I am a big fan of waterfalls so Iguazu Falls was a must see for my trip to Argentina. Iguazu Falls actually straddles Argentina and Brazil and to see the falls properly, one should really try and see it from both sides. To help organize things I had a lot of help. Marcelo helped me a lot research with where and where not to go and his wife helped co-ordinate my plans with her sister in Buenos Aires. Her sister actually paid for my trip with a local travel agent so I could try and get better local rates. So many thanks to Marcelo, Kari and Patri for helping.
The domestic airport in Buenos Aires was only 10 minutes away from where I was staying but the taxi ride took almost an hour. I think this was the first and only time that I got taken for a ride (literally) in Argentina. Luckily, I had to check out of the apartment early so had nothing to really do but go to the airport early and so the sight seeing taxi ride didn't really matter. I arrived in Puerto Iguazu mid afternoon and checked in to the St George hotel. The hotel was great and I have no complaints. It was middle of the road in terms of price and it was clean and the staff friendly. I didn't expect much from the town itself but was pleasantly surprised. It certainly wasn't big but it did have some charm. It was now evening and I was getting hungry but I didn't want to eat at the hotel. The buffet actually looked pretty good but I wanted to try a local restaurant. I walked around till I found the main part of town where all the restaurants were but these were newer, expensive and touristy bar/restaurants that looked like a Cactus Club back home. So I kept walking and I eventually found an older part of town that looked like a old fashioned food market. On the outside of the market were simple restaurants that were very busy with what looked like mostly locals. So I found an empty table at an asado style restaurant and waited for someone to take my order. I'm not exactly sure what I was ordering but it looked good and tasted pretty good too! In fact, the food just kept coming and I had no idea if it was included with what I ordered or it was all extra. After the waiter came around the third time asking if I wanted some bbq sausage, I figured that I they were going to keep coming unless I said no. So after I was about to explode, I finally declined the next sampling and asked for the bill. It came to about $15 which wasn't bad for alot of food and a couple of beers. I'm glad that I found the market and didn't stick to the trendy flashy restaurants.
My tour of the falls from the Argentine side started early the next morning. After breakfast, we were herded onto the bus and driven to the park entrance. We still had to buy our tickets but I didn't think anything of it as it only took a couple of minutes. Our tour guide turned out to basically be a chaperone. He showed us around and told us where to be and what time to be there. He was nice enough and answered any question but the "tour" was really just us walking around as a group and looking at the falls. Another thing that was disappointing was that all the tours ran at the same time and ended at the same time so it ended up being extremely crowded and difficult to take time for photos. But there was a way around this as I found out later.
Just before lunch we had the option of an extra excursion and I chose to take the jungle tour with a boat ride to the falls. It was expensive but I am so glad that I did it. It was soooo fun! It didn't hurt that it was 30 degrees out and a boat ride under a waterfall was ultra refreshing. It is unbelievable the power of Mother Nature and you can't appreciate it until you are feeling her power directly. It was like the boat was hit with a fire hose. I was totally drenched after the boat but luckily the heat dried me out pretty quickly. Highly recommended!
We were supposed to finish up at 3pm to head back to the hotel but the park didn't close until 6pm. So I asked the tour guide if it was possible to stay later and just take a local bus or taxi back to town. He agreed and I stayed behind while the tour went back into town. I was very happy that I stayed behind because it seemed that all the tour groups left at 3pm. I wandered around with the park almost empty. I retraced my steps along the upper and lower routes and took my time to take the photos that I couldn't before. It was such a great experience to relax and soak in the beauty of the falls without being rushed. I stayed until the park closed at 6 and then caught the last bus into town. After resting up at the hotel I decided to walk to the Tres Frontiers which is the western most point of town where the Iguazu river intersects Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. There was a small monument and a few street vendors plus the view of the river in front of Brazil and Paraguay. It wasn't particularly pretty but quite neat nonetheless. I was quite tired but couldn't catch a bus or taxi back into town so ended up walking back. I was now very tired and I didn't feel like looking for a restaurant so picked up some empanadas at a local bakery and went pack to the hotel. I had a early morning the next day and I was beat from a hot day of walking around.
Lower Circuit, Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Upper Circuit, Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Upper Circuit, Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Next up was the Brazilian side of the falls. I had to get a Brazilian visa just for my one day to visit the falls. I had read that the Brazil side was worth seeing and totally different from the Argentine side. I just have to say that it is worth doing but with some caveats. My tour guide arrived at the hotel and didn't speak English. Not a very good start. After picking up everyone, crossing the border, we arrived at the park entrance only to have to wait for over an hour to get our tickets. I'm not sure about you but I would have thought that booking a tour would have allowed us to skip some lines but apparently not. We were again at the mercy all the other tours groups and the crush of the crowd pushing us along. Unfortunately, I couldn't take a later bus back to the hotel so I tried to make the best of the situation. Luckily, one of the tour members spoke english and helped translate with the tour guide for me. Despite all hassles the falls were still worth seeing. They are visually stunning, just don't expect to get a lot of time to take photos. My recommendation would be to take a local bus or taxi across the border later in the afternoon. The tour also made a stop at a buffet restaurant on the way back which I wasn't aware of before hand. I skipped the buffet and picked a local restaurant to try instead. After lunch, we crossed back across the border and into Argentina for my last night in Iguazu. It was a pretty quiet night as I was pretty tired and had to get up early for my flight back to Buenos Aires.
So all in all, it was a very successful trip to Iguazu. The falls were fantastic and even the town of Iguazu itself was much better than I though it was going to be. If I had to choose which side to see, I would definitely choose the Argentine side but if time permitted, try and see both. The hotel was great and the town easy to navigate with lots of eating options if you take the time to wander around. Again, many thanks to Marcelo, Kari and Patri for helping me organize the trip!! :)