 30+ utopian missionary villages and teaching the Guarani Indians Catholicism, agriculture, music and art, and trying to protect them from slavery and the colonial control. Some considered this transformation a “triumph of Humanity”- Voltaire but for various reasons the Spanish expelled the Jesuits in 1767 and the Guarani and the villages were disbanded. Some ruins are left today.
This had been a special adventure but if you intend going stay independent – no need to pay for tours and transfers. Local buses are good and you can find you own way around the park!!
We enjoyed the pool and gardens at our hotel on return. Forgot to mention the included breakfasts at the hotel- fabulous with fruit, local pastries and the full cooked breakfast, if you could swallow that early morning!
NEW 7 WONDERS OF THE WORLD-Iguazuz Falls have been voted as one of the new 7 wonders and this picture is from the website.
And we say "no wonder"
Iguazu Falls, Argentina