Thursday 30 January – Saturday 1 February 2020
Our airplane touched down in the town of Puerto Iguazú on Thursday evening. As we came out of baggage claim, we spotted a local bus company’s stall with quite the queue in front of it. We figured we’d join and catch the bus into town. We got tickets quickly enough but then did have a bit of a wait until our minibus arrived to collect us (the queue might have moved quick but that did mean there were several people in front of us getting onto the first buses to arrive).
The bus dropped everyone directly at their hotel/hostel, which in our case was Hostel Bambu. This wasn’t a hostel we’d heard about before – we’d just found it on Hostelworld – but it was the most popular accommodation option on our bus, with several people being dropped off there. We were checked into our four bed, all girl dorm (complete with air-con thank god as it was hot here) and the hotel bar was still open and serving food so we decided to stay in and order dinner. The menu was mainly pizza/pasta so I ordered myself a pretty decent pizza before we turned in.
The rooms/bathroom were a little old fashioned but clean and had the comfiest bed I think I’ve ever had in a hostel. It was almost a shame it was so warm because I had a thick, cosy blanket that I just wanted to get all curled up in.
We were in Puerto Iguazú to see the famous Iguazú waterfalls and we’d booked flights that meant we only had one full day to see them. We’d landed Thursday night and we were leaving midday Saturday. We later found out we’d need a bit longer. The waterfalls span the border between Argentina and Brazil and apparently it was worth seeing both sides. We’d thought it might just be a case of walking across a bridge with our passports but it turned out that crossing the border involved a bus and possibly several hours.
It’s recommended to spend about 5-6 hours to explore the Argentinian side and a couple of hours or so on the Brazilian side – so basically the Argentinian side is a day trip and the Brazilian side is a half day trip. We suspected that meant the Argentinian side was the best side to do and, having asked around, that was the answer we got – so that’s what we did.
We booked a spot on the bus that the hostel arranged to take visitors to the waterfalls first thing (at about 8am-ish). There was a local bus not too far away with additional leaving times but we went for the extra convenience of having literally just to walk across the road.
I nipped out early to a small nearby supermarket to pick up some bottles of water and snacks (we figured food in the waterfall park would be overpriced) and came back in time to get some of the (included) breakfast. I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d been expecting from Puerto Iguazú but it was more rustic than I had pictured. It felt like a town by the jungle.
The bus arrived and we hopped in. I’d heard there were several trails for visitors to wander around in Iguazu National Park but I wasn’t sure what that involved. Were these muddy paths through the jungle that brought us out by the waterfalls? It turned out not. The walkways were metal foot paths that take visitors up to the falls, around them and over the water. Metal might sound a bit obtrusive but I actually thought it worked quite well and meant visitors weren’t trampling nature.
The Argentinian side did indeed to turn out be beautiful – it is a pretty big site and I can’t imagine there is much you can see from the Brazilian side that you can’t see from the Argentinian side (but not sure it would work so much the other way around).
The waterfalls themselves were insane – they blew every other waterfall I’ve seen out of the water. It’s not hard to see why the site has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The waterfalls are almost 3km wide, around 80m high at their highest point and are made up of 275 separate falls. They are also teeming with wildlife – including a lot of big spiders suspended in the trees around the walkways. We also saw monkeys, coati, a cayman and a snake.
We spent a while walking several trails. The park was relatively quiet when we first arrived, which I really enjoyed. The later it got, the more we had to dodge around people as we walked. Each walkway took us to a different position around the waterfalls, with one taking us up to the top of Devil’s Throat – the biggest waterfall in Iguazu which has an immense amount of water gushing over it.
We also paid about £35 to take a boat tour that took us underneath some of the falls. We were given a jacket but that didn’t stop us from getting completely soaked when we were dunked under the water. It was fun but I may have resented it if I hadn’t brought a spare change of clothes!
The bus back to our hostel left around 4.30pm. At first we were annoyed as that seemed early but in the end it turned out to be perfect. We’d managed to walk along the majority of the trails. We did skip the trail up to Devil’s Throat and took the little train instead. The trail didn’t seem to be particularly nice – basically just a muddy path along the train line – so if anything I would have been annoyed if we’d walked it thinking it might get better.
Another trail we missed was one that would have taken us to a waterfall that we saw shortly after we boarded our boat tour. The trail was about 3.5km each way and we were already hot and tired so even if we’d had more time I’m not sure we’d have been up to it. We’d already seen the waterfall – the only thing we missed was that apparently you could swim in the area. Given that we’d seen a cayman in the water already, we weren’t too fussed about this. I mean, I’m sure it would have been a separate, cayman-free body of water we could swim in but as we were out of time, we told ourselves it would have been the cayman water.
Before we left, we grabbed ourselves a couple of ice pops – which were very necessary in the heat. It had been an excellent day.
That evening, we had planned to go into the town and find a different restaurant for dinner but we’d crashed when we got back to the hostel and then we couldn’t be bothered to move further than the hostel bar. I decided to mix things up with pasta for dinner this time though. Pesto pasta to be exact. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t the same as the pesto pasta I have at home. The pizza was better.
The next morning we had a lazy one. Our flight was a bit after midday so all we had to do was get up at a not ridiculous time, eat breakfast and ask the hostel to call us a taxi – we’d left it too late to arrange for the mini-bus to come and pick us up again but we’d probably have had to leave a lot earlier than necessary anyway since it would go round the houses. It was a shame that we didn’t get to see both sides of the waterfalls but we left happy that we’d picked the right one.