Hugely fun night: check. 3 hours sleep: check. 5:30am wake-up to pack bags again: check. Passports: check. CAFFEINE!!!
While in Porto Alegre we stayed in an Air B&B room for a few nights, the owner of the apartment offered to take us to the airport to save us the hassle of organising a taxi early in the morning. We arrived, checked in, sorted out some coffee then waited for our plane to board, heading to Foz Do Iguacu via Sao Paulo. We could have flown directly to Foz Do Iguacu but the two hour stop over saved as a few extra $$.
Arriving into Foz we found a taxi to take us to our hostel, which was more like a hotel. There was a king size bed, our own bathroom and a huge shower with both hot water and decent pressure! Rather luxurious for a hostel, on the downside we still haven’t been able to do laundry. We unpacked and headed for a quick trip to the shops to get ingredients for dinner with the evenings special being chicken/lettuce burgers. We sat and chatted to a few of the other guests and worked out how we were going to visit the waterfalls the following day.
Monday morning we got ourselves up early for breakfast, and then caught a bus to the Brasilian side of the Cataratas (waterfalls). All of the buses here are the same price regardless of how far you’re going; it makes transiting on public transport very easy. Arriving at the National Park we paid for our entry ticket then jumped onto a double-decker open top bus toward the walking trail to see the falls. Some rich people stay in a hotel right across the road from the waterfall, but they also get all of the fun encountering the Quatis, they appear to be some form of descendant of a raccoon – these things are vicious and apparently have Rabies. Thankfully, neither of us were in danger, and if we were the 6 needles each for the Rabies vaccine would cover us.
We could see the waterfalls from where the bus dropped us off; they were beautiful and much larger than we had anticipated. The waterfalls have two sides, the river and falls separate Argentina and Brasil – the Brasilian side isn’t quite as big as the Argentinian side. We made our way down the walking track taking lots of photos on the way, there were millions of butterflies and a fairly obviously, a lot of water. We opted not to take any of the tours here but there were options to do boat rides, rainforest walks and canoeing. Finishing up for the day we made our way back to the hostel for a few drinks with the other guests and dinner. We were pretty knackered by this point and needed to be up early Tuesday to go to Argentina.
Something we have noticed regularly here is that everyone runs on “Brasilian time”. We’d organised ourselves to be up, ready and packed for the bus pick up between 8:30 and 9:00am. At 9:20 the bus arrived and we were ready for another packed day at the waterfalls, this time in Argentina. Hopping on the bus we instantly recognised two Australian girls we’d met at our hostel in Florianopolis, pretty coincidental given how many tours run to the falls, and how small our tour group was. We started the tour by going across the border into Argentina, then heading to the ‘Three Frontiers’, the point where Argentina, Brasil and Paraguay meet at the joining of the Iguassu and Parana rivers. From here we made our way to the Iguazu Falls National Park, a maze of paved walkways to see the most spectacular views of the waterfalls. On our way through the walks we were spoilt with many different and beautiful picture opportunities and stunning weather. We opted to go on a ten-minute boat ride, which gave as an up-close view of the falls (literally right underneath them up-close view), and took the opportunity to get photos with the rainbow.
The Argentinian side of the waterfalls shows the divide between Brasil and Argentina, at the Devil’s throat – the most amazing view of them all. We caught a train for 1.5km and then walked out on a bridge crossing the river at the top of the falls, the bridge would have been close to another 1.5km with the view at the end being the largest part of the waterfalls. At the top, there is a large set of rocks that sit in underneath the gushing water, creating a line in the waterfall – this is the border of Brasil and Argentina. We could easily rave all day about how amazing this place is, we had an amazing time and would quickly come back to see the falls again and walk a few more of the tracks.
Our visit to the Argentinian side of the waterfalls happened to conveniently coincide with our wedding anniversary. We decided for the evening to head out to Puerto Iguazu (the town we were staying in for the evening) and find somewhere for a quiet romantic dinner. Puerto Iguacu doesn’t have much in it other than tourist shops, but it does however have some nice little restaurants and bars. We stopped into our first place for a couple of beers, and then headed up to the hill across a 6 road intersection, to Quita Peñas. We started with a quick mojito, we had then realised happy hour hadn’t started so moved onto a bottle of wine. The wine was much cheaper in Argentina than in Brasil so we took advantage of being able to have some! Following the wine we had some more cocktails – I think it was a caipirinha slushy but the details are a little vague here. At the end of the night we ordered a platter of meat and cheeses, and when paying our bill discovered that the bar had given us our first cocktails complimentary, as well as our last ones – our bill for the night was less than $40aud: winning!
Wednesday morning rolls around and whilst Dee has necked herself, again, on the clothesline strategically hanging across the bedroom with the hope of some of the clothes getting dry, James has managed to regain some coherency after the amount of alcohol the night before. We packed our bags and had to be checked out by 10:00am, an almost impossible task since we’ve now started going to bed closer to 1-2am and the bag pack takes a little longer hung-over. We wandered into town and helped ourselves to a few beers, a little further up the street than we’d adventured the night before – the original idea was to find somewhere with decent coffee, however upon closer inspection of the menu a 1L of Stella Artois was cheaper than the 250ml black coffee…the beer was surely the obvious choice! It was also much easier to communicate with people in Argentina than Brasil, James is semi-fluent in Spanish and Dee can speak a little bit – enough for both of us to get by and not have to ask for everything to be repeated…well kind of.
In the afternoon we got ourselves organised to catch the bus back across the border to Foz do Iguazu (the Brasilian side) via the border. Both of us were fairly happy that we managed to make our way to the bus station and find our bus without too much drama. Unlike the way to Argentina, where we gave the driver our passports and they sorted out the stamping and whatnot, we had to get off the bus while it waited so we could get our exit stamps from Argentina, then hop off again at the Brasilian border and wait for the next bus. Apparently these buses leave every 30-40mins but we were now back in Brasil (only just) and running back on Brasilian time… An hour and a bit later the bus arrived to take us back to the ‘Concept Design Hostel’. We’d originally thought it would be a good idea to stay at the same hostel so we could organise to get laundry done, but alas! We were stuck with dirty laundry again; thankfully this hostel was a little fancy and had a decent kitchen to make up for our lack of clean clothes – the knife situation for cutting was a little interesting but all was great!
Unfortunately Thursday meant it was time for us to leave Foz Do Iguacu, we caught the local bus to the airport and encountered another of the crazy bus drivers along our route. When we got to the airport we waited, and waited, and waited (we also might have got their a little early, slightly paranoid that we were going to miss another flight and worried about the language barrier when going to check in). We waited at the gate for our flight, then four minutes before our scheduled boarding time the gate number changed, the flight had been delayed for a total of an hour which was leaving our connecting flight from Sao Paulo back to Porto Alegre a little hairy. We made it to Sao Paulo and then realised that the flight to Porto Alegre was leaving from the same gate, on the same plane! Luck was definitely on our side ☺