Today we leave for the famous and fabulous Iguazu Falls.
We booked a room for two nights in Puerto Iguazu. It is a quaint little town at the crossroads of three countries, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.
There is a spot located at the intersection of the two border rivers, the Parana and Iguazu rivers, from where you can see a little bit of each country.
Les Tres Fronteras is a 30-min walk from the center. A nice one to discover the city, and a beautiful view as a reward.
The small town of Puerto Iguazu
Before the colonization of Argentina by the Spaniards, the Guaranis, a South American tribe, inhabited the region. Nowadays, most of them live in Paraguay, their language, the Guaraní being the country’s second official language.
A small community of the YRIA PÛ tribe, however, lives on this side of the border in a forest reserve outside Puerto Iguazu. One can visit their village, thanks to tours organized by them, to discover their culture and ancestral traditions.
On the other hand, when walking around town it sinks in how many live in poverty. They mainly sell handicrafts on the street, with street vendors often children.
Regarding the organized tour, I didn’t do it for lack of time. Still it’s up to you; it’s an excellent way to help them.
The Iguazu Falls
It was the Spanish explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca who, intrigued by the loud noise he heard in the distance while traveling between the Atlantic Ocean and Paraguay in 1542, discovered the falls. In Guarani, their name means “the great waters.”
Two countries share the falls. Indeed, the Argentina-Brazil border shares the Devil’s Throat, the most famous and imposing of the 250 falls.
On its right bank is the Iguaçu National Park in Brazil, which composes the 20%; on the left is the Iguazú National Park in Argentina, with the remaining 80%.
There is something for everyone. The guides will often tell you:
“Argentina has the waterfalls and Brazil the view.”
At first, we only wanted to do the Argentinian side. But on the advice of an Argentinian girl we met, we did both sides. And it’s worth it!
We opted for organized tours for simplicity, knowing that it is possible to do both visits by taking regular buses. It is a well-established tourist activity, and you can easily find all the necessary information!
Iguazú National Park in Argentina
It’s the biggest. It takes a whole day, and you must let yourself be guided.
Once past the large gate, we headed to a small electric train that took us through the jungle to the start of the various footbridges leading closer to the falls.
We crossed the park where live more than 400 different species of birds, jaguars, fish, turtles, and monkeys.
But despite our determination to see at least one toucan, we saw nothing!
Of course, you should not expect to be alone in the middle of this nature. As everything is done to make the site accessible to all, there are a lot of people.
When we left for the falls, the weather was gloomy. And no luck; the storm, lightning, and driving rain followed us throughout the visit.
A piece of advice. In case of bad weather, if you do not have a rain cape, I recommend investing. The shops sell it on-site, allowing us to enjoy the day without being too cold.
On the other hand, it was pretty scary to cross an arm of the river with bubbling water under our feet, the driving rain, trees all around, and the thunderstorm rumbling — the sum of everything one must avoid in stormy weather.
Besides, at some point, someone from the group remarked to me that maybe it was dangerous 🤨
Approaching the waterfall made me think of a treasure hunt. We hoped to see the falls appear at every turn when we only discovered them at the last moment.
We could hear the roar of the water from the start of our advance. But there was no indication to inform us of how far we were. So we had to follow the crowd of tourists, more or less fast, trying to calm our impatience. The walk only took about ten minutes, but it seemed to last an eternity until finally, in the distance, we saw the long-awaited balcony.
But still no waterfalls.
Finally, it was our turn to move closer to the seething tide. And wow, what a view! We were soaked but with stars in our eyes.
The flow was impetuous as it had rained the previous two weeks. We couldn’t see the river below because of the spray, but the force of the water and the eddies were another equally impressive sight. We even forgot the lousy weather.
We returned to the station the same way, where we boarded the little train again. Head to the other balconies to admire the lower waterfalls.
The big plus for memories…
One last option exists during the visit — a boat trip to the foot of the waterfalls. And there too, I recommend it. Something crazy.
I admit that I was disappointed when I got up in the morning and saw that the weather would be gloomy all day. But in the end, even if we couldn’t see the contrast between the azure blue color of the sky and the dazzling green of the lush nature, we were able to appreciate the different shades of brown that exist between the cliffs and the water… 😊
Of course, the captain’s goal was to ensure we would get wet. Even if it was already the case…
And he succeeded in his challenge. After a furious slalom in the rapids – exceptional according to our guide following the rain of the last two weeks – we ended up so close to a waterfall that we could not even open our eyes or look around us — a real fun moment.
Iguaçu National Park in Brazil
It is much smaller, and the walk takes half a day.
A little tour in pictures
The view is totally different from the Argentinian side’s one. One realizes here the size of the falls and the extent of the site.
The Devil’s Throat and its legend
To finish the tour of this magnificent site, here is the story of the origin of the falls.
It is the story of Naipí and Tarobá.
Their tribe, the Guarani Indians, lived happily on the fertile banks of the Iguazu River, protected by the serpent god Mboi. But this protection had a price. Each year, on the occasion of a great feast in his honor, a woman was to be thrown into the river as an offerer.
One year, it was Naipí‘s turn to be sacrificed. Legend has it that she was so beautiful that when she looked at her reflection in the river, it stopped flowing.
On the ceremony day, the young Tarobá, captivated by Naipí, asked that she be saved. But the sages refused for fear of offending the God Mboi. Of course, this did not please Tarabá.
He thus decided to abduct Naipí when the celebration was at its peak. He took the young girl on his canoe as everyone sang, danced, and prayed. No one noticed their departure except, of course, Mboi.
In anger, the god split the river in two, throwing the fugitives into nothingness.
But that doesn’t lessen his anger. He then transformed Tarobá into a tree on the cliff and Naipí into a rock he placed under the most powerful waterfall. He then entered a nearby cave to ensure the two young people would never meet.
But since love is always the strongest, on days when the sun shines brightly, a rainbow is created between the rock and the tree, connecting the hearts of the two lovebirds.
What more to add to the fact that it was a sublime weekend?
Of course, I had heard of these waterfalls, but I didn’t think they would be so beautiful. What makes them exceptional is that they are surrounded by wild nature and that despite the world and the infrastructures that have been created to make them easily accessible, they remain invisible. And since the sound of bubbling water covers the hubbub of people, you can admire the falls and even imagine yourself alone. 😃