After our trip to Antarctica, Amanda and I flew to Iguazu Falls to see some of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls. Since we’re not big fans of organized tours, and had just spent two weeks on a cruise ship, we decided to make our own way to this semi-tropical region. We booked two nights in a hostel that somehow reminded me of a treehouse, and our room was barely big enough for the set of bunk beds. At first I thought our roll of toilet paper was wet, until I realized it was just THAT humid. The bathroom was a little moldy, another side effect of the extreme humidity.
When we arrived, it was too late in the day to go to the falls. But we realized that we were so close to Paraguay, it was worth looking into ways of getting there. The hostel manager, who checked on the requirements for us, came back and told us the visa for US citizens was a lot more than we were willing to pay just to check off another country. He then proceeded to tell us another option where we could pay a driver a small fee in Argentina pesos and carry US$50 each as bribe money in case we got pulled over. Apparently people cross the border to watch the black market activities, which often were so out in the open you can see people just dropping illegal goods over the side of a bridge to someone waiting for them at the bottom. The hostel manager insisted that no one ever gets arrested for this illegal border crossing and that the bribe money always works in the rare cases where people even get pulled over, but I was a little skeptical. Not wanting to end up in a Paraguayan prison, we sided with caution and decided not to go.
In the end I’m glad we spent the majority of our time at the actual falls. Amanda negotiated us a lower price on the boat tour, which takes you right up into the falls. Luckily they hand out waterproof bags to hold your stuff so things like cameras don’t get ruined. After the boat tour, we walked around the rest of the park admiring the falls from all different angles. Having grown up in the United States, the only major falls I really knew of were Niagara Falls. Iguazu Falls are so much better! The semi-tropical climate means there is so much more lush vegetation and interesting animals running around. We kept hoping to see a jaguar, but no such luck.
We did keep running into people from the cruise with us who signed up for the extension to Iguazu Falls through the cruise operator. They were staying at the expensive Sheraton located on the park property. While I’m sure they had more comfortable beds and better climate control in their rooms, I couldn’t help but wonder how much they missed by not venturing into the town. We got to talk to locals working in restaurants and corner stores, we took a local bus to get to the park, and it was interesting to see the reality of this part of Argentina. It was by no means a pretty town, but it was more real than the bubble we would’ve been confined to had we stayed on the park property.