Elegant Violence

Trip Start Aug 03, 2007
Trip End Aug 01, 2008

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Flag of Brazil  ,
Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A strange title of an entry that seems a paradox...but a great description of the famous Iguazu Falls. We did not coin the term "elegant violence" ourselves but James remembered it from a rugby T-shirt he had seen and we both agreed that it applied to these waterfalls. The Iguazu Falls are 275 waterfalls that flow into the Rio Iguazu, with some an incredible 265 feet in height. They were created by rocks splitting due to lava movement and were discovered in the 1500īs. They did not become a National Park until a couple hundred years later. The falls are in a unique location in that they are shared by 2 countries, Brazil and Argentina. The Lonely Planet guidebook describes them in this way which is a very accurate description: "the power, size, and sheer noise of the falls are truly spectacular". I think our pictures give a good sense of what the falls are like in their beauty and all but the sound is hard to capture, even on video. We tried though! Since the falls are in both countries, you have the opportunity to visit them from both places. Since we were coming from Brazil, we spent a day at the falls in Brazil and then traveled into Argentina to see the falls from a totally different perspective. The Brazil side is a shorter visit and introduces you to the falls with more of a general overview, but the Argentina side offers a closer up view and a much longer day to explore. We enjoyed both sides but definitely recommend the Argentina side if you ever have the opportunity to visit. On the Argentina side there are several levels of catwalks to meander through, all at different levels to offer you different perspectives of the same falls as well as very close up visits.You walk over, beneath, and next to the falls. The most incredible set of falls is referred to at La Garganta del Diablo (the Devilīs Throat). As cheesy as this sounds, it leaves you speechless for the first couple minutes you encounter it. We had seen it from a distance when in Brazil, but in Argentina you are truly in its presence, standing above it as close as your safety will allow. The amount of water is unbelievable and the sound of it is awesome. We happened to be there around 2 in the afternoon and at this time a rainbow could be seen reflecting in the whiteness of the water. Look closely in some of the pictures!
Iguazu Falls is a national park surrounded by rainforest. We also went on a great hike along the Macuco Sendero Trail to a small waterfall where we got to refresh ourselves with a quick dip in the water. The weather was hot and humid, in the 90īs, so the waterfall was a welcome respite for us. We got to visit some of the animals along the way, including the most giant black ants weīve ever seen at almost an inch in length. We also saw a toucan with its huge, colorful beak and some interesting creatures that I chose to name "snizards" because they look like large lizards but have snakelike qualities in how they use their tongues and their slithering movement. We were warned via the trail map/brochure to be wary of larger animals we might encounter, i.e. pumas or jaguars, and were actually gived written suggestions as to what to do if you encounter one of these animals. FYI, if this happens to you, make yourself seem big by moving your arms and talk really loud! Oh yeah, and donīt turn your back to it (duh) or run away. I would have loved to see a cat however I think it is probably better for our own safety that we didnīt.
A couple other neat things we did in the town of Foz do Iguazu, Brazil, before we headed into Argentina was to visit the Itaipu hydroelectric dam. Doesnīt sound terribly exciting, I know, but it was a pretty interesting visit. It is considered one of the "7 wonders of the modern world" and is the largest hydroelectric dam in the world. The name Itaipu comes from the Guarani Indians that used to live there and it means "the rock that sings". The dam took 30 years to build, begun in 1977 and completed this year. It is shared with Paraguay and thus it supplies ALL of Paraguayīs electricity and a good portion of Brazilīs electricity. Paraguay, of course, is tiny compared to Brazil.
We also visited Las Tres Fronteras (means 3 borders), a place where you can stand under a small monument in Argentina and look across the river to see monuments marking the countries of Brazil and Paraguay, somewhat in a diamond shape if you were to draw a line connecting them. Good times!
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