Landed in the Iguazu Brazilian Airport only to realize we did not know Portuguese nor did we have our arrival cards.
Eventually found the way toward the bus, and even managed to hop on the first one we saw, hoping it was indeed the “120” that led toward the bus terminal. Good thing we can at least understand numbers in this foreign bit of America.
Our hostel was beautiful and tucked away in a neighborhood near the station. Two adorable wiener dogs greeted us as we settled into our empty 8-person dorm. Guess these are the perks of traveling off-season, although I was secretly hoping for a bunch of new friendly faces with different stories to tell.
The next morning was early enough to still catch the breakfast of toast, dulce, and watermelon. Happy to eat these odd mixtures as it reminds me I am far from the comfort of my routine breakfast. Fed the weenies a small piece of ham then hit the road toward the falls.
We appeared to be early enough to not have a long line, however every trail was packed with a bus load of 50-100 cameras fighting for that one panoramic picture. A sun-hatted woman took a picture of the train railings zoomed in and we thought how amusing to watch the guided tours of people taking pictures of little unique thing that isn’t the norm for their country.
While I was a bit disappointed the bus dropped us off at the first view point rather than allowing us to hike there, that first waterfall view was breathtaking. It was the biggest cartara I had seen in my life. Clearly I haven’t been to Niagra Falls, but this was so amazing and surrounded by kilometers of lush green.
We followed the cute ant-eating, food thieving, monkey raccoons all the way toward the end to see the agua de Madre…they don’t actually call it that but they should. SO BIG. Had to push past a few casualties before we made it to the drop off to peer at the crashing water below. I felt like Rose at the end of the HMS Titanic before she attempts suicide because her rich and fabulous life is just so stressful.
Then there was the bird sanctuary which is extremely under-rated…it’s the biggest aviary in South America, home of the largest walk-through macaw exhibit. Needless to say we spent twice as much time in this tiny animal kingdom compared to the vast falls. Fascinated by the beautiful colors, I joyfully watched them fight over chopped bananas.
Quick hop over to Argentina again where we check into this cute, colorful, pueblo-like hotel. Spent our early dinner over cheap wine and the best steak we’ve had here yet, and it was only $300 ARS! Had an early night in order wake up at 6:30am to be at the second park, the Argentina side of the falls, before people swarmed in.
It was 8:30am and our planned had worked. Spent a good hour walking the empty trails without the chaos of the Sony and Nikon cameras. Felt like we were in Jurassic park and I wouldn’t have been surprised if I saw some dinosaurs fly over head. There were more trails and falls on this side of the border and the mist gave off this great eerie prescience. People were quickly around every corner of the park by 930 and we veered off to the last trail we wanted to see.
Senders Macucu is the longest, yet most rewarding trail of the park. The forest covered trail probably accounts for 10 hikers a day, and certainly is off the beaten path. It isnt easy to get to as you have to somewhat crawl through broken branches and over large slippery rocks. After an hour hiking and even seeing a black monkey (wish I was a scientist and knew the species), we approach a man-made path. Followed the moss towards this tall, tranquil waterfall that powerfully crashed onto a pool of rocks below. It was so peaceful hearing the water drown out the helicopter tours above. The water felt great too.
The hour hike back to the hour long bus ride back to the 15 minute walk to the hotel didn’t even cross my mind, as I was still replaying the waterfall. That night it poured for hours and sleep came easier than it had in months.