Iguazu Falls – A trip to the edge

Excited to start the trip to the falls today, we shoveled down a few more (un)healthy servings of eggs and headed to the bus station. We found out the day before that buses every 20 minutes so we knew we’d have very little wait at any time of day. When we got to the station everything was running smoothly and in about 10 minutes we had started our 40 minute bus ride to the Falls. When we got to the Falls we grabbed tickets and headed into the park.

To start we headed to an overlook next to the main falls to see the full power in action. This required us to catch a train and naturally it pulled out just as we got to the station. Luckily it’s a slow train taking a circuitous route for the first stop and we were able to walk to the next station before it left and off we went to the main falls. From the station, there was a 2/3 mile raised metal bridge over the river. There has been a drought so the river level was a bit low and the water flow for much of the walk was very gentle. This allowed us to be able to see and even identify a number of fish and even a turtle along our walk to and from the falls.

At the end of the pathway, the bridge opened up to an amazing view of the main falls. We were at the top of the falls looking down and the roar was quite loud. We stayed there for quite a while, marveling at the various parts of the falls. It was incredible to watch the water go over the edge, turn into streams and then into vapor that hits the bottom with such force to send up a constant cloud of mist. It was raining off and on for most of the day but here the drops were raining up instead of down. We probably could have stayed here for the rest of the day but we had other views to see.

After this trip, we rode back and had some lunch. As is typical of parks, the lunch was quite expensive so we opted for the cheap fast food and Dick and Karen got their first hint of just how prevalent ham and mozzarella are down here. We got hamburgers and they came with a slice of ham and mozzarella (not advertised). After watching the painted jays get their fill off leftovers outside and finishing our own plates we headed on to other views.

Unfortunately, though the park closes at 6 many of the trails, trains and boats, close earlier. We had seen some of the closing warnings but not all of them and the trail that was highest on Karen’s list was already closed. This was the only trail that boasted a chance to see monkeys and tucans and while that might seem a little hokey, I would’ve really like to see a tucan outside of a zoo. We chose another trail and set off down the path to see what we could see.

The path we chose afforded many panoramic views of the larger falls and close ups of several lesser falls. It was a beautiful sight and I’m  very glad we took the opportunity to go. When we hit the end of the last trail we weren’t ready to leave and Dick and Karen said they would meet us at the exit after a trip through the gift shops. When we separated ourselves from the waterfall we managed to go back up the wrong trail but finally found our way out. After meeting up with Dick and Karen we headed home on the bus exhausted from another awesome day.

As we disembarked at the bus station, the rain stopped and the clouds opened just a bit for an incredible rainbow that you could follow all the way across the arc. And just in case we hadn’t had enough beauty for one day as we left the bus station walking back to the hotel a vibrant sunset painted the sky.

For anyone considering a trip to the falls, I would definitely recommend going. Don’t let the water level at the falls deter you. When we were there the water level was very low and it was still quite impressive. You could see the wear of constant water flow on all the igneous rock. That said, I saw some recent pictures and it looks like some rains increased the level and they’re flowing quite nicely right now. Either way take the trip!

You can see more photos in the photoset on flickr.

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Exploring Puerto Iguazu

Alright, I recounted our adventures traveling to and from Iguazu but I didn’t mention anything about our time there. I guess I owe a post about that adventure. The first day we were there Randi and I were absolutely exhausted from the three-day tournament we had just finished so we took it easy. We had a relaxing morning and I got a little overly excited when the hotel had scrambled eggs for breakfast (previous hotels only had bread, ham and cheese). After a few portions of eggs, we obtained a map from the front desk and explored the town around our hotel.

We found we were set back from the downtown so we aimed ourselves to the city center and struck out. (To call it a downtown, might give you the wrong impression. Here’s a map of the area, decide for yourself.) We were searching for three things: a restaurant for dinner (it was Dick and Karen’s [Randi’s parents’] anniversary), the bus terminal to get to the falls and a place where we would have views of Brazil and Paraguay at the same time. The bus station was a quick find and we also found a grocery store and a bank as bonuses along the way. The town was pretty quite, though apparently we got there just as lots of people were leaving. The week before was Semana Santa, an Easter holiday. Many people take the whole week off and Argentina in particular had national holidays Monday and Friday. The town was breathing a collective sigh of relief as we ambled through. We found the bus station with a schedule and fares for the next day and moved on. Karen stopped in a local bookstore and found a guide to the local flora and fauna. We spent the remainder of the trip trying to check off as many species as possible.

We then headed towards the river. As we followed the winding road to the river’s edge, we were greeted by wonderful views and some surprisingly manicured landscaping. As we walked down the hill we noticed flood markers up to 40 meters above normal levels. That would be a pretty incredible flooding but their presence indicates it’s happened in the past and explains why there’s not much in the way of buildings at this level. The road continued around in a circle and as we walked up the hill we found a great restaurant overlooking the river for dinner that night. At the top of the hill, we arrived at Hito Tres Fronteras. This is a landmark overlooking a “T” in the river where each shore is a different country. From here you can see both Brazil and Paraguay.

Perhaps the result of some high water in days gone by.

A monument at the Hito Tres Fronteras. Standing in any one country you can see the other two. If you were really ambitious you could swim out into the river and float in all three at once.

This whole trip only took a few hours but Randi and I were thoroughly exhausted at this point and after inhaling some lunch we collapsed in our hotel room for the rest of the afternoon. In the evening, we all went out to dinner overlooking the river. The food was great, we had a nice bottle of wine and enjoyed being able to share in the celebration of a 30 year milestone!

With full bellies and somehow exhaustion from the day even after long afternoon naps, we returned to the hotel and to our rooms. Tomorrow was going to be a big day and we were all excited to see the falls!