Iguazù Falls

Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
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Trip End Feb 01, 2005


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Flag of Argentina  ,
Monday, November 8, 2004

Visiting the some of the most impressive, if not the most impressive waterfalls in the world (can you tell I haven`t seen any of the other top 10 waterfalls of the world yet, oh, except Pailon del Diablo in Ecuador) requires lots of border hopping.

Tres Fronteras
After doing my little hop (Paraguay), skip (Brazil) and jump (Argentina) I went to see the triple frontier. It was a confluence of two rivers and it actually made me wonder how many international borders are rivers and then going even deeper into the topic how many borders are rivers. Something to dorky to research when I get home.

At the point of confluence, each country has a monument painted in the national colours from which the tourists get to take a peek at the other countries. It was a great peaceful place, except for the midges, and coming from an island it`s kind of hard to believe that I could be sitting on the edge of a country, quite literally, and see two others only a quick swim away.

Brazilian Side
There had been a rumour circulating amongst backpackers that it`s best to see the Brazilian side of the Falls first. So of course I took this well informed advice and trotted over to Brazil for a day of waterfall viewing.

I struggled to withdraw my Portuguese manners from the depths of my brain and found "obrigada" and a couple of verbs to dazzle the ticket sellers and information people with. I soon found myself on a bus listening to Portuguese commentary and surprisingly understood the gist of what was going on. It was then repeated in English and Spanish and shocked myself when I didn`t register the change from English to Spanish as I understood it all! Nice work.

Following the crowds I stopped off at the viewing point for the waterfalls and got my first glimpse of the Argentinian side. I felt excited.

The trail continued through butterfly and raccoon infested paths and the falls just got more and more impressive. It got mistier and steamier until I reached the catwalk out into the middle of the falls to see on one side the avalanche of water coming towards me and on the other a big drop of water into the river. It was great!!

The difference in sound at the top of the falls was remarkable. I wouldn`t describe them as deafening, but there is a bit of a roar about it, but at the top, it is quite calm, even though you are seeing this enormous body of water encountering a great drop into who knows what.

Unfortunately I left the falls on a sour note as my supposedly repaired camera decided it wasn`t repaired and gave up the ghost. This plunged me into a dilemma. What do I do with this piece of malfunctioning metal and LCD. Do I zip into Paraguay and buy a new one at what are supposedly never seen before prices, or wait until I get to Buenos Aires and go to a Pentax service centre. In the end, I decided to forget about a new one and see if it really is repairable in Argentina. I don`t think my bank account would have appreciated further loss of funds at this crucial point in time and I couldn`t bear to forsake my trusty little friend who has been such a good travel buddy without giving her three chances.

Argentinian Side
Luckily, I had been toting around an underwater camera for the past 9 1/2 months. I should have been a scout with my preparedness for such an activity so far into the future. But, it did come in handy when I took my Grand Adventure truck ride and boat trip.

I was sitting on the truck next to Darrel (NZ) and Travis (Aus) who I ended up hanging out with for the rest of the day along with Muzzy (Eng). There were plenty of toucan spotting opportunities, and the truck`s reaction when one flew directly in front of the road and started doing mannequin poses for us, was one of Digital Salute. The army of digital cameras were raised, pointed and shot at the innocent toucan. The whirring of zooms moving in and out filled the air and cameras tilted, trying to get the best picture of their entire trip. It made me miss my little friend the Pentax in Pink and at the same time curse her unforgivingness for the Salar drop.

Strapped into the speed boat, we took on the swirling waters, still pulsating with excitement from their terrific 200 odd metre plunge. I relished being bounced around and look forward to getting back in the driver`s seat of Juro when I go home. There were some great photo opportunities and it was amazing to see the falls from below, although the spray made looking not such an easy task. It culminated in the boat backing us under a waterfall to get us soaked. I loved it but I just wanted to get more wet.

The re-wet opportunity came a couple more times during the day when on the viewing catwalks you can get drenched. So I would dry, drench, dry, drench and it just made the day so much more fun as I could jump and squeal around like a child playing under a sprinkler.

The Garganta del Diablo (Devil`s Throat) is the most ferocious part of the falls and the force with which the water sails ove the edge is amazing, sending up massive clouds of spray which then open out on the catwalk like rainclouds. I had a lot of fun witnessing this pounding and getting wet at the same time.

I am getting a little addicted to buying tacky souvenirs, and I wanted to commemorate my first toucan siting with a little something. That little something wanted to be a nice plush 30cm toucan for AUD$25 but ended up being a much smaller, carriable and cheaper magnet, postcard and wooden carving (which will be a colourful friend for my elephants and llamas). I just wish there were those knitted finger puppets in toucans...

Things I Learned
* Getting wet is fun and it brings out the child in me.
* The Falls were discovered by a guy called Alvar Nuņez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541. The funniest is that his name translates to Head of Cow!!!!
* Go to the Brazilian side first for the overview and then get a closer, wetter look on the Argentinian side.
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