If you are planning on doing South America, chances are you’ll stop at famous Iguazu Falls. Regarding waterfalls, I’m here thinking that Iguazu must be one of the most famous ones, together with Niagara Falls and Victoria Falls.
Ok, just did a quick Google search and seems I am quite correct: these three are the most famous ones. Mistaken I was when I visited Niagara, a couple years later, and expected similar experience to Iguazu. Wrong! I believe there is a lot of people out there with the same misconception, but let me tell you right now: there is no comparison. Although both are, obviously, impressive waterfalls, the entire experience is completely different.
Niagara Falls is much more than just the falls. It has a casino, a haunted house, wax museums, a Ferris wheel, entertainment entertainment entertainment, blah blah, typical North America shit stuff. Perhaps one day I will write a post about it.
Now, let me tell you about the South America famous Falls – or, anyways, my experience at it.
We left Sao Paulo and took a bus direct to Foz de Iguaçú (this is the spelling in Portuguese). The bus leaves once a day, I believe (it was 12 years ago, so please don’t use this post as a travel guide). We paid $91 Brazilian reais for this ride (I have a notebook with most my expenses on that trip).
It was our first bus out of our home city, and the start of our South America trip; we were on our 20s, so imagine the excitement. I actually bought my backpack for this trip. I used the same one to go around the world, and it now rests on my basement. Think sentimental value.
WOW this post is getting way longer than I planned. Sorry.
We left SP at 6:30pm on July 07th, 2005, and arrived at 9am next day. Dropped off our bags and went to see the city. Iguaçú seemed quiet and safe, although my brother-in-law lived there and he says it is neither of those. We went to downtown and then to the zoo, where we met Luan, a 11 year old local that offered to take us to the Falls. It was a win-win, as he knew which buses to take, and we paid his entrance fee.
Foz de Iguaçú is the name of the city, but the also of the park that surrounds the waterfalls. Being a park is what makes it a very South American experience: you actually get in contact with nature; you’ll probably see some wild cute animals like a quati (also called nasua, looks like a less-scary thin-face raccoon) and you’ll breath a trail fresh air. You move around the park walking on leveled paths with iron handrails, and the waterfalls can be seen from different lookouts. I believe you can also book a boat to get close to the Falls, and I bet it would be awesome.
There were lots of Argentinean tourists there, and they love to annoy Brazilians. They might say the Iguazu Falls on the Argentina side are better. Oh well. They say the same about their soccer team, but how many times have they won the World Cup? Anyways, if you are traveling South America, you must know that Brazil and Argentina are brotherly rivals. We hate them, but they are our hermanos, like family that we don’t choose but we’ll be together forever.
About Iguaçú: if you like nature and waterfalls, please go. My mom went there not long ago for a conference and she liked the city, so… do it. Now, do you wanna come to South America just to see Iguaçú Falls? No. Go to Rio de Janeiro instead.
Same applies to: do you wanna come to South America just to see Buenos Aires? Please spare me of telling you how wrong that would be.