In theory, it was easy. We just had to take a bus from Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil to Puerto Iguazú, Argentina, then another bus from the Argentinian terminal to the Parque Nacional Iguazú, where a free “rainforest train” would drop us off at the entry of the major trails around the park (walking around isn’t that easy, there are wild animals…).
Okay, maybe it doesn’t sound that easy. But we’ve done it before, going back and forth between Argentina and Brazil to visit both sides of the Iguazu Falls. Everybody does, although admittedly, most tourists sign up for a tour, one of those that promises “fast shuttles with air con.”
On our previous visits, we were staying on the Argentinian side because usually, we come from—you guessed it—Argentina. We’re logical people. So, since this time we came from Curitiba, we stuck with Brazil and booked a hotel on the Brazilian side. It made sense. Besides, Foz do Iguaçu is bigger than Puerto Iguazú and we had more accommodation options.
At 11:30 a.m., we were standing at the Terminal de Transporte Urbano in Foz, waiting for the bus to Puerto Iguazú, Argentina. When it finally arrived, we didn’t realize this was the bus coming from Ciudad del Este, Paraguay. It was still going to Argentina, no issue here, but it was packed with people just coming back from a trip across the border(s). We averaged 20 km/h and passengers got in and off at every street corner.
We stopped at the Argentinian border, where we all had to get off and have our passports stamped. Back in the bus. We finally made it to the terminal in Argentina just before 2 p.m. Distance between the two cities? Fifteen kilometres.
“Shit, that’s late…”
It was past 2:30 p.m. after withdrawing Argentinian pesos, buying more drinks because it was about 45ºC, getting bus tickets to the falls and waiting for the bus that was late. I chatted with two other backpackers from Sweden who had just graduated from high school and made me feel really old.
The bus finally arrived. For most of the ride to the national park, the driver kept one eye on the road and the other on the gourd of mate a passenger in the front seat was sharing (did they even know each other?).
And then, once at the park, we had to wait for the train which takes you to the two main stations, Cataratas and Garganta del Diablo, where the different trails start. Unlike in Brazil, there’s a fair amount of walking required to see the falls on the Argentinian side and the park is huge.
“We won’t have the time to see the Garganta del Diablo,” Feng stated. “The last train leaves at 4:30 p.m. and it’s a two-kilometre walk.”
“But it’s the biggest waterfall!”
“Let’s do the upper trail.”
The upper trail is a panoramic view of the semicircular chain that begins at Dos Hermanas Waterfalls, going through Chico, Ramírez, Bosetti, Adán y Eva, and Bernabé Méndez Waterfalls, ending at Mbiguá Waterfall. The trail is on top of the waterfalls edge so you get an amazing vertical view from the top. Then it crosses the Superior Iguazú River to reach the edge of the second largest fall, the San Martin Waterfall.
Because it was so late, we were almost alone on the trail. We also got a few nice rainbows.
We went back at the train station at 5 p.m., where the last train to the Devil’s Throat was coming.
Of course, we took it, fully aware that we had less than an hour before the last train to the park’s entrance and before sunset.
The trail starts 1.1 kilometres from Iguazu’s biggest and most impressive waterfall—you may have guessed it from its name—, the Devil’s Throat. For a long, long time, you’re just walking on a bridge over a calm river, then suddenly, a giant hole appears. You can’t see the bottom, you can barely hear anything because of the water gushing down. This is the Devil’s Throat.
It was worth it.
We rushed back to the station and waited for the last train, fully aware that it was going to be a long, long trip back to Brazil—two buses later, we made it around 8 p.m.
Involuntarily visiting the park that late in the day was actually unique. Fewer people, a different atmosphere and the lingering fear that we were going to spend the night there if we missed the train.