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We boarded the open-air speed boat and began racing upriver toward the bottom of Argentina’s Iguazu Falls — one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Dressed in a waterproof poncho, with my valuables stored tightly in a dry bag, I felt a combination of excitement and skepticism. As the crew rushed around, tying things down and making sure everything was secure, I couldn’t help wondering, “Is all this preparation really necessary?”
I could hear the falls before I actually saw them — a steady roar coming around a bend in the river. As they slowly came into view, my heart skipped a beat as a seemingly endless series of huge waterfalls spread out in all directions. Our boat kept motoring until we were directly in the heart of the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), as it is called.
And then we went even closer.
As the boat crept toward the bottom of one of the tallest falls, we were enveloped in the soaking mist. The sound was deafening, and I could see my boatmates laughing and yelling with excitement each time we pulled back and then moved closer again into one of the falls. I couldn’t stop smiling, even though I could barely keep my eyes open as I was being pelted with water. Each time I thought we couldn’t get any closer to a waterfall, the captain expertly steered us nearer to another shower. I had abandoned any hope of staying dry and allowed myself to revel in the sensory overload of the experience. I hoped it would never end.
This excursion, from local outfitter Iguazu Jungle, is one of the best ways to experience the falls. There is a short, 15-minute version of the boat trip, or it can be combined with a 3-mile guided driving tour through the local jungle in an open-air, four-wheel-drive truck. My group did this longer “Great Adventure” program, and the combination offered an ideal way to understand and experience this very special ecosystem.
Iguazu Falls is in Iguazu National Park in northeastern Argentina, about a two-hour flight from Buenos Aires. Though located on the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, most of the 275 falls are on the Argentinean side.
In addition to Sheraton Iguazu Resort & Spa, which is actually within the national park, there are plenty of excellent accommodation options in the nearby town of Puerto Iguazu. I stayed at Mercure Iguazu Hotel Iru, which has modern decor and large, comfortable guestrooms.
Iguazu National Park is open daily to visitors. It offers a network of easy to moderate walking trails, as well as a train that makes stops at different points. There are several restaurants in the park — including a Subway — but I recommend Le Selva Restaurante, featuring a great buffet with Argentinean barbecue.
After our boat ride, our group took the train up to the top of the falls to watch the water flow into the Devil’s Throat. Standing on a platform walkway above the falls is another awe-inspiring experience, and I found it hard to tear myself away. The park also offers moonlight walks to the Devil’s Throat that take place during the week of the full moon throughout the year. Just be sure to warn clients that the moonlight walk is dependent on clear skies and good weather.
To get back to the park entrance, instead of going back on the train, our group took a guided raft float down the Upper Iguazu River. As we gently glided down the river, we had the opportunity to spot wildlife and hear more from our guides about the river system.
Whether clients visit Iguazu as a side trip from Buenos Aires, or as part of an Argentina-Brazil combined itinerary, a trip to the falls is well worth the time and should not be missed. Experiencing the power and the beauty of Iguazu Falls will be a memory that travelers will cherish.
Iguazu National Parkwww.iguazuargentina.com