We decided to stay on the Argentinian side of the falls at the Sheraton. The advantage to the Sheraton is that it’s the only hotel inside the park, with rooms that overlook the falls (although they’re pretty expensive!). We opted for the less expensive jungle view room, which overlooked the forest. (In reality, it overlooked the driveway and parking structure, with the jungle in the near distance.) Overall, we highly recommend it–the rooms were all well-appointed, the restaurant was good, the breakfast buffet was the best we’ve had at a Sheraton in this country, and the staff was wonderful. Also, add to that a really great pool area that overlooks the falls. While we were lounging by the pool and enjoying an (expertly made) pina colada, a few cuis, or guinea pigs, were running around!
On our first full day at the falls, we decided to take the 3.75km long Sendero Macuco Trail all the way down to the Arrechea waterfall. In all the tour guides, it mentioned that this trail had some of the best wildlife watching and hiking–and that you could swim in the waterfall at the end of the trail! Sold.
We were the first ones on the trail in the morning. It was still cool and quiet, and we were surprised we didn’t see too many animals on the trail–just a few beautifully colored butterflies. We could hear lots of birds in the trees, but didn’t have much luck spotting them. We did the overlook of the waterfall first.
Then, we hoofed it down some very steep steps to the waterfall. We kicked off our sneakers and walked into the water. A bit cold at first, but it was totally worth it to be swimming in a pool directly underneath a waterfall! The mist got to be too much to get completely under the waterfall, but we got some great shots.
On our hike back, we saw lots more animals–and lots more hikers! We encountered a whole troop of howler monkeys in the trees, and spent a good amount of time watching them swing around and find their breakfast. Very cool!
Our advice for conquering the Sendero Macuco Trail? Start early–it opens at 8:30am, and we were there right on time. Be quiet when you walk–you’ll probably see more animals that way! Bring bug spray–it’s pretty buggy out there, and over the weekend we got our fair share of mosquito bites despite generously applying Off! Also, it wouldn’t hurt to bring a pair of water shoes for the waterfall swimming. We did it barefoot, but some of the rocks were a little sharp, and we definitely would have felt better in some water shoes. While we’re on the subject–bring water!! It’s a long hike, there are a lot of stairs, and it’s HOT. Stay hydrated.
This was definitely one of the best portions of our little vacation–we can say we’ve swam underneath a South American waterfall now!