The magnificence of nature is so easy to see when you look for it. However, at Iguazu Park and Iguazu Falls in Argentina, it’s impossible to miss.
Puerto Iguazu, the town closest to the falls, is the kind of place Carrie and I could live for a while. While a bit touristy, kind of like Estes Park in Colorado, it has a small-town feel and a welcoming atmosphere.
One thing we were surprised about is that Puerto Iguazu doesn’t seem to have much fresh produce, which we thought it would, since it’s in the middle of the jungle where lots of natural produce should grow easily.
When we got to our hotel, Hotel Esturion, we thought that it was going to be about $60/night cheaper than what they had listed online. We had thought, based on what we saw online, that we were going to have to spend $130/night. After requesting reservations online, we arrived at Hotel Esturion to discover that they did not have our reservation. But at check-in, they wrote down on a sticky that we would be paying $200 (pesos) per night. That equates to about $65/night for a room that sleeps three, and a pretty good breakfast (by Argentinian standards). Hotel Esturion is a nice place for sure.
We had a three person room, because we were traveling with Carrie’s sister, Michelle, who came to Argentina for a week to stay with us and see what Argentina was like. We really enjoyed the time we got to spend with her!
As far as Hotel Esturion, We were very happy about spending less, and definitely enjoyed our stay at the hotel.
However, when we checked out of Hotel Esturion, they had written in a note on our agreement (a note that was written by someone after we signed it and left the checkout desk) that the room cost $280 pesos per night (about $90/night) for the three person room.
Still a good price when split 3 ways, but doesn’t exactly leave you with the best feeling about a place when what they tell you at check-in is different than what you pay when you check out.
Our advice: Hotel Esturion is nice and is a good place to stay. Especially if you can stay there cheaply in the off-season. Definitely stay at the hotel, but make sure that the price/night they give you is written in at least two places on the agreement you sign, before you turn it back in to them. (Probably a good piece of advice for most hotel stays anyway.)
About 300 yards from our hotel was what’s known as the three frontiers.
This is the place where three countries come together in the middle of South America. Seeing the connection of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina, was fascinating. To know that it’s a river which separates many countries from one another shows the power that nature really can have over the creations of humanity.
We had no idea we would be so close to this spot before we arrived, and it was a very pleasant surprise. There’s a great spot where you can stand in Argentina and view the flags of both other countries painted on these large obelisk-like columns (one stands in each country).
We found it interesting that even though both countries are right there, and a boat ride to Paraguay only costs about $3 US, you can’t go to either country without a visa. In the case of both Brazil and Paraguay, you have to get a visa in advance of having come to this part of the world if you want to see Brazil or Paraguay.
“As a general rule, Brazil requests visas based on the principle of reciprocity of treatment given to Brazilian citizens. You DO need a visa (either for tourism or business) BEFORE entering Brazil if you are a citizen of the United States. Citizens of some countries do not require a visa to visit Brazil for tourism purposes, for a stay of up to 90 days (if necessary an extension may be authorized by the Federal Police in Brazil). Visas will be issued on a “laissez-passer” to nationals of the following countries: Bhutan, Central African Republic, Comoros, Kampuchea, Taiwan.”
Learn how to get a visa (if you’re already in Buenos Aires)
“The Embassy of Paraguay announced that effective August 01, 2002 visas will be required for U.S. citizens traveling for business or tourist purposes. The visa must be obtained in advance.” Learn more about a Paraguay Visa
I understand the importance of border control, but it’s also annoying when you just want to see a place to have experienced what it was like. But it’s too hard for border officials to sort out whose intentions are good, and who is coming with intent to fraudulently gain from a country or a system, so everyone has to follow these rules.
Politics aside, Iguazu Falls is a place you simply must see in order to appreciate.
Animals in Parque Iguazu:
The fish have learned that in the small part of the river, where people are allowed to wade, that they can get fed. As a result, when you walk into the water (especially if you (accidentally) drop some bread crumbs), thousands of little tiny fish (and a few mildly larger ones, will swarm around your legs, and some even take little nibbles at your feet and toes. It’s slightly tickly, and is fun, but gets annoying after a bit.
The Nasebaer, or Coatimundi, are like a cousin to the raccoon. They have adapted a nose that is longer than a raccoon or other similar creatures which helps them when hunting/foraging for food in the forest. (It also helps in their foraging for food from tourists, whom they’ve trained to give them food, just by looking cute and being fearless.)
There are a ton more animals in Iguazu Park and near the falls, including Iguanas, amazing butterflies, jays, crocodiles, vultures by the hundreds, and many more animals I’m sure we didn’t see.
However, the biggest part is the falls. The awesome power and crushing force of the waterfalls can be underestimated by today’s tourists who only have to brave a few elevated pathways and stone steps in order to reach them.
But make no mistake. We’ve not underestimated in any way at all.
Iguazu falls are one of the most amazing natural features we have ever seen, and we are likely to return to this park and Puerto Iguazu, at some point in the future.
(Here’s the tourist video for the park)