‘Poor Niagara’ (Eleanor Roosevelt)
You will come across different spellings for the falls. On the Argentinian side, where they speak Spanish, it’s ‘Iguazu’; on the Portuguese-speaking Brazilian side it’s ‘Iguaçu’ … or, ‘Iguassu’ if you have a typewriter that doesn’t do the cedilla, or you can’t find the ‘Character Map’.
The hotel we were staying at in the Brazilian town of Foz do Iguaçu was called the Viale Cataratas, and it’s on the Avenida das Cataratas. This would suggest that you can see the falls from the window … or maybe if you take a short stroll down the road. But, by my reckoning, the Brazilian Falls are a good dozen miles away, as the crow flies; probably nearer twenty by road.
You don’t go all the way by road, though. The coach drops you off at a point where a land train takes you part of the way to the start of a path which leads through the forest, past several different points from which the falls can be viewed.
Iguaçu Falls isn’t somewhere you spend an hour at, take a couple of pictures then hop on the coach to the next attraction. For a start, the National Park containing them is in two countries. Although we’re in the middle of a rain forest, we didn’t see much in the way of wildlife except for the coatis usually attracted by the food scraps left by visitors.
We took the ‘optional extra’ of a boat ride to the base of the falls. Not only did it get close, but actually entered one of them, thoroughly soaking all on board, much to their delight. And, I have a message for the people who made my waterproof jacket. It isn’t !!!
However, my GoPro camera is waterproof, and I got some good footage. I shudder to think how a ‘regular’ camera would have come out of that torrent.
The following day, we visited the Argentinian side of the falls. The Brazilian side was impressive enough, but that’s only 20% of the vast complex of waterfalls … and the Argentinian ones surpass even them.
It’s a bit of a hassle crossing the Argentinian border, but the guide did all the necessary. We just stayed on the coach, and went back to sleep. We did the same procedure on the following day, when we flew to Buenos Aires. We crossed to Puerto Iguazu airport on the Argentinian side, so we would be on a domestic flight, and wouldn’t have to go through immigration at BA. Sitting in a coach for 40 minutes beats standing in a queue hands down!
Instead of a land train, there’s a proper narrow-gauge railway here. From the train, we took a walk; similar to the one on the Brazilian side, only much better. At first, I thought I might describe the Brazilian side as ‘stately’ … until I took the boat ride! But, it’s difficult to find a word to describe the Argentinian side. Tumultuous? Boisterous? Both words seem so inadequate.
The only word I can think of is BIG … in capitals and bold type. So vast you just can’t capture them in one picture, unless, presumably, you take the helicopter tour. And, I can’t afford that. Even my video can’t convey the size and scale of the whole thing, but I tried.
There are over 270 cataracts, which drop an average of 200 feet, spanning a distance of a mile and a half. The highlight is a raging maelstrom called the ‘Devil’s Throat’ which really needs to be seen at first hand, for no photo or video could ever capture it completely. And, certainly, no boat could ever approach it … it wouldn’t last five seconds!
The trail is only one of several in the area; after lunch, we took the low-level one. That was no anti-climax; if it was possible I could happily spend much more time exploring the area.