Travel

Why Iguazu Falls should be a wonder of the world

The Iguazu Falls are one of the most incredible sights in South America and Argentina has the lion’s share. The location of the falls means that it borders Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. The Brazilian side is Foz do Iguacu and it is essentially a corner of the falls with a viewing platform, but each side thinks their view is the best. 

On the Argentinian side, there is also a cool YHA hostel with a swimming pool that does BBQs so we stayed there in Puerto Iguazu. That night we made friends with a guy called Andy and two Americans, Shelley and her husband Eric. The couple drove us to the park the next day. 

The park has a tiered pricing system so ‘foreigners’ i.e. Americans and Europeans pay the highest price, other nationalities a middle price and friendly neighbours and Argentines the lowest price. It is not the only South American tourist attraction that does this.

Now, as a tourist, I think you pay over the odds for many things, knowingly or unknowingly and I would never ever be smug enough to think I got a ‘locals’ price anywhere. We did go through a charade of pretending to be Argentines as Eric spoke good Spanish, they clearly saw through this and we paid full whack. 

The best thing about Parque Iguazu was that I saw lots of wildlife – clouds of butterflies, a monitor lizard, a turtle, fish and the coatis are tame and beg for food from tourists. This wasn’t the first or last time I would be molested by a coati on this trip. There was plenty more of that to come.

Obviously, the falls are incredible, just really, really beautiful. Nothing like rainforest and a bit of mist to add atmosphere. You walk the trails and you can peer through the trees for views from different angles, our photos really did not do it justice. But the fact that the views were good is the problem that blights South America and that is logging – there is very little in the way of primary rainforest here, only secondary.

It is really no wonder that the coatis have been tempted out into the open. Their forest is not as rich as it once was and restoration is not in the pipeline. Will it be eroded to the point where we have falls and concrete? Casinos on the sides like Niagara? I sincerely hope not.

There is a sad afterword to this day which is that our friend Shelley died in 2017. She went missing near her hometown in California and she wasn’t there to pick up her two kids, Hunter and Isabel. This wasn’t like her and her car was found crashed and abandoned by the side of a highway. After four days they found her body, she’d drowned in the marsh near to where the car was found. The situation was mishandled by the police, or so her friends thought. It is devastating to her kids as she was a great mother and a great friend. I have never been some outpouring of grief as when the news came out that she’d gone. I cried. I always planned to visit her again and Steph did meet up with her in San Francisco later in this trip.

It just shows that even a short meeting with someone can touch your life and how one person can touch so many in their daily lives. One of her friends photoshopped a picture of her in a boat paddling into the sunset. She would have had a good laugh at that.

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