Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Iguassu - a tale of two cities: part 1

From San Ignacio, we took the bus to Puerto Iguazu, the Argentine town that is home to their side of the famous Iguassu Falls.  The falls, or 'cateratas' take their name from the river itself, and are known as Iguazu in Argentina and Iguacu in Brazil.

We unwittingly took the scenic route from the bus station to the hostel, as the turning was much closer than we'd realised.  But we got a few directions from some helpful locals and we were soon there.

We had a few nights here, so took some time to wander around the town and look at the semi-precious gemstones that are mined locally and turned into a treasure trove of jewellery and some rather impressive tropical birds.

I can't say that I would normally choose to have a statue of a bird, but some of these were truly beautiful; I might have been tempted had the price tags not been equally breathtaking!

But of course the real sight here is the falls. Spanish Conquistador Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was the first European to see these falls in 1541, but then they were largely unvisited until the late nineteenth century. And they truly are spectacular.

We went to see the Niagara Falls a few years ago, and whilst they were certainly good, and the Maid of the Mist boat trip was a wonderfully damp experience of the power of the water, we didn't really feel that they lived up to their reputation.

Not so Iguassu, which is taller and twice as wide.   Eleanor Roosevelt allegedly agreed, as on seeing Iguassu for the first time she is reported to have said 'Poor Niagara'.

The Guarani legend here is apparently that a God of the forest was jealous of a pair of escaping lovers, so he collapsed the river. She went over the precipice and turned to stone, while her warrior was turned into a tree overlooking where she fell. The name is Guarani for 'big water'.

In reality, it probably had more to do with geology and a volcano, but whatever created them, it did an amazing job.
The Rio Iguazu runs over the edge of this huge basalt cliff creating round 275 individual waterfalls over a stretch of 1.67 miles. Some are just tiny, such as the apt named chica (small) waterfall, which just sends a trickle down the rock face. Most are somewhat larger.
The main action is at the horseshoe shaped Garganta del Diablo, or Devil's Throat. The horseshoe is 150 wide and covers a length of 700 metres. At 82 metres high, this is the tallest of the falls here.

This is the highlight of the Argentine side of the falls, and for us the falls as a whole, as you can take a walkway to the edge of the drop and really see and feel the power of the water. Just don't expect to stay dry as at their peak in summer, some 450,000 cubic of water go over the falls every second.

We also did the upper level walks across the top of some of the smaller falls, where you can also get a nice wide view to some of the others.  If the weather is right, you can see some lovely rainbows in the mist.  We saw a few, but the sun wasn't quite bright enough for the best ones today.

We didn't bother with the boat trips or lower levels, but you could easily spend a couple of days here doing the various different viewpoints and activities if you wanted to and can afford the prices.  If you decide to go for two days, make sure to get your ticket stamped before you leave for reduced entry the next day.

It isn't just only the water that you can see here though.  We weren't lucky enough to see the jaguars or toucans, but we did see the resident coatis and a few turtles.

We also saw a number of blue and cream coloured birds that were very pretty and quite keen to take the bits of biscuit that were illicitly offered by some of our fellow visitors.  I have no idea what they were, so if you do, feel free to leave the answer in a comment.
I also had some difficulty in separating myself from a butterfly that landed on me on one of the walkways and wouldn't leave.  I didn't want to shake it too hard for fear of hurting it, but the signs clearly said not to touch the butterflies and that you couldn't take any wildlife out of the park, so I had to get rid of it somehow.  I eventually managed to half tempt, half push it off with a few leaves.
Less happily for an arachnophobe like me, we did also come across a couple of tarantulas, quite literally in our pathway.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We like to hear from you too, so please leave us a message here. We are also happy to answer any questions if we can help. Comments are moderated so will not appear straight away and there could be some delay in replying if we are travelling.