Category Archives: argentina

Iguazu Falls: Brazil, Argentina or both?

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The Devil’s Throat, Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Some people I met tried to tell me Iguazu wasn’t worth it. Give it a miss, they said. I’m glad I didn’t listen to them. And I’m equally as glad that I went to both the Brazilian side and the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls.

I was staying in HI Paudimar Falls in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, a great set-up of a hostel with a social, laid back vibe, friendly staff (once you got past the newly arrived stage), excellent facilities, the luxury of a swimming pool and a little bar serving mean caipirinhas for R$4.

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Views from The Devil’s Throat over to the Brazilian side, Iguazu Falls, Argentina

The hostel arranged everything for my visit to the Argentinian side of the falls, including the option to do a boat trip depending on what I decided when I was actually there. Costing R$75 (£27.27), this trip included speedy transits through border crossings and entry to Parque Nacional de Iguazu. Additional costs were the boat rides into the waterfalls, starting at R$50 (£18.18).

Exploring the Argentinian side took the full day and I didn’t get to complete all of the mapped trails. It was an amazing day full of walks, boat rides and the feeling of being right in amongst the powerful rush of the falls. It all felt close and loud and immediate. The ground smelt damp and earthy and the air was thick with humidity and spray.

A trip out to the Brazilian side of the falls, if you’re based in Foz do Iguaçu, is easy to organise by yourself. Catch the No. 120 bus from Avenida Jorge Schimmelpfeng to the Parque National do Iguaçu, costing R$2.60 (£0.95) each way. Entrance is R$41.10 (£14.95) for foreigners and includes a short bus ride to the start.

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Iguazu Falls, Brazil

I jumped off at the first viewpoint with a small crowd of others. Something very noticeable was the lack of people compared to overcrowding on the Argentinian side. No bad thing. Together with a friend I walked along the pathway, stopping at various miradors to take in the scenery.

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The Devil’s Throat in the distance, Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Here on the Brazilian side the sound was less intense and the views of the waterfalls were more distant; wide and open they allowed you to get a sense of scale and perspective.

Towards the end was the one opportunity to get closer to the water; to get a little damp from the spray and take in an undisturbed view of El Garganta del Diablo – The Devil’s Throat. Yes, overall it felt more removed than the Argentinian side but it actually allowed one to appreciate the place as a whole.

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Iguazu Falls, Brazil

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I was glad to have visited both sides in order to get a broader, fuller picture of the place. The Brazilian side was a short trip out, needing no more than a few hours whereas visiting the Argentinian side of Iguazu required a full day.

If I had to suggest an order it would be to do the Brazilian side first and build up to the Argentinian side. And if you only get the opportunity to do one? Go for Argentina. It’s a powerful experience.

On the Brazilian side there are also options to do rafting and rappelling (at extra cost) and close by is a bird park that I didn’t visit but fellow backpackers highly recommended.

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Ignorance at Iguazu Falls (but a whole lot of energy too)

I don’t know whether to cry or slap him. A casual flick and the cigarette butt tumbles into the wide jungle river. He saunters off. I think I shouted ‘no!’, but maybe I just thought it. Precious nature, one of the world’s natural wonders, contaminated by an ignorant man.

I’m at Iguazu Falls (ak.a. Iguassu Falls or Iguaçu Falls) on the Argentinian side. Paying R$75 through the hostel has turned out to be a good option with quicker, stress-free border crossings from Brazil and easy entry to the park.

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Catching the train to the Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls, Argentina

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Whiskered fish in the jungle river at Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Once through the turnstiles, a two train trip takes me towards the Garganta del Diablo – the Devil’s Throat – where I wander along springy, metal walkways over an extensive jungle and river landscape, stopping only to watch black whiskered fish on a feeding frenzy, two foot masses competing for crumbs thrown in by rule-breaking visitors. And then I see the guy and witness the cigarette incident, and I’m upset.

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The Devil's Throat, Iguazu Falls, Argentina

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Feel the spray at The Devil's Throat, Iguazu Falls, Argentina

But time to appreciate what else is going on. The roar, no, the constant pounding of water is all-consuming. As it falls, lines and shapes in the stream mutate and tumble downwards with force, only to be bounced back up as puffs of cloudy spray.

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Views away from The Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls, Argentina

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Views away from The Devil's Throat in Iguazu Falls, Argentina

I take some photos and then put away my camera. I squeeze myself into a gap, shut out the crowds and turn my face to be kissed by misty wetness, and I allow myself to be calmed by nature’s rumble.

And I stand and stare. In the truest sense of the word, it is awesome. If I was a believer, I’d have thanked God at this point. Instead I thank life (and my ticket company for reversing my flight back to South America so easily).

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By the bottom of Bossetti Falls at Iguazu Falls, Argentina

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San Martin Island and The Devil's Throat, Iguazu Falls in Argentina (Brazil land on the left)

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The beach on La Isla San Martin at Iguazu Falls, Argentina

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San Martin Falls and surrounding waterfalls at Iguazu Falls, Argentina

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San Martin Falls at Iguazu Falls, Argentina

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Mbigua and Gpque Bernabe Mendez Falls at Iguazu Falls, Argentina

I take a short, free ferry ride and eat a picnic lunch on the little island of San Martin, a place with a mini sandy beach and a steep, stepped climb to vistas of the San Martin Falls. I have a voucher for the boat ride into the falls that I can choose to use or return later to the hostel. At R$50, I’m weighing up cost over experience. Should I just go for it?

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A taster soaking at a smaller waterfall en route to The Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls

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More of a soaking in the heavy spray of San Martin Falls at Iguazu Falls

Experience wins. Absolutely worth it. The only disappointment is that we don’t go in as far as I would hope beneath the rush of the Devil’s Throat, but we do still all get a good soaking and the thrill of the being so close to the power and force of the water is indescribable.

And it’s a blessing to get wet; the sun has been shining with such ferocity. Not that I’m complaining. It has been a perfect day to visit Iguazu.

Less than fifteen minutes later and I’m back on land. I sit on a rock to dry off and take in the scenery. I’ve forgotten about the man and his cigarette. I am just here, in the now, drinking in the beauty and energy of this amazing place. A precious moment.

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Drying off and taking in the views at Iguazu Falls

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