Brazil: Iguacu Falls
Trip Start Jan 15, 2010
94Trip End Jul 30, 2010
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Unfortunately this story is being written in retrospective as we have been having too much of a good time gallivanting around Argentina. We have, of course, been seeing the sights, drinking lots of delicious wine, eating steak, catching up on much needed sleep and generally having a good time. The result is that some blog stories don't get written until much later. It’s a pain to back-write stories, the blog gets held up and for those of you in reader-land who consume this fine travel dialogue end up wringing your hands waiting anxiously for the next installment. ;o)
The main reason we caught a 22hr bus from Rio was to see the 'world’s most beautiful falls’ and yes, they are definitely stunning
There are different views from the Brazilian and Argentina sides. The Brazilian is the most panoramic and the Argentina side is a more ‘close up’ experience. We did both. And why not, we’re here, it took ages to get here, might as well.
We caught the bus to the falls from just up the road from our hostel for an exceptionally reasonable R$2.30. It was uneventful with the exception that we were on a bus in a country where our grip on the language was less than required to order a coffee successfully and at the same time we were unaware of how long it took to get to the final destination. Queue some anxious looking outside of the window...
The entry fee to the national park AGP$60 (AUD$17) gives you entry to the park; to the Iguacu museum/exhibit, transport to various parts of the park where you can enjoy all the free, and additional activities such as bush walking, rip cord and eco tours. Our primary interest was seeing the falls; visiting the bird/wildlife sanctuary (located outside) and then if the wallet could manage it, taking a joy flight above the falls. (There are helicopter rides out over the falls from Foz do Iguašu, something that we were very keen to do, especially as ‘festivus’ was about to commence*)
Besides being a major tourist attraction to see nature’s massive water fight, the Iguacu National Park is also home to several endangered species of plants and animals. Of particular interest to Jess was the presence of more than 2000 species of butterflies within the park. Not that we saw that many but we did see a fair quantity and revelled in them landing on our extended hands and heads.
There are four drop points for the bus that take you down a road flanked by thick forest. We got off the bus with the rest of the tourists and prepared ourselves for the 1.5 k walk through the sub tropical forest to the Devil’s Throat, the main attraction of the falls. Best seen from the Brazilian side is the spectacular ‘Garganta del Diablo’ (Devil's Throat) where fourteen falls combine forces and drop over 100 meters with such force that there is constant 30 meter cloud of spray overhead... tres exciting.
Walking down the path we saw the first of many Kuatimundi (or Coati) which are long nosed racoon's that inhabit the park. They, like their cousin racoon's, are scavengers and when not nosing around in the dirt to get roots and worms, they could be found in the bins of the parks attempting to get what tourists had left behind, or what the tourists currently had in their hands
Besides the Kuatimundi the only other wildlife we saw were an abundance of butterflies, some insects, including some massive millipedes and one lizard. Either the majority of wildlife was on their ‘matÚ’ break (coffee break) or they were scared off by the throngs of tourists coursing through the park.
As we got closer to the ‘Mouth’ the sound of water plunging down the various falls grew, as did the moisture in the air. We had bought rain jackets with us but the humidity of the day didn’t make it comfortable to wear, and soon we were as wet inside as we were out... Oh well, if you can’t beat ‘em, might as well join ‘em and get wet!
At the ‘Mouth’ there is a walkway that takes you straight into the action; it’s wet with a capital ‘W’. I took off my shirt and strutted with all my manliness into the action and was rewarded with a constant pelting of moisture. Jess just got wet in her clothes.
Once you have had a chance to be ‘in the falls’ there are some stairs that allow you to be above them where you can stand almost right next to the roaring cascade
Wringing our clothes dry, we left the park with the thought of going up in the helicopter still firmly in our heads. With a determined and excited march we headed to the helicopter office. To discover it costs USD100 per person for 15 minutes!! Of which you ended up with about 10 minutes of ‘hang time’ over the falls and as they were not willing to consider some sort of discounting we gave it a miss. The USD200 (AUD220) constitutes more than 2 days budget and whilst it would have been an excellent adventure but being sensible backpackers we just couldn’t do it.
We did however visit the Parque das Aves, which was almost as exciting as the helicopter flight. The Tropical Bird Park is an ecological sanctuary with more than 500 species of birds from Brazil and other countries, as well as some spiders, reptiles and butterflies.
The park has a trail through some areas that imitate the birds natural habitat that gave us a chance to get very close to them.
At first the park looked a little sad as there were birds in cages that did not look overly comfortable. Compared with what we had seen so far on our journeys though they were generous. There were macaws, parrots and all sorts of other spectacular birdlife in these cages
that were very interesting.
The path meandered on and all of a sudden our senses were affronted with a terrible smell. There is some truth in the word ‘foul’ when experiencing the smell of water fowl. We came upon a pond of flamingos and the stench was over powering. It must be something to do with shit and feathers in stagnant water and it was gross. The pretty pink birds had special mirrors around their pond which made them feel like they were in a bigger group, providing a sense of security and allowing them to look after their young in security.
After the stinky flamingos there were a range of ‘created environments’ that provided visitors with a look–see into the lifestyles of birds in natural habitats. These were great as they were large and had flora that the birds were used to in their ‘homes.’ They also allowed you to get up close and personal and have you photo taken with the residents. I was a little scared to get too close as scenes from ‘The Birds’ and the memory of the Velocorapters from ‘Jurassic Park’ and they fact that they birds were descendant from them, came into my head.
The environments included the birds of the pampas, parrots, a cage filled with noisy blue and red macaws (see video) and one with cranes, but the highlight was the hummingbird and butterfly enclosure which allowed one to stand still and have these tiny creatures buzz around your head.
At several times through the park Jess had to be restrained as her predatory milinery instincts kicked in whilst imagining feathers being applied to her creations
All in all it was a wonderful day even if we didn’t get the chance to go to up in a bird.
*for those not in the know, I manage to get at least a week of birthday celebrations every year in a period that is known as festivus. It starts just before the 5th of April and can go on for a week or two afterwards. No one else is lucky enough to receive such a celebration and it is unknown why.