Falling for Iguazu in Argentina
Heat. Humidity. That’s what greets us when we land in Puerto Iguazu. We have flown 5 hours north and you can tell. Sweat drips down my back as we get in the taxi, I’m in my long pants, hiking boots, long sleeved shirt and thick hoodie. This isn’t Antarctica anymore, baby. LOL. On our first day, as we stand in line at the bird sanctuary, I have trouble believing that less than a week ago I was on the white continent. It doesn’t seem real now - the landscape feels like it was all a dream and I wasn’t actually there. I think about it every day, and wish I was there right now. Which is weird, because I love the heat. The bird sanctuary is disappointing - the tour is all in Spanish, there are kids poking their fingers in through the wires and I see mostly birds I have seen before. I make out that it is a centre for injured birds that can’t be returned to the wild. Some have injured legs, wings and one has a beak that won’t close. It’s more depressing than interesting. We do see some eagles and owls, but I don’t know what species they are.
We arrive early, and stand in line with what seems like thousands of people. Then we wait for a train to take us to the Devil’s Throat. Everything is in my dry bag as we have heard that you get soaked here. As we walk along the trail to the highlight of the falls, I strain to hear them. Nothing. We see some turtles, catfish and vultures, but walking in the heat has me melting already, Then all of a sudden - Wow. Another Argentinian site that lives up to its reputation. I am blown away by nature here, once again. The Devil’s Throat is a series of waterfalls that goes around in a short of compressed horseshoe shape, like a squished letter u, and the largest flow of water occurs at the center. The spray of the water reaches us far before we can fully even see the falls, but the cool water is welcome and refreshing. There are so many people that it is a feat in itself to get close enough to see the water pouring over the cliffs. But when we do - it’s magic. It is one of the most powerful and magical waterfalls I have seen. Because both sides of the horseshoe are so close together, we have views of the entire Devil’s Throat. We walk along the platforms, drenched, and vie for a place near the railing so we can look down at the water pouring out below us. We try taking photos of the falls and each other, but it’s like we are in a shower and later we laugh at photos of half our heads. It doesn’t matter, just seeing these falls will leave them permanently etched in my mind.
The rest of the day is a rush trying to battle the crowds to have lunch and find the other walking trails. We do the upper viewpoint and look down on the the rest of the falls, which are stunning, but don’t compare to Devil’s Throat. There are lines of thinner, less powerful falls lining the cliffs, and what amazes me is the greenery around them. We can see plants (moss?) woven behind the falls and peeking out through the fast, white flowing water.
During lunch, we have to fight off the coatis - a small, raccoon like animal that is everywhere. And they are not shy. And they are hungry. One actually used my mom’s leg as a climbing point to get to our lunch.
The best part of the day is the Macuco Safari. We are driven through the jungle to a set of stairs leading down to the river. On the way, someone spots a red bird in a distant tree and the driver slams on the brakes. I hear the word Quetzal and my heart stops because I have been chasing the elusive Quetzal for approximately 22 years. But this is just a relative of the quetzal, which is still cool, but no one knows the name in English and I have since forgotten what it was called in Spanish.
We climb down hundreds of stairs and into the boat that is going to take us up the Iguazu river and under the falls. Yes, under the falls. The boat ride is a bit scary, we are fighting white water in the opposite direction, but the view of the falls is unbeatable. We zip by night herons and vultures soar above us. On either side, the rush of the water escaping over the cliffs above us is deafening. But nothing beats the thrill of going under a waterfall that is flowing at a rate of about 2 million litres per second. The water is a toasty 22 degrees Celsius, but since it’s 39 degrees out, it feels icy as it pummels on our heads. We are soaked, like thrown in a river soaked, and it feels amazing. We go through it one more time, and then drive farther up the river to another fall and do it again. I’m surprised how frightened I am - maybe it’s because I’m getting old but I actually screamed the whole time. It was like all of a sudden I realized what I was about to do and knew there was no turning back. But it was awesome, one of the most thrilling - and refreshing moments of my life! If you come to Iguazu - you MUST do this.
On our way back to the hotel we stop at Tres Fronteras where we can see three borders - Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, separated only by a river. I've never stood in one country and looked at two others - it's pretty special, especially because they are so close. I could swim to either country they're so close. What a world we live in.