The Iguazu Falls are one of many reasons why I chose South America. Maybe a year and half ago, when my life was still normal, I remember googling amazing places to visit. When I came across images of the falls, I looked at my now ex-boyfriend and said “I want to go here”. The images stood out in my mind ever since. My third and final day at Iguazu Falls did not disappoint. I am not entirely sure why, but this was a very emotional day for me. I am pretty sure I felt every possible emotion while exploring Argentina’s side of these spectacular falls.
I did the three main paths in the Argentina park this day. The “red” trail first offered stunning views from below. My first impression when I reached the trail was annoyance. I was put off by the unbelievable masses of people. Apparently, Iguazu falls is a more tropical Disney World. Walking along the ramps and stairs to the various viewing points was initially irritating. There were so many people, that I had no choice to walk at my own pace. I had to walk as slowly or quickly as the single file line of tourists.
I am not one of those people who hates tourists and avoids doing anything “touristy”. Touristy places are touristy for a reason. But despite warnings I was not really prepared for this crowd. Fortunately, the views were breathtaking enough to make me periodically forget about the mass of selfie sticks, crying babies, and slow walkers.
While on the red trail, I chose to take a detour down to the water for a short boat ride. It was time to get intimate with the falls. The crew provided each of us with a life jacket and a waterproof bag where we could put anything we did not want getting wet. I wore a bathing suit for this occasion. First the boat driver took us to view Garganta Del Diablo (Devil’s Throat, the “star” attraction). Then he drove around to the other side of the falls which is entirely on the Argentinian side. At this point we were instructed to put away our cameras and close up our waterproof bags. Next thing I know, we are headed full speed ahead into one corner of the falls. Drenched. Then he backed up and did it again.
I couldn’t help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Suddenly, for no reason at all, I found myself overwhelmingly sad. I know there were tears in my eyes, and oddly I found myself laughing and crying at the same time. I don’t know what came over me or why at this moment. But I had the sudden urge to stop my travels and run home. We made our way back around towards Brazil, and showered ourselves with more parts of the falls before heading back to the bottom of the red trail. By the time I was on land and putting my shoes back on I gained my composure. Analyzing it a week later, I still don’t know why that experience was so emotional for me.
Next, the blue trail. This trail was on higher ground, offering different and closer up views of the falls. More irritating people. More amazing photo opportunities. I was looking forward to the last part of the day. The yellow trail. This trail was mostly a train ride that went around the falls and up towards the top. Once at the top I would follow a short trail to the Devil’s Throat and view it from above.
But before this, I’ll share a few thoughts. Along the red and blue trails throughout the day, I had been thinking a lot about the differences between my experience on the Brazil side, versus today. I had been told over and over by tourists that “The Argentina side is better” and “If you do both sides, do Brazil first so you are not disappointed”. I found myself disagreeing with the majority I had heard from. The Argentina side is not better, just different. It offer’s a different set of perspectives of the falls. Perhaps the reason people are more impressed with the Argentina side is because there is more to do. Argentina has the boat rides that take you right under the falls, and Argentina has more trails and viewing points.
I finished the blue trail and began making my way towards the train. But on the way to the train, pardon my pun, I got derailed. BY MONKEYS! I was thrilled the day before on the Macuco Trail to spot Monkeys above me jumping from tree to tree. But this was better. The monkey’s were feet away from me. This time I had the opportunity to take amazing pictures of them, as well as video’s of the capuchin family playing, jumping, and getting up close to entertain the group of tourists which formed around them. Oh, and where a mass of tourists forms, of course so does a gang of cuatis (remember these bad boys from the Brazil side?). Some of the younger, more playful members of the monkey family would periodically pick on and chased off the cuatis. I spent a LONG time watching the capuchins in complete awe. I was absolutely ecstatic to get such a show from these beautiful creatures! At one point, one of the younger monkey’s practically ran across my feet. Amazing. UH-MAZING! I was no longer thinking about running home, that’s for sure.
I had to really pry myself away from the monkeys. A part of me debated just staying there with them for the rest of the day. I had already seen a lot of the falls. But Alex, back at the hostel, said the blue, red and yellow trails were not to be missed. So when the monkey’s seemed to calm down a bit from their excitement – I ambivalently left them to head to the train.
At the top, the trail begins with walking over calm waters. I took note of how interesting it was that the area so close to the violent falls could be so tranquil. Approaching the falls from a distance, I had an interesting perspective of the calm waters above the falls which seemed to open up into a this giant whole in the earth.
Then I got to the end of the bridge, right on top of Garganta Del Diablo. “Holy shit”. It’s another one of those moments. I get it now. This is why the Argentina side is “better”. I am even glad I left the monkey’s for this. And I am also glad I saved this part for my last impression of the falls. How do I even put this into words? There is no proper description. And my photo’s – though beautiful do absolutely no justice to the experience of being there.
I am pretty sure my jaw dropped. I even forgot about my camera and taking pictures for a while. I was completely mesmerized. Literally what I could see at this point was the most powerful and massive part of the falls, The Devil’s throat, from just barely above where the water begin’s it’s plunge. But the experience is more than what you see. This is one of those times in life when you realize the power of nature, and just how insignificant you really are (in a really good way). Powerful is the best descriptor that I have for this. The power of the falls was breathtaking, literally.
Eventually my annoyance at the selfie-stick-er crowd brought me back into a bit of reality long enough for me to take a few photos for myself. I couldn’t even understand how people at this moment, in this place could even be thinking about taking pictures of themselves… I suppose I shouldn’t judge. But I found this part of the park so spectacular that I honestly had stopped thinking for a while! I suppose not everyone can have such a connected, emotional experience as I can. But I feel fortunate for this ability.
Iguazu is out of the way from just about everything. It is not easy to get to without connecting flights or long, exhausting, over-night bus trips. Many traveler’s choose to skip the falls for this reason. I would advise putting up with the annoying travel factor and making this a “must” on your destination list. You won’t regret it.