We set off from Cordoba and took a night bus to Puerto Iguazu travelling approximately 1500km overland which took 21 and a half hours to get there. The bus journey was surprisingly comfortable and the time passed better than we could of hoped. I was concerned to say the least about how Paul would cope being on bus for that long, it had taken some convincing, and a little bribery with a bottle of whiskey to get him on the bus, so I prayed the falls would be worth it as I had to get him on another bus out of there at the other side.
We booked a hostel close to the bus station and managed to drop off our bags, we could only check in from 2pm but now it was only o9.30am. The hostel staff pointed out a few sights we could visit on foot to pass the time. We walked wearily to the Argentinian trig point (Tres Fronteres) which indicates the point at which, Argentina, Brazil & Paraguay meet. From here you can look across the river and see the trig points in Brazil & Paraguay, no border crossing points, no big fences just the wide murky river separating the three countries. Paul wondered down a grassy bank and startled a man smoking marijuana in the bushes, we were unsure whether the man’s gesture was the “v” sign or the “peace” sign but we made a retreat to the road just in case.
We had read on line that to get the most out of the falls you need to get there early before the crowds arrive, so we left at 7am the next day. We were armed with a little packed lunch provided by the staff at Hostel Poramba, croissants and Danish pastries to keep us going and we caught the first bus from Puerto Iguazu terminal where we had arrived the day before. The national park opened at 8am so we were the first in, it felt like we were walking into Alton towers to get to the best ride first before anyone else. We were so excited to be there, it’s a place I’ve always wanted to see.
There are 2 trails you can chose to follow, the upper trail & the lower trail. Despite the Spanish translation, We went for the inferior trail first, we walked down a number of steps, with every step we could hear the noise from the falls getting louder, and we knew that at any moment we would get to see the world famous Iguazu falls, that we had travelled to see.
We walked around a corner, down a few steps and there they were cascading majestically before us, just a glimpse at this stage but already they were so impressive, we hurried to get a better view and all I could do was marvel at how stunning the falls were, I’ve seen photos so many times but the real thing was just breathtaking in its beauty. It’s so difficult to express what we saw and put it into words, I hope you can see from the photos attached how stunning these waterfalls truly are. The sunlight was positioned perfectly casting rainbows in the spray as loud crescendos sounded around us as the water collapsed powerfully at the foot of the falls, I just couldn’t stop taking photos and marvelling at natures natural power and beauty.
By 10am the national park was alive with visitors as we walked the upper trail. We were waiting in line to get to the best vantage points, all trying to take those perfect shots to ensure the memories last forever. The views are speculator at every turn. In the afternoon we found a 3km trail leading to a small waterfall which cascaded into a clear pool that you could swim in. This was a highlight, the weather was perfect so we both jumped in, finding ourselves in a scene similar to a shampoo advert. Once again breathtaking, but this time it was due to the freezing temperature of the clear blue waters that lapped around our chins.
At the end of the day time was against us but we couldn’t resist another lap of the upper and lower trails, we would have to be quick. Our efforts paid dividends as most of the other tourists had left for the day and we had the opportunity to get more photos with different lighting perspectives as the sun prepared to dim this magical show of water and colour. The falls are something that I will never forget, definitely living up to all my hopes and expectations.
The next day we travelled on a local bus to Paraguay, you have to cross the border and get stamped out of Argentina and travel through Brazil to then cross into Paraguay. Paul had been tipped off by a friend at work that Ciudad Del Este is an “interesting” place to visit “briefly”. The city is known as a the counterfeit capital of the world and it’s packed with people offering you electrical equipment, clothes, jewellery perfume etc. As soon as we stepped off the bus we were accosted by eager Paraguayan sales personnel, some running hair trimmers up our arms and others cracking some sort of weird electric shock instrument in our faces. Security guards patrol all the shops, even clothes shops and the guards are armed with huge guns strapped across their chests it really was quite intimidating. We were in Paraguay, we had no Paraguayan money and no idea which way to turn. Paul was thoroughly enjoying the experience while I was feeling, a little intimidated and concerned by all the crowds. We managed to seek refuge in a hotel where we had coffee, breakfast and used the WiFi to research how to survive Ciudad Del Este. We emerged with full bellies, slightly more confident and ended up buying a beard trimmer, some converse shoes and a pair of socks before breaking for the border back into Brazil. Ciudad del Este Is definately a place to experience but only for a couple of hours, we were grateful to get out unscathed!
We got our passports stamped as a souvenir as we left Paraguay then walked across the bridge which joins Brazil and Paraguay together, we don’t remember seeing Brazilian immigration so we just wandered into Brazil, this was an error that was to come back and bite later in the day! We then headed off to the bus terminal to find a bus to the Brazilian side of the falls. It seemed to take a long time to get there but eventually we arrived at 3pm, we hoped it would be enough time to see everything. We boarded another bus inside the park, this time it was a tourist bus and it took us deeper into the jungle like surroundings to get closer to the falls.
The bus stopped at a place where we had a clear view of the opposite side of the river. We could see Argentina where we had been the day before and where we would return later. On the Brazilian side we were able to get closer to the falls, you get a better perspective on the sheer breadth of the falls, there are lots of them cascading all around. The noise and power coming from the water was even more powerful than what we had seen the day before. We walked along the observation paths close to the falls to get a better view and we got soaked by the spray, it was brilliant.
At the end of the day we returned to Argentina. Its not everyday that you travel through three countries. On the way back we got off the bus by mistake at Brazilian immigration we hoped to be stamped out but we got told off by a stern looking immigration officer. We had not got an entry stamp into Brazil when we wandered over from Paraguay earlier in the day (we are still not sure how we got in without it) and the immigration officer wouldn’t stamp us out (as technically we were not in) so we kind of just shuffled back to the Argentinian bound bus and pretended we had never stepped foot in Brazil, despite us spending a memorable afternoon there. We did make a half hearted protest because we wanted a Brazilian passport stamp but the immigration officer was not up for negotiating with illegal aliens Iguazu Falls, for me, so far has been the highlight of our travels, we stayed at Hostel Poramba in Puerto Iguazu a small quaint hostel with friendly staff. After three nights we left on our next night bus to Buenos Aires whilst remembering the picture postcard scenes that we had left behind.