After a short stopover in Salta, We were ready to begin a 25hours journey to take us to our main bucket list item in Argentina, Iguazu Falls. We had given so much consideration to this journey, the options and costs of getting there, and if it could be worth it. Once we decided to just go for it we promised there was no looking back and no complaining allowed for 25hours on two buses to get there (side note: it was more than worth it-GO!).
Anyways I had been awake much of the night before with the noise of the torrential rain which was apparently very very rare for Salta (typical!) and the fun started when we knew we needed to take a taxi from our airbnb in the lavish neighbourhood to the bus terminal but couldn’t get in touch with our host to assist (very unlucky for us as we have used the site for accommodation numerous times before with nothing to complain of). Anyways we had to get creative with the thinking caps, I topped up my Skype account to enable me to call some taxi companies-all to fail with the language barrier. Next up-I downloaded the uber app (have never used it before but basically an app for drivers that aren’t official taxis)…hurdle #1 I had to verify my Irish number by entering the code they had text me however I am only operating the phone over wifi and essentially have no number or network since January so I put my mums number down instead and she was able to whatsapp me the code-bingo! It took about 20minutes to set the app up only to find out there was no drivers available in our area!!! That was it though as the clock was ticking to our departure time-I donned my poncho and had no option to run into the rain. I played knock knock in our very fancy neighbourhood for about ten minutes-mainly because I couldn’t access any of the doors through the alarmed gates. I finally found someone who opened their door and frantically showed them the translation on my phone asking to please call me a taxi and much to the excitement of my soaked self he invited me into the mansion and even offered tea while he called the taxi. All I could think was Gavin is NEVER going to believe me when I return to get him and I wished I had been recording the whole morning (including the gold legged chair I was too scared to sit on because I was too wet). Anyways my new friend didn’t understand that I had to return and get our bags and Gavin so I was praying he wouldn’t cancel our car when I ran off again – he didn’t thankfully. The look on Gav’s face when I told him we had to go down the street to my new amigo was absolutely priceless. I have never been so relieved to sit in a taxi in my entire life-what a morning!!! After all that excitement we were finally ready to begin the 25 hour bus journey wet..no complaining allowed though 🙂
Our first bus was 18 hours and to a place called Posadas. It was with a company called Flechabus and it was super comfortable. We had gotten very used to the service offered on the long haul buses in South America and in Peru in particular our standard had been raised. We really didn’t think anything could improve until we were served wine along with our hot meal on Flechabus. Even though the travel in Argentina was extortionately priced we sighed in relief that at least it was really high quality! We both slept most of the trip and I was so surprised when we landed in Posadas 18hours later-it was so pain free! We had a half hour stopover to stretch the legs before we caught a 6.5 hour bus to Iguazu- obviously not the same standard as the night before but nothing to complain about all the same.
We scheduled three full days in Iguazu and had two half days on our transit days either side too. There really only is one item for the agenda here and that is the famous Iguazu falls. There are over 275 falls making up the Iguazu falls and the most scenic one is the ‘devils throat’ which has 14 falls that drop to a height of 350 feet. In researching our visit to the falls, I kept coming across the same story online, the words of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, upon seeing the Iguazu falls and her reaction was “Poor Niagara”. The falls can be reached from Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay.
We spent our first day in Iguazu resting and making some plans for the days ahead. It was about 30degrees which was the most heat we have had since the Galapagos so was welcomed! We donned our runners before the heat of sunrise and tried to remember the distances we used to run before we left home!! We only managed about 6km that morning but went to a fun point in Iguazu where we stood in Argentina, looked at Paraguay to our left and Brazil on our right-a triple border point!
We stayed at nomads hostel which served us the best breakfast we’ve had over all of South America-I actually went to bed looking forward to it the following mornings!! Freshly squeezed orange juice, fresh fruit, bread and avocado, REAL cornflakes and PROPER milk (emphasis intentional!!!), and cake!
One thing we noticed in Iguazu which hadn’t been that apparent to us in Salta but did continue for the rest of Argentina, was the amount of ice cream shops everywhere- the ones where you pick your flavours in scoops. We enjoyed a cone and scoop on a few occasions in Iguazu and we thought this was normal enough until we noticed the locals who lined up and purchased 1kg tubs at a time! Dulce de leche seems to be the most popular flavour here, in fact it appears very popular in general. Dulce de leche lattes, biscuits, yogurts, chocolate, milk and primarily served in big tubs like jam or marmalade – it’s like a way of life!
On reading of the falls we understood that the Argentinian side is more impressive than the Brazilian side even though both are recommended. We decided we would take a day trip to Brazil and see that side first! The timing of our total trip doesn’t allow time to explore Brazil but we enjoyed a few jokes about our “day in Brazil” which is comical due to the size of the country. Anyways it was only about 20 minutes to the border and another stamp closer to a full passport! The park was only another few minutes after the border. We took a local bus from Iguazu and entry was $40 for the both of us.
The Brazilian side offers huge panoramic views of the falls whereas the Argentinian side is bigger and offers a more close up experience with the falls. I would definitely recommend seeing both sides but leaving Argentina until second as I definitely would have been disappointed with the Brazilian side after seeing Argentina!
There were quatis everywhere in the park on both days (they are a member of the raccoon family)- and also signs to keep away from them! We witnessed first hand one of them attacking a plastic bag that a tourist was carrying and within seconds he was surrounded by about 20 of them!!
The Brazil side of the park is serviced by a tourist bus which transfers you between the various attractions. The Brazilian side is essentially made up of one, one way path along the falls which is only about 1km in length. The views were amazing and we definitely had never seen anything like it before but we couldn’t help be a little underwhelmed on reaching the end of the route. We had brought our picnic with us and scheduled a full day for the park so we decided to walk it twice! There was an option to visit a different part of the park with a 9km loop walk but there was an additional entry fee here, over double the park fee and way over our daily budget!
The following day we set off early to begin the Argentinian side of the falls. We also took a local bus. Surprisingly it cost more to reach to Argentinian side, which was closer and in the same country??! And the entrance there was also more than in Brazil!
This park is serviced with a tourist train and is much bigger than the Brazil side. There was three main parts to our day, two different walking routes and a trip on the train to the famous “Devils throat”. The walking loops consisted of the upper loop with views of the falls by your side and below you, and the lower loop along side the drop of the water. Boat trips are also offered to an island from the lower loop but this service didn’t run on the day of our visit due to water levels. We spent the full morning walking the loops with so many photo opportunities including the odd rainbow making an appearance with the sun!
Over lunch we were treated to our first ever view of a tucan bird, which we both recognised from the Guinness logo from home!
After lunch we took the tourist train to the devils throat. It was about a ten minute walk to the viewpoint from the train stop and once we caught sight of the falls it was so insane- we were getting soaked from the mist of the water but literally could not stop staring. The power, volume, and sound of the water was completely mesmerizing.
The following day was our last in Iguazu and we had the afternoon to pass until 5pm when our bus departed for Buenos Aires. After spending an hour queuing and attempting to get money out of different ATMs we got absolutely stranded in a storm with torrential rain, thunder and lightening and ended up taking a taxi to our hostel which was only five minutes away.The weather determined our plans for the afternoon which was to stay sheltered, catch up on the blog and do some planning for our final few weeks in South America!