Americas Brazil Travel

Up, Close and (very) Personal at Iguazu Waterfalls

 

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Hot and heavy greenhouse-like heat welcomed us like a big greasy hug as we arrived at Iguazu Waterfalls crossing the border of Argentina and Brazil. Sweat beaded down my face, other visitors (of which there were many) made the most of the free showers managing to cool down for just a second before perspiring again. It was hot…too hot. This sticky dirty temperature was made worst by the fact we had seemingly chosen the busiest day of the year to visit the famous falls. Fail.

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To get to the top of the gushing falls we queued. Then queued again. Then packed in like sardines on a rickety bridge with some topless man mountain in front of me, half inhaling his BO and wiry back hair, wanting to be anywhere else than here, some butterflies appeared. The crowd parted forgetting for a moment their discomfort and gazed at the bright electric blue and yellow insects prancing about. You know when sometimes you think ‘sod it it’s not worth this level of minging discomfort’ then get a sort of second wind? Well those butterflies gave me that. So we pushed on through dodging the selfie sticks and shrieking teens to peer over the ledge of the top of the falls, the devils throat. Let me tell you… it was worth the back hair experience.

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Your ears fill with a roaring non-stop pounding of gallons and gallons of water thundering past. Part of the view was obscured by this eerie mist, caused by the ferocity of the water, as birds soared through probably wondering what the hell we were all doing.

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But, even with all the icky sticky sweatiness it was so jawdroppingly spectacular to be that close to the neck of the waterfalls plus the fun didn’t end there. There are three other amazing viewpoints that have rambling trails to get to, each letting you run across wobbling walkways, feeling the cooling dewy breeze and providing ample photo opportunities. Make sure you have your comfiest shoes on as you will be walking A LOT.

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Furry tapirs roam the park as well as iguanas and snakes (thankfully we didn’t stumble across any of them) and butterflies flit about. But it was much more touristy than I was expecting, as if Disneyland did waterfalls…giftshops and all. Tickets aren’t cheap but you can spend a whole day here so I guess you get your money’s worth, but the food and drink is outrageously expensive. We shared half a sandwich and a plate of dried chips that cost the equivalent of £12!

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We flew from Buenos Aires to Iguassu and stayed one night at this adorable mother-and-son run hostel in the tiny red dusty town. The falls are the one and only major attraction here with plenty of tourist information on getting there and about, but otherwise there is little to do other than eat a burger whilst people watching in the evening and queuing to use the only working cash machine for nearly an hour. The hostel owners arranged for us to get a car to the falls, which would then take us over to the Brazilian side where we had a hostel booked before returning back to Rio. You can get the bus but with our heavy bags plus the heat, it wasn’t much more expensive to do this lazier option.We heard that the Brazilian side gives a better panoramic view of the waterfalls, whereas the Argentinian side lets you get up close and personal (back hair optional) so chose to spend the day here but some people like to tick both sides off their to-do list. If you have seen both parts I would love to know what you thought!

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Planning a trip to the waterfalls? Here’s my advice:

  • Take as many big bottles of water as you can, as if you need to buy even a small bottle in the shops you will be paying big bucks.
  • Take a picnic. I wish we had done this as there were so many lovely places to sit and eat but instead we had to make the most of the greasy, overrun and overpriced café.
  • Make sure you have plenty of juice in your camera and spare memory cards. You will turn into a photographer for the National Geographic without realising!
  • At the entrance there were large lockers big enough for both our ginormous backpacks, so if crossing the border to see both sides of the waterfalls it’s cheaper to leave your bags safely here as you go off and explore.
  • Don’t feed the animals. There are signs everywhere but we saw so many people nearly get attacked by the lurking furry monsters as they had left out opened food nearby.
  • Blister pads will be your best friend as you will walk. A lot. Unless you can find someone to carry you.

 

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