“Where are all the dinosaurs?” I asked myself as I climbed into a bright green double-decker shuttle bus at the entrance of the Cataratas del Iguazú park on the Brazilian border with Argentina. It was like stepping into a jungle straight out of a movie. Only this jungle was ancient, with no genetically engineered beasts running around (although there was the warning of encountering a puma), and I was about to see one of the largest waterfalls in the entire world.
This was one adventure I took without knowing much or even wanting to know much about the area I was going to, simply because I wanted an adventure. I knew I would be staying with friends of friends, I knew it would be hot, and I knew there would be a gigantic waterfall.
What more is there to know, right? So I took a week during my three-month trip and stayed at the Bambu hostel in Foz do Iguassu city, where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet. There is a unique blend of culture in this “three border” city, everything was pretty easy to get to and I immensely enjoyed my time there.
But back to the Jurassic park. As we made our way through the winding roads built just for the shuttles, we were dropped off at the top of a hill with so many trees around that you couldn’t see what you were supposed to be looking at. You had to step down towards the edge of the cliff and onto a railed wooden pathway to get the first glimpse.
I was not prepared for what hit me. I can honestly say in all my life that I’ve never physically had my breath taken away by a startling scene but this was the first time. Tears filled my eyes as I fully realized how small a creature I was and how powerful, striking and humbling water falling over a cliff could be.
The whole scene had nothing to do with me or my own little life, it had been there since it was formed who-knows-how-long ago and is still just doing its thing today. There were SO MANY waterfalls all making up one gigantic natural world wonder; it was impossible to see it all from one vantage point and impossible for any camera to truly capture its depth and vastness.
I was with a group of other tourists and we made our way down the path, following the edge of the cliff and somehow going deeper into the jungle at the same time. The rushing and falling water made the earth and the air vibrate and my imagination fooled me into thinking I saw a family of pterodactyls fly across the wide ravines.
I took my time soaking each vista in, like a really good meal you’re tasting for the first time that you don’t want to end and never want to get used to. Getting closer and closer to the main portion of the falls, I started to feel the mist and finally came upon the meandering boardwalk that led out into the river into the U-shaped “Devil’s Throat”.
I didn’t have any rain gear on and the only thing protected in plastic was my money and ID in my pocket. My now ancient iPhone 5 could survive a little mist and did just fine as I quickly snapped shots of almost 360 degree rainbows all around me. I wish I could capture the wind I felt walking out further into the river, the 95-degree weather making the slow drenching worth every drop.
You hear about droughts and water shortages more and more around the world. But seeing the sheer amount of water that falls over the edge of the Iguassu River in just 1 second is like trying to comprehend what it would be like to have 5 billion dollars in your bank account. That number is 450,000 cubic feet of water during the high season (which was when I went), or nearly 3.4 million gallons per second. Every second. That’s alotta H2O!
There’s a small gift shop with very reasonable prices right on the highest and closest overlook point of the waterfall. I was told that two thirds of the falls are on the Argentinean side with many more trails to fully experience the beauty (and get a lot more wet), but the best panoramic views and vistas are on the Brazilian side. Due to time and my Brazilian visa getting close to expiring, I didn’t want to exit and re-enter the country if even just for an afternoon so I only experienced the one side. Well worth it in my adventure book and I even plan to return someday to do it all again!
I still feel small thinking about the moment that first view hit me. A whole body and mind sensation I wish I could bottle up and give to everyone in the world – it makes your problems and the stress of life seem so incredibly insignificant and temporary. It’s amazing the kind of perspective a waterfall can bring to your life!
Have you been to Iguazú Falls yourself or would you like to? Share your own experiences of this awesome waterfall in the comments section below!
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