For some people it’s the sight of hundreds of thousands of litres of water, pouring over the waterfall that does it. But for me it was the sound, the thundering of water falling over the waterfalls, plummeting into the river below that took my breath away. I hadn’t expected the roaring to be so impressive. I stood there mesmerised, watching the great dusky swifts flying through the pounding water to get to their nests on the other side of the water, squished in on the platform with people oohing and ahhing in a number of different languages, all of which were being drowned out by the power of the magical falls.
Iguassu, Iguaçu, Iguazú, Iguazu. It’s a place with many spellings and even more waterfalls. However you choose to spell it, it’s an incredible place. I’ve been travelling for about 15 years now, and in that time I’ve learnt that sometimes when you build somewhere up too much, it disappoints you. Not at all with Iguazu.
Within minutes of entering the trail to the falls in Brazil we’d stepped off the path to give plenty of space to a pit viper, almost stepped on a tarantula, watched lizards hunting for bugs and steered clear of a coati trying to steal food from tourists. All before we even got up close to the natural wonder of the Iguazu Falls.
Not to be outdone by its neighbour, the Argentinian side of this wonder of nature blew me away yet again. I felt dizzy as I looked over the edge of the platform we were standing on as I realised we were hanging right over the edge of the Devil’s Throat. And that’s quite high. But really it’s because there’s nothing more incredible than being almost in the falls themselves, watching the water fall over the edge of the cliff and into the river below, seeing the mist rising up from the river as it flows between Argentina and Brazil, heading off towards Paraguay.
After soaking up the views (literally, in the mist rising from the falling water), reflecting on how lucky I’d been to see amazing views of the falls and remarkable critters and creatures in these national parks, I headed off along the Superior Circuit to take in some final views. So you can imagine my delight when I heard a group of Germans pointing up and saying something along the lines of “Tukan, Tukan, sehr schön…” I quickly translated it as “hurry, but don’t run, don’t do anything that might scare it or it might fly away!*” I had hoped and dreamed that I’d see a toucan in the wild at Iguazu, but wow, what a dream come true. This majestic bird spent about 5 minutes hanging out on the branch above us, letting us revel in the moment, taking photos and marvelling at its beauty.
After seeing a toucan, I declared my bucket list officially closed and decided to just enjoy the rest of the afternoon. Amazingly, Mother Nature wasn’t done yet (it was of course 2019, not 2020). From hummingbirds, to more coatis, to monkeys and of course more waterfalls, Iguazu really is incredible.
On the bus back to Puerto Iguazú, I replayed the past two days, trying to find the adjectives to describe it: amazing, breath-taking, captivating, dazzling, electric… But really, adjectives don’t do it justice. Photos can’t show the power of the falls. Videos don’t put the size into perspective. Nothing can prepare you for the moment you stand in front of the Iguazu Falls in real life, they really will take your breath away.
*The real translation is more like “toucan, toucan, so beautiful…”
Extra Information (because it was hard to find this online!)
We flew into Puerto Iguazú Airport (IGR) and then took a minibus to the bus station, (ARS 250 or NZ$6.60 p.p.). Then we caught the 21.15h EasyBus across the border to Foz do Iguaçu (ARS 150 or NZ$4 p.p.). As we were on one of the last buses, the driver waited for us to pass border control (normally they drop you off and you catch the next bus because locals don’t seem to have to go through passport checks on the Brazilian side).
In Foz do Iguaçu, we took a taxi to the Iguaçu Falls (R$30 or NZ$12) and then returned on the public bus (R$3.75 or NZ$1.50 p.p.), which we caught from opposite the Parque das Aves. Book your entry tickets online to jump the queue, or get their earlier than it opens so you don’t spend too long queuing – it gets hot out there!
Returning from Foz do Iguaçu to Puerto Iguazú we took the EasyBus from the opposite side of the street than they’d dropped us off (R$12 or NZ$4.70 p.p.), and then in Puerto Iguazú taxis are a fixed price (it was ARS 200 to our apartment). Most places are a walkable, if you’re not too tired from your day exploring the falls.
From Puerto Iguazú to the Iguazú Falls we took a taxi (what can I say, I like sleeping in!) which cost ARS 600 or NZ$16 and then we returned back to Puerto Iguazú by bus (ARS 180 or NZ$4.75 p.p.).
I’d highly recommend visiting both sides of the falls, starting with the Brazilian side, because then you get to see the falls and can appreciate their immensity. On the Argentinian side you’re amongst the falls but I think I appreciated them even more having seen them from Brazil the day before. If you only have one day, visit the Argentinian side.