We left our hotel in Montevideo at 5:20 am to begin what would be a very long day of travel. We took a taxi to the bus station. Then boarded a bus for 2 hours back to the port of Colonia, where we took the ferry over to Buenos Aires. From there we headed to the airport for our flight to Puerto Iguazú to see the falls.
This would be our first flight since we left California and our first Servas hosted stay. We would be staying with Gastón, a young man who is a park ranger at the national park. He lives in the park at the ranger’s village which means we were up close and connected. We also had a bonus of not having to pay the park entrance fee. That provided a substantial savings.
Our flight was delayed and we arrived at 6:00 pm to Aeropuerto Internacional Cataratas del Iguazú. We boarded a shuttle to Puerto Iguazú where Gastón (Servas host) was scheduled to meet us. Puerto Iguazú is a town in the province of Misiones, on the northeast tip of Argentina. It is located 17 km from the Iguazú National Park. Upon arrival in town, the skies opened to a torrential down pour including the loudest thunder we ever heard and plenty of lightning to go with it. It was a little nerve-racking but Gastón assured us there were “no worries”, however we probably would not have any power at home. We quickly headed home before it got any worse.
After a 20 min bus ride, we exited the bus and walked to where we would be staying for the next 3 nights. We were pleasantly surprised to find there was power but not long after we put our stuff in our room, all the power went out. This was the first time but it would not be the last over the next several days. We sat and visited in the dark. We learned more about the park and Gastón’s role as a ranger. In 1984, the Iguazú National Park was declared a World Heritage by UNESCO to protect its environment and disseminate its natural and cultural outstanding value as a heritage to humanity. Gastón takes pride in his work and is studying law so he can help with the conservation efforts. He prepared a traditional Argentine meal for us by flashlight and explained where to go in the park. Gastón was an incredible host.
The next morning, we woke to a brief break in the storm (notice the short sleeves and no jackets). We quickly headed to the park to board the Ecological Jungle Train to Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). Once you exit the train there is a nice path to walk along.
You know that you are getting close as you begin to hear the roar of the falls. We have never seen anything like the power of the water. It was breathtaking!
Just as we were leaving Devil’s Throat it began to rain. A little rain was not going to stop us so went back the house and grabbed a few extra things before we started the circuit trails. As we headed back into the park we decided we would start with the lower trail circuit. We hopped on the train to the trail head but by the time we arrived we were already soaked.
We made our way to the lower circuit and got as far as the fast food stop since the rain was getting heavier and heavier. We popped into the store, had a couple of empanadas hoping the rain would let up (that seemed to be everyone else’s idea too) but no luck.
So we began the lower circuit. We quickly came upon several waterfalls that were smaller but were beautiful just the same.
We completed the lower circuit which was much quicker and easier than we had expected. Since we were already soaked we decided to head to the upper circuit trail. It was even better than the lower.
By now we had seen all the highlights. The only thing left was to go over to San Martin island but the boat was not running due to the weather conditions. We figured we could try again tomorrow. We headed back to main entrance area and stopped in at the visitor center. It was interesting to learn about the history of the area.
That night we had a special Argentine wine with dinner that Gastón had selected for our visit. We talked about music and places we all had traveled. It was a pleasure getting to know him and we thoroughly enjoyed his company.
The next day the weather was a little better so we headed to town to see the Hito Tres Fronteras, this is the point where 2 rivers (Iguazú and Paraná) and 3 countries (Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay) all converge.
We had lunch, picked up a few groceries to make dinner and headed back to the park. We stopped by to see if we could get to the island but no such luck. So we dropped in to see Gastón at his post and to check on our transfer arrangements to the airport in the morning. It turns out he is going to take us to the airport in the ranger vehicle. Tonight, we prepared the meal for all of us.
We woke up early the next morning to another power failure. We finished packing by flashlight and headed to the airport. We said our goodbyes hoping that we would see each other again soon.
Upon arrival at the airport it turns out that we were the only flight leaving for several hours. It was a little eerie to only see our plane in the whole airport.
Next stop, Puerto Madryn and the Peninsula Valdes to enjoy the wildlife. However, we will not arrive until we have completed a 2-hour flight, a 7-hour layover and our first 18-hour long distance bus ride. Since it will be an overnight ride we opted for the seats that completely lay flat so we could get a good night sleep.
We will let you know how it goes.