We’re not exaggerating – yes it’s a tourist trap but not in the same gawdy way as Niagara. The Brasilians and Argentines are rightly proud of their ‘cataratas’, and for good reason…
You know when something in nature just stops you in your tracks and just blows you away?
For one minute you’re that ‘It’s A Double Rainbow!’ guy from YouTube and all the shit going on in the world goes away for a few seconds.
We both had that moment during our two day visit to Iguazu/Iguacu Falls (depending on which side you’re on).
Maybe we were sleep deprived after a 24 hour bus journey from Rio, and yes, we had to share the moment with hundreds of others, but there’s a reason why people travel so far to wonder at how ferocious these waterfalls really are.
You need at least two days to do them justice. The Iguazu river forms the border of Argentina and Brazil so both sides have their own separate attractions. Brazil’s is more developed, with double deckers ferrying people from the entrance, and glossier branding.
The full might of the Falls doesn’t hit you on first glance; there are dozens of individual flumes of water cascading across hundreds of metres, each presenting itself as you walk along a track, the noise increasing with each step.
Then comes the big guy – the Garganta Diablo, or ‘Devil’s Throat’. It speaks for itself; the most ferocious of the Falls and mindblowingly powerful up close.
It gets better, though. A metal walkway takes you right in to the mouth of the Devil’s Throat, soaking you with water in the process and revealing amazing rainbows as the sun shines through the water.
To be immersed in one of the biggest waterfalls in the world was pretty special (and something Niagara only achieves on a boat). Speaking of boats – the tour here sh*ts all over Niagara’s Maid in the Mist!
For around £50 per person you’re taken first on an electric car in to the jungle, then a trek through the undergrowth to a jetty some way away from the Falls. ‘Do you want the wet or the dry trip’, you’re asked on arrival. What do you think we chose?!
When the speedboat took us literally in to the Falls known as the Three Musketeers, our plastic ponchos were useless against the force of millions of gallons of water cascading around us.
It was a truly exhilarating experience; the driver even did a few donuts on the way there to make sure we were as drenched as possible!
We left awestruck at the few hours we spent on the Brazilian side, but plenty of people had told us the Argentinian version was even better.
It’s certainly different, and justifies doing both. On this side, miles of metal walkways have been built out in to the river, so you can walk right up to the edge of the various waterfalls.
It gives a totally different perspective to see the river flow beneath you; going from sedate to violent within a few hundred metres. It also means you can see the Devil’s Throat from above.
Our only gripe was the painfully slow train which took us to and from the various walkways.
It barely broke walking pace, and kept us waiting for 40 minutes for our trip back to the entrance, so we almost missed our bus to Buenos Aires! We made it with about 10 to spare.
In case you hadn’t guessed, we bloody loved Iguazu and you will too. Just make sure you take your time to appreciate it while you’re there.
Special mention also goes out to the nearby Itaipu Dam, which vies for the title of world’s most powerful, alongside Three Gorges in China. We took a behind the scenes tour of its inner workings, where you can appreciate its true scale.
The stats are crazy; it funnels the equivalent of 10 Iguazu Falls through its 20 giant pipes. The concrete used in the construction was enough to build a road from Moscow to Lisbon.
It generates 85% of Paraguay’s electricity (and 15% of Brazil’s) and the reservoir they created to generate the power is bigger than New York City!
We loved it, but make sure you do the extended trip. Anyone who has ever watched Goldeneye or played the computer game will feel like they’re in a Bond film!