One of the great natural wonders of the world, these falls are incredíble!! Massive and set against the backdrop of a steamy subtropical rainforest, las cataratas (waterfalls) should definitely be on anyone’s bucket list. It’s a magical place, with masses of gushing water, rainbows, animals, butterflies, and smiling tourist faces everywhere.
Both sides of Iguazu provide awesome and up-close views of the falls in addition to plenty of tourist activities. The Brazilian side offers zip-lining and helicopter and boat rides. The Argentinian side offers boat rides as well. Both sides also feature various easy hiking trails that allow you to see many different sections of the falls. You can even get to know some endemic animals. Especially be on the watch out for surprise encounters with Capuchin monkeys and coaties. They’ll try to swipe food from your hand or scratch at your bag if they smell something inside. I saw one coatie disembowel a plastic bag of its fruit. They’re crazy for food.
For all those romantics out there, the falls can also be enjoyed under a full moon. Time your arrival with this part of the lunar cycle and you can enjoy a tour, on the Argentinian side, on what will surely be an enchanting night. The moon is so bright that sometimes your photos look as though they were captured during the day. Beware, though, the mist is strong at night and there is no sun to dry you off, so bring a towel, a poncho your sense of adventure and enjoy this evening escapade at the mighty falls.
After the twins left….
After Lea and Mer left, Matt and I did a few more touristy activities in BA, most notably visiting el Planetario Galileo Galilei. The building itself is fun to visit, especially at night, due to its spacey sci-fi design. Plus, their recently purchased 3-D projectors added a realistic effect to our voyage through space.
We also took one extra day-trip while in BA and that was to Tigre, Argentina. It is easily visited via the bus metro from downtown. Although considered a different municipality, it just seemed like it was a far lying extension of the Buenos Aires city limits. If you had ample time in BA, I’d say go, but if you don’t, you’re not missing too much. It is known, however, for their Tigre delta boat rides, with views of picturesque marshy settings. We only walked along el Río Plata delta and visited the city’s art museum. Fue un día muy tranquilo.
Buenos Aires, Argentina aka BA
Buenos Aires is enormous and very much alive. No matter the time of day, people are walking in the streets or enjoying activities in the many city parks (e.g. dog walking, soccer, smooching). Everyone is living a bustling big city life. It’s frenetic and offers so much in the way of tourism, but feels more European than Latin American. And, Porteños seem to be quite proud of this European-connection. We were very fortunate to have scored a super sweet couchsurfing gig while in BA, house-sitting in the very nice Palermo neighborhood for about a month. Luckily, this corresponded with the time that my sisters came down to visit.
Matt and I were extremely excited that my sisters had finally arrived. Like us, the twins enjoy urban hiking (term coined by sister, Meredith), visiting museums, and eating delicious food. Oh, and savoring delicious wines, of which Argentina has plenty. With this in mind, we attempted to see as many tourist sites as we could, often walking to them and, thus, seeing some sites from all angles. On our first day, we walked around el Puerto Madero and took pics of La Casa Rosada (the presidential mansion). During the rest of their 9-day vacation, we also visited the Evita Museum, the Japanese Tea Gardens, the ecological reserve (go there!), the MALBA (one of the best modern art museums I’ve ever visited), el Museo de Bellas Artes, the Recoleta Cemetery, and el barrio La Boca (w/its soccer stadium and street-side tango dances). While urban hiking, we also luckily came across a mini-live music festival in the El Centro Cultural Recoleta and did plenty of window-shopping.
One of our favorite activities in Buenos Aires was attending the Sunday San Telmo Market. Essentially it’s a plaza and mile (at least) long street filled with antiques and artisanal goods. You can spend a whole afternoon there trying to see all the knick-knacks and crafty things the Porteños want to sell. In addition, you’ll catch various street performances, including tangos, tango-bands, and even a drum circle.
Although there is plenty to do in Buenos Aires, including a very lively nightlife (recommend La Catedral on Tuesdays – great show!), Matt and I wanted to take my sisters on a side-trip to Uruguay while they were down in South America. And, why not? Uruguay is only a quick boat ride away.
Villa la Angostura
Just to break things up in between Bariloche and Valdivia, Matt and I made a pit stop in this sleepy and tourist friendly lake-side town. The landscape is an extension of the beautiful lakes, forests, and mountains seen in Bariloche. It is also home to Los Arrayanes National park, a preserve of myrtle trees common to the area. We spent just a short time there but enjoyed a walk through this town hidden in the woodlands. The town is named for the very narrow and short waterway on which it is situated. It’s a good place to continue on up into San Martin de los Andes, which is more sleepy towns and lakes and parks. These cities and surrounding areas are all very nice for camping. We headed out on an early morning bus to cross the Andes and back into the lakes area of Chile.