Monday, January 27, 2014

And the Cherry on the Top - Iguazu Falls - Niagra on Viagra

Originally, when FM and I found out we would be coming to Buenos Aires, we debated and debated finally taking the trip to Iguazu Falls. We opted out while in Uruguay, due to the cost vs. time vs. expendable dollars equation, but felt if should probably get back on our bucket list (which we really don't have). It's still expensive to go, and not worth hanging around for more than 2.5 days unless you are interested in doing something more than just seeing the falls, like relaxing by a pool for days on end. 

But, really? The only reason millions of tourists flock here every year is to see the Cataratas (the Falls). And, because it IS a tourist town (trap), everything is a "tad" more expensive than elsewhere in Argentina, including the taxi from the airport. So, bring some cash.

After planning our 10 day Patagonian tour with Say Hueque we decided to add three days in Iguazu, which in comparison to what we were spending overall for our vacation, didn't feel quite so bad.. Returning from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires shocked our systems back into hot weather mode and after a couple days of down time back at the apartment we were ready to head north to the rain forest to see the falls. 

We arrived mid day and headed to our hotel, La Aldea De la Salva Lodge, which was quite nice. They have a great poolside bar and restaurant and our balcony from the room looked directly out into the rainforest. And, although it had rained tremendously for two weeks prior to our arrival, we were lucky to arrive to cloud cover and no rain.

Our room in the jungle

Literally inches from our balcony rail (ground level)

All the cabins, pool, restaurant, lobby are connected by these paths cut through the forest.

Even some butterflies around

Big trees made this big furniture
We spent the afternoon walking around town (doesn't take long) and enjoying feeling like we were in the Caribbean.
Dog chilling along Brazil Street (name of the street, we're still in Argentina)

A lot of olives and olive oil for sale at the market

And some glorious looking cheese
After dinner, we walked down to the Triple Frontera (three borders) where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet. Very exciting. :-)
Yes! This it! Can you contain your excitement? LOL The town really doesn't have a whole lot to offer. . . 

Brazilians fishing on the other side of the river

Bananas growing right outside the front door of our hotel

Honest to God, I've seen these flowers all around the tropics, but can't remember their name. . . anyone?
We tucked ourselves in early tonight and awaited our 6 am wake-up call to do our private tour on the Argentine side of the falls. 

Iguazu Falls is Niagara on Viagra. Taller and four times as wide with over 275 separate falls along the Iguazu River, you can be assured you'll never have a moment when you're not looking at falling water. Lots of it. 

We arrive to the park with our private guide in a taxi and immediately fall in line to buy our tickets. Next, we proceed to the train station. Our trip today will start at The Devils Throat (Gargantua del Diablo in espanol speak). Our guide is quick to point out some of the more interesting flora and fauna on the way to the train station. 

Abandoned mud nest, when utilized it is completely domed and sealed with the saliva from the birds. Just wish I could remember the type of bird it was!

It's not this kind, which is more like a Blue-Jay. Very common and unafraid of people. Will beg for food.

Looking down into the river, spotting a catfish. FM will have one of his relatives for dinner tonight.

First glimpse. The roar of the water is incredible, but we can't see the depth yet. And, it's starting to rain.

Still pretty hard to capture the depth, but it's 269 feet (82 m) to the bottom of this horseshoe fall.

The brute force of the water is amazing. We are getting soaked.

Periphery falls along the far side 

And along our viewing side. That's just a TON of mist pouring up out of the river.

First obligatory selfie. . . We are drenched!

Trying to look downriver through the mist and rain
Once we leave the Devil's Throat area, the weather turns around and the sun comes out. Which, in the rain forest, means it's now VERY humid. We shed our raincoats, get back on the train and head for the Upper Falls Trail. 

What we first think are monkeys are actually Coati up in the trees. A definite relative of the raccoon. 

Kind of cute. . . but they have been known to be a bit "pesky in the park". Best to keep ones distance. 

The trails through the park are very nice, elevated walkways that sometimes take you right over, under and behind the falls.

Gargantuan spider web sparkling in the sunlight

The jungle is alive with the sounds of cicadas 

First glimpse looking up the canyon back toward the Devil's Throat

Just an incredible amount of water

Island in the middle of the river

Looking down at the Lower Trail, our next stop

More water

Lizard. Duh.

FM spotted our first and only Toucan of the day. This is an Aracaris Toucan. Our guide was duly impressed by FM's bird spotting abilities

Back at the lodge having a pre-dinner bottle of wine.
When we returned to the hotel, we decided to dine at the restaurant instead of going back into town. We had brought a bottle of wine from home (BA), so we enjoyed that as the sun went down and the rain forest serenaded us with its junglish sounds. 

The next morning we departed for Foz do Iguacu, the Brazilian side of the falls. Much less walking involved on this tour. Our guide and driver picked us up and off we went. I already had a Brazilian visa from our trip to Rio in 2009, but FM's was in his other passport. We handled the $160 visa fee and paperwork in BA prior to our departure. You MUST have a Brazilian visa to cross here (if you are an American, Australian, Canadian, and probably some others - make sure you check!), and you CANNOT get one at the border. Do not believe anyone who tells you otherwise. 
OH MY! I don't know if it's because of the superior weather today, or if things are just prettier in Brazil, but the vistas today are amazing. 

Over the treetops, and the rainbow

First stop
And this is the moment I fell in love with Iguazu Falls. The money shot! LOL
Looking down river


Coati on the path, looking for handouts.

More stunningness. Seriously. WATER!

Looking upriver into the Devil's Throat

Second obligatory selfie
I know, enough already. But I can't STOP!
Appraoching the Devil's Throat from ground level. Can't wait to get out on those observation walkways and GET WET!

Staring into the throat. Could someone please get rid of all THAT MIST???

So calm looking down river.

The throat is just around that corner. . . 

Third obligatory selfie
In all honesty, I think we enjoyed the Brazilian view more than the Argentine. Although the Argentine side has many more kilometers of walking trails easily accessible to all, I really enjoyed our time on the Brazil side better. May have been the weather, the rainbow. . . not sure. But either side is going to blow your mind.