I entered Puerto Iguazu with high hopes. My last two towns, Goya and Ituzaingó, were disappointments. But the ride from Ituzaingó to Puerto Iguazu was immensely satisfying after the boring tar roads that make up most of Corrientes Province in Argentina.
Heading north felt ... Brazilian. The boring, flat farm-scapes of Corrientes suddenly made way for a tropical forest, with the main highway leading a path to the border. There wasn't much of a view. Almost the entire way up saw the road enclosed by a tight treeline. But the top of each rolling hill confirmed that a blanket of trees covered everything in sight so I wasn’t missing much. The further north I rode the more touristic things became with camping, zipline tours, rafting and the like pretty commonplace after a while.
I asked around as I traveled, looking for sights recommended by the locals, and Iguazu falls was always high up on every list. It is the largest collection of waterfalls in the world. Not the largest waterfall, but the largest number of smaller waterfalls. As a bonus, it is also the location of Tres Fronteras, or the three frontiers. The intersecting rivers serve as the borders for Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, all visible from one spot.
I had fuel and time, so why not?
My first impressions of Puerto Iguazu were not good. Initially I suspected I chose my accommodation poorly and ended up living in the bad part of town, but it turned out that was just the town. The neighborhood looked run down and unsafe, but I had no safety problems whatsoever, and the owners even parked their vehicle on the street for the duration of my stay so my bike would be behind a locked gate. Centro (downtown) was much nicer than the residential areas, with a fantastic selection of restaurants and the usual assortment of shops carrying touristy trinkets typical of border towns.
On Saturday, two days after arriving, I visited Parque Nacional Iguazu. The plan was to walk around, see the sights, and take photos of the falls. But shortly after entering the park I found a booth selling tickets for a boat ride and looking for a break from the norm, I decided to go for it. It was one of the best decisions I've ever made!
The experience was far more than a simple boat ride. A truck collected ticket holders at a designated meeting spot, and what followed was a bumpy ride through the wilderness for around 25 minutes, arriving at the banks of a river. A 10 minute walk later and we were collecting waterproof bags for our fragile items and clothing we didn't want to get wet, before donning life jackets and boarding boats. Those who planned to be on this trip were smart enough to carry an extra set of clothes. I was not one of them.
We headed directly for the falls and around 15 minutes later, were greeted by the spectacular sight of more waterfalls than I could count.
Then the real fun began. The boat captain moved us directly into the falls! Having thousands of litres of water pound you from above is an indescribable feeling. The group couldn't get enough of it and we drifted under the falls many more times until everyone aboard was soaked through. Drenched but smiling, our group enthusiastically requested more dips under the largest falls before heading back to land, returning to the trucks and ending an amazing experience.
I spent the remainder of the afternoon walking through the park and photographing the various falls like i had originally planned. The largest falls seemed less spectacular from above after experiencing how they felt a few hours prior. Regardless, the day was anything but a disappointment, and Iguazu Falls remains one of the most amazing highlights of my trip!