This past weekend we finally took the trip to Iguazu falls in the very northernmost part of Argentina. All of us have been looking forward to it for a while, and it is definitely one of it not the highlight of our activities that we have done. Our fearless leader Raul planned everything and it was an absolutely perfect region.
Iguazu falls is in the province called Misiones in the extreme Northeast of Argentina. The area is very tropical, with numerous major rivers and rainforest throughout the province. It borders Brazil to the East and Paraguay to the West. To get there, we took at bus ride for about 18 hours each way. The trip was long, but most of it was overnight so I slept through a very large portion of us. These also weren’t you everyday bus seats. Our seats were recliners with foot rests, so it was easy to fall asleep.
On the way there, we stopped at a town called Posadas to meet up with our tour guide, Nacha. We first went to an Estancia (farm) where a family produced Yerba for Mate (herbs for the tea that is crazy popular here). At the farm, in addition to their Yerba plant they had a pool, cabins, lots of food, and puppies for us to relax and play with. We spent a few hours there enjoying nature and swimming in the pool, and then had Carne Asado (grilled meat) for lunch. After that we were headed to the San Ignacio ruins.
The San Ignacio mission was the largest Jesuit mission in the region. The province is called Misiones because it had dozens of missions throughout it, all run by the Jesuits. I am a little fuzzy on my history, but the Jesuits ran this missions with the native people, called the Guarani people in the 1600′s to the early 1700′s. If you have ever seen the movie “The Mission” starring Robert De Niro, this is exactly what the plot is about. They even filmed the movie here. Anyways, the Spanish kicked out the Jesuits from the region in the 18th century and the missions fell into disrepair. A fire later destroyed most of the area, but impressive ruins still outline the mission.
After touring the mission, we took a drive across the province to our hotel. We stayed in cabins right on the edge of the Jungle, and it was a very nice hotel. We were very tired after a long day of traveling, so we didn’t do a lot Friday night.
Saturday morning we got up bright and early to head to Iguazu Falls National Park. It is a series of waterfalls fed by the Iguazu river and in the middle of the tropical rainforest. The falls are breathtakingly beautiful, and the surrounding nature only further amplifies the view. The waterfalls are not impressive due to their height, but rather for how massively wide the waterfalls are. Panoramic photos can’t even capture all of the falls. I took over 200 pictures in one afternoon, and if you know me, you know that is a ton for me.
We had the opportunity to explore all over the falls. We took trails giving viewpoints from all angles, including on top of and even underneath the falls. We also took a boat adventure straight into the falls, and experienced their power firsthand. We were all soaked by the end, which felt great because of the heat, and we were all exhilarated by getting to experience such beauty.
The park itself was full of tropical animals, and we saw over a half dozen monkeys climbing trees and napping. The most pervasive animal was the Coatie, an animal very similar to a raccoon, but with a longer snout and slightly different coloring. Coatie have no fear, and I saw two of them run right up to a girl eating a pizza and grab the slice right from her hands. You have to really watch your stuff.
We left the park that evening to go look over the point where the borders of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina all meet up. It was a beautiful area, but after being spoiled with the waterfalls at Iguazu we were all a little bored with it. We then went back to the hotel to swim for a while before dinner. The pool was freezing cold, but we were determined to swim since most of us hadn’t been in a pool since coming here in July.
On Sunday, we visited a Guarani reservation to learn about the indigenous population. Then, the long sad bus ride home. After 18 more hours on a bus, reality smacked us hard in the face at 8 AM Monday morning when our warm tropical paradise turned into chilly Buenos Aires. However, the weather here just took a temporary dip and should be nice and warm in a few days.
Iguazu falls was probably the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my life, and is definitely up to par with anything Hawaii has to offer in terms of scenery. This trip was definitely the adventure of a lifetime, and I had an amazing time. Now just three more weeks of classes before I go from student to full time tourist in Argentina.
Thanks for reading!