A collection of over 250 separate cascades located in the exotic subtropical forests of Parque Nacional Iguazú on the Argentinian side and Parque Nacional do Iguaçu on the Brazilian side are unquestionably the world’s most spectacular waterfalls and our next inevitable stop on this journey. These waterfalls flow for a couple of kilometres over cliffs from the upper into the lower Río Iguazú some 70meters below. It’s a trick of nature and mind-boggling what we are looking at, a waterfall not the width of the river but one that is positioned in the length of the river and is actually some kilometres long!
As vast as they are, they kept forgotten in this remote corner of Argentina, and it wasn’t until the early twentieth century that the first visitors arrived. Nevertheless the word spreads around and today the falls are one of the seven natural wonders of the world with about two million visitors each year. Most of the Iguazú Falls are on the Argentine ground, so that is the side we decide to explore and seems also the side best prepared to fully enjoy the spectacle of nature. Different trails bring us close to the edge to have diverse views of the staggering, vertical drop of water and others lead us down to observe the massive quantity of water falling down and spraying up into the air. As that is not enough, Iguazú even offers an island (Isla de San Martín) in the lower Rio Iguazú which is surrounded by this marvel of mother nature. The view and the deafening sound are just indescribable. Different trails through the dense forest give options to observe the exotic wildlive… just in case for those who expect even more! 😉
It’s difficult to explain Iguazú but it certainly does what it’s supposed to do… it gives the visitor some sleepless nights while the brain struggles to absorb each detail and strives to comprehend its greatness.
- The entrance fee for the park is 170 ARS (around 10 euros).
- The main settlement on this side, Puerto Iguazú, lies approximately 18km northwest of the park entrance with a slightly sleepy, villagey feel, though its popularity with backpackers has livened it up a bit in recent years.
- We find a nice hostel for 144 ARS (9 euros) per night for two persons: Residencial Uno Hostel with pretty basic rooms, many sweet dogs walking around and a beautiful swimmingpool.
“It will never be the same.” is my immediate thought now that I read news of Argentina’s new trains that connects Córdoba with Buenos Aires. More comfort in both: first and second class railway wagons, a modern coach with catering and bar, wagons with isolated compartments so the 6 customers can sleep all night long and wake up just before arriving at destination and a powerful new faster engine to pull it all. It’s all good and it is a step forward but it’s also the end of a whole generation of travellers. Let me introduce you to what was. Staying in Córdoba had been of the scale in our travel experiences and after a week we are ready to move forward. Where, why, how and how much is the holy foursome in the quest of long term travelling. But here we knew it would be the train… not only because it’s ridiculously cheap but because of curiosity as lots of roommates, travellers and hosts had warned us that the train to Buenos Aires is the very last option to take. I remember some of them telling me that they would rather go by feet than the train. And they might be wright if they wanted to get there faster. This route had two services a week which most of the time were sold-out. You had to be plenty time before in the overcrowded, hot and humid railway station to deposit your backpacks. After another bit of waiting the doors open and you can enter the wagons to find your seat in between the many pushing and pulling people who carried more hand luggages each than our two backpacks together. Rows of vinyl covered wooden benches for three at one side and for two at the other side of a small pass way got crammed by people at the most chaotically and ineffective way. Nevertheless after a while each individual would find his seat according his ticket and the scene calmed down as the ‘mate’ started to circulate. At first you could hear some cracking noises, then the scream of iron that got tortured and finally the train starts to move… and that’s it… it keeps starting to move, it would not speed up… ever!!! You could see some family members walking next to the train till the very end of the platform while waving to their beloved. Normally you would run and lose sight even before you reach the half. But here these people could have continued till destiny. A beautiful landscape passes by and you had all the time of the world to watch and observe each tiny detail. The inside design took you right back to the early days of railway history, so far back in time that the word design did not even existed yet and fire had just been mastered. Wooden benches of which the leaning can be swapped to either side so the voyager has a comfortable choice of direction and view offering as well very convenient change on longer rides to look for conversation partner or avoid them. The ventilation system were eight not turning iron fans at the ceiling which might have chopped of some heads in their better days. Reaching the slums of the city of Rosario, this transport converted into a bunker as each one of us had to slide down metal shields at the inside in front of the windows protecting us from stone throwing youngsters. Nonetheless was the ambient just great as passengers stand up and walk a bit to stretch legs and get in conversation with other rail users. Cards got dealt out, dices thrown, puzzles solved, guitars got played, some voices got tuned and a couple of old songs filled the belly of the worn out night train. Twenty hours took the ride of six hundred kilometers and 30 pesos did cost the ticket for an everlasting memory.
Image from the website: vacacionescordoba.com
*Get as fast as possible your tickets to be sure you have a seat.
*The lower the class the more ambient (Pullman = backpackers level: musicians, handcrafters, … and low-cost travellers who have lots of stories to share 😉 )
*Although the tickets got pricier: 90pesos (172pesos both ways) and for students 77pesos (146pesos both ways), it’s still cheaper than the 600-800pesos expensive Pullmans (but they are twice as fast… about 10 hours travel)
*Lots of passengers leave the train at Rosario, so if you’re fast you might find a bench for yourself to sleep stretched out. Not sure this is possible in the new trains.
Let yourselves go and get rid of all travel guides. Don’t follow the herd, shave that wool and be a wolf. Look for the sensation of doing something different, get your bag packed and jump on the bus and ask a ‘boleto’ for Cuesta Blanca, a town located in the department of Punilla in the province of Córdoba. A 50km ride from Córdoba capital following the ‘Camimo de las Altas Cumbres’ takes us to this small community parted in half by the San Antonio River.
It’s this stream that makes this place so special by providing smaller natural pools with crystalline water and clean glittering pink sand beaches both perfect for relaxing the mind and body as these waters cure,… some local told us.
Cuesta Blanca has the privilege to find itself enclosed in a mountain forest with its many autochthonous trees, grasses and native vines with beautiful shapes and colourful leaves and flowers. The native fauna gives us 180 varieties of wild birds, iguanas, rainbow trout, weasel, fox, otter and many others. The wonderful hike along the riverside, from our empty camping site to one of the further beaches, Playa de los Hippies, is a reason on itself to visit this beautiful place.
After some days you will be revitalized and might be ready for a whole lot more of traveling but maybe never again able to let the wool overgrow the wolf inside you! 😉
– Take a good book and enjoy the out of this world feeling
– Binoculars are a must as many smaller beautifull coloured birds fly by and are dificult to see with bare eyes
– Eco-camping is situated a bit further from the center just next to the river, offers bbq, shared showers, has a small shop to buy drinks and delights their visitors with nightly frog and bird chants.