One day a volcano erupted. Lava poured and then cooled and stopped flowing and became cold and quite hard. Forward a few million years and a large river came to run over the lava. When the river reached the edge of the hard rock that was once lava it did not stop. But its progress, temporarily, was downwards rather than forwards. This is a simplistic explanation of the geology that I reproduced and reduced from Lonely Planet.
Eighty metres is the height of the Falls and they stretch 2.7 kilometres creating a collective bigness that comprises 275 individual cascades. These Falls are higher than Niagara and wider than Victoria. In the World of Falls this one is worth seeing. Twice.
We engineered our trip so that we had two nights in Foz do Iguassu (Brazil) and two nights in Puerto Iguazu (Argentina). The falls are a shared asset that helps mark the boundary between the two nations. We had a whole day on the Brazilian side and a whole day on the Argentinian side to absorb. We did absorb and I shall try to “compare and contrast”, the Falls. And also see if it serves to “compare and contrast” the two Nations involved………….
The Brazilian side has magnificent views of the Falls . I read that “From Brazil you see the full picture….In Argentina you are in the picture ” This was written by the Argentinians as a boast that their side is better. I like it because I think it does encapsulate the difference between the two sides. The Brazilian side has panoramic views, the Argentinian side has been designed so the focal distance to the water is usually short. I don’t think it means the Argentine side is better, but it does reflect the different nature of the experiences. Both are equally worth visiting, and more-so because they differ.
I think the phrase also neatly captures the shoulder chip that Argentinians have about Brazilians…. I cannot recall any Brazilian comments that I have read that are designed to support a “we are better than you” stance……
On the Brazilian side we took a helicopter ride. Helicopters do not operate from the Argentinian side. It was fantastic.
On Trip Advisor there are a number of postings asking visitors to not take the helicopter ride for environmental deference. These postings were from individuals who lived in locations foreign to both Brazil and Argentina. I admired these people as they had clearly walked, or cycled, incredibly long distances to visit Iguassu and, once here, they had chosen not take the helicopter.
We were not worthy of such admiration. We took the helicopter. I felt environmentally contrite……
On the Argentinian side there are boats that race into the foaming mists at the base of the falls. In fact, there are similar boats that do similar trips from the Brazilian side. The key difference is financial. On the Brazilian side it costs AUD 85 per person and on the Argentinian side it costs AUD 27 . This is quite a difference and we made an economically sensible selection. We were exhilarated and soaked via a docking station on the Argentinian side.
The Argentinian boat was not merely fun. It was fun with a capital F….Fun. In fact so joyous was it that it was worthy of a double capital as in FFun. I cannot bring myself to change all letters from lower case as there may yet be a slice of exhilaration later on the trip that warrants such lettering ..bolding is also available, should its reinforcing presence be required.
Entry to the park was cheaper from Argentina, AUD 108 for the four of us compared to AUD 145 from Brazil.
The transport from park entrance to trails in Brazil is double decker bus, half air conditioned half open topped viewing platform. In Argentina its a small train that follows a circuitous route of about 600 meters, as the crow flies, and, as we walked back, following a crow.
Both sides have walk ways that allow you to step over and above the falls. The Argentine one has a long, long walkway over the water to the Devils Throat. In June heavy rains damaged the walkways and the Argentinian walk to the Devils Throat was closed. Now, we are in November, and the Argentinians have not yet repaired their walkways. In fact, the damaged walkways can be seen where their broken remnants came to rest downstream. On the Brazilian side none of this is visible and the Brazilian walkways to the Devils Throat (admittedly much shorter than those of their counterpart country) are all open. On the Brazilian side most things look newly, cleanly safe and smartly greased. On the Argentine side, its, its well, a bit scruffier. I have walked away with the impression that Argentina dedicates lesser funds to their side of the Falls.
On the Brazilian side there is a pink hotel near the falls. It can be seen on the picture taken from the helicopter. It has been built in Colonial style with a gentle Colonial colouring and it looks desirably attractive. On the Argentinian side there is a Sheraton that is a monstrous, ugly concrete obscenity at odds with the surrounding rainforest.