Bucket list: visit Iguaçu Falls. Check!

When I first found out I would be studying in Brazil for six months, one of my goals outside the academic sphere was to eventually visit Iguaçu Falls. It’s one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Who doesn’t want to visit the incredible waterfall?! After I arrived to Brazil, I got so caught up in being in Rio that I just never got around to planning my trip. Then by the time I moved to Fortaleza, it seemed like a distant dream. Hah. Yeah my deep-seated ambition to see the Falls wouldn’t let this opportunity pass me by so around the beginning of April Lara and I started looking at our calendars and made a rather spur-of-the-moment decision to visit Iguaçu at the end of the month (Apr 28-May 1). We also thought it’d be fun to meet up with Konner and Rachel again since we hadn’t seen them in so long. Thanks to kayak.com/cheapflights.com and Hostelling International, we managed to plan a rather cheap trip for a weekend to Iguaçu with Rachel.

Our flight left Fortaleza late Saturday afternoon. Since Fortaleza isn’t a huge airport for traveling around the county, Lara and I had to catch a connecting flight in São Paolo. After a weekend of hopping around the country, I decided that I really don’t like the domestic terminals of Brazilian airports. They are WAY too small. I expected to have a rather large terminal to wander around in São Paolo during our layover. Nope! We had one “restaurant” and the whole terminal was packed and chaotic. That whole situation is definitely going to need to be sorted out before the World Cup in 2014 because there are going to be just too many people moving through the country. Lara and I arrived in Iguaçu around 1:30am, and luckily they had taxis waiting to transfer people to their hotels and hostels. Rachel had arrived much earlier that night so she was already asleep and comfy in her bed. Lara and I basically stormed into the room and tackled her. We hadn’t seen her in about 3 months so we automatically launched into stories with loads of laughter. Unfortunately, it was almost 3 in the morning when our neighbors came and knocked on our window begging for silence or at least muted voices. We apologized and went right to sleep.

I woke up the next morning FREEZING! I could not understand why! Then I remembered I had been living on the equator for three months and that the southern part of the country was in autumn heading towards winter. Of course it would be cold! And by cold I mean it was in the 60s. After putting on every piece of clothing we brought with us, we headed to breakfast where they served basically the same meal as the hostel in Jericoacoara. Then the guy who runs the hostel came and talked to us about our options for visiting the falls: Brazilian side one day then the Argentine side the next day. I fairly certain we provided the guy with more entertainment than he’d seen in a while cause he kept laughing as we were telling each other stories, launching into tangents and laughing our heads off.

After yet another chaotic almost calamitous attempt to catch a bus to the national park (go figure), we finally made it to the falls! And then we had to sit in three ridiculously long lines for about two hours to buy our tickets, enter the park, and board a bus to the falls. The bus was a double-decker with the top level open. Of course we sat up top in order to get the best pictures of the landscape. Bad idea. The theme for the weekend seemed to be freezing our butts off, so while the rest of the bus was nice and bundled up, the three of us froze in the wind. Our first view of the falls only gave us a tiny taste of the majestic river, but we managed to squeeze into the massive crowd along the fence and snap our first few photos. The trail that led to the main attraction a Garganta do Diabo (the Devil’s Throat) was pretty simple, with several areas to pull over and take photo shoots. As we approached the huge waterfall, rainbows littered the sky due to the incredible amount of mist coming from the falls. Once we got up to the bridge that took us under the falls, we passed people coming back who were completely soaked from head to toe. Rachel only came halfway out with Lara and me since she didn’t have a raincoat. The view at the end of the bridge was phenomenal. The water roared over the edge of the cliff and sprayed everywhere. I just stood there staring in awe at the sheer volume of water crashing down the gorge. After we scurried back to find Rachel, we took a few more photos then headed back to the park entrance to dry off, warm up and find food. By the time we left the park, we hadn’t eaten in over six hours. We found out the hard way that most everything in the town/city of Iguaçu closes pretty early on Sundays during holiday weekends. Luckily we found one little deli open and stuffed our faces with sandwiches and delicious pastries. Once we got back to the hostel, we crashed. Lara and I attempted to take showers. Up until that night, I’ve never actually had a shower that was so cold that it physically hurt. I thought I was going to end up with pneumonia from sleeping with glacial-cold, wet hair.

Monday, we woke up early and piled on our clothes again. It was a bit warmer but not by much haha. We had to be up and ready earlier because we were going to Argentina! The hostel took care of getting us to the Argentine side of the national park and through border security. Our group for the day consisted of two Brazilians, two Germans (both of whom had ridiculously crazy hair) and us three American girls. At the border, our driver stopped and insisted we get out and take photos straddling the border. He was also very good at taking jumping photos. After playing around for a bit, we went to border control and waited for an hour for our passports to be stamped and approved. Once we arrived on the Argentine side, we found out that we had three trails to visit! The first, and longest, would take us to the top of the Devil’s Throat, so we headed there first. We walked a part of the way, took a train to the trailhead, and then walked across the river for the last part. La Garganta del Diablo (Spanish for the Devil’s Throat) was even more spectacular from the top.  It was slightly worrying how many people were squished onto the platform, but everyone just wanted to stand and watch the water plunge down the rocks, including me. The other two trails took us to the upper and lower falls, which were smaller but more numerous. About halfway down the second trail, I started to get this really sharp pain in my foot. Turns out my tendonitis decided to migrate from my ankle to my foot and reappear with a vengeance. I managed to hobble the rest of the trails and, honestly, the stunning waterfalls were well worth the pain.

On our way back to the park entrance, we had a couple rather interesting and incredibly comical moments. First, we found out that juggling English, Portuguese AND Spanish in the space of one conversation doesn’t really work out that well. Lara was talking to an Argentine and a Brazilian and her English from talking to Rachel and myself kept screwing everything up for her. I just sat there laughing until it was my turn to ask people where we were and where we needed to go. I just never knew what language I needed to be speaking in haha. Then later on, while we were lounging in the deliciously warm sun, some guy walked up to me and started speaking in English! He wanted to know why I was wearing a Cambridge University sweatshirt. Turns out he was from Cambridge and had recently quit his job in England to backpack around South America. It was such a weird, small world coincidence. Once we got back to the hostel, we ate dinner at the restaurant there and just chilled. Lara and I left super early on Tuesday, around 5:30am. We spent the whole day traveling: one flight from Iguaçu to Brasilia with a short stop in Curitiba, a six-hour layover in Brasilia, then our final flight to Fortaleza. It was an incredible trip and I’m so glad we got to do it.

Até próximo pessoal! Beijos!


~ by dfsg1991 on May 24, 2012.

2 Responses to “Bucket list: visit Iguaçu Falls. Check!”

  1. Impressionante e que fofos os animais! Bjs

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