Don't go chasing waterfalls....

Trip Start Sep 02, 2008
Trip End Dec 14, 2008

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Flag of Argentina  , Litoral,
Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina have been rated by most people we've met who've been there as one of the most amazing sights they've seen.  Lonely Planet says 'stupendous!', 'awesome!' so we were fairly certain when we arrived at the Parque National de Iguacu in Brazil that our expectations were set way too high for a bunch of waterfalls!

Luckily our gobs were well and truly smacked when we rounded a corner of the trail and there they were - WOW!  And then we rounded another corner and there were even more - More WOW!  And another...and another...!  Cataratas de Iguacu (or Iguazu in Spanish) is made up of 275 waterfalls stretching a whole 2.7 km over which 1500 metres cubed of water falls per second!  And that's a whole lot of water!  There had apparently been a lot of recent rain, so we were treated to Iguazu at its best, which more than made up for the total absence of water in the Cachoeira Fumaca in Bahia (see 'There be diamonds in them thar hills').

Most of the waterfalls are actually on the Argentinian side, but you get the best overall view of them from Brazil and after a 1.5 km walk taking photo after photo of waterfalls plus all of the weird and wonderful bugs and butterflies, racoons and lizards along the path, we reached the climax of the day: Gargantua del Diablo (Throat of the Devil!) This is a thundering two-level horseshoe of falls with a walkway right out into the middle so you can stand at the bottom of 1 level and at the top of the 2nd. It was breathtaking to feel the power of the water right up close and we got absolutely soaked from the spray - it truly was AWESOME!

Finally, sadly it was time to leave, but it was OK because the next stop was the Argentinian side of the falls :-)! The following day we crossed the border to Puerto Iguazu in Argentina and relaxed by the pool in our hostel gathering our strength for a full day of waterfall action, Argentinian-stylee!

The Argentinian side of the falls has over 4 km of walking tracks to explore, stretching both along the bottom and the top of the falls, and best of all, before we even got to the first view of the falls, Nige spotted a toucan flying past!  We assumed that a quick glimpse was all we'd get as usual, but amazingly it landed on a nearby tree and sat there posing for a good 20 minutes whilst Nige took a million (well 37!) photos!  He was so cute (the toucan obviously!) and we could hardly tear ourselves away but eventually we remembered what we were there for and made it to the waterfalls!  This time we were able to stand right at the bottom of a massive fall, getting soaked again, but we were prepared this time and had our swimming gear on ready, as the water thundered down almost on our heads - more AWESOME!

We strolled around the trails in glorious sunshine for the rest of the day, seeing the falls from every angle and constantly entertained by beautiful rainbow-coloured butterflies and cheeky racoons and lizards stealing picnic leftovers.  Another highlight at the end of the day was a mini-train ride through the forest followed by a boardwalk across a huge expanse of brown river to a platform where we could look right down into the Throat of the Devil!  It was an amazing, vertigo-inducing feeling watching all that water pour over the edge and the huge clouds of spray that were sent up as it hit the bottom gave us a nice exhilerating cold shower - again!

Finally we had to say a sad Adios to the falls and head back to town to catch our bus to Buenos Aires - here's hoping swanky night buses in Argentina are as good as we remember....
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