Glynis’s Bucket List – South America: Part 3

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

I could use every superlative in the dictionary and the words could not describe this wonderous sight, but to make a start I would say fabulous, wonderful, magnificent, thunderous, breath-taking – I have never seen anything like it in my life and that’s just a start!!!

Iguazu Falls The Iguazu Falls are made up of 275 waterfalls within a horseshoe chasm between two countries, Brazil and Argentina and is said to be the largest waterfall system in the world. The Iguassu River flows mainly through the Brazilian side but most of the Falls are on the Argentinian side.

Glyn’s Tip: Spray with insect repellent and wear good walking shoes, plus a rain coat or an umbrella. Don’t forget you are in a subtropical atmosphere so wear something that keeps you cool as the humidity is very high.

We journeyed into the National Park and caught a small open-air train that winds its way through the rain forest to the get to the walk-way that goes over the river feeding this torrent of water.

There are two walkways, a top one that is flat and allows easy walking for anyone with a disability but the bottom one would possibly be a little more difficult. However, it is so spectacular it should not be missed if you can do it. Speak to the experienced guides who will advise you if you think it maybe too difficult.

Iguazu Falls The sound hits you first, the noise gets louder and louder and the spray of the water starts to fall like rain as you move along the walkways to get to the viewing platform of this wonderous site – there I go again!! So be prepared take an umbrella or a rain coat with you, as you can get very wet. 

The Garganta del Diablo (The Devil’s Throat) water fall is a sight to behold, rainbows continually spring up ‘ghost like’ over the water. It is amazing and you could stay along time if you weren’t getting so wet!! We then went back to our meeting point and had a well-earned rest and lunch.

We took the lower path way to see the falls from a different angle, but it was just as spectacular!! I have never taken so many pictures of water!! It is a steep descent down the lower pathway but you do have to come back up! However, there is a small golf cart that does a shuttle service up and down this last strenuous part. If you go to the small cafe at the bottom of the hill and ask for a ticket for the shuttle they will take you back up to the main meeting area for free.

Puerto Iguazu

Our hotel, the Grand Crucero was on the outskirts of Iguazu, a large comfortable hotel with a small swimming pool on the roof top, just the place to relax after a trip around the falls. But if you do want to visit the small town of Iguazu it is a short taxi ride away and has lots of interesting buildings and good restaurants that sell the world famous Argentinian steak – not to be missed unless you are a vegetarian.

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Getting to the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls you must travel through the border between Argentina and Brazil. This can take time!! Passports at the ready but the customs can take up to two hours to get through. But it is certainly worth the wait as the Brazilian side is just as dramatic and breath taking as the Argentinian side.

Iguazu Falls Our coach took us to the Brazilian side of the Falls and the viewing area is right in front of you next to where the coach drops you off. After lots of pictures you set off and walk down a well-used path to the bottom of the Falls. Another soaking but who cares it was marvellous, in fact you just want to get wet!!! It is fantastic, and people laugh and smile at one another as they realise this is such a wonderful experience.

It is a much easier walk for older and more disabled people and the bonus is that to get back you take an escalator to the top where there are restaurants and shops plus more fabulous views of the river and the Falls.

Iguazu wildlife

For a chance to see the wildlife of the Iguassu National Park you do not have to go far down any path way. Butterflies are everywhere, they land on you and display their magnificent colours. The turtles sit sunning themselves under the bridges as you pass to go to the Falls. The iguanas laze in the sun whilst hundreds of people walk past them and stop to take photographs. The coati, said to be dangerous – they bite – are kept in compounds for you to look at and some can be seen wandering around the area!!! Be careful. There are lots of brightly coloured birds in the rain forest, but if you want to see more bird life then stop off to visit the Bird Park which is a short distance away from the Falls but has lots of different species for you to see.

The wild side

For a bird’s eye view of the Falls take a helicopter ride over the Falls to see the wonderous sight from the air. The cost is £125 per person and last 10 minutes, but will last in your memory for much, much longer.

The Iquazu Falls is an iconic sight that you will never forget. It has the feel-good factor that gives you the feeling of ‘good to be alive‘ –  another ‘bucket list site ticked – fantastic, wonderful magnificent … there I go again!!

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

What can you say about Rio (our next stop on our land tour) that hasn’t been said before. Read my review about Rio. The sun shines and people play, the beaches are full of people from all over the world and it seems like they are there from morning to night. I have never seen so many people walk off the beach with hardly any clothes on! Flip flops are the footwear and beach wear is the fashion.

Sugar Loaf Mountain Being between Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach sounds like heaven. The Arena Ipanema Hotel is comfortable, modern hotel and the position could not have been better as it within easy walking distance of both beaches and how good is that!!

Our visit this time included a tour out to see Santa Teresa, an urban village out of the busy city centre. This is a quiet area that has a distinct artisan feel to it with lovely shops and cafes. We were taken by coach to a small train – like the ones you see in Lisbon – that takes you up to the village of Santa Teresa. It is like stepping back in time, like Rio used to be. We also visited the rather austere looking Rio Cathedral, the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian. Don’t be put off by its rather strange, ugly exterior, it is beautiful inside with very impressive stained-glass windows. 

Selaron Steps, Rio Our trip also included a visit to the ‘Spanish steps’ the artist Jorge Selaron created the art work on the world-famous steps. The steps are covered by thousands of coloured tiles, ceramics and mirrors with pictures of the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Princess Diana and many more famous people, also a pregnant woman who people say was his lover and someone who funded his work. I am not sure how true this is but that is the story. This is a tourist stop and many people sit, lay on the tiles at the side of their favourite tile, strange but true.

I cannot sing Rio’s praises enough, I love the relaxed, sunny ambiance, yes, there is crime and poverty rubbing shoulders with immense wealth, but overall it is a beautiful, interesting place and somewhere I would not hesitate to return to.

Sadly, my Bucket List journey had come to an end, but what a journey!! I have decided that from now on I will try to go to places I really want to go to and not go back to the places I have already been to, if possible. This does not suit everyone; a lot of people want to go back to the familiar – that is fine we are all different – which is good.

My bucket list is getting longer and my life is getting shorter but I am not planning to ‘curl my toes up yet’ hopefully – so here’s to the next adventure!!

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Glynis Sullivan

Traveller and writer for Silver Travel Advisor

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