We wake up, maybe sometime around 7 or 8am. Breakfast is two croissants, tostadas and bread. We watch the countryside pass by, becoming more and more tropical as we go. The landscape is so vastly different to Patagonian and north western Argentina, we feel like we have crossed into another country entirely overnight.
The soil has changed to a deep red colour. Houses are often little more than wooden shacks in the long grass and trees.
We arrive into Iguaçu around 2pm, over an hour after scheduled. So we won't be getting to the Bird Park today then. It's raining so we race around the streets from the bus station trying to get our bearings with the streets and find our hostel that we've booked at.
Our hostel (Hostel Sweet Hostel) doesn't have our reservation, even though we emailed and they emailed back to confirm it. They tell us it will be 108 pesos per night, which seems expensive for a dorm, but I haven't written down the prices. Then we realise they are putting us in a private room, so we point out their mistake, advising that we booked a dorm. So the guy takes us to a dorm. It's a 6 bed dorm. I am sure I booked a 4 bed dorm. We are told there are no beds left in a 4 bed dorm. It's about now that we get a bit grumpy. The 6 bed dorm only has 4 lockers and the guy can't grasp the fact that if everyone wants a locker there is not enough to go around. So we ask if there is wifi so we can check our booking. Sure enough we booked two beds in a 4 bed dorm for 45 pesos each. To placate us, the guy offers us a private room for the price of two beds in a 4 bed dorm. We accept and after checking the room put our gear in it and pay for 2 nights so we can see the bird park on our second day and then get a night bus to Rio.
We head up the street to sort out a bus ticket to Rio. After asking around it became apparent that all the Sunday buses are full. So Monday it is. Also the buses to Rio leave in the middle of the day. We get cama seats for 348 pesos each. We get some pasta and meat for dinner and cook back at the hostel. The kitchen (which is so poorly equipped even to cook a simple pasta snack in a pot is a struggle!) and lounge/bar area is open to the elements (I question the wisdom of this in a wet and tropical climate?) and the floorboards have rotted away in places Watch your step! The hostel appears to be run down, untidy and unclean. The kitchen is filthy and the fridge is beyond disgusting. There's a serious lack of utensils but we manage to make our dinner and then head to the sanctity of our room, glad we went with the private open with our own telly!
Our room is tidy, but again has issues with cleanliness and the bathroom is the same. It has a mildew problem and would just appreciate a good wipe.
Honestly, there must be somewhere better in Iguaçu. It might be cheaper than others, but if I was going back, I'd pay more and go elsewhere.
We are up at 7am. Breakfast is a tiny bowl of cereal (think tea cup sized). Something is up with the milk it's is like a yoghurt consistency. There are only teaspoons to eat with. In addition to this delightful cereal offering there is bread, with butter and jam.
We pack a picnic lunch for our day at Iguaçu Falls and head to the bus station. It's a short trip out of town and we are dropped at the ticket entrance for the Iguazu Falls. Once inside the park we head off to the first train station where staff tell us to take the green trail 10 minutes walk to the Cataracas train station which is quicker than the first train. At the second station we line up at Cataracas for a train to the Devil's Throat. When that train drops us off we are able to get past all the tour groups standing around and head off on the catwalks. It doesn't take long to reach the balconies at the edge of the Devil's Throat where we can the thundering tumble of water we could hear on our walk in.We take our photos and marvel at the volume of water pouring down into the Devil's Throat. When the tour groups start to arrive at the platforms we head back through all the catwalks to the train.
A train is just pulling in as we get there. Back at Cataracas we head off along the Upper Trail, where we see more waterfalls below us. Next we head to the Lower Trail. This trail is below all the falls and we head to the end where we get covered in the spray and see a rainbow at the foot of the falls. We want to get a boat over to San Martin Island but they're not running the trips as the river is too high. So we sit on a rock and have our lunch with the falls spread out before us. Once we've had our fill of the view we head back up, stopping to see the cheeky antics of the beever type animals and stupid people feeding them. We catch the train back mid afternoon and check out the visitors centre. It's big and empty of people. The information is on the forest rather than falls. We don't read much before leaving. Its hard for writing and pictures and diagrams to hold your attention after you've seen the Iguazu Falls. We bus back into town, glad to have got a good day with blue skies and sunshine at the falls.
We sleep in and have breakfast at 9am. There is milk for the cornflakes today. But as a trade off there in no bread and jam left and no clean glasses for juice or cups for coffee. This is despite a staff member being in the kitchen overseeing breakfast. Then the cornflakes run out. This place is a shambles.
We catch the bus to the Bird and Animal Refuge on the Argentine side of the border. Tours are guided, in large group and are a mix of a ride in a trailer behind a tractor, and walking through the forest between the enclosures. Not quite what we imagined. Maybe it would have been worth the hassle of crossing the border to go to the Bird Park on the Brazil side? There are some older NZ'ers in our group which is funny to us, mainly because for the first time in months we can understand every word that is being spoken around us and its in our own true blue accent. It's quite hard to see the birds in their enclosures because of the group size and hard to photograph them because of the small wire cage netting.
But we get to see McCaw's, Toucans, Green Parrots and more. We see a Black Howler monkey and other monkeys, very cute. There is a tiny 2 day old Bambi, about the same size as a lamb. We also see a Caiman and wild pigs. So basically it was an up close view of the animals we spotted in the wild in the Amazon on our Bolivian jungle trip!
Finished at the Bird Park we flag down the bus back to town and get off at a bigger supermarket. Which is shut. Damn Sunday. So we walk into the main street and our normal grocery store is open so we get some bread for dinner and bus snacks for our ride to Rio. We spend the afternoon watching movies on TV, writing out the journal and Ryan takes a siesta. Very, very glad to have a private, as the dorm we were shown would have been depressing to sit in, but the common area lounge is just as bad! Dinner, another movie and bed follow.
We get up for breakfast at 8am so that they haven't run out of food! We pack our bags and check-out. It's been raining torrentially all morning so we've covered our bags and packs as best we could with shopping bags and I don a poncho for our quick scurry to the bus station.
We have a few hours to kill, so grab a hot chocolate in the cafe at the station to dry out and wait. We have a couple of empanadas for lunch and our bus pulls in around 1.15pm. We board and drive a short distance to the border. We get our exit stamps and are back on the bus quickly. The lines of buses at the border are horrendous and we don't move for ages. Then it's off across to the Brazil side for our entry stamps and some more waiting in lines. Eventually we're off.
Rio here we come!...