South America | Argentina | North East | El Litoral | Iguazu National Park | Iguazu (Iguasu) Falls – The majestic Iguazu Falls
I just witnessed the most incredible thing I have seen – the powerful and majestic waterfalls of Iguazu. This must surely be one of the wonders of the natural world. As I explored the various areas of the falls over two days, I was constantly in awe that something as amazing and stunning as this could exist.
From Asuncion in Paraguay I caught a bus that headed due east to the Brazilian border. The trip was supposed to only take six hours, but for some reason still unknown to me, it took eight hours. The border is a river with a bridge connecting Paraguay to Brazil, and for two hours there was a log jam of vehicles trying to get across. The immigration offices of both countries were at either ends of the bridge, but it took an eternity to get my passport processed. Perhaps it was the famous Latin American lunch time or siesta or whatever.
I arrived in the town of Foz do Iguazu, which is the base for visiting the famous Iguazu Falls nearby. Over the next two days I visited the Brazilian side of the falls, which gave me a grand overview, and then the Argentinian side, which gave me a closer look.
The Brazilian side – an incredible introduction
On the first day, I caught a bus to the Brazilian side of the falls. After paying for the national park entrance, a bus took us to the start of the walking trail. The sight that greeted me as I arrived at the starting platform is indescribable. There before me was a panoramic view of the stupendous falls, the most incredible thing I have seen. The grandeur and majesty of the falls cannot be fully described in words. From up here, we could see a wide length of the phenomenon. Numerous waterfalls cascaded at different levels over a large area, tumbling over protruding rocks and intermingling with lush green jungle foliage.
A fine spray of mist billowed up permanently in the air like smoke, such was the power of the water crashing into the river below. The sun was shining brightly today, and I could see a few rainbows in full arcs across the falls. I have rarely seen full rainbows, and those that I saw today didn’t seem real but much like a painting. As the sun moved across the sky during the morning, the angles of the rainbows would shift accordingly, making for many different scenes during the day. High up above giant eagles soared effortlessly without beating their wings. They must have the best view of all, circling above every day.
Walking along the cascade
The trail followed the line of the falls on the opposite bank, affording great views of the falls at various vantage points. There are platforms along the way to view the many different waterfalls from different angles.
The best part was when we got near the end of the trail, where they had built a walkway out to the largest and most powerful part of the falls. The walkway was also being drenched heavily from the stronger spray at this part, and I donned my rain jacket to venture forward. Out there, it was virtually like horizontal rain and I was soon experiencing a refreshing cold shower. Those who didn’t bring rain wear were quickly drenched.
I spent quite some time looking and listening to the cascading water. The thunderous roar and sight of billions of gallons of water crashing down on to the rocks is something to behold. I could spend all day up here being mesmerised by the sight and sound of this incredible amount of water gushing over the edge.
The Argentinian side
The following day I hooked up with two Americans who were staying at my hostel, Andrew and Rusty. That is actually his real name, and with a name like Rusty there was no doubt that he was American. The three of us went over to Argentina, a short bus ride away, to see the falls from the other side.
The Argentinian side was different from the Brazilian side; for one thing it had a lot more trails for different hikes. One of them took us right over the incredible Devil’s Throat, one of the largest cascades at the mouth of the falls. It is difficult to comprehend the huge volume of water rushing through at such a high rate. I could not see the bottom of the falls because the sheer force of the water crashing below permanently obscured the bottom with clouds of spray.
An absolute drenching in a speedboat
We also got to do one of the optional activities, a twelve minute ride in a speedboat right up to one of the roaring falls. I knew I was going to get wet, but had no inkling of what was to come. I should have suspected when they gave us plastic bags for us to wrap our stuff in. As the powerful boat roared towards the crashing water, we became absolutely drenched to the skin. I was sitting on the side and caught the full brunt of a few waves as well as the spray from the waterfall. I was walking around in soaking clothes for the rest of the afternoon, but what a rush.
The Iguazu Falls is undoubtedly one of the highlights of my trip, and something I would recommend to be on anyone’s list of must see places. I have to say it again, it is by far the most incredible thing I have seen.