09.12.2012 - 10.12.2012 38 °C
We came, we saw, we were dumbfounded. We marvelled at them from Brazil, we were in awe of them from Argentina, we got a bird’s eye view from a chopper flying over the top and we got drenched in a speed boat getting close to the action. The falls are on the border of Brazil and Argentina and if you can fit it into a South American itinerary you should - it was unforgettable.
The National Parks on both sides are well established with services and offer different ways to see the falls. On the Brazilian side you take an open top bus through the park and can get off at different points for walks and extra activities like a canyon swing or boat safari. The boardwalk leading to the Devils Throat, the apex of the falls, gives you amazing views on approach and most travellers agree the Brazil side offers the best panoramic views and photo opportunities. You almost feel like you are in them, with the boardwalk reaching far out into the ravine.
In Brazil you also have the helicopter option which is pretty hard to ignore at US $105ea (thank you Aussie dollar!!). All those months ago when Di and Danny took the chopper over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe we promised ourselves that we would do it over here and it was worth the wait.
In Argentina, the park is traversed by foot or train and again there are stops along the way for walks, vantage points and snacks. It takes longer to get to the Devils Throat on this side and the views along the way only build the suspense. Even though we had already seen the falls from the other side, it was no less spectacular when we reached the end of the 1.1km boardwalk that places you almost on top of them. It was here that we had an experience like Victoria Falls where the spray is so close that it soaks you, although it was welcome in the humid heat and not nearly as relentless as the drenching we received in Africa.
We had two days in the area which was perfect, spending our last night in Brazil in Foz do Iguaçu and our first night in Argentina in Puerto Iguazú. Many travellers view both sides in just one day which can be done but you would probably need to enlist the services of taxi drivers who, for reasonable prices on both sides, are willing to drive you around and wait. We met some people who had hired a car to get to everything in a 24hr period and found this easy too, but if you have time the buses are much cheaper and run frequently. It is fair to say that both border towns have set themselves up well for the hordes of visitors they receive each year.
As amazing as the falls were, there was an unexpected delight just outside the entrance of the Brazil NP in the Parque Das Aves, a bird conservatory and rehabilitation shelter. Conscious of the day slipping away and with a border crossing ahead of us we agreed we would go in for a short visit due to the promise of seeing a toucan. Not only did we see one, the aviary they are housed in was open for us to walk through and there were heaps of them.
They were really cheeky and blatant posers knowing exactly how to perform for a camera! It was such an incredible experience. On top of the toucans we got flamingos, macaws and so many others.....it was like the David Attenborough special edition bird park! We had completely underestimated how rewarding it would be and would say to anyone going to Iguazu Falls that you must make time for a visit.
It was the perfect finish to our Brazilian experience, a great intro to Argentina, and impossible to tell you which was better between Victoria and Iguazu! They are both beautiful sites in their own way although there is no doubt that the infrastructure is better established here in South America, encouraging you to stay longer in the area. Next stop for us is Buenos Aires.