Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Iguazu Falls Spectacular

OK, before actually describing the falls themselves, I have to say a word about how we got there. From Buenos Aires, it´s a 21 hour bus ride up to northeastern Argentina, where the falls border Brasil, with Paraguay not too far off. While we were initially dreading the long overnight bus trip, we had heard good reports of the buses in Argentina, so we never thought about cancelling the long-haul trip. The bus definitely exceeded all expectations and was not only better than every other bus we´ve taken, but better than many of the hotels we´ve slept in along this trip. Picture, if you will, being greeted at your seat with your choice of hard candy and whiskey or chocolate liquer, then reclining in a huge cushy seat with foot rest, pillow, and blanket in order to watch movies and eat dinner, then drift into sleep. Ahhh.

After dragging Dennis off of the bus, we swore we would take at least two more overnight buses in Argentina, which happens to work out really well for our tight schedule here.

Of course, the main attraction, Iguazu Falls, was amazing. We woke up early and spent an entire day walking the trails to catch the many different views of the falls. It was really wonderful experience because the falls are enormous and surrounded by dense forest and many smaller waterfalls, so we got to see a lot of birds, including the flocks of sparrows that dive through the falls to their nests, and the cute, popular, and trash-eating coati mundis. Sadly, we didn´t encounter any jaguars or capybaras while wandering through the forest. Many of the walking paths are elevated over sections of the river, so we also saw a lot of giant fish in the shallows and a crocodile that seemed content staying perfectly still for nearly an hour.

The park isn´t all about pristine nature, however. It has a few free amenities, like a narrow-gauge railway that runs through the park. We also took a small boat to an island downstream from the falls and in the middle of the river, which had some nice views of the falls and a beach where a few brave folks were swimming. We decided to stay dry, and because we were here in Autumn when the water volume isn´t super high, we mostly succeeded.

After a pretty exhasting but energizing day (go negative ions!), we headed back to the cute tourist town of Puerto Iguazu to eat some more pizza (sigh). I could imagine staying here for several days to just relax, see the falls some more (maybe even from the Brazilian side if visas weren´t an issue), or try some of the rafting and hiking available in the huge park. But alas, our plans have us pushing ahead to Cordoba, which is reportedly ¨the second most important city¨in Argentina, and trying our hand at a second overnight bus trip.


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