Cataratas del Iguazú

Your deepest roots are in nature.  No matter who you are, where you live, 
or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with 
the rest of creation.  - Charles Cook.                      
  Think Niagra was pretty? You haven't seen anything yet! The Iguazu Falls are a torrential cascades, whose  unoff defines the border of the three frontiers dividing Paraguay, Brasil, and Argentina. Tourism for this natural wonder are split between the Argentinian and Brasilian governments, and for those wanting to get the most out of your visit please read on!

The Argentinian Side
  This little venture started as soon as I stepped off of a bus in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina. It was the night of the first Argentina/Germany matchup of the World Cup, so tensions were running high and liquer ever flowing. Let me tell you, Argentinians watch  football as if the fate of the world depended upon the matches out come. The entire town was shutdown for several hours, and every bar was packed with spectators eyes glued to the television screen. So what else is there to do but sit down with a nice Cusqueña and cheer along with the throng. The rest of the evening was a festival, with the entire town moving from the bars to the streets in celebration of Argentina's victory! Cars honking horns with stereos blasting the teams theme song, adults and children both singing along and dancing as if set on fire.

  The next morning everyone was moving a bit sluggish. I myself got a late start leaving my hostel, and had to rush over to the Brasilian Embassy to submit my visa paperwork before they closed (see here). Since it was still before noon, I decided that I had more than enough time to visit the Argentinian side of the falls. Puerto Iguazu is a very small town, and at its 

center is the bus terminal. Most hostels are close to this terminal, so getting on one doesn't represent much of a hassle. Within the terminal are a series of tellers, each selling tickets to some destination written clearly on the signboard. Here they also sell the bus tickets that will take you to and from the park entrance, costing about AR$80 and running every 20min. The tellers will also be selling discounted speedboat trips beneath the Devils Throat falls, but I personally advise against it unless you happen to be flush with cash. The speedboat adventure lasts about 15minutes and you get extremely wet, so if that is your thing, great! But don't expect it to be cheap! I would instead save the fund for an adventure on the Brasillian side. 

  The park is split between two trail heads, leading to the upper and lower falls. I personally recommend heading down the lower trail to begin with, as it is the longer walk no requires more stamina. The path will take you approximately 2hrs to complete, depending entirely how much you stop to stare and take pictures. Make sure to bring a rain coat (umbrella is useless) because you may get a little spray standing under the cascades. If you have purchased a speedboat adventure, the path to your embarkation can be found along this trail. The trails make a loop, with the center meeting point being a cafe, a great place to grab a coffee and snack. WARNING, there is an indigenous animal called a Coati that lives in the park. They look like a cross between a raccoon and a badger, and make and adorable little squeaky sound. DO NO BE FOOLED BY THE CUTENESS! These things are Grimlins in disguise, and turn into vicious furry creatures once 

they see food! They will try to steal from you, and are not afraid. Now, the upper trail is a great way to end your stay at the park, as it gives you an encompassing view of the entirety of the falls, and looks particularly spectacular around sunset, so try to plan it accordingly. Last bus to leave the park departs around 8:00pm, so check the schedule. 

The Brasilian Side
  The next day I awoke early so I could explore Puerto Iguazu a bit befor departing for the Brasilian side. Like I said, the town is tiny, but that doesn't mean there isn't anything to see! A short hike from the center of town, and you will find yourself walking along the river that separates Argentina and Brasil. Keep on walking and you will reach the perfect lookout point, where you can see both Brasil and Paraguay's borders. There is even a small statue with the three countries flagstaffs. Small vendors selling their handmade goods congregate around this area, so if you wanting a token to commemorate your visit, this is the place to do it! Walking back into town you will also be able to see some wonderful hand carved facades in the stone walls, most depicting a biblical text. After seeing what I came to see, I picked up my passport with a new visa added in, and hopped on a bus to Foz do Iguaçu, Brasil! For those only wanting to see the Brasilian side of the falls, and are not planning on staying in Brasil, I hear takes that one can simply take a bus straight the the park, and straight back to Argentina without going through border control. This is hearsay and will need further research. As for the rest of you armed with your visas, head to the bus terminal and get the next bus to Foz! At 

boarder control, the driver will ask those who are not residents of Argentina and Brasil to get off and go through customs, and he will give you a re-embarkation ticket that you can use for the next bus coming through! Absolutely make sure you get off and get your stamp, or face harsh penalties! It's also a good idea to keep in mind where you need to get off the bus for your hostel in Foz. 

  Personally, I consider Foz do Iguaçu to be a bit of a dull city, but there are three attractions that I recommend to you during your stay. The first, obviously, is to visit the Brasilian side of the falls! The bus fare from the city to the park entrance costs about R$3.50 (bus #120), so substantially cheaper fare than the Argentinian side. You pay on the bus, and the ride takes about 45 minutes. If you are unsure of where to get the bus, talk to your hostel manager and they will point you in the right direction! Then entrance fee to the park is R$49.50, but be sure to take a bit of extra money if you were planning to do some of the addentional activities, which include guided bike trails, jungle safaris and rafting, all which can be purchased at the entrance. Your ticket is your bus fare from the park entrance to the falls, so after purchasing get at the front of the line so you can get on the top of the open double decker bus! The bus will make three stops, each one a different entrance to one of the extra attractions if you have purchased them. Otherwise stay on until the very end, which takes you to the trail head! Remember, you might have gotten away without a raincoat in Argentina, but on the Brasilian side you will be drenched without one! Beware! And keep an eye out for rainbow. 
  Once you have had your fill of the parks majestic scenery, instead of getting straight back on the bus to your hostel I suggest you to walk across the street from the park entrance. There you will find a fantastic animal refuge, and my second recommendation for touring in the city. It's name is Parche de Los Aves, and it is a special refuge where they rescue and breed birds that are injured or endangered. It costs about R$20 to enter, but it is definitely worth it if you haven't yet seen any tucans or parrots on your trip so far! For my final reccommendation, once you return to town if you would look at your map you will find a zoo written on it. The zoo is more of an open park with part of it being dedicated to a zoological preserve. Entrance is free, and you will get to meet up close various types of monkeys and even a jaguar! 


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