Nothing good ever starts with a 17 hour bus ride… or at least that is what we thought until we decided to journey to Puerto Iguazu to see the legendary Iguazu waterfalls.
True, the cramping in your legs and closeness of the rest of humanity on a long (read very long) haul bus does make you question your life choices very acutely. It was at about 5am on an Argentinian morning that we both woke at the last bus stop before Puerto Iguazu. I say that as if we slept soundly before that point in time, the truth is far from this. However, despite our severe lack of sleep and questionable “bus food” feeling like lead in our stomach, there was a definite excitement as we entered the unmistakable tropical forests on the last leg to Puerto Iguazu. The numerous animal crossing caution signs with outlines of Tapir and Coati (the possums of Argentina) made us feel far from home and it was not hard to hear the jungle drums in your ears.
After several (awkward) exchanges that left our spoken Spanish skills very wanting we checked into our hostel at Puerto Iguazu. As with any hostel across the world the sound of Reggae music drifted through the air to great us upon entrance. Fortunately, the receptionist had a much firmer grasp of English than our slightly sub-par Spanish skills and was able to assist us with storing our baggage and developing a plan of attack for exploring the mighty Iguazu Falls. As it was still only 10am we decided to forage onward despite our sleep deprived state and catch another bus to the falls themselves. Oh what a reward we were greeted with…
Trying to describe Iguazu Falls in this blog post is like trying to profess your infatuation to your lover in language you have never encountered before. The words “epic” and “humbling” come to mind, but they still do very little to express the insignificance you feel when you round the corner on the walking track to view the expanse of the falls for the first time. They say that United States First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed “Poor Niagara!” upon seeing Iguazu Falls. I think, that my first words were closer to “f**k me!” The sheer amount of water cannot be described in any way. It has to be seen to be believed. Trust me when I say that is probably to closest that I have felt with our designer in my whole life.
Cascading over an endless amount of sheer drops, was what seemed like a tropical monsoon’s worth of water. Needless to say that the camera got a work out! Beyond that, we had heard that you could get a jet boat ride under the falls (or part of the falls) themselves and this was definitely on top of our to-do list.
On our way down to the boats, we observed a steady stream of tourists who were so soaked with water it looked liked they had jumped into the river itself. Fortunately, this did prompt us to be very careful with our dry bag rolling. I have to admit that I did see numerous tourists of no particular nationality open their “dry bags” after the boat ride to only find them full of water. Roll them tightly and squeeze the air out people! Though we shouldn’t feel so high and mighty as there was a casualty on our jet boat ride; Cass’ iPhone. Unfortunately a “spray proof” jacket is very different to a jacket that keeps things dry when you are sitting under a raging waterfall (which feels like being dumped in a Mooloolaba beach break). The phone did try valiantly to function for the next half hour after our exhilarating boat trip, but eventually went into the ether. Unfortunately, it took an untold number of our early holiday photographs with it. But after a short lunch (and remembrance ceremony for the iPhone) the Iguazu Falls beckoned us back for further explorations.
The rest of the afternoon felt like a bit of a blur to me, full of waterfall spray and photography opportunities that would make any serious photographer wet themselves. However, one experience does stand out above the rest. And that was our trip to the “devil’s throat”. This aptly named section of the falls required us to catch a train and walk along a seeming endless expanse of boardwalks above the upper Iguazu River to view. But, boy was it worth it. I think the one thing that I can say that makes you appreciate the power of the falls from this viewing point was that we were on a platform at least 80 meters above the base of the falls and we still got soaked from the back-spray.
I may see many waterfalls again in my life, however I doubt that I will ever see anything again that holds a candle to the mighty Iguazu Falls.
The following day we had decided that our time was better spent not losing further electronic devices to Iguazu Falls. As such we embarked on a lovely walk to the viewing point of the three-way intersection between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.
Cass did befriend another stray dog and we spent at least half an hour laughing at other tourists getting soaked by the perfectly timed and unexpected water fountain display. But it was now time to wander back to Puerto Iguazu and journey back to Buenos Aires again… another 17 hour bus ride later. We survived but the scars will remain.