Long time ago, at the very genesis of this travel, there is a discussion between Fred and Merima about travelling, and the idea to discover a whole new continent, like South America for example, to see something big and different that would mark us and bring change into our daily life as PhD student and consultant. And then the discussion finished and we went on as being a consultant and trying to get a PhD. Until some point, when consulting started to become monotonous, and being in the lab 24 h was not that nice anymore. At that moment the discussion resurfaced, and started to sound more like something doable than just a fools dream. And we realised that maybe we reached a good turning point in our lives where the idea of actually doing a long travel could fit in.
So Fred started to have a deeper look at it, and from a map decided that it would be awesome and epic to cover the whole continent, from South to North, following the Andes, seeing Patagonia, both sides of the mountains, and going on upwards towards Bolivia, Peru and so on and so forth until time or money runs out.
Merima, being not that interested in maps, and more interested in pipetting stuff in the lab agreed and the project went on. Until after the PhD disputation, when she asked Fred:
- “So when are we gonna see the waterfalls?”
- “Yes, the big waterfalls in South America, that is why I wanted to go there in the first place, I saw the waterfalls in South America on TV and it looked nice”.
- “Aha, well we will probably see waterfalls on the way, but THE big waterfalls in South America, that would be the Iguazu Falls, at the border of Argentina and Brazil”.
- “Okay, so when are we gonna see them?”
- “Hum, so far the plan is currently not going in that direction at all”.
So here we are a bit before the trip, and the one reason Merima wanted to go in the first place (and she withheld to Fred for so long) was a place far away from every bit of plan we had. So Fred promised we would make it fit in the trip, not really knowing how because it would mean a huge detour. But maybe at the end of the trip we could finish by that.
The trip went on, we enjoyed Patagonia a lot, but were starting to get cold, we enjoyed Chile where we spent most of our time, and our plan for after Santiago was to cross back to Argentina, and do a lot of bus between cities to continue going north. But, we realised, we did not want to ride buses from cities to cities, and reconsidered a bit.
We found cheap flight tickets from Santiago to Buenos Aires, from where we could take a long night bus to Iguazu! Sounds nice on the paper, but then what? We also figured out we could actually “reconnect” on our primary route by crossing Paraguay as well! New country, new possibility, more of South America… Awesome! So we just did that!
We took the flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires, over the Andes, but too much clouds to see anything, and mostly just a lot of bad turbulences. And then crossed Buenos Aires during Friday rush hour to get to the bus terminal. And sit for 18 hours in an overnight bus to reach Iguazu.
For enduring that a bit better, we went all in and booked ourselves a “Premium Suite Bed Service. So instead of being in a bus seat, we actually have an almost fully inclinable seat, airplane business class style, some meals, and a tv screen. What we did not book was a shower, but we got that too, as during the night we passed through the thunderstorm of the century and it poured down rain for hours outside the bus at first, and inside too at some point, when the ventilation system started to leak on us. Fan-tas-tic!
When we actually arrived in Puerto Iguazu, we did what we usually do after checking into the hostel. A good shower, and then out to explore the town or in that case village. But this time, for the first time since we started, we could do it in flip flops and t-shirts! Tropical climate is good and enjoyable after witnessing the arrival of winter in the South. Even when you meet tropical rain on your way to the supermarket.
And then Iguazú. Or Iguacu, as we started our exploration of the waterfalls on the Brazilian side.
The two days we spent by the waterfalls will remain as highlights of our trip for sure. No words can describe really that wonder of nature, the sight of it was astonishing, and we will try to describe our visit and share it to you.
On both sides of the river, once you entered the park, you need a ride in a mini train or a bus into the jungle to actually come closer to the river. And from there you start getting closer and experience Iguazú. You also receive information about the surrounding jungle, its inhabitants and the risk of encountering hungry jaguars, monkeys, or coatis. For example, everywhere you can see horrifying pictures of bloody hands bitten by animals…
Don’t know what a coati is? Well, it is like a big raccoon, that lives in groups of coatis and in Iguazu, they mostly follow tourists and salvage their food. They are cute until you actually see their super sharp teeth and claws and their strong jaws. At that moment you realise that you should double check your back before eating your sandwich!
On both sides of the waterfalls (Brazil and Argentina) you mostly walk on catwalks that brings you closer to the falls. At Iguazú, it is not one single waterfall that makes the site crazy, it is the quantities of them, more than 280 of them, create the spectacular views. Most of them are located on the Argentine side, so from there you can walk very close to the very edge or bottom of them, as different circuits take you on both levels. It creates a lot of variety on the views and very pleasant walks.
On Brazilian side, because it is opposite obviously, you get a more global view, and only from there can you understand the whole size of it. The views are less variated, but it doesn’t mean less good, far from there. Only from Brazil side can you realise how immense the sight is. There is one catwalk that take you straight over the water, onto some awesome viewing platforms.
As you approach the waterfalls, and get a first sight of them, they immediately lift your spirit, as if you saw something magic, or sacred. When you find yourself close to them, feeling the water breeze on your face and being surrounded by them on almost every side, you feel such excitement and at the same time you are in awe. We will try to bring the feeling closer to you with pictures, but not even a picture can really bring you the experience of it, you have to go there (and on both sides)!
These two days felt like out of space and time for us, it is easy to have your thoughts carried away by the waterfalls, just by standing still, looking at them for hours.
The conclusion of it is that it was a well worthy detour!