AdventureAntarcticaArgentinaSightseeingSouth America

Day 15: Iguazu Falls

We caught an early (eeeeaaaarlllllyyy) morning flight to Iguazu, Argentina, in the northern part of the country on the border with Brazil. Iguazu Falls is as big if not bigger than Victoria Falls and larger than Niagra, and we decided it was the perfect way to finish off our trip.

The flight was fine – we slept most of the way – and when we landed we caught a taxi to the Hotel Esturion with a cab driver named Luis. We thought at first that he was fleecing us and we were too tired to do much more than let him, but by the end of the long cab ride we discovered that he was actually genuine and lovely. We took his card and told him we’d call him if we decided to do any of the trips he suggested.

Iguazu Falls
First stop was an afternoon of walking around Iguazu Falls. We took a (pretty pricey) taxi into the national park, paid our park fees, and had lunch at a lovely pizza place in the park’s food court. Argentineans seem to be lovely, kind soul – and not just when we give them our money. Our pizza waiter was full of recommendations in and around the park.

Surprisingly delicious pizza
We kicked off our tour on the Upper Circuit trail, which gave a high view of the falls. On our hike of the trail, we were surprised by a number of things:

1) The “trail” wasn’t a trail but a very well maintained grated walkway that traversed the entire upper area of the falls.

Shannon and Mindy on the “trail”
2) The place was PACKED. People. Everywhere. It was like the Disney World of Argentina. Most of them were wore their bathing suits, so apparently that was a perfectly acceptable attire for a national park – even if they might have made the world better by not revealing all those bumps and rolls that we saw. Oy. People. Have a little modesty. (Though we noted the bathing suit approach for the next day since our arrangements included a soaking trip under the falls).

Shannon, Mindy, and gobs and gobs of people.
3) Dodgy men in speedos with mustaches who stare at three girls named Shannon, Mindy and Heidi should be avoided at all costs.

There’s a speedo behind that blue towel. And not the good kind of speedo. (wait… is there a good kind?)

The Falls were stunning, though

Iguazu Falls


A steep waterfall drop

Iguazu Falls close-up

Garganta del Diablo
We went to one of the far trails called Gargatna del Diablo (“Devils Throat”) that featured a 1km walk to the tops of the distant falls. To get there, we had to take the Iguazu Falls train which involved waiting in a loooonnng line with all the other tourists and wait for it to amble along to the Gargatna del Diablo station. We considered walking the distance of 3km to get there on our own but the weather was hot and humid, and we were tired and dragging – so the train it was.

The train

It was a lovely 1km walk to Devil’s Throat.

Mindy, enjoying a breeze over Iguazu River and a brief respite from gobs of tourists

Gobs of tourists, heading our way

Devil’s Throat / Garganta del Diablo
When the wind shifted, all that spray came out way

Mindy and Shannon at the falls, getting nicely soaked

Soaking wet Mindy

Soaking wet Shannon

Pretty bird

After the falls we waited (and waited… and waited… ) for the train back to the main station of the park.

Rest Time
We were beat from the humidity, the travel, and the lack of sleep so we went back to the hotel and had a nice, long, air-conditioned nap before sunset drinks on the balcony of the hotel bar.

This was a beautiful day at the falls, but we were slightly put off by all the tourists. Having just come from a trip to the end of the world where there’s endless land and no people… well, we were a little spoiled. So we weren’t really expecting to have to fight through jam-packed walkways for photograph spots or to stand in long lines for train rides. We thought we’d have more off-the-beaten path options but there just weren’t any. Not even in our guide books. Where was the white water rafting? And the bungee jumping? We booked a river trip for the next day which we expected to be fun but if I ever come back I’ll do a bit more research on adventure travel in the area. In lieu of that, we opted for adventures in food…

El Charo
Dinner was at a local dive that served fabulous Argentinean beef. We sat outside in the moonlight and ordered parrilla for three – which came as a massive heap of meat of all types. Chicken, beef, porks, ribs, sausage, and something we couldn’t identify but called it “the ear” since it looked remotely ear-like and was slightly grizzly.

The girls, laughing (we didn’t have any fun together at all)

El Charo

The Ear

We ate all of it – including the some of ear which actually turned out to be tripe (we’re not fans, though). We loved the dinner so much that we gluttonously soaked up the delicious sauce with the last bits of meat and bread.

Mindy, mid-laughter, beneath the full moon