Falling for Brazil
And so, after our short and eventful stint in Venezuela we took a flight all the way down to Iguazu Falls in Brazil. The distance we covered during the flight was pretty much that which we’d been covering by bus for the previous five months, but we had no other choice as time was catching up on us and our flight home only two and a half weeks away.
This also meant that we’d only get to see a handful of places in the south of Brazil and consequently another trip would have to be organised to see the rest of this colossal giant of a country. Nevertheless, one place we were sure we wouldn’t be missing was Iguazu, one of the world’s most spectacular collection of waterfalls and a real source of pride for South America.
The reason I say South America is that the falls are very much a shared thing. Technically all of the waterfalls are in Argentina and the border (apparently) runs down the Iguazu river which separates it from Brazil. And of course there’s a third a country that would love to stake a claim to the falls but simply can’t, and that’s Paraguay.
There’s a point where the river splits and you can see all three countries from one bridge but Paraguay just doesn’t get close enough to be able to share in the spoils – they can only offer carefully-worded marketing material giving you the chance to ‘see Iguazu falls from Paraguay’, which is a little too ambiguous (and pretty much untrue) if you ask me my professional opinion.
Despite all of the claims to ownership we planned to see the falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides which would take us a couple of days. Luckily we had enough time to see what views Brazil had to offer on the day we landed in Brazil, which also happened to be my birthday.
And it was most definitely a birthday treat as we had some incredible panoramic views of the falls and even managed to get up close (as well as absolutely soaked) on a viewing platform that stretches out into the middle of the river. But from Brazil, we could barely see the main attraction – the Devil’s Throat – which would definitely be worth the wait for the next day’s foray into Argentina.
My birthday incidentally was rounded off with a kick about on the hostel’s well-received football pitch, a few beers with dinner and some pretty comedy presents from the boys.
Brazil’s offering (featuring Phil and Jim)…
The next morning we were up early for our trip across the border into Argentina (the fourth time we’d be gracing it’s soil on the trip). And when it comes to Iguazu falls, Argentina can quite easily take the bragging rights.
There’s plenty to do in their national park with far more trails, incredible views of the falls and to top it all, a viewing platform that literally hangs on the edge of the Devil’s Throat.
I’d say it’s pretty difficult to comprehend the volume of water going over the edge when looking at it with the naked eye – it seems as if to go in slow motion and can be pretty mesmeric at times. We spent a full day in Argentina seeing everything we could of the falls before we had to return to Brazil.
It was a pretty expensive trip, what with paying the entrance fees for two national parks but this really is something you can’t miss in South America.
So I guess you could suggest that our first foray into Brazil wasn’t the usual Brazilian stereotype of beautiful beaches and clear blue waters but as we’re quickly finding, there’s plenty more to Brazil than just that.
Besides, we’d have more than our fair share of time on those picture-book beaches in the weeks to come…