The Iguazu falls, which run across the border between Argentina and Brazil, are without doubt one of the most visited places in South America – and for good reason – they’re absolutely mind blowing! Having heard so much about them I was expecting to be underwhelmed. I knew it would be very touristy and suspected that in the flesh it might not be as amazing as I hoped, well the opposite turned out to be true. The shear scale of the falls is completely overwhelming and I was amazed at how close you could actually get to the action. It was so awe inspiring that I completely forgot that my beloved Tottenham Hotspur were due to play AC Milan in the first leg of their Champions League match and ended up missing the first half. Anyone who knows me well will understand the significance of that statement.

This was the last part of Steve’s trip. We’d been travelling together for 5 weeks by now and this would be our final adventure together. I’d actually considered skipping Iguazu with Steve as the journey made absolutely no sense geographically. We’d moved through Brazil and into Argentina much quicker than we’d anticipated and my next stop was going to be Mendoza (14 hours from Buenos Aires, 36 hours from Iguazu). I was also going back to Brazil for carnival, where Iguazu could be a convenient stop on the way, so if I hadn’t been with Steve that would have made much more sense – but Iguazu had been our pre-arranged final destination and I didn’t want to sacrifice that for a bit of convenience. And I’m really glad I didn’t as we got really lucky with the weather and it was a great thing to share before saying goodbye – much nicer to be there with a close friend than some 3-day Iguazu hostel buddies…

We arrived in Peurto Iguazu early in the morning and went straight to our hostel – Hostel Inn Iguazu – which was on the road heading out towards the falls. It was quite an impressive place with a big swimming pool and loads of rooms. It was huge in fact and strangely seemed to be populated mostly by large groups of Israeli backpackers. Friendly enough atmosphere but the scale of it made it a little less social than other hostels we’d stayed in so far.  We got checked in but couldn’t go to our room until 2pm, not wanting to waste the day we just stuck our bags in the baggage room, had a quick shower and headed straight for the falls.

The hostel had managed to convince us to buy a package which included our return bus trip to the site and a boat ride which takes you right under the falls – something we’d both heard about and were determined to do. The bus stopped right outside our hostel and took about 15 minutes to get us to the park. It cost us $100 (Pesos) to get into the park, roughly £15. I’m not sure what I expected but it was much more ‘theme park’ than I anticipated – very sanitised and family orientated. There’s a little train which takes you to the various spots in the park, a 3D cartoony map highlighting where the different attractions are located, cute little wooden sign posts everywhere and gift shops and cafe’s at every major junction. This doesn’t actually take away from the experience in my opinion, but it did take me slightly by surprise – it felt like I’d arrived at Thorpe Park.

The first place we headed for was Garganta Del Diablo (or the Devil’s Throat to you and me). This was the furthest point from the entrance and it took about half an hour and two miniature train journeys to get there. Once we arrived it was then another 15 minutes walking across wooden platforms – I really enjoyed this walk, the platforms were on sticks above the water and it started to feel less and less ‘theme park’ as we walked towards the noise of Diablo’s throat.

The Devil’s Throat section of the falls is incredible, it’s the power of the water and the shear scale of it which hits you. The viewing platform allows you to look right into the abyss and it was quite moving just standing and watching for a while. It would have been much more of a spiritual experience if the volume of people wasn’t so high – this spot more than any other in the park was really effected by the number of visitors. It felt like trying to get a drink in a busy London bar with everyone jostling for position to see over the edge or have a photo taken – you turn to say something to the person next to you and some one weasels into the inch of space you vacated by turning slightly. For me this did effect the experience, but even so it was still absolutely breathtaking. We stayed for about 10-15 minutes taking photos and videos before heading back to see the rest of the falls.

There are two more sections to see at Iguazu – the lower falls and the upper falls. We started with the upper section and were blown away. We were incredibly lucky with the weather, we had beautiful clear sunny skies which meant that with the spray from the falls we were seeing rainbows like I’ve never known coming at us from every angle – it was incredible. People are much more spread out once you get into this section of the park too so you’re not being crowded out of the best spots. Iguazu is a collection of nearly 300 separate waterfalls and cataracts and walking around the upper and lower circuits you’re constantly being met with different views and experiences. We walked under waterfalls, through waterfalls and looked right over the side of huge waterfalls – rainbows bursting out seemingly inches away from you. At one point I was in the spray coming off on of the falls and was completely surrounded by a complete circle rainbow – something which I didn’t even know existed!

We spent a good 5 hours wandering around the upper and lower circuits culminating with our pre-booked boat ride – the thrilling into the falls trip which brings the ‘theme-park’ vibe back (but in a good way this time). It doesn’t last long, 12 minutes to be precise, but it’s well and truly worth it. The big powerful boat fits about 20 people in and with our valuables inside a water proof bag we screamed on cue as we went full steam into the mouth of the monster! You’re taken in and out of two sections a few times – you don’t see a whole lot when you’re up close as the spray is so heavy, but it’s a massive thrill being that close to something so powerful.

I would say that Iguazu was easily the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen, even with all the tourists, the theme-park vibe and everything else – the size and power of it was mind blowing. And that’s before even seeing the Brazilian side…