Puerto Iguazú, Argentina: Day 1
I didn’t honestly believe it was possible to have a new experience today given that I was hiking to see the cataratas once again but just from the other side. I knew from yesterday that I would once again be entering the Garden of Eden entranced by my surroundings but I didn’t expect it to be a new experience. As such, I booked me and Patricia a room at the Sheraton, which is the only hotel actually in the park on the Argentinian side, with a view of the falls from our balcony thinking it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to stay in the park (unless, of course, you choose to stay on the Brazilian side at the more authentic, architecturally speaking, Belmond de Cataratas). The cost for either side is about the same at a whopping $348 USD per night but as I had seen the Brazilian side as had Patricia we opted for the more modern Sheraton on the Argentinian side.
I was most surprised by how completely different the trek and the falls are from the Argentinian side. The experience is nothing like yesterday. It is hard to say which experience is more spectacular given both sides are completely different while still being each other’s equivalent at the same time. I can say without an iota of reservation that I absolutely encourage everyone to see both sides (in fact I would go so far as to say I insist!) and I recommend that you do the Brazilian side first. I don’t think it is necessary to pay the cost associated with staying in the actual park on either side. There is not any special advantage for staying at one of these hotels which would warrant the exorbitant cost except for the view when you wake up. While it is a view of one of the new 7 wonders of the world, it is one you get to see even if you stay in town (either in Foz do Iguacu Brazil or Puerto Iguazú Argentina) and you just have to hire a taxi to take you there and there isn’t anything particularly special about the hotels themselves in my opinion…neither are even what I would call a five star. Having said that, I did wake up (inadvertently at 4:00 a.m. instead of 5:00 a.m. because of the one hour time difference between Brazil and Argentina) and set the GoPro up on the balcony for my first time lapse video of a sunrise coming up behind the falls and that in and of itself might be worth the splurge but, unfortunately, I didn’t know what I was doing and managed to only shoot a video. Good thing Patricia was there as she got the footage I paid Sheraton all that money to get. Moreover, just as a side note, you shouldn’t miss staying in the endearing town of Foz do Iguacu with its tree-lined streets raining orange, yellow and red flowers (if you are there in November) and the energetic bars and restaurants filled with the cheerful disposition of the locals singing in unison (usually American pop or rock songs so you can sing along!). It is a lovely compromise of beauty and light hearted amusement and one of the town’s in this world I would consider calling home.
Now back to our walk into the magical forest on the Argentinian side of the falls. It was like entering onto the set of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I half expected nymphs and fairies to emerge from the trees or out from under one or more of the multitudinous waterfalls whether trekking on the lower path or the high one (you should definitely do both hikes on the Argentinian side), but the view from the platform at the top of Devil’s Throat on the Argentinian side is undoubtedly incomparable….a curtain of white water (although sometimes a muddy red I’m told depending on when you are there) at 82x150x700 meters pouring into this seemingly everlasting long and narrow chasm down below. While I’m not sure why specifically it is called the Devil’s Throat, there is a strange sensation that the waters from far down below are whispering to you in an alluring tone like a temptress or perhaps like we would imagine Homer’s Sirens in the Odyssey sounded like. At several points on the platform I could see visitors with their eyes closed, chins tilted towards the baby blue skies, soaking in the sun and being cooled by the spray of the falls and it made me wonder if they could hear the incantations from below as I could. Mystical, magical, heavenly or whatever adjective you can advance, it won’t be nearly sufficient to describe this place of…well…..make-believe.
That’s all for now. With love and a little magic from Puerto Iguazú.