Sunday, January 27, 2013

Best Waterfall Ever!

At 7am we were awakened by tropical rain pounding the roof, running down gutters and bouncing off the balcony.  It was our one full day at Iguazu Falls, we groaned and rolled out of bed.  The jungle was green, wet and every leaf dripping into pools of water flowing into muddy rivulets.  The whole world was soaked.  We had no raincoats, one umbrella and were a little concerned.
The day before we checked the weather forecast and it said 50 percent chance of showers.  So we decided to have breakfast and wait an hour to see if the rain would stop.  By 10 it was better so we called a taxi driver to pick us up and drive the 15 miles to the National Park on the Argentina side of the falls.  When we arrived he gave us some suggestions and said he would come back in four hours and pick us up.  The rain stopped.  The sun came out.  We paid the 130 peso entry fee, got a map and walked into the greatest waterfalls ever. (at the unofficial Blue Dollar exchange rate of 7.2 to 1, it cost less than $20 each to get into the most amazing park and that included all the train rides once inside.)
There is a train that takes you first to the Catarata Station.  The ride takes about ten minutes and you see coatis, monkeys, birds and butterflies galore.  We also saw frogs and bugs.  Lots of bugs. You can choose to get off and begin the Upper or Lower trails here, or get onto a second train and ride another twenty minutes to the Devils Throat, Gargantua del Diablo.  We went onwards and it was getting warm, the sun shining hot, all thought of rain gone.  We were rolling slowly through dense jungle, birds and bugs crying out, piercing the air with their calls.  When we arrived we were greeted by a welcoming committee of coatis, dozens of them, begging, crawling all over the ground, nosing backpacks, looking for a treat.  We walked a mile across the huge river on manmade suspension bridges, gigantic fish swam just below our feet.  Coatis ran alongside of us hugging the hand railing.  The Red Cross had several stations to check your blood pressure and provide liquids for tourists who could not handle the hike in the scorching heat and 100 percent humidity.
At last we got close enough to see the spray, rising hundreds of feet above the raging falls.  We went from the burning sun into a shower of spray and everyone was smiling, dripping from the water vapor and the cooling water of the river.  We got to the end of the trail, suspended by steel and concrete piers, looking down hundreds of feet into the mouth of the Devil.  It was unforgettable.
Our photos are pretty good but cannot do justice to a place so unique that only being there can translate into understanding.
We took the train back to the Cataratas Station, got off and began hiking the Upper Trail. A mile through the jungle, along the rim of the falls, looking down a dozen gigantic cascades. The panorama of the Brazilian side, the inflatable rafts cruising under the spray at the bottom of the falls, the sandy beach full of sunbathers And the sounds of falling water everywhere.  We finished the hike, smiling at our good fortune.  It was a truly marvelous day.  Iguazu Falls is like Disneyland for adults, but the jungle tour is real.  We saw large monkeys swinging in the trees just a few feet above our heads.  Giant catfish swimming a few inches below our feet.  And the rain did not start up again for hours.  We met up with the taxi driver, went home, tired but happy and spent the late afternoon reading by the pool.  One guidebook quoted Eleanor Roosevelt, an old New Yorker proud of her own waterfall, on her first impression on seeing Iguazu.  She is reported to have said:  "oh!  Poor Niagra."
She was right.  Ah, life is grand.  Our one regret, we should have stayed a second day and seen the falls from the Brazil side.  Perhaps we will come back someday. Dale

Relaxing at the gorgeous Loi Suites Hotel after an exhausting but fun adventure filled day at Iguazu Falls.

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