There is not much in this world that is worth a stuffy 20-hour bus ride, but las Cataratas del Iguazú (Iguazú Falls) definitely make the list. Located in a national park right on the tri-border of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, Iguazú Falls are the largest waterfall system in the world. I learned that the name “Iguazú” actually comes from the indigenous Guarani words “y,” meaning water, and “ûasú,” meaning big—and big water is right. The sights were some of the most amazing that I have ever seen, and the sheer size and volume of water have to be seen to be believed.
I went to the falls with a trip organized through the buddy system for international students at my university, so the insanely long bus ride was made slightly better knowing that almost 250 of my peers were in the same (uncomfortable) position as me. We all spent the weekend at a hostel close to the national park, and on Friday we had the opportunity to spend the whole day at the falls. The day started with a spectacular boat ride that took us down under the falls themselves (well, not directly underneath them, otherwise our boat would be at the bottom of the river) and provided awesome views from below. We got completely soaked racing around the falls and the river, which divides Argentina and Brazil (so technically, the boat driver told us we might have gone a few feet into Brazil…).
After we got off of the boat, we rode through part of the jungle where a guide told us about some of the natural diversity around Iguazú—apparently the park has a very impressive variety of flora and fauna, but the only animals we saw were called coatis, which are raccoon-like animals that terrorize visitors by sneaking up and stealing their food. It was pretty funny to watch them in action when we stopped for lunch, but I definitely wasn’t one of the people that went up and pet them. The rest of the day was spent walking around the park to see the falls from different viewpoints. We ended at a point called “la Garganta del Diablo,” or Devil’s Throat, an area of the falls that supposedly prompted Eleanor Roosevelt to comment “Poor Niagara” when she visited Iguazú.
Iguazú truly impressed me, and the trip made me excited to explore more of Argentina’s ample natural beauty in future trips outside of the city!