It is nearly impossible to describe las Cataratas del Iguazú, better known as Iguazú Falls. My week-long trip in Argentina was full of its ups and downs, so let’s begin…
I travelled with two other international students from la Católica. Our trip to Puerto Iguazú in northern Argentina consisted of a two hour bus ride west of Montevideo, an hour-long boat ride over to Buenos Aires, waiting at the bus terminal for seven hours, and then an eighteen hour bus ride to Puerto Iguazú. I know what you’re probably thinking, and yes, an eighteen hour bus ride. It actually wasn’t that bad, though! The seats were very comfortable and reclined back quite a ways, we were served dinner and breakfast, and we departed Buenos Aires at 7pm, which allowed us to sleep for a good portion of the trip.
We arrived in Puerto Iguazú in the afternoon and checked in to our hostel, which was conveniently right across the street from the bus station. We didn’t have enough time after we arrived to go to Iguazú Falls, so we opted to explore the town for a bit. Everything in the town seems to be aimed at tourists, which of course makes sense considering one of the great wonders of the world is only a short distance away. This small town was very different from Montevideo with its jungle-esque foliage and red dirt. For the two and a half days we were there, it was never less than 85°F during the day, and very humid.
After some exploring, we went to the Jardin de los Picaflores (“Hummingbird Garden”). Fun fact: “picaflor” means “hummingbird” in Spanish; “pica” comes from the verb “picar” which means “to prick”, and “flor” means “flower”, so “picaflor” literally means “flower pricker”.
For dinner, we enjoyed a nice Argentinian steak before retiring early to bed.
The following day, it was off to Iguazú Falls! The park was about a thirty minute bus ride from our hostel, and one of my first impressions upon arriving at the park was TOURISTS. So many tourists, which is understandable, considering how popular the falls are. The falls aren’t immediately within view upon entering the park. We had to walk quite a ways through the jungle, and then we took a train up to the upper part of the falls.
When we did arrive, however, all I could say was WOW! We walked about a kilometer on a set of walkways over the Río Iguazú (“Iguazú River”) over to the part of the falls known as la Garganta del Diablo (“Devil’s Throat”). The noise was incredible, and the amount of mist coming from the falls was enough to leave us pretty damp. Such an impressive sight!
After, we decided to take an ecological tour along the river. We boarded a bright orange boat that gently cruised along the river. Unfortunately, no major animal sightings.
There were, however, several animals that freely roamed throughout the park.
A coati, basically the South American version of the aardvark. These nasty little guys are known for stealing the lunch of tourists.
After lunch, we headed back out into the heat and went to a different area of the park that offered more views of the falls. The walkways through the jungle were so neat; I really felt like I was in the heart of South America. We arrived at several more viewpoints that offered more spectacular views of the falls. There really are no words to describe Iguazú, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking (although the pictures don’t even do it justice):
After a long and exhausting day in the park, we headed back to Puerto Iguazú for some dinner and much needed relaxation.
During our final day in Puerto Iguazú, we walked in the blistering heat to a point where two rivers meet up and form the borders between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Although we unfortunately could not travel to the other sides, I can at least say I have seen Brazil and Paraguay!
Paraguay is on the left across the river, and Brazil is on the right
As our last activity, we visited Güira Oga, which is a refuge park for animals. Throughout our tour, we saw many South American birds and mammals that were being cared for by the staff for reasons including accidents involving vehicles, animals who were orphaned, and those who have suffered other various injuries.
A trip to South America wouldn’t be complete without a capybara
Later that evening, it was time to head back to Buenos Aires, which meant another eighteen hour bus ride, but again, it wasn’t bad at all!
We arrived in Buenos Aires in the afternoon, and we were planning on spending four days in the city. Although I had already been to Buenos Aires once for a few days, I was excited to be back and see more of the gigantic city. The first day was pretty simple, just ate lunch, did some exploring, and shopped around a little bit.
However, as we headed out to dinner that evening, I began to not feel well. We arrived at the restaurant, I ordered some food, took one bite, and knew I was going to be sick. I headed back to the hostel, which was thankfully only half a block away, and spent the rest of the evening feeling absolutely awful. It turns out I got food poisoning, so needless to say, it was a rough night.
I still felt pretty miserable the following day, so I spent the entire day in the hostel sleeping and relaxing. It rained a lot that day, so I guess I didn’t miss out on too much!
The following day, I started to recover. We went on a historical city tour of Buenos Aires, and one of our stops included the church where Pope Francis used to work. However, I still was pretty drained of energy, so I headed back to the hostel to rest for a little bit. I felt better during the evening and was able to go with everyone to Café Tortoni, which is one of the most popular cafés in Buenos Aires; we even had to wait in line outside just to get a table. The café definitely had a very rustic atmosphere, and it also had very delicious apple pie!
On our last full day in Buenos Aires, we couldn’t help but go to Starbucks. I still was feeling pretty exhausted, so again, I headed back to the hostel to rest for a few hours. After a much needed super nap, we went to another café and spent the evening wandering around the city.
Early the next day, it was back to Montevideo. I wasn’t too disappointed that I didn’t get to spend much time wandering around Buenos Aires, considering I had already been there and during the first trip we hit most of the major landmarks. I was just glad that I got sick in Buenos Aires instead of in Iguazú!
And so ends an amazing vacation. When I first came to Uruguay, I figured that I would take some short trips around the country and visit Buenos Aires once; I never imagined that I would see Iguazú Falls. From now on, every waterfall that I see will be a slight disappointment in comparison with the great Cataratas del Iguazú!