It would be a shame to come all the way to Argentina and see nothing but Buenos Aires. So we decided to book a quick trip to Iguazu falls to see one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
We booked a tour and had an early start (7:45 AM) and were taken to the park entrance. We queued, quickly paid the entrance fee, then went into the walk. We took the green trail and had a lovely short walk through the jungle before we arrived at the Cataratas Station. There we queued and got the first train to Garganta del Diablo (The Devil’s Throat).
At Devi’s Throat, we took the 15 minute walk out over the tranquil river, where we could hear the roar and see the mist from a distance. This added a lot of suspense and sets up expectations of seeing a giant waterfall. However, when we arrived, I have to say it still surprised me. The water was so calm leading up the the waterfalls and then it just drops and turns into this… enormous gorge from all sides which true to its name, feels like water is being swallowed by the devil.
One warning about this area of the falls, there is a lot of spray, way more than expected especially when you are perched on top of it. The vortex created by the volume of the water flowing down, whips up serious winds that pick up the spray and send it to you unexpectedly almost like a quick summer shower. We had to be very careful with the camera. The worst thing though was my poor son. He didn’t expect it and got seriously soaked. He started crying and saying he wanted to go home. He was traumatized. He put his head in the rest position in the stroller and would only look up to see we were there, cry that he wanted to go home, and then put it back down. We actually have one of those cheesy family pictures in front of the falls, with my son refusing to look up. I bought it because it’s classic and caught the emotion of the moment appropriately. Two elated parents, one traumatized kid who became a koala cub and one kid who became an turtle and decided to bury his head into his cocoon.
After that we took the train back to the Cataratas station, and walked to the lower trails. The first stop in the lower trail was the Las Dos Hermanas (The Two Sisters). Here were two beautiful waterfalls side by side that were beautiful and simple, compared to the grandeur we had witnessed previously but we got that feeling a bit prematurely, as the rest of the lower trail was full of awe-inspiring panoramic views.
Then we walked and saw the stepped falls from the bottom, a truly beautiful waterfalls that cascades down into two stages. Here we warned our son about the spray and he stayed back, as my husband and I took turns going a bit closer for a better view and photographs. If you so desired, you could get right up close and next to the powerful rush of water, and get soaked. We didn’t get too close for fear of the cameras, but some did and it must have felt divine on a day that was close to 95 degrees F with 90% humidity.
Afterward, we took a 300 meter walk where the falls opened up to us in a panoramic view. Then it was back to meet up with the group and take our lunch break.
After lunch, everyone was rested and refreshed to do the upper trail. I have to say this was my favorite part of the whole day for many reasons. One, it’s an interesting angle to see the falls. You walk right over where the falls just drop into oblivion and unlike the Devil’s throat, you don’t get sprayed a lot and the volume of water going down is far less which makes it a more pleasant sight although it is easy to feel the power. Also, after some food, rest, and Thomas my son was much more agreeable. He got out and walked a lot, took his own pictures, and even let me hold him for pictures with the falls. It’s been a while since he was so great for a photo session, it was a really sweet moment. Finally, over the falls, you could see huge rainbows. My son was really amazed by the rainbows and finally got excited again about the waterfalls.
Once we were done, we took the walk all the way back to the visitors center and did a little souvenir shopping before taking the bus back to the hotel. It was an exhausting but a breathtaking day.
A few tips:
- The falls are very family friendly, especially families with young children. We were able to do the entire thing with our stroller. And except for one spot where we got lost at a stair area, we never had to fold up and carry it. The staff and guides are very used to people with strollers and are all extremely helpful pointing out the stroller and wheelchair accessible ramps. There were at least three people with strollers on our tour. However, make sure you are in shape. There are some difficult hills, and pushing two tired, hungry, and cranky kids up a steep hill in a double stroller turned out to be quite a feat.
- Avoid eating outside by all means necessary. Always eat in a restaurant or bar, and be careful carrying food. The coatis are vicious. They know how to smell out the food, and jump up on tables to get at it. I saw one run out of the forest, and jump on a guys plastic bag (he was smart enough to drop it). The coatis ripped it open, got what he wanted and ran off just as fast. There are plenty of signs that talk about how monkeys and coatis will scratch, bite and steal stuff – please pay attention to these signs. I was so worried because I had snacks (for the kids) in my bag.
- Lots and lots of sunscreen and make sure to have a sun hat. The sun was brutal because you are up high. It tired everyone out and I saw some people in our tour get very badly burnt by the end of the day. (I missed one spot on my shoulder for the morning trip and still feel it).
Overall, we are so glad we did this trip. While the tour and day was exhausting, the experience was one that can’t be missed. And I’m so glad we included this in our trip to Argentina. It’s a day I will never forget.
* Starred photos taken by Atma Photography