Iguazu - the town
So, my first real take on Argentina as a country was in Puerto Iguazu up north, right next to the Brazilian border. Reason for a visit there is quite obvious: the Iguazu waterfalls. And I'll get to them in a minute. My first walk was to Hito Argentino. It's a little white and blue obelisk on a little hill overlooking the river from where you can also see the other 2 obelisks: one in Brazil and one in Paraguay. They are marking the spot where all 3 countries meet.
The tough part for me in Iguazu was that my backpack got lost. My travel outfit comprised of black trousers, Doc Martens, black t-shirt and a hoody. The temperature was over 30˚C and I was drawing attention to myself with what I was wearing. No point in staying in a hotel room all day so I ventured out.
Few things I noticed were a lot of metal baskets on about meter height poles everywhere along the streets. They turned out to be trash cans. There is an obvious question coming to your mind right now, why on such tall metal poles?? Well the answer didn't let me wait for too long. It was to stop all the dogs from getting inside the bags and trashing the streets. And there are a lot of dogs out and about in Iguazu, and, as it turned out, all over Argentina. They belong to nobody and everybody. They are also tame (or maybe just ignoring people), although I’ve seen them aggressive towards each other.
Another thing I noticed were things that looked like metal barrels in people's front yards. Mystery got solved when I saw one open. They were BBQ-grills, home-made style.
Someone in town mentioned something about a port so I went that direction however once I've seen it from further away I turned around. Not my cup of tea. What I did go to see was an Orquidiario. Luckily the entrance was free otherwise I would have been a very cross visitor - the orchids were out of season, so haven't seen even one flower. What I did see was a whole bunch of humming birds and I decided to spend a good part of an hour to take a perfect humming bird picture. To no avail. Either my camera wasn't good enough or my hands were shaking too much.
I also found out, while enjoying a relaxing massage at the hotel spa, that this part of Argentina is largely populated by Slavs (majority from Poland) who have left Europe 150-70 years ago. There was even a town called Wanda not far from there with the largest Polish population in Argentina where people still stick to certain traditions, they meet up once a week, cook together, prepare some social events etc. I do have to admit, being Polish turned out pretty handy few times in Argentina. There was a Polish connection almost everywhere I went.
But then of course, the reason why most people go there: the waterfalls.
Iguazu - the waterfalls
My backpack reappeared, so the next day was waterfall day. I started with the Brazilian side. Everyone told me to see both and to start there so I followed their advice and I would suggest the same to everyone else. The place is an actual UNESCO Heritage Site. 80% of the waterfalls are on the Argentinian side so walking in Brazil on the walkway along the canyon allows you to see them in their whole glory. I must have spent about 2-3 hours just admiring and taking pictures.
If you're a fan of rainbows this is your heaven. Because it's not just one waterfall but a myriad of them, you can see one rainbow on top of the other. And it culminates at "Garganta del Diablo" - the most amazing spectacle I have ever seen. The highest and deepest of the waterfalls. First of all, you can hardly hear your own thoughts because the water falls with such huge power it overshadows everything else. You can get quite far on the boardwalks, almost to the edge to the lower base. And you get totally soaked. It was amazing, it was exhilarating.
Closer to the entrance on another path you can find waterfalls where you can swim, great fun as well. The only eyesore in the whole area is a hotel. Someone must have paid a huge bribe as it’s on the grounds of the national park. Inside it’s quite posh and elegant, on the outside – a horrid block of cement. I blame Sheraton, end of story.
Second day was very different. This time you walk on the same side as the waterfalls (depending on the volume of water it can be split into about 275 separate waterfalls) so it’s more of a jungle walk. Parts of it are on walkways and you have time to admire the fauna and flora as well, not just the waterfalls. I remember seeing amazing spiderwebs spreading across the pathways with spiders the size of a baby hand. You can easily walk there for hours and of course you would end up the 1km long “Paseo Garganta del Diablo” (this one is on the top of the waterfall) – you can ask the professionals there to take a photo for you, or actually they will probably ask you themselves. I thought it would be terribly expensive, but it wasn’t too bad and it is an awesome keepsake.
One more thing you can do there is a boat ride. That one is pricy – I was lucky that an airline had to pay for my misplaced luggage and that money was well spent. Great feeling to be able to see some of the cataracts so up close. I haven’t seen any other waterfalls that would make a bigger impression and I doubt I ever will.
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