As promised, I continue with my posts about my first Around-the-World trip. Iguazu Falls has a special place in my heart for the reason I listed here. As part of my series of posts on Buenos Aires, I suggested day trips to Tigre and Colonia if you have a couple of extra days to spare on your trip to Argentina. If you have a week in the area, however, there is no reason why you can’t hop aboard the short flight from the conveniently located domestic airport in Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu. You can, of course, also go from Brazil, but for some of us that means obtaining a visa.
Of course, the main attraction here is the some 270+ waterfalls set in a beautiful jungle setting which we will get to, but the area is also a great place for wildlife watching, especially for ornithologists, amateur or professional. Early morning or early evening are the best times to see the animals, but it’s really a matter of luck and patience. You can see tropical birds, mammals such as the raccoon-like coatis, or monkeys, vultures, exotic butterflies, and the like. I spent but 24 hours in the area yet here is a sampling of some of the wildlife I encountered during my brief stay.
I’m not an ornithologist by trade. For more on bird-watching in Iguazu, this post by Harold Stiver I found seems like a good starting point. I have more photos of the falls themselves here, and my story of visiting this magical place here
My second time around in Buenos Aires, having ticked most of the tourist boxes successfully on my first visit, I found myself with some time to explore the surrounding areas. I visited Tigre for the day on one occasion, and on another I thought, “Well, why not be a bit cheeky and add Uruguay to the list of countries I’ve visited?” after all, it is only across the river (the mighty Rio de la Plata).
The two most famous destinations are the capital, Montevideo, and THE beach, Punta del Este; instead, I chose the old (since the 1680s), small city (less than 30,000 people) of Colonia del Sacramento. The barrio historico (historic district) is a UNESCO designated world heritage site. I have visited a few of these protected colonial historic districts in Latin America, such as Old Havana, Pelourinho in Salvador, Cartagena in Colombia, Sao Luis in the north of Brazil, the Centro Historico in Quito, etc., but Colonia’s rivals the best of these in terms of how well it has been preserved.
If you are fortunate enough that your 3-day weekend in Buenos Aires turns into a 4-day weekend, I recommend a short excursion north by train to the quaint community of Tigre. The train from Retiro Station in Buenos Aires covers the 30km trip north in just under an hour.
Despite the appearance of the run-down house in the cover photo to this post, Tigre is a beautiful town that in appearance is not unlike parts of the Northeast United States. Quaint picket fences and manicured lawns encircle pretty houses, each with their own pier. Why is a pier necessary? Well, a significant portion of the town is networked not by roads but by canals and so the way to get around is by boat–either your own or by using the ferry service. Fortunately for visitors, the ferry service is a great way to get around the area and have a pleasant cruise among the waterways and nice houses. Below is a brief cruising tour via photography.
Tigre, named for the panthers (“tigers”) that used to be seen in this Rio Parana delta town, is very much worth your spending an afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of Buenos Aires.