We were rather glad that we booked a flight to Foz do Iguaçu, the city on the Brazillian side of Iguaçu Cataratas (Iguazu Waterfalls), instead of going by bus. We arrived at our hostel between 3 and 4pm. The hostel, Iguazu Guest House, is a good, clean hostel which we would recommend, except that it may be a bit noisy late at night. We stayed in Foz do Iguaçu for three nights. Although we did not look for a hostel in Puerto Iguazú (the town on the Argentinian side of the falls), it did seem to be a little bit nicer to reside in compared to Foz.The day after our arrival we were on our way to the falls and decided to visit the Argentinian side first, although some people advised us to rather see the Brazilian side first. According to them, the Argentinian side is more impressive and it is best to leave the best for last. Instead of going by taxi, we took the cheaper public transport (bus) across the border. There are two main bus companies doing the trip across the border. The busses drop you off at the Brazilian border control and drive on. Once you managed to get a stamp on your passport, you have to wait for a bus from the same bus company to get to the Argentinian border control. We got tired of waiting and thought it won´t be to far to walk across to the Argentinian side. It turned out to be a more than 3 km hike (our bus company passed us 400 m from the border control).
At the Argentinian side, after getting our passports stamped again, we took a bus from another company so had to pay the fee again. The bus dropped us off at the Puerto Iguazú bus terminal, from where you have to take another local bus to the Iguazú National Park. In total, the journey from our hostel to the entrance of the park took about 2 hours. If you opt for the hassle free option of going with an organised tour (R$50 pp), the journey time is between 30 and 45 minutes, since they wait for you at the border controls. If you want to save money, the bus journey is looonnng, but quite an experience… we had some nice conversations with fellow travellers from Germany, Peru, the United States and Britain.
We booked a Gran Adventure boat trip at the park, which includes a sight seeing trip through the forest before getting into the boat. The trip through the forest was interesting, but we thought the extra money we paid didn’t justify the trip. The boat trip on the other hand was a lot of fun. They actually go so close to one of the waterfalls that you’re almost right underneath it. Obviously, the resultant is super soaking wet passengers, especially for us sitting in the first row.
After the boat trip, we did some of the hiking trails beneath, above and around the numerous waterfalls (they call it the lower and upper circuit routes), and then took the Tren Ecológico de la Selva (Rainforest Ecological Train) up to the biggest waterfall, called Garganta del Diablo (the Devil’s throat), which to me was the highlight of the day (the boat trip was to Cobus the most exciting part of the day). It was an incredible experience standing there at the lookout point watching tons of water tumbling over the edge with the mist rising up to 150 metres. I didn’t want to leave, but we had to catch the last train back to the entrance and return to Foz by bus.
The following day was a bit cloudy, but we still decided to visit the Brazilian side of the falls. It turned out to be a good decision as we saw a lot of things we didn’t see on the other side, including a panoramic view of the falls, some close up views of other waterfalls, and a wild armidillo (which made Cobus’ day – its one of those things he always wanted to see).
We were glad we did the Brazilian side second – it was definitely not less impressive than the Argentinian side. It was a nice progression from being close to the waterfalls on the Argentinian side and to then see the grand overview in Brazil. On the Brazilian side there is a walkway along the canyon with an extension to the lower base of the Devil’s Throat. You get soaked by the spray when standing there. Most people put on a rain coat on the Brazilian side of the Devil’s Throat, but we thought it much more fun getting wet!
We also went to the Parque das Aves (Bird Park) next to the Iguaçu National Park. We are not really fond of looking at animals in cages, however, we enjoyed visiting the bird park. Rare and colourful birds are able to fly in huge aviaries which have been built to blend in with the humid subtropical forest. Visitors can enter some of these areas to enjoy the bird even more. The focus of the park is on environmental conservation, to reintroduce species into protected areas, and to promote the breeding of species in danger of extinction. The smaller cages are only used for the purposes of breeding and rehabilitation. We were thrilled watching the Parrots, Macaws and Toucans flying all around us. We were so excited about seeing so many different kinds of Toucans – our childhood days of eating fruitloops only fimiliarised us with one kind!
We concluded our day with a “per kilo” buffet dinner at a nearby restaurant. Good value for money… it’s like eating at the Neelsie in Stellenbosch (with some better variety and some better tasting food).
The next day we took up the border challenge again, but this time we were more informed and we even met some bewildered Peruvians who we could guide through the process. At Puerto Iguazu bus station we booked a bus to San Ignacio, a 4 hour journey south.
One of my prayers is that God will continue to make Himself known to us in unexpected ways and places and in everyday throughout our lives journey. A woman chanting “Cuán grande es Él” in Spanish on our way back from the waterfalls was definitely one such moment which I cherish. I can’t think of a better way to conclude this post than with the (English) lyrics of the amazing song:
O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:
When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration,
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!