Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Iguazu Falls

I flew from Aeroparque Jorge Newbery airport (airport code AEP) in Buenos Aires to Iguazu International Airport (airport code IGR) with Aerolinas Argentinas. Jorge Newbery airport is 2 km northeast of downtown Buenos Aires. Iguazu Falls is about 1300 km (812 miles) north of Buenos Aires. Flying time is less than 2 hours. A bus ride would take approximately 16 hours.

My flight from Buenos Aires was delayed for about half an hour. From the plane, I got an aerial view of the lush green vegetation and the river below. Notice the reddish-brown colour of the water. One tip is not to wear white when you visit Puerto Iguazu as your whites will show the reddish brown dirt fairly quickly. Click to enlarge the pictures.




After landing, from Iguazu airport, I took a 20-minute cab ride to Hosteria Los Helechos and checked in. The front desk staff spoke some English. My room with private bathroom was on the ground floor. It was clean but I thought the lighting in the room could be brighter. The weather was hot and humid, about 36C (96F). The hotel has a garden, an informal restaurant, and a small lobby. Here's the entrance.

Hosteria Los Helechos entrance
I took a walk outside the hotel. It’s set on a tree-lined residential street, and within walking distance to the bus station. I had dinner at the hotel and went to bed early.

The next day, after breakfast (included in my room rate), I walked to the bus station, bought return tickets to go to Iguazu Falls, which is about 26 km away (16 miles). There is frequent bus service from the city of Puerto Iguazu to Iguazu Falls. Just look for the sign “Cataratas”.

Iguazu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu river on the border of Argentina and Brazil. You can visit the falls from either country but the Argentine side has almost 80% of the falls. Iguazu Falls are located within the Iguazu National Park which was declared World Heritage by UNESCO in 1984. In November 2011, Iguazu Falls were chosen one of the World’s Natural Wonders in a global poll organized by the Swiss Foundation New Seven Wonders.

Having been to Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada several times, I was curious to see Iguazu Falls in Argentina. I bought my ticket to enter the National Park and went to the Visitor Centre to pick up a pamphlet with a map for my self-guided tour. During my visit, it was cloudy in the morning, very warm and humid, then it started raining in the afternoon. I had my rain poncho on but still got soaked as there was way too much moisture.

There are three main trails on the Argentine side of the waterfalls. The Green Trail is a 15 minute walk to the falls. The view of Iguazu Falls was breathtaking and awe-inspiring! It was a wonderful first sight with a series of huge water falls in front of me. The Lower Circuit Trail is 1400 m long (less than 1 mile). This trail affords panoramic views of the main falls, lateral falls and the vegetation which surrounds them. The Upper Circuit Trail is 650 m long (less than 1/2 mile). The accessible walkways take you along the upper lip of the falls. There are no steps and stairs on this trail. The trails were well maintained with many lookouts. The lush green vegetation and tropical climate made this setting very different from Niagara Falls. Click to enlarge the pictures below.

My first sight of Iguazu Falls
A lookout at Iguazu Falls
Powerful waters of Iguazu Falls
I then lined up to take the Rainforest Train to Garganta station. While we were waiting, I saw a coati climbed on the seat of the train. It didn’t seem to be afraid of the visitors.

Rainforest train, Iguazu National Park

A coati, Iguazu National Park
From Garganta station, I walked the trail, 1100 m long, to Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo). The walkways cross the upper river from island to island to reach the viewing balcony. By this time, the rain drops were huge and water was raging below my feet. The bridges had see through gaps so I could see the Iguazu river below me. Devil’s Throat did not disappoint! The water was swelling and raging below, plus the heavy rain coming down from the sky so basically water, water and water everywhere. My socks and walking shoes were soaked but I had a fantastic time experiencing the natural sights, sounds, and smell.

On my way out, I stopped by La Selva restaurant which is on site for dinner. The food and service were both very good.

I highly recommend a visit to Iguazu Falls and Iguazu National Park in Argentina. If I had more time, I would like to spend at least another full day to re-visit the falls. I think two full days at the National Park would allow a more leisure pace to explore the trails, and more time to take pictures. On the second day, you also receive 50% off the entry ticket price.

For more information, visit http://www.iguazuargentina.com/en/

Have you visited Iguazu Falls? Would you consider visiting Iguazu National Park after reading about it? I’d love hearing from you. Please take the time to leave a comment.

Coming up: Bariloche.

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