Iguassu Falls: Indescribably Epic

2– 6 September 2016

Travellingross Rating: 10 out of 10

Brazil has long been on my travel to-do list, but getting a visa has always been a hassle and turned me off trying. So when I heard that this year over the few months of the Olympics, Brazil was waiving visa requirements I was hooked. Usually I don’t plan or think of what to do on a break until say 2 weeks out. But this one I had a fair idea about since the beginning of the year. I am still winging it, but I knew that Iguassu Falls was a must-visit after seeing the photos a friend took during a visit some years ago. I have a thing for waterfalls and the more epic the better – Victoria, Niagara…now Iguassu.

But like anything epic, it starts with a journey. 17.5 hours. Including an 8 hour layover. Following a good work rotation where I was actually able to find time to go for a run after work, I was not my usual wiped out self on day 23. I went out for dinner with a friend in Parbo then got picked up at 10:45 pm for the airport. Odd flight time of 1:45 am meant I didn’t even sleep in the city compared to the last few breaks where I have been staying a night or 2 before flying out.
Belem airport was more advanced than I expected. English seems to not be widely spoken though and I quickly remembered that Portuguese is not that similar to Spanish. I got through immigration without a word spoken, and I didn’t even have to fill a form! I am amazed that my bag and I made all the connections including a twenty-minute connection in Rio. With a driver waiting for me at the Foz do Iguacu airport, I was ready to relax.
Belmond Hotel das Cataratas is flawless. I cannot fault a single thing. From the welcome at reception (and free room upgrade!), to the fireplace filled lounge, to the barman carefully explaining the varied types of Caipirinha, to the breakfast, to the views, to the perfect rooms with the little sticker on the toilet paper….I could go on haha. Great recommendation. Although only 2 nights is required to see the sights, I booked 4 because of timing and because I knew I would enjoy the down-time.
The Falls are incredible. Over 270 individual waterfalls occur across this divide between Argentina and Brazil. The photos hopefully tell the story. They say the Brazil side has the view, the Argentine side has the experience. Basically you get drenched on the other side with an immersive experience across a lot of boardwalks, whereas Brazil has the panoramic views and one boardwalk that looks up the main chasm “the devils throat”.  I thought a lot about crossing the border to also visit the Argentinian side but decided not to.
 
The weather was not the best. 2 days were wet and cold (17C). Nice to relax in the hotel with a hot stone Amazonian massage and drink, while catching up on life. The pool is heated but I didn’t swim. I really wanted to do the helicopter trip over the falls and luckily on my last day the clouds cleared and the choppers were able to fly. Fortunately I did not have a flight to Rio until 4pm so I had time. It was only a 10 minute flight, but so good. I did a similar flight over Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe many moons ago and really like the vantage you get from the air and seeing the mist swirl up.
So, I am really happy to be in Brazil. To have seen the Iguassu Falls. And this is just the beginning.