My South America Trip – Part 7 Iguazu Falls

We landed at the Brazilian side of the Iguazu falls around 6.00 pm. As we wanted to see both the Argentina side and the Brazilian side, we booked 1 night stay at each side. We will be spending the first night at the Argentina side so we grabbed a cab from the airport for BR$  165. We had to stop at the border to check our passports and fill up an immigrations form. The procedure was quite simple and fuss free and the ride took us about 1 hour.

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We were staying with the Melia Iguaçu Resort E spa which is located within the park. To enter the park to our hotel, we had to pay for the park fee of Argentina peso 1,000 for 2 persons at the entrance of the park. The hotel was under renovations so some areas were under construction. The building looks quite dated and the internal corridor carpets could do with a refresh. While it looks dated, everything is still well maintained and very clean. Every room had a balcony where you could look out at the falls in the distance. The staff warned us about keeping the balcony doors locked when we are not in the room as monkeys from the forest has learnt how to enter the rooms by opening the doors.

BeFunky-collage (15)Since it was late and we are in the middle of the park, we had our dinner in the hotel restaurant. This was our only meal in Argentina so we had to order the grill since Argentina is known for their grill meats. We ordered grilled pork steak and grilled tenderloin, as well as a pumpkin soup and tiramisu for sharing. The meats were gorgeous and well grilled with a crispy top and a centre filled with meat juice. It was a mid ranged meal in terms of price but the quality of the food and the service was worth the money spent.

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Breakfast with a view totally describes our breakfast venue in the Melia. It is the same restaurant as dinner but in the daylight, you can see the waterfall from a distance and almost all the tables have this perfect view. ( except for the ones nearer to the buffet spread ) The breakfast selection was absolutely pampering with many international dishes as well as some local dishes. Service at breakfast was still impeccable.

BeFunky-collage (17)You can reach the falls from the back door of Melia hotel and a stone gravel path leads directly to 2 routes. There are 2 routes to explore the falls; the upper circuit route and the lower circuit route. The upper circuit will allow you to see the falls from the top whereas the lower circuit will give you the full view of the falls from the bottom and will also allow you to experience the falls up close. We chose to go by the lower circuit which was a pretty easy route. The entire route is on metal pavement across the lush jungle. It can get very slippery on the areas near the falls. Do wear a poncho to keep your clothes dry on this route. The main Iguazu falls was spectacular and the massive strength and speed of the water gushing is just so overpowering. The only shame was the colour of the water was quite brown with mud as we visited during the rainy season.

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After completing the lower circuit, we took the train to the Devil’s throat. This is the main attraction for the Argentina side of the falls. The train is located in the centre of the park and is extremely crowded as the train seats are quite limited. You will need to get a ticket from the machine to take the train as they break the loads of tourist into batches to prevent overcrowding at the boarding area. The train will take approximately 10 – 15 mins to reach the top where you have to walk across the falls on metal bridges for another 15 mins to reach the Devil’s throat. There are plenty of lookout points at the Devil’s throat for tourist to take pictures. Do note that you will get drenched throughout even if you have a poncho on. Most of us just gave up and enjoy the water pouring on us.

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The lookout points will get extremely crowded with everyone trying to get the best view of the falls. The Argentina side of the Devil’s throat is the beginning of the fall itself. The bottom of the fall can be seen from the Brazilian side. If the Iguazu main falls was spectacular, the Devil’s throat is beyond spectacular. The fall is mammoth both in size and in view. The flow of the water was imposing and you will feel absolutely tiny standing in front of this gigantic gushing water monster.

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While waiting for the train back to the centre, we bought a chicken empadas as a light snack before heading back to our hotel to grab our luggage and rush over to the Brazilian side of the park. These were very affordable at 150 Argentina peso for 3 pieces plus 1 bottle of water. The empadas taste like our chicken puff but with much thicker pastry and the pastry has more of a raw flour taste.

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Since we had a great dinner yesterday, we decided to grab a quick-lunch in Melia hotel before our cab arrives to pick us up. I had the mushroom risotto which was cooked al dente with great earthy flavours. The hotel called us a taxi to send us to our hotel in Brazil; Belmond Hotel das Cataratas which is also located within the park. The ride took us 1,500 Argentina peso and took another 1 hr 15 mins. We passed the border again to get another custom stamp and checks on our forms as well as checks on our luggage in the taxi. The taxi will only send you to the entrance of the park. As guests of Belmond, there is a free shuttle service pick up from the entrance. There is a fixed bus schedule so it would be best to check with the hotel on their schedule. When we reached Belmond, it was close to 5.00 pm.  We had to pay the park fee again as we are at the Brazilian side and we could do so during our check in at the hotel. 

BeFunky-collage (18)As usual the Belmond standards do not disappoint. The service and the rooms were immaculate. The building looks like a 1930s building but internally everything has been so well-kept and maintained that you feel totally pampered like in a modern 5 star hotel chain. The hotel is well spilt into different wings and areas for different rooms and facilities like the spa, shopping arena, gym, bar, coffee-house shopping pool as well as an ancient clock tower for viewing the falls during sunset. There was ample spacious areas for guests to rest and just chill. The hotel also had a tours counter where their staff can plan your itinerary or book tours for guests.

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Just a stone throw from the hotel entrance is this lookout point where you can see this view of the Iguazu falls. The pathway on this side of the park is more modern and better equipped. There are also buses where you can stop off at the various lookout points to admire the beauty of the falls. This side of the park feels a lot more commercialised with colourful park buses, multiple park signs and well paved walking trails. We made a last-minute decision to explore all the trails so that we could relax tomorrow.

BeFunky-collage (19)There were many cute inhabitants of the jungle and were roaming freely around the trail. The cute little animal that looks like a raccoon is called Coati. We were told not to pet these Coati as they are wild and can get quite ferocious.

BeFunky-collage (20)We reached one of the sector of Devil’s throat and there was a bridge that ran across the fall to get an up close experience. We threw caution to the wind and decided to walk the bridge in our slippers with absolutely no poncho or raincoat since we went on the trail last-minute. It was an amazing experience; resembling times where we could run freely in the rain when we were kids. Water from the falls was pelting on our face and clothes and within seconds of stepping onto the bridge, we were drenched inside out. We looked around and realised that everyone with or without ponchos were also drenched. It was quite impossible to take a decent photo with all the water flying onto us. I can only say I am glad my Note 8 is partially waterproof.

BeFunky-collage (21)The highlight of the trail was the top sector of the Devil’s throat. The view was so stunning. I would say nicer than the views in Argentina. Personally, this is my favourite view of the Devil’s throat and for travellers who only has 1 day to see the falls, I would recommend the Brazil side over the Argentina side. For those who like jungle adventure and loves nature, I would say Argentina side will be more suitable. I loved this picture so much I changed the colour of the falls to blue as the featured photo. If the waters were not muddy, it would have been perfect.

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All drenched and tired from walking both trails in 1 day, we opted for the expensive buffet dinner in the hotel to reward ourselves. There was the Brazilian Churrasco, multiple hot, cold stations as well as dessert and fresh fruits.  The food was very scrumptious and we stayed until the restaurant closed for the night. Tonight will mark the end of our South America adventure as we fly to Los Angeles tomorrow.

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