The town of Puerto Iguazu is situated on a little finger of Argentina, sandwiched between Paraguay and Brazil. But it is nothing like other towns of Argentina.
It is not classy, European, or even shallowly wealthy. This town does not hide the pretext that it exists only because of the tourists.
Its streets are unpaved, dusty in the heat and squelchy when it rains. Everything is decrepit, and much cheaper than elsewhere in Argentina.
Sadly, this is a place of short-term travellers. I have been at this hostel for only two nights, but there seems to be a change of visitors every night.
They arrive, dump their luggage, race to the sights and leave the next day with barely a glimpse of the town and its surroundings (understandably – the place has little to offer besides its main attraction!).
So why do the tourists come to this muddy, muggy place?
So often in life people tell you not to miss certain experiences, certain sights. And inevitably you arrive there only to be disappointed. Iguazu Falls WILL NOT DISAPPOINT.
The numerous falls are enshrined in tropical forest, retaining some of that rawness Niagara Falls has completely lost.
Why are these falls so impressive?
Picture a 2.7 kilometre edge of which only 900 metres does not have water tumbling from its precipice. You can walk a number of circuits that show differing views of the falls from below and above. And you need several hours to overcome your incredulity and truly wrap your mind around what you are seeing.
This is nature at some of its very furious, glorious, vain best. It is stunning, picturesque, and yet so much more than that.
You can brave the speedboat that whizzes below the falls, although I certainly had second thoughts when I saw the bedraggled and soaked passengers disembarking the boat. A stranger recommended back left seats, so I took his advice and picked a seat against the rails – the wettest.
You wouldn’t understand the experience of a waterfall dumping the full force of its content on you until you have done it. Drenched doesn’t even begin to explain how wet you become.
Then, when the boat backs out just enough for you to wipe the water from your eyes and be able to squint upwards, the height and power of it all really overcomes you.
The BIG FINALE
For the big finale, you need to take a train ride and board walk to the tip of the Garganta del Diablo (yep, same name as cliff tops in Bariloche; they like that description here).
Like Niagara, Garganta del Diable is horse-shoe shaped, only separate falls are spread out as far as the eye can see.
The bottom of the falls is obscured in mist, which makes the sight all the more magical.
And just as we finished appreciating it (if you can ever really finish appreciating such a sight), the skies opened up and showered us in a more unpleasant but less plentiful fashion than the waterfall earlier.
See more of South America’s natural wonders
Trust me, there are plenty of them. Here are just a few of the natural beauties you can marvel at:
- Explore mountains, glaciers, and more waterfalls in Argentina near Bariloche
- Admire the mountains and salt flats of Bolivia
- Go animal-spotting in the Amazon basin
- Hike to the pristine Laguna 69 in Peru
- Trek into and out of the world’s 2nd deepest canyon, Colca Canyon