Welcome to Iguazu Falls, one of the seven natural world wonders and the widest waterfalls in the world - Iguazu Falls. The falls lie on the border of Brazil and Argentina, sitting at the northern tip of Argentina. This is the next and final segment of our 'Argentina Chapter' adventure with exploration journeys. (Warning: you might need a bottle of wine, not just a glass, to get through this blog).
Day 17 - Iguazú Falls
Arriving late during the evening at the airport in Iguazu, we were immediately whisked away by our local guides to the only hotel, 'Gran Melia', in the middle of the National Park with panoramic views of the falls. As soon as we entered the gates of the park, our driver switched the headlights off as we drove gently through the National park to appreciate and immerse ourselves in the jungle - all the sounds of the night and wildlife, the rainforest scents accompanied by the open sky and stars, it was a perfect introduction to this wonder of the world destination.
We soon arrived at the hotel, had a very efficient check-in and chuckled when guest relations reminded us the monkeys love to rack up our mini bar bill, so be sure to lock our balcony when leaving the room. They will pop in for a party and leave you with the check; this was a first!
We checked into our room and were impressed; we loved the welcome champagne and treats. We could only appreciate the gushing sounds of the falls, which was already thrilling; we were very excited for the morning as our room had views of the falls!
As soon as we settled into the room, we were on an email asking our lovely tour operator, Fred, to extend our stay for six nights; we needed to enjoy this slice of natural paradise.
The water volume is the highest in over 20 years, from 1500 to 2100 cubic square litres every second, so you can imagine the gushing sounds we were already hearing, the thrill of travel and being in the unknown; we couldn't wait for daylight to be upon us.
We popped up to the rooftop bar for a nightcap drink and to celebrate a new bucket list destination and the adventures ahead over the next few days, catching a glimpse of the falls under the evening sky.
Day 18 - Iguazu Falls, Argentina
A bucket list item is checked!
The morning was upon us; we were so excited to see the falls from our room. I was up with the sunrise; no words describe the falls. They are majestic and enormous; a total of 275 falls over 3km wide.
Today, we were booked on a jet boat experience to experience the falls from the water's edge, appreciate the falls, and feel part of the magnificent water flows. Our lovely guide, Veronica, met us, took care of our entry to the experience, and ensured we were safely on the truck. She also ensured we had water, repellant and SPF; we have started to call her Mum, and she is taking the best care of us.
After a short ride in an open-air truck through the national park, learning all about the sub-tropical jungle, we arrived at the water's edge.
You walk down 300 steps to the pier and join the boat. The team were experts, and everyone was quickly kitted out with a vest and waterproof bag and seated on the ship.
We navigated and sped through the Iguazu River and rapids to the falls. The three musketeers were first, and our captain put on a show. We were soon close and personal with the falls and hearing the roars. The mist and gushing waters soon drenched us; it was quite the experience. Everyone had a blast and was on cloud nine.
Although there was more, we soon sped along to the next set of falls, San Martin, where it was time for another shower, although once we started with the Aussie, Aussie, Aussie chant (with a boat full of Latin Americans, and the big game on Saturday is Argentina and Australia - remember football is the religion of this country), the captain decided to make sure we were well and truly drenched with another few showers in the falls, it was a load of fun and laughter amongst us all, and we were soon telling them Argentina is No.1;-)
After 25 minutes of navigating, we were back at the pier to be transported back to the meeting point within the national park. The stop was only a few minutes from our hotel; the experience took about 2 hours. As you disembarked, you were also offered the video footage of the fun (below), which was great as it was challenging to take vids whilst being showered with the falls.
We spent the afternoon basking in this gorgeous hotel, with access to a VIP lounge with complimentary drinks, food, and panoramic views of the gushing falls.
We were also treated to a visit from the monkeys during the evening. Families of monkeys come to search the rooms for treats, so you must keep your balcony doors locked. We were all in awe of seeing them so close and how cheeky they were. We now understand why your mini-bar bill can be higher than you expected!
What a perfect introduction to Iguazu Falls!
Day 19 - Iguazu Falls, Brazil
Today marks our 62nd country. Welcome to Brazil!
This morning, we started with a slow breakfast, followed by an 11 am pickup with our lovely local guide, Veronica and her hubby, Fernando, behind the wheel.
Three excursions were scheduled today, so Wayne and Sal were anxious about the day ahead and whether we would manage to tick them all off. Kudos to us. It was a successful day, and we achieved all three activities in Brazil and were still back home in Argentina by 4 pm.
We made our way to the Brazilian border; 30 minutes later, we were being checked in by border control; it was a bonus: no stamps on the passport as we would return to Argentina within the same day. Passport pages are precious.
The bridge across the Iguazu River (the border between the two countries), halfway across it, is painted yellow and green, the Brazilian flag colours.
Our first experience was a helicopter flight over the falls and the devil's throat to see the falls from the sky. We were most excited about this, as we love our joy rides and visiting landmarks from a new perspective; it truly helps you understand the scale of the falls.
After a short wait, we were up and away; I was fortunate to be seated up front, so I was in the best position to capture this incredible flight, short and sweet, but we looped over and around a few times the falls, a total of 10 minutes. Still, it was magical. We were on a natural high after landing.
Next up, we were whisked across the road to the bird sanctuary 'Parque das Aves', a very well-structured bird park; it is home to many bird species that have been rescued and provided a safe space to recover in a more natural habitat, in an Atlantic rainforest, to enjoy a better life.
We loved it; your proximity to the birds was enchanting as you walked the park. We especially loved the Macaw enclosure; you could relax amongst the birds as they went about their day. There were also a few close calls as they flew up above you.
After about two hours, we completed the guided tracks, listening intently to Veronica, who was full of rescue stories and passionate about this project. A husband and wife set it up in 1994; unfortunately, he passed away two years after the opening, but his wife and daughters have continued with the sanctuary and should be very proud.
The skies were beginning to rumble and open up as we were to embark on our final experience, seeing the falls from the Brazilian side. 80% of the falls reside on the Argentine side, so to fully appreciate them and capture magnificent photos, you should see them from Brazil. So far, we have seen them from an aerial view and the water's edge, so this was a new experience.
As we entered the Iguazu National Park in Foz de Iguazu (Brazil), the skies opened, and the rain set in. Still, we were waterproof (no need for those environmentally damaging plastic ponchos) and presented an excellent opportunity to see the falls with fewer tourists as most avoid the rain. Fortunately, local guides could drive in the park, so we were delivered to the two viewpoints easily and quickly. The first viewpoint was terrific, but the second was like no other.
The volume of the water gushing down and being meters away from the falls was mind-blowing! Just below 2000 m2/s at present, it usually is 1500 m2/s. Iguazu translates to Big Water in the native language, and you can fully appreciate this being in such proximity!
You can also experience the falls from a walkway suspended over the river; here, you are fully immersed in the mist from the falls; with the rain settled in, we were again drenched, but a treasured moment.
Thank you, Brazil, for sharing all these cherished moments during our visit; we look forward to exploring more of what you offer in the next few months. We returned to our hotel, ready to freshen up and enjoy a slow dinner! We had to celebrate this wonderful day of exploring with a delicious (and huge) Argentinean steak, a tomahawk paired with a fabulous Malbec.
Day 20 - 23, Iguazu Falls, Argentina
I enjoyed the beautiful hotel and magnificent falls for the remaining few nights. You truly can't get enough of them: the sound, the views, the volume of water. It is one of the most magical places we have visited, and we recommend everyone to pop Iguazu on their bucket list. Argentina has truly impressed us and has become one of our favourite travel destinations.
Dining at Melia Grande Hotel, we enjoyed indulging in Argentinean Malbecs and meat.
Sunsets from Melia Gran Hotel are mesmerising each evening.
Iguazu Falls Fun facts:
Only sub-tropical National park left in South America
Iguazu translates to Big Water
Venezuela has the tallest falls at 930m, and Iguazu Falls is 80m tall
Iguazu is the widest, with a total of 275 falls. 3km in width, 80% in Argentina and 20%. in Brazil
Brazil uses the water from the falls for electricity with power plants, and Argentina uses it for drinking.