After we checked in to our pousada in Puerto Iguacu we decided to see the waterfalls. We were pretty tired at this point because we had been on a bus all night, but we were only going to have two days in Argentina and we didn’t want to spend them napping.
So, in the early afternoon we went to the national park that includes the Argentine side of Iguazu (admission A$85). A bus from town to the park costs A$5 and takes about half an hour. We had heard that the biggest waterfall section was the best in the afternoon, so we hopped on the slow-moving train to get there.
About 20 minutes later we got off the train and walked over elevated metal walkways to see Gargantua do Diablo (not sure about that spelling), which is the biggest, most commonly photographed section of Iguazu. The walk there was quite nice; we saw hundreds of brightly colored butterflies and vast stretches of the jungle. The walkway also includes a bunch of foot bridges, so we got to see a lot of the river as well.
The waterfalls themselves were pretty impressive, especially for Laura, who loves waterfalls generally. I was also pleased, and it wasn’t too crowded either. However, about this time the lack of sleep began to hit us. We looked around for a while, but it was also getting late so we decided to head back to our pousada. And honestly my memory of the whole afternoon is a bit hazy, so it’s probably better that we didn’t stay too long.
The next day we returned to the waterfalls (second day entry is half price). This time we walked along all the trails and paths that we had been too tired to go on before. And it was impressive. While most of them only afford a distant view of the big section of waterfalls we had seen a day earlier, they also brought us right up to the face of other sections. The also have several breath-taking vantage points from which to admire the second biggest area of the falls (which in some ways are more visually striking).
The unfortunate part of the day was that, as I had orignally feared, the park was thick with tourists. Being a tourist myself I can hardly complain, but it was still frustrating to suddenly (and frequently) be surround by huge tour groups of elderly people. At a few points the paths got so packed that I felt like I was in a slow-moving line at Disneyland. So, I would recommend not going to Iguacu on a Saturday if you can avoid it.
To get away from the crowds we decided to hike along a dirt trail that lead to a smaller, more remote waterfall. By this time it was around 3:30 and as we arrived at the trailhead we discovered that it was closed. Apparently it takes about an hour and a half to hike to the waterfall and after 3 they close it to make sure the park can still close on time (6 pm).
After looking at the closed sign, we (or, rather, Laura) decided that we could just duck under the chain and hike until our time ran out. So, quickly, we set out while trying to avoid any park workers who might stop us.
We hiked the trail for about an hour and then we turned around. We didn’t end up making it to the waterfall, but we did see a lot of animals, including monkeys and a large colorful woodpecker. We also got a lot of mosquito bites. However, it was well worth it because we bascially had the trail to ourselves. When we figured the park was getting ready to close we headed back to town and had a delicious gourmet pizza dinner at a local restuarant.