As you board the bus from Puerta Iguazu to Iguazu National Park, you are unaware of the sheer magnitude of the experience you are about to endure. Set amongst lush, dense jungle, Iguazu National Park has a genuinely pre-historic feel to it. At any stage you expect a Brontosaurus to raise its head above the jungle canopy and start chewing on some foliage.
Iguazu National Park is situated in Northern Argentina and straddles the Brazilian / Argentinean border. Encompassing approximately 550 square kilometers of dense, lush jungle, mystifying waterfalls and natural beauty, it is by far one of Argentina’s greatest attractions. In fact many would say it is one of the “must see” places to visit whilst in South America. Approximately twenty minutes by bus from Puerta Iguazu, the park’s ruggedness is countered by its easy accessibility. Be a little weary though, the bus drivers in South America are clearly unaware of speed limits.
Mesmerizing Aqua Giants
As you wander through the large wooden gates of Iguazu National Park you are unaware of the aqua giants that lay ahead of you. The park opens up with wooden boardwalks, paved paths and twisting staircases as you wander ever closer to the lush jungle foliage and flowing jungle streams. As you round the first bend in the upper portals walk you stop dead in your tracks, your jaw drops in awe, beauty engulfing you. A combination of jungle green, waterfall white and the big blue sky overwhelms your senses and mystifies your mind. The sheer size of the waterfalls is truly amazing.
There are a total of over 275 waterfalls of varying size and tenacity within the bounds of the national park, all of which emptying into the raging Iguazu river. Waterfalls stream out of lush green jungle, over monstrous cliff tops, cascade down huge natural river steps and pump mist into the fresh jungle air. The Iguazu experience comes to a climax at the largest of the falls La Garganta del Diablo, translating to the Devil’s throat in English. This massive crescendo of a waterfall literally shakes the air around you as your ears are filled with the roar of thousands of tonnes of water hitting the river below, mist racing towards the sky and wetting your entire soul.
The Train to the top
The park is amazingly routed with a small rain track that leads to a few stations ideally located at the major waterfalls within the park. It is quite astonishing to see such a manmade system deep within the jungle. It certainly radiates the tourism within the region and in fact how many visitors a day the park actually encounters. This however makes the park accessible to all and sundry including the disabled, elderly and young children, adding to the overall family experience. The train itself is an historic looking wood adorned train that moves at a very slow pace allowing the passengers to snap shots of local wildlife, the amazing scenery and take in the sights on offer at this world class destination.
There are a multitude of differing wildlife that can be seen within the park including tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and caymans among many others, providing an epic opportunity for photography. Be weary not to feed any of the animals at Iguazu, they may in fact bite (because they are wild) and some may carry the rabies virus. The train ride allows you to relax up to the main falls ad take a much earned rest whilst snapping some memorable photographs.
Getting there and accommodation
There are a few options to get into Puerta Iguazu and it really depends on your budget and whether you enjoy a good bus ride or not. Aerolineas Argentinas flies from Buenos Aires six times daily and LAN fly five times daily, LAN being the much more pleasant and reliable of the flight options. If you don’t mind a long bus ride then you can catch a cama or semi-cama autobus from Buenos Aires for a fraction of the price of the airfare, but it may take up to eighteen hours overnight (depending on the weather). The buses provide haphazard meals and drinks, and have recliners with a very comfortable amount of legroom. If you were to travel by bus, South America truly has travelling by bus in comfort down to a fine art.
There is an abundance of accommodation options in Puerta Iguazu, from bed and breakfasts to the Sheraton Iguazu overlooking the falls in the national park itself. Be weary though most rooms start at $750USD per night here. The Secret Garden Bed and Breakfast is amazing value for money at around $110USD per night and is locally owned and operated with that added homely touch. In fact at seven every night you’ll even get a free Caipirinhia and nibbles to enjoy as the sun sets over the beautiful jungle town. There are a multitude of modern hotels in region pricing from $50 per night through to $750, ensuring that the township caters for all tourist needs, despite the budget.
Iguazu Falls is by far one of the great South American experiences and one that must be shared to be experienced best. After all what is the point of visiting a place if you can’t sit down and talk the night away over dinner after a great day out…