“The sound of the river raging among the rocks, and the dashing of the waterfalls around, spoke of a power mighty as Omnipotence—and I ceased to fear, or to bend before any being less almighty than that which had created and ruled the elements, here displayed in their most terrific guise” – Frankenstein
The quotation above speaks of the Alps, but, standing overlooking the mighty Gargantua Del Diablo (Devil’s Throat) at Iguazu Falls in Argentina it is easy to see how the Romantic writers of the 18th Century formed such a respect for the almighty and sublime power of Nature. Straddling the border between Argentina and Brazil, it is estimated that between 300 to 6,500 cubic meters of water tumbles over the various precipices of the river every second. Here is Nature at her most Awesome: beautiful and deadly.
Puerto Iguazu, the nearest town to the falls on the Argentinian side, is an 18 hour bus ride from Buenos Aires, and there is no shortage of operators willing to bring in the tourists. Once at Puerto Iguazu it is easy to take a local bus to the National Park, where the entrance fee is currently 100pesos/$23, this includes the train that transports you to the various falls. The Argentinian side is best for getting up close and personal with the falls, as two-thirds of Gargantua Del Diablo lie on Argentina’s side.
The falls range from the massive Gargantua Del Diablo to various other falls that you can walk around watching the rainbows dance through the mist. One thing is for sure, you will get wet. The Argentinian side is busy, hundreds of people arrive every day to walk the narrow pathways across the river, and time at the viewpoint is spent mainly waiting for a space to clear at the rail; a small price to pay for the spectacular view. For the more adventurous, there is the option of taking boat rides into the spray, and walking tours through the Jungle.
What the Argentinian side does not offer however, is the chance to fully comprehend the massive scale of the falls. There are 270 individual waterfalls that run over the course of a mile and a half of the river Iguazu (meaning ‘Big Water’). Whilst it is spectacular to watch the water hurling itself off the top of Gargantua Del Diablo, it is quickly lost in mist, making it impossible to gauge its size. For a better panoramic view, it is wise to head across the border to the Brazilian side.
Many tour operators offer trips to the Brazilian side and local buses will drop you off at the border where you can pick up a Brazilian bus to continue your journey. The entrance fee for the park is 120pesos/$28 (you can pay in Argentine pesos at the park), which again includes transport. While some people may be tempted to skip the Brazilian side due to cost—or the worry of seeing the same thing—it is unwise to do so. The Brazilian side offers amazing panoramas of the river and the almighty size of Gargantua Del Diablo. It is also more laid back and peaceful: fewer tourists and more viewpoints make it easier to see the falls at your own pace, and you can sit by the river to eat lunch.
For the more Hedonistic tourist, there is the chance to stand in the thunderous spray of the Devil’s throat itself, rock-climbing, or a helicopter ride over the falls (the Argentinean side of the falls does not allow this).
Often, popular tourist venues feel overrated and disappointing. Iguazu Falls is not one of them. It is worth every peso of the entrance fee, and every hour of the arduous bus journey.
Which tourist venues have you visited that lived up to your expectations? Tell me about it in the comments!