The highlight of the trip for me was our four-day excursion to Iguazu Falls, in the Misiones province of northern Argentina. On our first full day in Puerto Iguazu, we took a taxi into the National Park. We arranged for our taxi driver to pick us up six hours later, which he told us would be sufficient time to explore the entire park. We set off through the park, politely declining any invitations for private tours or planned excursions. While many people were taking part in these activities, we wanted the freedom to explore the park at our own leisure.
Our first stop was the small train station which would take us out to see Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), a large powerful waterfall. While on the small train, it began to rain, and we started to feel like we were really in a subtropical rainforest. After disembarking from the train, we stopped at a small restaurant/shop in the park to enjoy some empanadas (pastries filled with meat).
Then it was on to the Devil’s Throat. We walked out to the waterfall on narrow metal bridges, suspended over islands and various rivers. While it was pouring rain, we kept our eyes peeled for any signs of wildlife. At one point I heard a German family pointing and marvelling at something they saw in a nearby tree. Stopping to look, we saw an enormous black toucan with the most colourful beak. It looked like plastic, and definitely stuck out amongst the rest of the green vegetation.
Continuing on our walk we saw hundreds of beautiful butterflies. In every size and colour imaginable, butterflies would flit between us as we carefully walked closer to the falls. They seemed to really like my bright orange raincoat, and kept landing on me and coming along for the walk!
When we reached Garganta del Diablo, the noise was overwhelming. We had heard that Iguazu was experiencing higher than normal levels of water, and that the volume of water pouring over the falls was the highest it had been in many years.
As we inched closer to the edge of the barricade, I began to think how, if this were in North America, that we would never be allowed to get this close to the mouth of the waterfall. No more than 5 feet away, the falls opened up into the river below. It was our first sight of the falls (besides on the airplane when we passed over it!), and was absolutely incredible.
We spent the rest of the day exploring the Superior and Inferior circuits of the other waterfalls. The rain stopped, and we were able to explore the entire park without any mosquitoes or harsh sunlight (thanks to the abundance of insects and birds, and the thick canopy).
Can you see the cayman in the photo above? And the camoflauged lizard below?
Brightly coloured birds, small lizards, and coatis (large racoon-like animals that loved to scavenge for food) were everywhere. Around each turn of the well-maintained paths, we found narrow, wide, small, large, short, and long waterfalls. The amount of waterfalls was incredible!
We were also amazed at the amount of plant species. It seemed that as we worked our way through the park, we consistently saw new and beautiful plants, vines, and trees. For lunch we stopped at a buffet restaurant inside the park. Although I am not a fan of buffets, it was actually pretty decent, and served all of the traditional Argentine fare, including a parrillada.
Six hours later, we were tired and ready to find our taxi. On the way out of the park we stopped at a series of make-shift shops set up by local people. I bought a wooden carving of a large coati, which now sits proudly atop my bookshelf; a reminder of our magical trip to Iguazu Falls.
If you ever get the chance to visit Iguazu Falls, you absolutely must! We hadn’t originally planned on including it into our itinerary, as it is a little bit out of the way. However, a short 1.5 hour plane ride with Aerolineas Argentinas brought us right into the vicinity, and as mentioned in my previous post, the accommodations were outstanding. What started as a last-minute add-in to the trip, eventually turned out the be the most exciting part of all!