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South America 2015

Falling for you .... Iguazu

BRAZIL | Friday, 4 September 2015 | Views [257]

Falling for you .... Iguazu

There must be a song lyric in that somewhere !
The journey to Iguazu was filled with tension, relief, hope, nervousness. It had been 10 days in Lima since we last visited the Iguazu airport and were swiftly returned. This time we had visas in hand but weren't 100% sure our last entry attempt would have any bearing on this trip. We took off and landed, it all felt a bit familiar, but we were greeted with smiles and stamps in our passports. Finally we were in Brazil. The cabbie gave us our first taste of speaking Portuguese. The guide books and blogs will tell you that if you can get by in Spanish then you should be fine in Portuguese as they are similar. I can honestly tell you that's a load of the proverbial. There are many words the same or similar but the pronunciations are totally different. We employed the point and grunt method and showed the address and a map and made our way into Iguazu suburbia where we stayed.
The hostel was lovely, clean and cheap, had cold beer in the reception and pointed us towards a steakhouse on the corner that served dinner Brazilian BBQ style. Winning, as it was time to eat, and eat we did, over-eat really but that's the general state of play at an all you can eat buffet, it also became a theme over the next few days. A couple of beers, a bottle of wine, the overall sense of relief at having finally made and the excitement of seeing the falls tomorrow all led to big smiles. Tomorrow we planned to see the Brazilian side of the falls which we were told only takes half a day so plenty of time for a sleep-in, and sleep we did.
It was about 11 o'clock when we finally dragged our arses out of the hostel. We walked to the local bus stop and waited, and waited, and waited. Turns out the hostel people gave us a map with the bus route marked on it, just not the route of the bus we needed to get. Back to the hostel then off to the right bus stop and try again. About an hour later we were walking into the national park, had some lunch, we chose not to sample the weirdly named "Peru Australian sandwich", and boarded the open top bus into the park.
The walking trail follows the edge of a cliff down to the river, around the first corner and you get first look at the waterfalls. It is an impressive sight in its own right, we thought they might be a bit bigger but maybe we were too far away. Actually, we could only see the small centre section of the falls, and even then only the top half ! The falls were bigger, much much bigger. As we walked the trail the views opened out and the grand scale started to appear. Butterflies, exotic bird, monkeys and coatis ( small dog like anteater type animals ) greeted us along the jungle path, a beautiful scene with the river below and falls off to the right. Every couple of hundred meters, another viewing platform opened up more of the scenery until finally you see the path out to 'Devils Throat' of the falls.
Garganta Del Diablo, 'Devils Throat' is the funnel of the river cut into the rock in a 'U' shape. It's the largest drop of the falls, 82m down, its 150m wide and 700m in distance. The walkway gives you the opportunity to stand in the middle of the river mid-height to see, hear and feel the power of the amount of water flowing past. The spray and mist creates permanent rainbows in the air and being that close really gives you a perspective of the size if the falls. Stunning. We spent about 3 hours on the trail and at the Devils Throat. The viewing platforms and lookouts are really well done, giving you a new and different angle and perspective for photos. The final stop being a tower which overlooks the whole Brazilian side of the falls. A cafe off to the side gives you a beautiful view over the river before it drops into the abyss. Complimented by the beautiful view of Juanita bringing well earned beers to the table. We also got our first look at how cheeky the Coatis could be, jumping onto the tables looking for food and hoovering any crumbs, as well as trying to steal our chips. 
The bus trip back was good, until we arrived at the terminal having missed our bus stop but the walk back wasn't too far and it worked us up an appetite. We headed out on the town for dinner. Sadly most of the restaurants we had been recommended were closed being a Monday night. We passed four kebab shops or arabic cuisine until finally coming across a local restaurant, all you can eat Brazilian BBQ. Our stomachs expanded and we hit the buffet again, its eating local food after all ! 
Tuesday was Argentina day, a day trip across the border to see the falls from a different angle. The Brazilian side had blown us away and we weren't sure that we needed to spend $80 seeing the same waterfalls again, but had already bought our Argentine visa online for $100 US so waste not, want not, on the bus we go. The answer turned out to be a resounding yes. It took about an hour to get across and into the national park. The Argentine side is a much larger area than the Brazilian side, including a train line to parts of the falls. We had a boat ride booked for 12 o'clock so took the top walking trail first. The trail passed by the extreme right hand side of the falls, comprising of the Two Sisters Falls ( Salto Dos Hermanas ), The Chico Falls, then onto the main sections of Salto Bosetti, Salto Adam and Eve ( Adan Y Eve ) falls, Salto Gpque Bernabe Mendez, Salto Mbigua and Salto San Martin, of which hadn't been visible from the Brazilian side. The views from the top down, again, breath taking. The lower path reversed the views and gave us a look at how tall the individual falls were. Working our way down to the rivers edge where the boat awaited.
Expect to get wet, they said, well there's an understatement. They provide wet bags for your backpacks, we had bought a change of clothes just in case, but we weren't prepared for just how wet. The ride was only 10 mins long, first driving up on the Brazilian side towards The Devils Throat. The power of the river pushing the boat backwards, we couldn't even get close to the main area but the sides of the Salto Tres Mosqueteros falls were touching distance. We then hit the Salto San Martin Falls, the main drop of the Argentine side. Literally hit it, The driver sending us straight under the falls and soaking us to the bone and getting a face full of the power, literally pinning you to your seat. Another quick run around to the Brazilian side and this time he put the power on and again drove us straight under the falls. Talk about up close and personal. Jorje's camera ended up a bit worse for wear as he was filming but it survived to see another day after drying out.
We tried to lunch next, I say try, as a cheeky little coati jumped on our table and stole half of Jorje's sandwich from the plate in front of us like a flash of lightning. We consoled ourselves with ice cream and a train ride. The train takes you out and around to the top of the river, a 1km walk on a jetty over the river then takes you to the top of the Devils Throat, again within touching distance. Its almost fitting that this was the last stop for our tour of the falls. I've spoken about feeling the power of the water before but it was nothing like this. Looking over the railing into the cauldron of the throat gave you an almost uneasy feeling. It's a hell of a drop but the shear weight and volume of the water around you is incredible. Definitely a crescendo of the falls.
We made our return bus back into Brazil with only two minutes to spare. Back into Brazil and just for a change, had Brazilian BBQ for dinner. Meat and more meat, Jorje struggling by the end of dinner and needing a piggyback home, Juanita didn't oblige. We went back to the digs and felt satisfied with what we had packed into two days. Tomorrow we are off to Rio to pack even more into one and half days as the Brazilian whirlwind continues.



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