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A Weekend Adventure in Iguazu Falls

July 12, 2010

Our adventure began on a groggy Thursday afternoon in Buenos Aires. My friends Zach and Evie and I finished up some last-minute packing, grabbed coffee and snacks in a nearby cafe, and took 2 subways and a short walk to the Retiro bus station to meet up with the rest of our group (Kelsie and Eliza) and catch our 20-hour bus to Puerto Iguazu. The adventures started before we even caught the bus, when we discovered that unlike the very structured gate-system most of us were used to, in BA you receive a RANGE of gates that you have to go to and watch TV monitors until your bus shows up…  (at which time the TV will show your gate and you have to rush to get there and board before it leaves). As if that weren’t confusing enough, our bus was supposed to be at 7pm . . . but turned out to be nearly an hour late.

Things started out pretty normal on the bus . . .

So there we were, 5 students on our first “solo” (non-program guided) trip in Argentina, running around the Buenos Aires bus station consulting information desks, tv monitors, station employees, and even random passers-by to figure out whether or not our bus even existed! Thankfully it did; around 7:55pm we suddenly spotted it on the TV-monitors and rushed to the proper gate to get checked in and comfortable. And boy were we comfortable! They aren’t kidding when they say that busses are nicer in Argentina. With extra-wide seats that lay most of the way down, TVs that play movies in English (usually with Spanish subtitles) and dinner and breakfast served airplane-style, any complaints we had about the lateness of the bus were stifled pretty quickly. At around $140 USD round-trip this was definitely the way to travel.

. . . but after about 16 hours on the bus we started to get a little crazy

We arrived in Puerto Iguazu around 4pm the next day (Friday), a little disheartened at being 4 hours late and met with drizzly, cold weather. We didn’t let it get us down for long though! After checking into the Marcopolo hostel, which was conveniently located RIGHT across the street from the bus station, we grabbed a snack and then proceeded to explore the very small town of Puerto Iguazu. The evening was spent making dinner and getting to know the many travelers at the hostel (from countries such as France, Germany, Australia, Canada, and Ireland, to name a few). This is probably one of the coolest things about staying in a hostel – nearly everyone you meet is from somewhere interesting and has a unique story to tell.

Zach and Kelsie playing a fierce game of ping pong at the hostel

Despite Zach’s attempts to wake us up by yelling “wake up everyone” or some equivalent to that from about 7am-9am (which were responded to with various complaints and insults from the girls), we didn’t drag ourselves out of bed until about 9:15 the next day. Discovering beautiful blue skies and warm temperatures we made great time; checking out quickly, locking our bags in the hostel’s baggage room and catching the next bus to Iguazu Falls Park. The entry fee was $85 pesos, or about $21 USD and we paid another $100 pesos ($25 USD) to take a raft into the falls. This was DEFINITELY worth it. After a couple of hours of hiking and picture-taking we cooled off in the mists – or rather, torrential downpour – of the falls on the raft, screaming and laughing as we got soaked by the spray. Although I didn’t bring a waterproof camera to record the moment, these memories were more than worth the slightly steep price for the 12-minute ride.

Taking in the incredible beauty of the falls

Courtney, Kelsie and Zach on the raft at Iguazu Falls

With a couple of hours left to spare, we decided to walk the trail to the Devil’s Throat Falls. There was a train that could have taken us most of the way, but we took one look at the line and set off on foot for the 30-45 minute walk across the park to the falls. This turned out to be a great decision as well. Not only did we get some really good exercise before getting on another long bus ride, but we also saw more butterflies than I have ever seen in “the wild” in my life, as well as some wild monkeys swinging through the trees near the path. Talk about getting the full experience!

This picture is sort of blurry but if you look really close you'll see one of the wild monkeys in the trees!

The last stretch of path over water to Devil's Throat Falls

The last 10-15 minutes of the walk was on metal paths over the water (a pretty cool experience in itself), which eventually led us to the breath-taking Devil’s Throat. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of water that poured into the aptly-named circular falls but it was enough to raise a constant cloud of mist and make seeing any sort of “bottom” to the falls impossible. Although we could only stay for a few minutes, the experience was well worth the walk. We snapped a few pictures, then speed-walked back to the front of the park where we caught our bus back into Puerto Iguazu with just enough time to change clothes and buy a few snacks before we caught our 5:45 bus (on-time this time!) back to Buenos Aires.

The well-named Devil's Throat Falls

In front of Devil's Throat Falls

All in all, it was an incredible weekend. Despite having spent most of it on a bus (40+ hours as opposed to about 24 hours in Puerto Iguazu) we packed in enough adventure and memories to make it all worthwhile. And at around $250 USD per person (see my break-down of approximate costs below) it was a pretty budget-friendly weekend as well which of course made it even better! In other words, if you are considering a trip to Iguazu Falls, DO IT! This is definitely a must-see while you are in Argentina, no matter how long your stay.

More pictures of the falls

This week is the last week of our intensive-language classes so it should be a pretty standard week of class, internship, homework, etc. I am also going to try to fit in a couple of tango classes to keep things fun and interesting, so look out for updates on that soon. Finals are this Thursday and then our winter break starts Saturday. I intend to travel for at least 5-7 days during this 10-day break so also keep an eye out for more travel posts in the near future!

For all of you heading here this week for the fall semester: good luck with your packing and preparations and SAFE TRAVELS! Feel free to comment or contact me if you have any last-minute questions before you arrive. I look forward to meeting all of you very soon!

Grateful and Happy to be “Home,”
Maki

A full rainbow over Iguazu Falls

Break-Down of Costs for Our Trip to Iguazu Falls
(USD conversions are approximate and all costs are per person)

  • Round-Trip Bus Fare (we took the bus line “Singer”) $525 Pesos/$140 USD
  • 5-person room at Marco Polo Inn $50 Pesos/$13 USD
  • Round-trip bus to Iguazu Falls Park and raft-ride through the falls $100 Pesos/$25 USD
  • Park entry fee $85 Pesos/$21 USD
  • Snacks, Food, and other Incidentals – around $100 Pesos/$25 USD

Total Cost Per Person – around $860 Pesos/$215 USD

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One Comment leave one →
  1. July 12, 2010 9:31 pm

    Sounds awesome!!!

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