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Bob in South America. Part 8 – Getting soaked at Iguassu Falls, Argentina
And so to the final leg of my trip. A quick jaunt north to the Brazilian border to see the famous Iguassu Falls.
Flights take under two hours from the city airport at Buenos Aires so it’s an easy side trip to take, you can even do it as a day trip with some military style planning and taking flights with Aerolineas Argentinas.. I opted for a one night stay and to take some more civilised flight times with LAN, choosing an eco lodge called La Cantera Lodge de Selva Iguassu.
Having spent so much time in the south of Argentina and Chile, I was not prepared for the sight of jungle. Lush green forests and rich red earth an instant and clear difference to the landscapes I had been used to. It was very warm and incredibly humid. Getting off the plane at Iguassu was a wakeup call and a reminder that I ‘don’t do humid’.
It is clear on arrival that this is a tourist destination and big money can be made here. Before you even get to the baggage reclaim area there are girls handing out leaflets for the casinos. A throng of meet and greet sales folk are ready to hoover up each plane’s arrivals in order to sell you hotels, taxis and trips to the falls. It’s everything I hate about a place, but something you have to go through to see one of nature’s wonders.
I grab a cab to my eco lodge, set in the forest just off the main road linking the airport, the falls and the town of Puerto Iguassu. It’s a delight, maybe short on eco features, but basically some wooden buildings linked by raised walkways that encompass bedrooms in blocks of four and the reception, restaurant, bar and pool area. You are completely surrounded by the forest; palms, trees and shrubs all jostling for position in the thick undergrowth with the canopy many feet above. You can here birds calling and the noises that just scream JUNGLE at you.
The rooms are very comfortable with all mod cons and a mosquito net covered balcony. However there is a pervading sense of damp due to the humidity. So whilst the place is spotlessly clean, that musty damp smell cannot be avoided.
But enough of this nit-picking. The falls beckon and time is short. Another cab ride gets me to the entrance of the National Park. I opt for an additional adventure tour involving a high speed boat ride along the river to the base of the falls preceded by a truck ride through the jungle explaining the need for protection of the rainforests. Unfortunately, the detailed explanation by Carlita is wasted on me as she opts for Spanish only delivered at a break neck speed. She mentioned something about heart disease, toucans and climate change.
After the drive you arrive at some steps that take you down to the boat. Effectively, a large zodiac rib boat with forward facing seating. As I am on my own I am plonked at the front being assured I won’t get too wet.
Such liars. Within fifteen minutes we had powered our way up the river to the bottom of two sections of the falls. You feel the spray first and hear the roar of the crashing water. The boat pilot then drives into the falling water and you may as well just give up staying dry. I got drenched and I have to say it was immense fun. I loved it or should I say ‘me gusta mucho’!!
When we were dropped off you were free to walk up the cliffs to the top of the falls and I spent the next three hours walking both the lower circuit and upper circuits, two sections of this huge natural feature and seeing the falls from many differing angles. It is quite breathtaking in parts and awe inspiring, in fact, when you are away from other visitors you can soak up the atmosphere and watch the wildlife from butterflies to monkeys and toucans to eagles.
I finished with a hike to the Devils Throat, the largest of the falls which cut Argentina and Brazil in two.
It is a bit touristy and the day I was there the place was deserted. I cannot imagine how awful it is when there are large groups piling off coaches visiting for the falls and into the many casinos. So, it is important when planning your trip to avoid weekends, holidays and the peak times or your visit to Iguassu Falls will be spoilt.
That night I slept in my luxury hotel room listening to the sounds of the jungle before my flight back to Buenos Aires for one final night and the long journey home. Time to get some last minute gifts and shopping and one last fabulous Argentinean steak , before waving goodbye to my little South American adventure.
I leave feeling privileged to have visited Argentina and Chile. They have so much to offer travellers and holidaymakers and I know I will be returning to explore other areas in the years to come. Chile and Argentina exceeded my expectations in so many ways and I loved the people I met along the way. Truly one of the most rewarding holidays I have ever taken.
Back to work eh to save up for the next one!