Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Iguazu Falls - An Unbelievable display of nature

We are back on the road ¨traveling¨again. We have been in Buenos Aires for nearly three weeks now and while its been great enjoying the big city convienences we were ready to hit the road and see something amazing. Iguazu falls is a finalist in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition and I hope it makes the final cut. It is by far one of the highlights of our trip and one of the most stunning displays of nature I´ve ever seen.

As soon as we got to the park we started seeing these little racoon-like creatures called Coatis. We entered our first trail and immediately were welcomed by a mother and her two cute little ones.

The little bitches lure you into a false sense of security with how cute they are because while I was taking this picture they were narrowing in our our bagged lunch. About one second later the mom had ripped open our plastic bag and started making off with our lunch! Luckily all they got was an apple before we could shew them away. We later saw this sign in the park. It should say run for your life if you see these aggressive little beasts coming towards you.

We started the day by walking the lower trail which offered ridiculous views of the falls such as the ones below. It was incredible being so close to the falls. It was impossible not to get wet but given that its was a hot sunny day we didn´t mind. Little did we know how soaked we´d get later.

From the lower trail you can take a twenty minute boat ride which takes you up to both sides of the falls. Here we are still dry as we head towards the falls.

Immediately after this the driver takes the bow of the boat dangerously close to the waterfall. I´m not gonna lie. I was scared we were gonna get sucked under. I have experience driving boats and pulling up to docks or other boats without hitting them but this driver was either really confident or got really lucky because he zoomed right up to the edge before slamming on reverse. The falls were pounding down on us so hard you couldn´t even look up. Check out the video of how hard this water is falling. The tip of the boat went right up to the section where the water is falling the hardest!

Once I realized we weren´t going to die it was incredible to be so close to the falls. The boat took us back and forth to both sides of the falls a couple times and luckily the tiny little plastic bag I had around Gemma´s camera was enough to protect it from the buckets that got dumped on us.

We then headed to the upper trail that runs along the top of the falls. The walking paths are so close to the edge of the falls that you are almost standing over the edge of them. Behind you the river is as calm and peaceful as can be before it plunges violently over the edge.
We even saw a double rainbow which I didn´t even know existed. Here is a video where you can see the second rainbow faintly above the obvious one. Gemma kinda points it out at the end.

These pictures and video are of the section of the falls called the Devils Throat. It blows your mind away how powerful it is and the sheer force which the water moves is incredible. It reminded us of a scene from the movie 2012 when all the water is crashing down and destroying the world. At first you come up on the Devils Throat and see a huge body of water just disappearing into the earth.
Then another 100 feet or so and you see water tumbling over the edge. It is nearly impossible for the pictures to tell the story but the video tries its best. The sound was almost deafening. You really must go see this place with your own eyes!

The white haze at the bottom is the mist rising up. Unfortunately the mist is so thick that you can´t really see the bottom half to two thirds of the falls in these pics. But in person every so often the wind blows the mist away and reveals the falls in full.

The land you see above the falls in this pic is Brazil. You can go to there for the day to get a different view but Brazil charges Americans a $134 visa fee so we didn´t go.

On our second day at the park we hiked a trail off the beaten path to a waterfall with a natural swimming pool. I don´t think most people do this trail as we hardly saw anyone else while hiking and there were only a handful of people at the waterfall once we arrived. The picture after the sign is a gigantic spider. You really had to watch your head because these massive spiders had spun their webs over nearly the entire length of the 3km path. Gemma was not a fan of this and had the most terrified look on her face for a solid thirty minutes.

At the very beginning of the path there was a warning sign advising you to watch out for snakes. I hate snakes and the sound of rattlers surrounded us the entire time. At first I doubted they were actually rattlesnakes but the sound coming from all around us sounded exactly like a rattle. I later learned that the sound was made by crickets. So I guess I can see why not many people venture down this trail.

Once you got to the waterfall it was amazing. I´ve had the chance to swim in a waterfall on one other occasion that I can remember in Costa Rica and its something you should always take the opportunity to do if you have the chance. This fall was about three times higher than the one in Costa Rica and about three times more painful to be under. The water was freezing but the scenery and sound of the water crashing down around you is exhilerating.

I could have sat here all day.

Its hard to be in a waterfall with your girlfriend and not be loving life.

After our swim we walked over to the Sheraton Hotel in the park. While we couldn´t afford to stay there, we could afford to go to the bar and get a few drinks before our Full Moon tour of the Devils Throat that evening. Below is the view from the bar. In the distance (but more visible in person than in this photo) was part of the falls. It was a great way to unwind and kill a couple of hours.

At about 9pm we went back to the park entrance to start our Full Moon tour. Once a month for the five nights around the full moon they let in a small number of visitors to walk the path leading to the Devils Throat. I didn´t have my wide angle lens to let in all the moon light and despite my best efforts it was pretty impossible to get a good shot with Gemma´s point and shoot. But the scene was just as impressive as it was during the day only a tad bit more magical. The sky and clouds were lit up and the water glistened under the moon light.

It was definitely a highlight of our trip and one of the most amazing places I´ve ever been. Any trip to Argentina or Brazil must include a trip to Iguazu Falls.

For the bus ride back to Buenos Aires we decided to upgrade our seats to the bigger more comfortable seats in the bottom level of the bus. We had done this maybe once before but this was the first time we were served champagne! It was a great way to end an unbelievable trip up to Iguazu.

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