The next morning we took full advantage of our buffet breakfast, bagging many pastries for snacks later in the day; yeah, we’re classy. But the chocolate croissants were yummy, and the fresh mango so juicy.
Talking to the hotel concierge we booked our outbound bus tickets and a day-long taxi to take us to Argentina, expensive but worth it for the time we’d gain over five connecting buses.
To get to the Argentinian side, which is just the other side of the river, is a ridiculous one hour trip; out of the park, along the highway, through border control, passports stamped (and a point where you can see Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay all at once), down another highway and into the Argentinian national park. We stopped for currency, converting our Reais to Pesos, amongst all the Christmas decorations going up. What’s more, once over the border the clocks change, Argentina is an hour behind Brazil, so we arrived at the same time as we left.
At the park our driver explained the park tours, the trails and the timings and we arranged a Brazilian meeting time, which we converted to Argentinian time. First up, a boat ride for 400 Pesos, there’s no way we could do the two currency conversions from pesos to reais to pounds in our head, so we just paid it and did it anyway.
Starting at 11am we took a guided jeep tour through the forest to the boat. It wasn’t as good as our guided walk, but it pointed out a lot of similar things on an overly loud speaker system, any timid animals would be long gone.
At the boat we were given waterproof sacks for our bags and big orange lifejackets for the trip. We sat at the front, on sizzling hot plastic chairs that’d been left in the sun too long. The boat departed and we sped upstream, through some rapids towards the falls.
At the falls we did one pass so we could take photos and video, taking a look at the righthand crescent of falls and then at the left most ones. Next we put everything away for the crucial second part.
The boat slowly crept towards the waterfalls, a light mist, then a rain shower, then we were right beneath them, getting drenched in a pelting flow of water so powerful you couldn’t keep your eyes open. We got absolutely soaked, through and through. From the boat came screams of delight and excitement as we moved through the falls, eventually coming out again for a breather. Next was the big one, a brief rest-bite before being plunged under another violent force of nature, gallons of water pouring onto us from above, arms spread outwards, screaming. Phenomenal.
Back on land we dripped until small puddles formed around our feet, large orange butterflies flew down to drink from them, and we lay on the rocks, drying off in the hot sun.
From here we did the upper circuit walk, ‘Circuito Superior’. Along the top of the ‘waterfall crescent’, as I call it, there is a constructed walkway which we followed. In flip flops, I looked over the edge and watched the peaceful water turn into a raging torrent. We vied for space and the occasional good view and photo position with groups of kids and elderly coach tours. The people came in waves, and we need only wait a short while for everything to quiet down; it seems most people on this side get a guided tour of the park, which is entirely unnecessary.
The fantastic birds were ever present, including peregrine falcons, plush crested jays that escaped my camera lens, great egret, black vulture, southern lapwing, cattle tyrant (or bandana bird as we called him) and three striped flycatchers.
We stopped for some snacks and a coffee before catching the mini green train up to Garganta do Diablo. Up here is a long walkway across the wide shallow river and there’s not much to see until you’re right out into the so-called devil’s throat, where the plunge is the deepest and the air thick with rebounding mist. Again, you get soaked here too, even though you’re above everything this time. Between the crowds and water splashes we took our pictures quickly. We posed, and smiled and let the water cool us and then it was home time, ushered by staff back to the train because it was 6pm and the park was closing.
On the way back we spotted a turtle resting beneath the metal bridge, and Sam was filled with excitement as on the train we passed a large toucan, she smiled the widest smile, so pleased to have seen a toucan in the wild, and it was awesome, everyone on the train was equally excited.
At the exit we bought some trinkets and met our driver for the return leg, back through border control, changing our clocks and into the Brazilian national park again. Travelling quietly and slowly at dusk, windows down, it was perfect for even more nature watching; we spotted a southern caracara bird on the ground, a few unknown large birds on the telephone wires and an armadillo rummaging in the grass.
We ate in the piano bar again and returned to our plush hotel room.
Our time in Iguaçu falls was coming to a close, and we celebrated our time here with champagne and coffee at breakfast. We packed our bags, sorted our final travel arrangements and checked out. We went for one last walk around the park, this time seeing it with the crowds before boarding our bus and beginning our long journey to Paraty.