Igauzu Falls = Wet Pants!
Today was the day where I had to somehow burn off a couple of week’s worth of eating superb South American steak that had been washed down with too many bottles of Malbec. In a vain attempt to successfully produce a couple days worth of exercise, I patiently waited for the local El Practico bus bound for Iguazu Cataratas, or Iguazu Falls, alongside two fellow gringos I had only just met by the side of the road.
After boarding the barely roadworthy yellow loaf tin, I received some welcoming looks from the Puerto Iguazu locals, suggesting their acceptance of a tight arse traveler risking the local’s run-down, clapped out, cracked windscreen Tonka Toy instead of the fully air-conditioned/westernized gringo buses. I think they realized that this mochilero (backpacker) was not prepared to endure the hardship of a horde of cochlear damaging sixty-something retirees, and was willing to hedge his bets on surviving this form of South American kamikaze public transport.
The bus driver sipped his mate, a local marijuana-looking tea through a perforated steel straw for the twenty minute journey until he successfully dodged the numerous gringos at the Parque Nacional Iguazu entrance. I had noticed the car park was overpopulated by a large number of the before mentioned gringo buses, indicating that the falls were an Argentinean cash cow in this time of economic hardship, a somewhat different bovine to the enormous slabs of Pampas-grown protein that were taking my intestines an entire week to digest.
After parting with thirty devalued Argentinean pesos for the privilege, I made a mental note of the puma and jaguar warnings and hobbled off for the Circuito Superior walk. My mobility had been slightly hampered since the day I lost my ankle down a footpath pothole trying to avoid the ubiquitous piles of Buenos Aires dog shit a few days earlier.
I was relieved to discover that the Argentine National Park Service had wisely invested in well constructed concrete and steel walkways that were an engineering feat almost as spectacular as the high security, waist high thorn bush fencing I had encountered at Victoria Falls in falling-apart-at-the-seams Zimbabwe some two years earlier.
The Iguazu Falls Experience
The Superior track weaved in amongst the lush jungle, sometimes placing itself directly above the thunderous roar of the Iguazu Falls. I was often welcomed by the soft, misty spray churned up by the cascade after it had crashed seventy metres below. The panorama of intermingled jungle and water was sometimes interrupted by large groups of chattering pre-pubescent Argentine schoolies. They took great pleasure in talking to me, probably so they could laugh at my attempt of speaking in a non-gringo language.
They would ask ‘¿De donde es señor?’ – translated into ‘Where are you from mister?’
‘Soy Australiano’, I replied in some rather butchered, but somehow comprehensible Spanish. This must have been the correct answer as their heads nodded in approval.
After successfully competing with an iguana for my lunch, I headed off on the Gringo Train to the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). After convincing myself the steel walkway would not wash away like the wooden one running parallel to it, the Throat was erupting the proverbial amount of whale spurt-like spray into the humid atmosphere. It was accompanied by a sonic booming soundtrack that was the sole evidence the Spanish possessed to prove to Columbus that this really was the end of the world.
Wishing I had invested in three sets of power station grade ear plugs, I limped back to the Gringo Train to finish the day with the Circuito Inferior walk, of which there is nothing inferior about it. Where the Superior walk made me look down and across the falls, the Inferior Walk placed me directly in front of them. At one particular fall, named the Salto Bossetti, there was an empty platform devoid of gringos for once. Foolishly, I decided to venture out to find out why, and within a second, Bossetti had blasted my body with its elephant trunk water thrust, almost knocking me over flat whilst the other knowledgeable gringos had a cheap laugh at my expense.
I was completely drenched from shirt to skin to bone, a worthy entrant for any dodgy masculine infused wet T-shirt competition in any stale beer-smelling pub back in Brisbane – the power of Iguazu Falls had won again, laughing at the silly Australian fool who tried to take them on and easily lost. At that moment in time, even though my skin had been completely exfoliated by the high pressured jet blasts, there was nothing, absolutely nothing in the world at this moment in time better than this.
Here are some things you probably did not know about Iguazu falls:
- Rock doctors (that is, geologists) reckon the falls were created by a volcanic eruption that occurred about one hundred million years ago.
- Iguazu Falls are wider than both Niagara and Victoria Falls. That’s a crapload of water in anyone’s language.
- There are about two hundred and seventy five individual water falls at Iguazu however this number decreases in the wet season when it pisses down from a great height and the falls merge together.
- The falls were captured in the 1986 flick ‘The Mission’ with Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons – a story based on real events about Jesuit missionaries who vainly try to protect a South American Indian tribe from slave-hungry Portuguese colonials.
How to get to Iguazu Falls for a great couple of days hiking:
The Forking Out Some Dollars Option: Within Argentina, you can fly to Puerto Iguazu from Buenos Aires with a number of domestic carriers, but it might be an idea to book early because the airlines cannot afford to run that many planes since the economic crisis of early 2002 – hence they can be quite full. There are also flights within Brazil to the Brazilian side, Foz de Igaucu.
The Tightarse option which is not too bad: Otherwise, book yourself a business class seat (coche cama) in an overnight bus from Buenos Aires which takes around sixteen to twenty hours. Bus travel is excellent in Argentina and the ridiculously cheap price usually includes meals and even a game of bingo. If you win the bingo game, you win a fine bottle of red from the Mendoza wine region (seriously).
When you finally get there, set aside at least two days to explore the falls by foot – the Brazilian side offers the best panoramic view, while the Argentine side provides a much closer look.
Expect to become soaking wet.
More Iguazu Falls Stuff
If you right into Iguazu Falls, check out Cataratas del Iguazu Argentina Iguazu Falls (Spanish Edition).