Generally speaking, I find that I am disappointed by things that are too hyped up. One of the joys of travelling is finding something unexpectedly breathtaking out of the blue, and there is never the same thrill seeing something of beauty when you already know what to expect.
Now Iguazu Falls is definitely one of South America’s “must see’s”. Traveling from Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls is one of the most popular trips in Argentina, and the Iguazu tour to Garganta del Diablo has some of the most spectacular waterfalls one could ever see. And as we looked at the impressive photos in the Say Hueque office in Buenos Aires, I thought, “well, this looks all right.” But later as we sat in Jorge Newbery airport awaiting our domestic flight up to Misiones, I didn’t feel as excited as I had hoped.
However, as the plane hovered lower and lower, coming in to land, I felt my spirits lift and as I arrived from Buenos Aires to Iguazu, an abundance of lush, green vegetation, quite unlike anything I had previously seen in Argentina, was the first thing that struck me.
In the bus heading out from the airport and onto a road flanked on both sides by thick jungle, I wound down the window and took a breath of the hot and humid tropical air, heavy with the scent of numerous plants and flowers. Over the noise of the engine you could still make out the constant buzz of insects from the undergrowth and as we pulled up and stepped out of the bus I suddenly became aware of the many wild guinea pigs, their wiry hair and glassy, black eyes just visible over the tops of the thick blades of grass they were eating. Huge clouds of interestingly shaped and beautifully coloured butterflies fluttered in and around the undergrowth, like bits of paper confetti, often coming to rest on our hair and clothes.
Understandably Iguazu Falls National Park has many visitors every day, but avoiding the central areas of activity is easy and advisable as they are plagued by great swarms of coatis- cute, furry animals that look like a combination of a squirrel and raccoon. They are probably the most conspicuous of all Iguazu’s fauna, and will steal all and any food left unguarded for the merest of moments.
Having a local guide with us we hit the more deserted tracks around the park, where he showed us how to track the noises of weird and wonderful birds and monkeys, high up among the branches of the jungle, and dangerous looking insects crawling unnervingly close. We were taught about all the many species of plant, some extremely rare with miraculous healing properties.
As we got closer to the roar of thundering water, the smaller waterfalls we were passing started to get bigger and bigger until the undergrowth opened out and before us was the most spectacular view. Numerous different waterfalls of varying size and strength formed a curtain of cascading water, all crashing down towards a tumultuous foaming river. The spray rising up created rainbows whilst crooked trees, their branches lined with big black birds, stood out on the skyline giving it a prehistoric feel.
One of the great things about Iguazu is that not only is it outstanding in terms of natural beauty, but it also provides a great deal of fun for those people who like the odd adrenaline rush from time to time. Having reached the base of the waterfall and been provided with very professional looking life jackets, our group boarded a powerful looking speedboat by means of a little wooden jetty on the rocks. Unsure as of yet the experience we were about to have I sat back and relaxed. But no sooner had I done that did the engine power up and we were suddenly hurtling towards one of the biggest and wildest waterfalls, going so close we ended up completely drenched but extremely happy.
Higher up on a different level is the biggest and most famous waterfall, “la garganta del diablo”. This one is reached by a bridge which crosses the river and leads you to a viewing point level with the top of the waterfall. The most impressive of all the waterfalls in the park, it is enormous and its power is inexplicable. One could stand and stare for hours.
After the excitement of the waterfall we moved further up the park where the water was calmer, and set off in a little dinghy down the river. Whilst our guide pointed out turtles, frogs and other water dwelling wildlife I sat comfortably on the inflatable rim and casually hung my leg over the side to dangle it in the cool water, so refreshing after a long walk. I was unaware that in these waters lived caiman, potentially capable of removing the whole thing, until a few minutes later when, to my horror, we saw one sunbathing on a rock. My foot was quickly pulled up and the rest of the cruise down the river was enjoyed safely from inside the boat.
From the big city of Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls´ jungles, the Iguazu tour with Say Hueque was really something special, and not in any way was I disappointed. Waterfalls aside, Iguazu national park itself has so much to offer in terms of sights and experiences that making the journey up there is absolutely essential for anyone who comes to Argentina.
I also recommend that anyone travelling around Argentina should contact Say Hueque www.sayhueque.com for more information. They seriously know their stuff and helped make the trip perfect for me!