Monday, January 30, 2012

South America and Antarctica 5 - We arrive at Iguazu Falls.

The next morning we flew from Rio de Janeiro down to Iguazu Falls (Red A on the map). Iguazu Falls sits between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.  You can see from the map below, (Thanks Google earth. You may need to click on it to see a larger image.) that a little tongue of land comes north in Argentina in order for the main side of the falls to be in inside their border.

We landed on the Brazilian side of the falls and then crossed the border to Argentina, which had the larger town near the falls.

Iguazu Falls has a rustic charm to it.  Like so many small towns in South America it has a paved main street but most of the side streets were dirt.  They don't worry about building codes as much down here as they do in the states.

But, the people were nice and they had all the essential services. After a day or so, we felt right at home.

We found a nice outdoor restaurant that had reasonable prices and great food.

Life was good.

Our room at a local hotel was clean and comfortable.  At our request, they moved the beds together and made it up as a king.  I'm showing this in case some might have the impression that we were traveling to the end of the world.

We did that later, actually.  But for those who may be interested in seeing the wonder that is Iguazu Falls, and we urge everyone to put a visit to this place on their bucket list, we wish to reassure you that you may travel here and enjoy the sights in relative comfort.

The next morning bright and early we arrived at the national park and boarded a tram, which would take us to a portion of the falls called the "devil's throat."

They have done a very nice job of designing this park to minimize the impact of the thousands of annual visitors.  No private vehicles are allowed in the park.  The electric trams take us to the various destinations.

Most of the pathways are above ground.  All the pedestrian walkways have removable grates along the sides and bottom.  If the river level ever becomes too high, the grates are removed, allowing the high water to flow around the walkway's superstructure, thus preventing washouts.

These pictures do not begin to do justice to the experience that was the "devil's throat." I never did get a frame that came close to telling the story I wanted.  Water flows over a U shaped cataract here that extends more than a mile on each side.  There was so much mist that we gave up trying to keep our glasses clean. These falls make Niagara Falls look tiny, more like insignificant, by comparison.

Water is flows over both sides of the this narrow canyon.  Both of us were so moved by what we experienced at this viewpoint that we went back the next day, without the organized tour, and just stood there for the better part of an hour.  The sound was like standing next to an F18 revving up its engines, except that the noise from the falls never stopped. 

The viewpoint stood on the very edge of the cataract and was situated in such a way that it plunged us into the middle all that rushing water, allowing us to feel the force in our body as it literally blasted over the edge, and down into the canyon below. And all the mist...we just knew we were in a very special place. Breathtaking is the only word that can describe the experience of being here.


It turns out our new little Coolpix takes videos.  We include one that Melony made here with the understanding that neither of us had ever shot videos before.  Consequently, this is by no means a quality piece of art.  However, our hope is that our meager efforts here will give you a little bit better sense of the place than allowed by still images.

Notice in the first bit how the camera lens quickly becomes covered in mist.

We traded photos with another couple.  The wife who took our picture thoughtfully placed us off to the side, with the falls in the background.  That was twice in a row someone did that.  Sweet.  Notice how our hair is not just damp, but wet from the mist, as are our clothes, and the water that literally dripped off our glasses made them mostly useless. 

I'd go back there again in a New York heartbeat.

Next time:  More Iguazu Falls.
Continue on to Post 6: Iguazu Falls - We take a ride, by clicking here


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