Iguazu Falls: Poor Niagara

Trip Start May 17, 2009
Trip End Jun 16, 2009

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Where I stayed
Noelia Hostel

Flag of Argentina  ,
Wednesday, June 10, 2009

After just a day in the Argentine capital we were back on a bus. Since we will be leaving out of B.A. and have seen dozens of cities over the past month, we decided to use two of our remaining five days to make our way sixteen hours northeast to the Brazilian border and see one of the ¨New Seven Wonders¨- Iguazu Falls. We traded the bustling metropolis, complete with jackhammers outside our hotel room window at 8am, for a quiet jungle town complete with squawking parrots outside our hostel window here. 

Since the trip is drawing to a close, we have been doing some reflecting lately. In the process, we realized we inadvertently picked up a new skill during our time here. The long bus rides (172 hours- over 1 solid week of a 4 week trip) have taught us a bit of patience and the ability to block out everything and to just ¨zone¨. Granted, it´s not a particularly useful skill seeing as how we are not sloths, but I suppose if either of us were to be abducted, trapped, or imprisoned, we could just sit there outlasting the wills of our captors and at least mentally, get through it with ease. Our most recent bus ride only strengthened that skill because for hours, we were subjected to DVDs of sappy, romantic music videos- as if chick-flick after chick-flick wasn´t bad enough. Don´t ask me why, but a friend we´ve met during our travels informed us that South Americans- Chileans and Argentinians in particular, just eat that stuff up! It is quite evident in their culture as well, because we´ve noticed the PDA (public display of affection) is taken to levels that would get a couple arrested in the US.

Anyway, we arrived in Puerto Iguazu ready for adventure, if not a little romance as well. The city contains the ubiquitous bus station, mediocre restaurants,and touristy gift shops, but not much else. From the time you get off the bus, it is pretty evident that the town probably not not exist without its breathtaking kick-back from Mother Nature. So we checked into Hostel Noelia and immediately got our tickets up to the falls.

This little jaunt replaced what would have been our overnight to Montevideo Uruguay and I must say, we made the right decision. Over the course of the trip, we´ve noticed that we both enjoy the nature stuff a lot, though Taylor probably likes it a little more. We also both enjoy the cities´ attractions, though maybe me by a hair more on that end. That observation is irrelevant in the case of Iguazu however, as we both were floored by the dramatic beauty of the park.

After breezing through the gates, we immediately noticed that despite the beauty and fame of the Falls, the park was missing the huge crowds that we had to compete with at Machu Picchu. The lack of crowds enabled us to have some amazing encounters with the wildlife that we were unable to have at M.P. We started our trek to the falls by heading down the Sendero Verde (green trail) which is a paved path through the jungle. We were no more than twenty feet down the trail when we saw Capuchin monkeys swinging from tree to tree above our heads. A few more paces and we were literally surrounded by up to ten Coatis which resemble small anteaters. What should have been a eight or nine minute walk turned into a 45 minute up close and personal photo session with WILD animals. I couldn´t help but feel like we were at the zoo for bit, but I had to remind myself that we were in their natural habitat, unrestrained by fences or strategically placed viewing stations. It was just a natural and spontaneous encounter that we happened upon. Totally jazzed by that experience, we then remembered we hadn´t seen the star of the park yet, so it was on to the falls. It would be futile to try and put what we saw into words, so I will let the pictures speak for themselves except for a quote by first lady Eleanor Roosevelt upon her first sight of them when she visited in the 1930´s: ¨Poor Niagara!¨  

We toured the lower trail first, giving us more panoramic views of the falls from a distance along with a few other smaller waterfalls nestled into the jungle´s cliffs. Then we took a short boat ride over to Isla San Martin which divides the falls in half. There, we were able to get a close-up view and feel the full force of the water from a few different vantage points.  

After the lower circuit and San Martin, we hurried back up to the train station to catch the last train out to Garganta Del Diablo which is only accessible by a mile-long catwalk over the rivers that feed the other falls. The catwalk climaxes at a dramatic viewing platform that leaves visitors hanging over the 70 meter cliff, getting a face full of mist and spray from the most famous section of the falls.

By the time we finished at Garganta Del Diablo the park was closing. We heard visitors can have their tickets stamped to receive half price admission for a second consecutive day so we will be back in the morning to tour the upper circuit and do some more hiking in the surrounding trails before we catch our bus back to Buenos Aires.
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