South America | Argentina | North East | El Litoral | Puerto Iguazu – Big Falls
There’s a bit of a debate in some quarters about whether the Iguasu falls are better viewed on the Brazilian side or the Argentine side of the falls. Some say they are equaly impressive. So first thing in the morning I am wandering through the park in Argentina and it almost seems as if nobody is here. Yesterday I went to the Brazilian falls and it was magnificent with its walkway and platform almost in the middle of one of the sections of falls giving me a perspective I could never have from Argentina, but somehow I feel that today its going to be incredible on the this side of the falls. It feels bigger with a lot more walking areas and there’s a train that takes you through the jungle dropping you off at various trailheads. There are boats that take you right underneath some of the falls soaking you to the skin. There are quiet jungle explorations that take you to an even more natural Iguasu away from the big flow of international visitors. I do it all.
The first trail I take is to the inferior or lower circuit bringing me down below the falls and to a small crossing by ferry to an island. From here I follow a small trail to a lookout point where when the sun is shining there is a perpetual rainbow. Back up the hill and towards the other side of the island I pass a gigantic lizard that plods through the dried leaves in the jungle undergrowth. Further on at the next lookout point, a few vultures sit on the railing waiting until I’m extremely close before flying off and circling above the falls with dozens and dozens of others. Then its back down to the beach where I take the ferry back to the other side and board a fast inflatable raft to go up close on both sides of the border literally under the falls not just once but four times. Its an exhilarating ride that soaks everyone to the skin but the cameras stay safe in a drybag.
I meet a Canadian and his Argentinian girlfriend who had been at the Brazilian falls the day before.
“Niagara’s better eh?” the Canadian says.
“I don’t know about that.”
“Ya come on eh? Niagara’s way better!”
He’s half-joking of course both with the use of ‘eh?’ and about the falls. He winks at his girlfriend who lives with him in Toronto.
These falls are something else – wide expansive and set within a national park. Although Niagara is spectacular and has its charm with the night lighting and frozen bits in the winter, there’s something exotic and super natural about this environment and then the superior or upper circuit takes me to a variety of viewing platforms right on the edges of the top of the falls.
From there I take the train to the last stop where I can see the ‘Garganta del Diablo’ or the Devil’s Throat. Below the boardwalk that takes me the last kilometer a cayman sits in the river basking in the warm waters.
There’s a legend they say, that the falls were made when the local indigenous peoples from long ago were ready to sacrifice a young maiden to the gods. At the last minute, her boyfriend kidnapped her and took her up the river making the gods so angry that they created the falls and bore a hole straight into the earth where the young maiden and her boyfriend were swept into the hole that is the devil’s throat – at least that’s the version I overheard a guide telling their group.
The falls are deceptive. Above them, the waters are shallow and slow moving, but when they reach the edge it seems that by some miracle there is a torrent of waterand there’s no denying that they are magnificent. Even more magnificent is a slow raft paddled down the river above the falls. I’m told about the alternative transportation on the way back to the train and decide to go for the variety element. I’m glad I do. The guide points out various birdlife and we see a very large cayman, coming quite close with apparently no disturbance to the creature other than a glance in our direction. We back away leaving it to continue doing whatever it is that caymans do when they sit so motionless in the water. The sun is getting lower as we dock and I must say my morning instinct was correct. Argentina wins!!!! Hands down! Argentina and Brazil may not have the biggest falls of them all, but they are very close to the best and most beautiful you will ever see.