THIS was the most rewarding and beautiful walk to date. I was at the Iguazu National Park to visit the Iguazu Falls, considered one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Las cataratas de Iguazu is also the largest waterfall in the world with a total of two hundred seventy falls and the longest drop measuring about eighty five metres. A spectacular trip awaited and my step meter was overjoyed!
The trip in itself was compact. We had a two hour ten minute-ish flight from Rio with Gol airlines (departing at 7:30am). Upon arrival we were to be ferried by our guide, clear the Argentinian border immigration, drop off our bags and start our walk. Phew. It was too early for breakfast at the hotel, and we got some Tapi at the airport. Made from tapioca, Tapi was the new pao (bread). It’s prepared like crepe; has sweet and savoury options and a variety of fillings to choose from.
Well, back to Iguazu. Iguazu Falls is shared by both Argentina and Brazil but is considered the property of Argentina. We started with the Argentinian side, as it is home to the falls and has a more rugged terrain. Additionally, the boat ride here covers a broader side of the falls and is twice the fun! We elected to do the excursion with a guide to avoid becoming lost and found property of the falls. Given the practice run on day one, we thought it would be apt to tackle the Brazilian side on our own. We booked our trip with Iguassu Falls Tour operator. The cost was USD169.10 for two and included, airport pick up and transfer to the Argentinian side, entrance tickets and full tour of the Upper, Lower and La Garganta da Diablo (Devil’s Throat) Circuit and transfer to the hotel.
The view flying into Iguazu was stupendo fabulous. We circled the air for a good twenty minutes as there was a queue for landing. No complains here as we enjoyed a stunning aerial view of the park and what we later learnt was the Devil’s Throat. The drive from the airport to the hotel however was not as scenic. It was lined with billboards, mostly promoting department stores in neighbouring Uruguay. Our guide, Damo shared that a common activity for the locals in this area was to drive up to Uruguay for a meal and shopping. We were tempted to pack in a visit and score an extra stamp for the passport. But, priorities…we were here to visit the falls J As we got closer to the falls, the billboards, previously of malls, were now of animals. The jaguar was most popular and according to Damo, if we spotted monkeys, the jaguar was away and if we didn’t, Bagheera’s cousins may drop by to say hi. In my mind, I wondered how this greeting would sound in an Argentinian accent J J
How to maximize your visit and walk in the park? Our experience…
Start with a train trip to Devil’s Throat. The trains run at thirty minute intervals and the queuing time is between thirty minutes to an hour depending on the number of visitors. If your tummy rumbles, convenient stores are a short distance away – they sell snacks, soft drinks and hot finger food such as chicken nuggets and empanadas.
Once we visited Devil’s Throat, we approached the walk along the Lower Circuit, zipped around the falls in a smashingly fun boat ride and continued with the Upper Circuit Walk.
What was the WOW moment?
Just too many and I do not know where to start. I remember the initial WOW moment distinctively. It was at the Devil’s Throat as it was the first close up view of the falls. Building on the anticipation of the journey, it was mind blowing to watch several falls gushing with such rapid force to converge at that single point.
After that, I lost count of the Oh WOW moments. Like curtains adorning a room, the waterfalls outline the park, elegantly flowing to their own rhythm – creating a dance that is both tranquil yet invigorating. The view changes depending on which side you are on and it’s nothing short of spectacular. Many times during the walk, we would point out landmarks we had noticed from an earlier viewpoint and squeal in excitement at the ground we had covered.
Damo was a keen nature lover and throughout our walk, he pointed out all the flora and fauna that came our way. This made the trip extra WOW as we got to know the inhabitants of the park and made their acquaintance. We saw several bird species and one special moment was passing a tree which had about seven to eight hornbills. In a Malaysian slang, that was a Whoa moment!
One of my personal favourites was zipping around the falls in the boat. Wearing a rain coat is smart but enjoying a spray from the waterfalls makes the ride extra enjoyable. Splashed with water, a burst of excitement builds in and just as you to dry out your eyes, it’s time for another shower. Woooooha! Couple this with loud cheering, the trip is a riot. Pack a hand towel and a spare change if you can. Otherwise, you’ll dry up as you continue the walk through the falls. For safe measures, chew an extra vitamin C J
Before the ride starts, you get a few minutes to snap pictures. They also give you a waterproof seal bag to pack your items in – so not stress when you are splashing about.
Is the walk difficult?
As someone whose daily walk comprises walking up and down to the coffee machine, I’ll rate the difficulty level as 1. If I can, anyone can do it. The trails are mostly flat, with minimal climbs along the way. I also managed this by wearing pump shoes which I bought from ChouShoes – they are comfortable, durable and the sole is almost anti-slip. Available in metal grey or deep black, has a reflective mirror as an accessory and helps with make up touch ups 😉 Line ID : ChouShoes.
How was the Brazilian side of the falls?
The tourist desk at the hotel sold round trip transport tickets and the ticket price was inclusive of a buffet lunch at the cafe. This side of the falls was more touristic and the experience was like riding a tourist hop on hop off bus, compared to an Indiana Jones excursion that we had on the Argentinian side. Bus shuttles were available with audio guide and designated stops were announced during the ride. Our legs were rather sculpted from the earlier walk and we stopped at the second last stop which was the scenic walking path.
The view here was spectacular multiplied by infinity. Nature’s GIF, it was a flowing painting, ready to be framed. The falls paraded themselves with such grace and beauty. Each tier was clearly noticeable and the grandeur of it all was impressive. I would highly recommend this visit to soak in the view. It was refreshing to take a moment and inhale the whole experience – and be in tune with nature.
After lunch, we returned to our hotel and checked out for another flight to our native airport, Rio. At the Iguazu airport, look out for leather earrings and bio-jewellery (buriti) made from palm fibre. They make a special souvenier for you and loved ones. Flying out of Iguazu, we were treated with another magnificent view and our hearts, plumped with all the fresh air, skipped in excitement for the next adventure…Margaritas in MEXICO!