Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Enchanting Iguazu Falls

(Trip date: December, 2012) 

Having visited Angel Falls - the world’s tallest waterfall hidden deep in the Venezuelan jungle, and living so close to Niagara Falls - one of the world’s seven wonders surrounded by a mini Las Vegas, I wasn’t sure what to expect when visiting another one of the world’s famous falls: Iguazu Falls.
On our first day in Iguazu Falls we hopped on a bus and headed for the falls on the Brazilian side – the side we were staying on. We grabbed a map and had decided we were going to do a little hike before heading to the main falls, which are at the very end of the park. There is a bus that goes through the park since it’s so big and when we tried to get off to do the hike, the bus driver looked at us like we were insane and practically forced us back to our seats. Huffing and angry we sat back down, not knowing then what we learned later – that it takes an entire day to see all the falls of the park and there is absolutely no time to detour onto other hikes! Thank you Mr. Bus Driver and sorry for the dirty looks!
The park is so lush and green, you can’t help but feel relaxed and peaceful as you stroll up and down the trails. Then you suddenly turn the corner and in front of you are beautiful waterfalls in every direction! You ask yourself “is this the final waterfall view everybody talks about?” and as you walk another few minutes and come across another magnificent view of waterfalls you think to yourself “no way, THIS is way more beautiful than the last scene, this must be it”. And then you just keep doing that until you get to the grand finale and wonder how in the world you thought the first waterfall was so magnificent when this magical scene is right in front of you!
The final waterfall, the main part that everybody comes to Iguazu Falls to see, is beyond amazing. You take an elevator down to the bottom level and walk out onto a little lookout that stands in the middle of the falls and you are surrounded in every direction by the loud roar. You can’t help but feel so small and helpless standing as a little dot amongst one of Mother Nature’s grand treasures.  At the very end of the horseshoe of the waterfall is the Devil’s Throat on the Argentina side – on the agenda for the following day!
We decided to do the famous boat ride everybody talks about and both of us thought it would be something similar to the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls – wow, were we ever wrong! And wishing we had listened to the guy at our hostel who told us to wear our bathing suits. If you are reading this and plan to do the boat ride in Iguazu Falls: WEAR YOUR BATHING SUIT! Stepping onto the little raft and being the only tourists who didn’t speak English, we got thrown onto the front of the raft. This sounds more fun, right? Well it is, but also way more wet! We watched as our captains geared up in full waterproof gear from head-to-toe and wondered what we had gotten ourselves into as the boat went straight for one of the falls along the river (not the main falls, there’s way too much pressure to go near them on a boat). We couldn’t stop laughing as our captains took us right under the falls and each time we emerged and I wiped my eyes clean, our boat would turn around and go right back under! We did this about 20 times! Soaked doesn’t even begin to describe how wet we were after this adventure.
The next day we journeyed across the border to the Argentinean side of Iguazu Falls. Four buses, two border crossings and three hours later we made it to the park! The Argentinean side is very similar to the Brazilian side yet somehow has a much different vibe to it. It felt more like an amusement park as we hopped on a train that took us to the end of the park to see the Devil’s Throat. However it also seems to house a wide range of creatures and some of the world’s largest! In just one day in the Argentinean jungle we saw a group of cuatis (a South American raccoon) attack a man’s food bag, the largest ant I’ve ever seen, the world’s largest rat – the Capybara, exotic birds, lizards, mating stick bugs, a huge array of colourful butterflies, spiders the size of my hand a massive black fish that was half as tall as me. It was definitely an eventful trek on the way to see the Devil’s Throat!
We had to walk for about 30 minutes along a bridge in the open water to finally get to the Devil’s Throat. We were fascinated by the waterfalls as we were now standing behind the magnificent falls overlooking the Brazilian side, however we were also getting drenched from the mist. Wanting to save my cameras from the water, we didn’t spend much time here and headed back out onto the bridge. But what a better time for the thunder to roar and the skies to open up to a torrential downpour and lightning storm!? A VERY wet walk along the open waters made sure we were drenched for a second day in a row! Once the sun came out, we took a nice walk along one of the trails and marveled at more of the beautiful waterfalls along the river. Soaking up the sun while marveling at the roaring waters falling through mazes of lush greenery, I felt like I had just experienced magic as the feeling of peace and tranquility took over me.  

Before going to Iguazu Falls I had heard that the Brazilian side was the nicer side and there was no point going to the Argentinean side – my research was unanimous in this advice. But after seeing both sides I disagree with every word of that statement. If you’re going all the way to Iguazu Falls, you MUST see both sides! They are both magnificent and beautiful in very different ways. They are both magical and enchanting as you witness the roar of the falls like a lion protecting his jungle and experience the true power of Mother Nature.

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