Iguazu Falls: Thundering Waterfalls and Peaceful Jungles

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Gorgeous view of Iguazu Falls, complete with rainbows (and unicorns…just kidding! no unicorns)

Argentina is a beautiful country of contrasts. After reveling in cosmopolitan Buenos Aires for a couple of weeks, Jason and I decided to hit the road to soak in some heat in the subtropical climate near Iguazu Falls. It’s wintertime in Buenos Aires so we wanted a bit of a break from bundling up in sweaters and scarves.

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

The main attraction of Iguazu Falls: Devil’s Throat.

Before arriving in Argentina, we were warned to be careful while in the country.  The economic situation had pushed a lot of people to desperate measures.  Jason and I (as well as our possessions) were safe while in Buenos Aires.  But on our way from Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls, we experienced our first theft.  We took an 18-hour overnight bus and I had my sunglasses, Patagonia rain jacket and the monogrammed Swiss Army knife (that my dad got for me from Switzerland) stolen from the secure luggage compartment under the bus. (Warning: Do not use Expreso Singer bus company if you want a bus company that cares about your belongings).

So upon arriving in Iguazu Falls and discovering our things were stolen, we had to deal with the hassle of filing a police report.  First of all, imagine the inefficiency associated with filing a low-priority report with the police, then compound that experience with trying to communicate with a police officer who does not speak any English whatsoever.

Main police station in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina

We were originally instructed to go to the main police station to file our stolen items report.

The 'overflow" police station in Puerto Igauzu?

However, we were subsequently directed to this little mickey mouse operation police station for our police report.

Inside the little police station in Puerto Iguazu

Inside the little police station, we were directed to a wooden bench. We passed 6 levels of ‘Plants vs Zombies 2’ on that bench.

Using whatever broken Spanish we possessed, we managed to piece together the story for the officer.  After two hours at the station, we finally had a police report that looked half-legit and half-joke.

On the upside, we had booked a few nights in a great little lodge in the jungle on the outskirts near Iguazu Falls. It was a perfect little getaway after the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires and dealing with the aggravation of having our things stolen.

The walkways at our jungle lodge, La Cantera, in Puerto Iguazu

The walkways between the main reception area and our lodge at La Cantera.

We spent the first day just relaxing and lounging by the pool.  It was perfect.  At one point, I turned over to Jason and said “I am so happy right now”.  The stress of having our things stolen had completely dissipated in the sun and fresh jungle air.

The infinity pool at La Cantera, Puerto Iguazu

Lounging by the infinity pool in the jungle

The next day, we made our way to the falls to see one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of Nature’.   It’s nestled at the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay, although 80% of the falls fall on the Argentine side.  It’s probably the world’s most impressive waterfalls, with 275 separate falls spilling over jungle cliffs.

On the Iguazu Falls tram

On the Iguazu Falls tram, planning our route around the park. Would help if I was looking at the correct side of the map

Iguazu Falls was one place that everyone unanimously told us was a ‘must-see’.  Jason was a little skeptical. “It’ll probably be like Niagara Falls“, was what he said.  However, after seeing the jaw-dropping views and experiencing the thundering rush of standing over the falls, even Jason was gushing about how awesome Igauzu Falls was.  And ‘awesome’ is not a word Jason used lightly.

We spent the day visiting three main viewing sections.  The highest section lets you stand right over the main attraction of the Argentine side of the falls: Devil’s Throat.  There’s a free tram that takes you to a 1km-long walkway.  It spans the upper Iguazu river before ending at the main look-out point.

The 1-km long walkway that takes you to Devil's Throat

The 1-km long walkway that takes you to Devil’s Throat

The 1-km long walkway that takes you to Devil's Throat

Almost there! We can see the mist from here.

We (along with most visitors) got drenched so we weren’t able to get any good pictures up there.  Water and mist coated our camera lens and the wind gusts were a little crazy.

Devil's Throat, Iguazu Falls (Argentina)

Standing over Devil’s Throat. No escaping the misty gusts of wind.

Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls (Argentina)

Another view of Devil’s Throat. This is probably the only clear picture I have of this section.

Leaving Devil's Throat, Iguazu Falls

Leaving Devil’s throat completely drenched.

The middle section lets you take a relatively short walk along the upper rim of the falls.

Iguazu Falls (Superior Walkway)

Standing at the edge of the falls. Pretty awesome view of the falls below us.

Coati lounging in the sun (Iguazu Falls, Argentina)

This little guy lounging in the sun is called a Coati. He looks like a cross between a raccoon and a possum. They are everywhere in the Iguazu Falls park. And are not afraid of people. They look pretty cute (IMO), but can be pretty vicious if provoked (or want your food).

The lower section is a longer walk but provides the most complete views of the falls.  It also lets you get up close and personal at the bottom of the falls.

Rainbow and Iguazu Falls

Gorgeous views from the lower walkway in Iguazu Falls.

Iguazu Falls (Inferior Walkway)

Getting up close and personal with the falls

We even visited some of the smaller falls scattered around the park – most of them overlooked by tourists clamoring for views of the larger falls.

Tiny falls in the Igauzu Falls park

The tiny hidden waterfalls in Iguazu Falls park

Iguazu Falls was one of our highlights in South America.  It was gorgeous to see and exciting to experience.  We can definitely see why Iguazu Falls was on everyone’s “must-see” list.

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

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Eating: Argentina

Before Jason and I arrived in Argentina, I emailed my colleague (who is Argentinian) to pick his brain on what to eat. He sent back an amazing list of what to eat and we pretty much followed it word for word. Actually it was so descriptive, I’m going to let him help me write about the awesome food in Buenos Aires (his words in italicized blue font).

Eat meat. It really is so different. Everything cooked on a parrilla. Here are some things to try:

Bife de lomo or bife de chorizo (cuts of steak, they don’t have t-bone etc)

Even though I’m not the biggest fan of meat, I really enjoyed the parilla restaurants in Buenos Aires. Parillas (Spanish for ‘grill’) basically serve grilled meat and animal parts. Our first visit to a parilla was to Las Cholas in the Las Canitas neighbourhood. It was probably our favourite parilla. They didn’t give us a choice as to how we wanted the steaks prepared (they prepared the steaks well-done), but it was still so delicious! It’s served with a side of Chimichurri sauce (a sauce of herbs, garlic, and vinegar) – which is perfect for the steaks. Never turn down Chimichurri sauce if you’re offered some.

Las Cholas, a delicious parilla in Buenos Aires

Las Cholas, a delicious parilla in Buenos Aires

Bife de Lomo

Jason got the Bife de Lomo – delicious cut of steak

Bife do Chorizo

I ordered the Bife de Chorizo. I won – it was so tasty, fatty, and delicious

We had parilla again a few weeks later at a restaurant called La Cabrera. They had an awesome happy hour deal where between 7-8pm, everything in the restaurant is 40% off. No one in Buenos Aires has dinner earlier than 8pm (with the exception of tourists), so it was a clever way for the restaurant to generate some additional business and a great deal for tourists. We had met a fun couple from California in Patagonia and we decided to meet up again in Buenos Aires for dinner and drinks. Christina and Scott had both just finished writing the Bar and were travelling for 7 weeks before starting their careers in law.

Dinner with Scott and Christina at La Cabrera

Dinner with Scott and Christina at La Cabrera

Ribeye steak (cooked medium) at La Cabrera

Jason and I ordered the ribeye steak. They even let us choose how wanted it prepared (medium).

Morcilla (blood sausage), mollejas (glands) and chinchullines (intestines) are all delicious

We had parilla again at our hotel in Puerto Iguaza, La Cantera. It’s a quiet hotel in the middle of the jungle in the city by Iguazu Falls. We met this interesting Dutch couple (Yoost and Guusha) who was travelling for four weeks before they moved from Holland to Ontario for work. We had a great time with them over dinner. The restaurant actually had to kick us out because we wouldn’t leave.

Dinner at our hotel restaurant (La Cantera)

Dinner with our new Dutch friends, Yoost and Guusha

We tried the blood sausage, glands, and intestines. Very interesting flavours – I liked the blood sausage and glands. The intestines were a little too weird for me. Guusha wouldn’t even touch the animal parts. Yoost was brave enough to try them out. He, too, thought the intestines were a bit weird.

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Our giant meat platter

I liked the blood sausage so much that I tried it again when we were back in Buenos Aires.

Blood Sausage (Morcilla) at La Cabrera

Blood Sausage (Morcilla) at La Cabrera

The trick to eating the animal part is to not think about it too much. The more you think about the fact that the sausage is made out of blood or that you’re eating the throat glands of the cow, the more you psych yourself out. I have to admit though, my first thought after I ate the intestines was ‘I wonder if the cow ate something sandy before it became our dinner?

Choripan – sausage on a bun, street food…so good

This was divine. They weren’t as easy to find as street meat is in Toronto, but when we had our first one, we both let out a sigh of delight. Choripans are grilled sausages, covered in the magical Chimichurri sauce, and served on toasted buns. I think I’ll have to write to the city councillors in Toronto to petition for the replacement of all Toronto street meat with Choripan.

Choripan - street meat in Buenos Aires

Choripan – street meat in Buenos Aires

Choripan - street meat in Buenos Aires

You can see the delicious Chimichurri sauce in this picture.

Milanesas – my favourite of all, it’s like a schnitzel but tastes way better. I eat these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

These are so good. I can see why it’s my colleague’s favourite. I, too, ate these for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. No joke…I’ll show you:

Milanesas - like a schnitzel but better

Milanesas – like a schnitzel but better. I had these ones for breakfast – twice.

Milanesas - like schnitzel but better

I had this one for lunch one day.

Milanesas - like schnitzel but better

And this one I had for dinner.

Eat sweets. Again, so different and so good

You have to go eat ice cream from Freddo’s, you will be amazed that you have never eaten ice cream that good before.

Freddo's ice cream in Buenos Aires

Freddo’s ice cream

I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve had Freddo’s ice cream by now. It probably is the best ice cream we’ve ever had. Each time we had it, we ordered the 1/4 kilo serving. And each time, we wished we’d ordered the 1/2 kilo after we inhaled the 1/4 kilo in about 5 seconds flat.

Freddo's ice cream in Buenos Aires

This is a 1/4 kilo of heaven Dulce de Leche and Chocolate with Almonds ice cream.

Alfajores – the best ones hands down are Havanna. They have little stores you can find that sell these.

Yup, the best ones ARE Havanna. We stopped at a Havanna cafe in La Boca and ordered four alfajores. Don’t let the size of these little sweets fool you – they are very filling. We only finished two.

Havanna cafe in the El Caminito area

Havanna cafe

Dulce de leche – it’s everywhere and perfect

Along with the Havanna alfajores, we ordered coffee with dulce de leche. It really is perfect. Coming to Argentina, I didn’t have much of a sweet tooth but I am leaving this country with one (or five).

Havanna cafe in the El Caminito area

Alfajores and Dulce de Leche coffee. I think I got a cavity just from looking back at this picture.

Facturas – pastries but better. The ones filled with dulce de leche are my faves. Anything filled with dulce de leche is my fave.

My newly developed sweet tooth craved facturas all the time. They come in all different sizes and shapes and they’re all good.

Facturas in Buenos Aires

Facturas – delicious delicious Argentine pastries

In addition to the list my colleague provided, we also got a lot of recommendations from locals to eat lots of Argentine pizza and empanadas.

Argentines are very proud of their pizza. The immigration from Naples and Genoa at the end of the 19th century brought this food over, but since then Argentines have made it their own. There are two main types: Pizza a la piedre (on a stone oven) is similar to Neopolitan pizza. It has a crispy thin crust. Or the traditional pizza molde which has a spongey, chewy thick crust.

Senior Telmo pizza place in San Telmo (Buenos Aires)

Senior Telmo in Buenos Aires

For really good pizza a la piedre, we went to a popular little joint in San Telmo, called (what a surprise!) Senor Telmo.

Senor Telmo in Buenos Aires

Packed with locals – exactly how I like my restaurants

We arrived literally 2 minutes before the dinner rush (9:30pm). All the groups behind us had to wait over an hour for a table. We were seated within 10 minutes.

Senor Telmo in Buenos Aires

Arugula & Jamon Crudo and Pancetta & Mushrooms

We asked the server for two recommendations and we went with both: arugula & jamon crudo, and pancetta & mushrooms. They were delicious but I’ve been spoiled by the really good Neopolitan pizza joints in Toronto so I wasn’t that blown away.

For the traditional Argentine pizza molde, we were advised to go to El Palacio de la Pizza (The Palace of Pizza…I know, it’s cheesy! Get it? Cheesy, Pizza? haha). I typically like to enjoy my pizza with a cold beer, but Argentines love to enjoy it with wine. So we split a bottle of red.

El Palacio de la Pizza in Buenos Aires

El Palacio de la Pizza

We were also advised to order the provolone pizza. Thick, chewy, and smothered in infinite layers of provolone and mozzerrella. It was deliciously artery-clogging. We ordered a medium pizza and both of us couldn’t finish our second pieces.

Provolone pizza from El Palacio de le Pizza (Buenos Aires)

Provolone pizza. The medium size comes with 4 slices. Two people will likely only be able to finish 3.

It kind of reminded me of Chicago’s deep-dish pizza.

Provolone pizza from El Palacio de la Pizza

Side view of our pizza.

We stayed in the Montserrat neighbouhood for a couple of days, and our host (Ruy) recommended we go to a local pizza joint (closest intersection is Salta & Venezuela) for their empanadas. He described them as little cheesy pockets of pastry perfection. I ordered the Roquefort (which I highly recommend) and Jason ordered the ham & cheese.

Empanadas in Buenos Aires

Empanadas: little cheesy pockets of pastry perfection

Ruy wasn’t kidding – they were perfect. We’ve had dozens upon dozens of empanadas since that first one and none have measured up.

So there we have it: a rundown of all the delicious foods one must try in Argentina. Special shout-out to my Argentine colleague for his advice and letting me use his wise words in this blog post.