I am not a stranger to waterfalls. I live in the Top End of Australia, and believe me when I say that we have more waterfalls than you can poke a stick at!
However, when the opportunity came up to see one of the largest and most magnificent waterfalls in the world, there was absolutely no way I was going to turn it down.
Papa Burne and I had relatively limited time, so it made sense to fly directly to the falls from Buenos Aires. The cost of flights between cities in Argentina is pretty exxy, so had we had more time up our sleeves, this probably wouldn’t have been the best transport option.
There are two airports located close to the falls, one on the Argentinian side (Cataratas del Iguazu) and one on the Brazilian side (Foz de Iguacu). As an Australian, it made much more sense to see the falls from only the Argentinian side.
Aussies get visa free travel into Argentina, but getting a Brazilian visa at the time (late 2017) would have cost us more than $200! These fees have since been reduced to $70 and the actual process of obtaining a visa is now much simpler (gotta love an e-Visa system) but at the time it would have been far too much time and money to spend on a visa that we would only use for one day.
We arrived into Iguazu in the evening and wasted no time in tucking ourselves into our hostel beds. We knew that we definitely wanted to be up bright and early to see the falls. Of course, in what has become a rather regular occurrence for me, I ended up performing some basic first aid on the dude who was sleeping in the bunk above me. I hadn’t expected to spend my evening lancing infected and pus-filled insect bites, but it is kinda hilarious that it isn’t even weird for me anymore!
Now, on to Iguazu!
The town of Puerto Iguazu feels really small, like it exists only within a few main streets, and as a result, it is an extremely chilled out and easily navigatable place to visit. Everything we needed was just a short walk away, including the main bus stop.
Getting to the falls was surprisingly easy. We walked a few minutes to the bus station, purchased return tickets on one of the coach buses for around 130 Argentinian pesos (like $6 AUD) and within minutes we were Iguazu bound.
The entrance fees fluctuate a lot (yay Argentinian inflation) but we paid around 350 ARS, which is around $17 Aussie dollars. Definitely not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but it was definitely worth the money.
It is also worth noting that if you want to go a back for a second consecutive day, you can have your ticket stamped on exit and the next days admission will only cost half.
After buying our tickets and going on a short walk through the park, we hopped on one of the trams that take you around the park, and our exploring had begun.
Walking around the falls is extremely simple. Walkways lead you in many different directions, but overall, the signage is easy to follow. There is a fair bit of walking involved and the weather is very humid, so make sure you dress appropriately. Comfy shoes are a must, and although long pants may not sound ideal, they will provide you with protection from the many insects that call Iguazu home!
It goes without saying that the falls are astonishing.
We decided to start with the upper trail (1750m). I had heard that this wasn’t the most exciting of trails, but actually, it ended up being my favourite – largely in part to the fact that it was much less crowded during my visit.
Our visit to the upper trail also coincided with the clearest part of the day, which meant that there was seemingly endless sunshine beaming down onto the thunderous rapids, and honestly, it was pretty fricking stunning.
Visiting Iguazu had been one of the things Papa Burne had been looking forward to most, and it really showed. All day he was so excited and smiley – something which I just can’t get enough of!
Iguazu is certainly a feast for the eyes, but it is also a symphony for the ears. Hearing the enormous amount of water rushing, flowing, plummeting and crashing was nothing short of utter gloriousness.
Eventually we moved on to the lower circuit, which despite being crowded in parts due to narrower pathways, had the upside of being quite shaded and protected from the sun. The day was incredibly hot, so this was definitely a welcome reprieve.
Personally, I didn’t find the lower circuit to be quite as thrilling, at least until you arrive at the little ticket booth selling boat trips out on the water. I thought this might be a little gimmicky, and maybe it was, but it was worth every single bloody peso!
The trip costs around an extra 330 pesos (although this price fluctuates) and when you consider that it only lasts for around ten minutes it does sound like a massive rip off, but again, I think it is definitely worth it.
After we had sufficiently stuffed all our gear into waterproof bags, it was time to get out on the water. However, the boat doesn’t just approach the falls, it literally drives you directly underneath and through them! It felt like being thrown into a wall of water, which is probably because thats pretty much exactly what happened.
We ended up looking like drowned rats, we were so saturated, but we could not have been happier.
Every time I looked over at my dad, all I could see was the biggest grin imaginable. He looked so free, so unabashedly and truly happy. He looked like that kind of unashamed happy that you just don’t seem to see all that often, and seeing him that stoked put a pretty similar grin on my face.
I have always felt very strongly that travelling solo can bring a person just as much happiness as travelling with loved ones, and I still truly believe that this is true; but every once in a while, you experience something with someone that is so special, and it isn’t really the experience that made it so special, it’s doing it with that particular person.
This was one such experience.
We left Iguazu a few hours later, still looking like drowned rats, and still incredibly happy.
For anyone planning a visit to Argentina and/or Brazil, this is one stop that you definitely don’t want to miss.
Getting to Puerto Iguazu: Puerto Iguazu can be reached through Buenos Aires
Day Trips to Iguazu Falls: Day trips do not need to be organised in advance, just rock up and figure it out!
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with the M.Zuiko 7-14mm f/2.8 and M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 lenses
Remember: Wear long pants and all of the insect repellent! You don’t want to be getting any nasty tropical bites.