Iguazu Falls, Misiones, Argentina
By Jordan Rice
I first heard about the secret spot of Iguazu Falls from a British girl that I met in Buenos Aires. I was on the top bunk and she was in the adjacent bottom bunk of our over stuffed dorm room. She talked candidly about her travels, of the beauty of Iguazu Falls, and then looking up at me, her face turned serious. She told me, “there is a spot that you have to go see if you are there. Only backpackers know about it. There is a beautiful pool with huge cascading waterfalls and you can have this place all to yourself. You HAVE to find this spot.” She then game me explicit directions on how to get to this dreamy place. I was defenitely intrigued but it is not like I needed any more enticing to visit the magical splendor that is Iguazu Falls National Park.
After all, this waterfall wonderland contains 275 distinct falls, the highest of which reaches a height upwards of 269 feet. It is taller than Niagra falls and four times as wide. It is a place that is simply too spectacular to miss. Argentina and Brazil share these amazing waterfalls. According to every person I talked with before visiting, there is much more to see and do on the Argentinian side but the Brazilian side contains a better bird’s eye view that gives a more complete picture of all the waterfalls. This stunning place actually used to belong to Paraguay 150 years ago but then crazed dictator Francisco Solano Lopez decided to take on Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay in the War of the Triple Alliance. Paraguay was devestated and beautiful Iguazu ended up in the hands of Argentina and Brazil.
A week after learning about the secret spot, I was just another regular tourist in Iguazu Falls National Park. I foolishly thought I could remember the directions that the girl so diligently told me, but I was wrong. Not that being a regular tourist is bad. If there is one place that can pull it off while leaving you completely speechless, it is this place. We took a $30 tour that should have only cost $10 at most. We walked on long metal pathways, constantly stuck behind slower walkers. It seemed every lookout had at least 20 people. It didn’t matter. This place is simply unreal. There is fresh water everywhere. Above the falls, the water is calm. Then, all of a sudden, it plummets down into the large abyss below. Devil’s throat is perhaps the most spectacular area. There, several huge waterfalls cascade with such a force that a huge spray of mist rises up 100 feet. I stood at the lookout to Devil’s Throat for an hour, waiting for reality to sink in again. What I found most amazing was the sheer number of waterfalls. There seemed to be a waterfall at every turn and in many cases, dozens of them. Since the falls are set in a tropical jungle, wildlife also abounds. Jaguars, Pumas, Monkey, and the colorful Tucan all reside here. I thought a jungle excursion would be fun until I discovered that nine different kinds of poisonous snakes also slither about the jungle floors.
As spectacular as the falls were, I still longed for a little bit of solitude. I still longed having my own set of falls all to myself. As our day in the park came to a close, I began losing hope of finding the secret place. It began feeling more and more like an urban legend. In the middle of a major tourist hotbed, how could there be a place so beautiful and so private? As my buddy and I unwound at the hostel, we were trying to decide what to do the next day. Then, we started talking to a girl from Boston, and our luck changed. She had been to the secret spot and was going back the next day. She gushed as she told us about the amazing beauty, of being able to swim right next to the falls, and the peaceful serenity. Her and a few friends agreed to take us the next day.
Fifteen hours later, we were there. While the rest of the falls were breathtaking, nothing quite compared to finding this hidden gem. For four hours we were in paradise. Places like this are only supposed to exist in dreams. At least fifteen seperate falls thundered down green moss and into our large lukewarm pool. The schools of fish that swam under our feet seemed to be dancing, celebrating the magic of their home with us. We swam and danced with the fish, completely soaking in the experience. For those four hours, the place was ours. I will not tell you how to get there. You will not find anything else written about it. To some people, this place will always remain legend. To others, the secret of Iguazu is a magical reality.