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Email: Greetings from Iguazu Falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina

«Iguazu Falls

Date: Saturday, 13 March 2010 12:29 PST
Subject: Greetings from Iguazu Falls, on the border of Brazil and Argentina

Captions for Pictures:
1. Boarding the bus for the six hour trip to Ciudad del Este
2. First view of Iguazu Falls from the Brazilian side
3. Waterfalls and rainbow from the Brazilian side
4. Looking upstream towards the Devil’s Throat horseshoe waterfall from the Brazilian side
5. Close up of the Devil’s Throat horseshoe fall from the Brazilian side
6. The path going out over the falls on the Brazilian side
7. Lower Route trail on the Argentinean side
8. Falls and rainbow from the Argentinean side
9. Path to the Devil’s Throat waterfall on the Argentinean side
10. Looking down the Devil’s Throat on the Argentinean side
11. Close up of the Devil’s Throat on the Argentinean side
12. Bird on the Argentinean side
13. Falls from the Upper Route trail on the Argentinean side

12 March 2010

Iguazu Falls, which is located on the Parana River between Brazil and Argentina, is one of the great waterfalls of the world. Legend has it that when Eleanor Roosevelt first saw it, she said, “Poor Niagara!”. Iguazu consists of 275 distinct falls along a 2.7km (1.7m) stretch of river. Two thirds of the falls are in Argentina and average about 64 meters (210 ft) in height, with the most impressive one being the U-shaped Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat!) which is 82 meters (269 ft) high. To maximize our visit we chose to spend time viewing the falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinean sides.

We entered Brazil from Paraguay, via a public bus trip from Encarnacion to Ciudad del Este, along Paraguay ’s Ruta Seis (Route Six) highway. We both agree that it was probably worse than the 20 hour bus trip from Buenos Aires . The bus was not air conditioned so the windows were wide open, blowing hot air in your face for the entire trip. A continual array of action adventure movies blared on their DVD player. And, even though the bus had a Servico Rapidio sign on the front of it, there were continual stops to let on and off passengers anywhere along the highway that they flagged the bus down. This made the 150 mile journey take almost six hours. At least the price was right, only about $7.50 for each of us.

Once the trip ended at the bus station on the outskirts of Ciudad del Este, we hired a taxi to take us through both immigration points and straight to our hotel on the Brazilian side. We reached the city of Foz do Iguacu, took an afternoon walk around the city and enjoyed a nice dinner at a restaurant just down the street from the hotel before retiring for the night.

On Wednesday we walked two blocks to the local bus terminal and then boarded the bus, which left every 20 minutes, to the Parque National Iguacu. The park is about 20 miles out of town and the bus trip took about 40 minutes. Even though we arrived at the park visitor center about 45 minutes after it opened, we had to wait in line for almost an hour to purchase our tickets. Once we entered the park, however, it never felt too crowded.

Double decker buses leave the visitor center and make several stops along the road to allow guests to engage in several different additional fee activities, including guided jungle walks, rafting and kayaking. We decided not to break the bank and continued to the third stop which was the start of a self guided trail of about 1.5km (0.93m) above the river looking straight over to the Argentinean side of the falls. I got chills upon seeing the first set of falls as we entered the trailhead. As you walk along the trail, every turn reveals more of the falls and the panorama becomes more and more spectacular.

The culmination of this hike is viewing the Devil’s Throat horseshoe portion of the falls. The trail allows you to go out on a deck to view it. You get wet from the spray while experiencing the thunder caused by the sheer volume of water that is being cascaded over the falls all around you. Several observation decks and a glass elevator allow you to ascend and decent between different levels.

At the end of the trail is a buffet restaurant that sits just above the falls and we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at an outdoor table right next to the river. We could have boarded the double decker bus at the restaurant but opted instead to walk back down the trail to take another glance at the falls and meet the bus back where we started. Overall, the panoramic views from the Brazilian side provided a great perspective on the size and mass of the falls.

Thursday was our opportunity to experience the falls from the Argentinean side. We checked out of our Brazilian hotel at 8am and then hired a taxi to take us through Brazilian and Argentinean immigration and directly to our hotel, which was located inside the Argentinean national park. Within an hour we were checking into our room in Argentina . From there we could walk right past the hotel pool to the park trails.

In Argentina, the park consists of three major paths, all one to two miles long. Since most of the falls are on this side of the river, the paths provide an up close view of the falls, either traversing around the bottoms or over the tops. We took the Paseo Inferior ( Lower Route ) first, winding our way around several falls while walking on sturdy metal pathways. The Paseo Superior ( Upper Route ) was full of tour groups so we opted to come back later and move on to the premier trail in the park, taking us to the Devil’s Throat.

To get to the start of this trail, we rode a park train through about 2.1km (1.3m) of jungle. From there, the metal pathway ran over the river above the falls and took us across several islands and waterways for a little less than a mile until we reached a point right above the Devil’s Throat waterfall itself. You were literally standing on top of the fall watching it plunge down 269 feet in an epic vortex with a deafening roar. It was truly amazing. On the way back to the train we also took pictures of some of the birds along the river.

By the time we made it to the Upper Route at 2pm, the park was clearing out for the day. So we enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the tops of several of the falls and were able to sit alone on benches and just admire the view. We both agree that Iguazu Falls is one of the best places we have visited in the world and would highly recommend it.

Friday, we flew back to Buenos Aires in the morning and spent the afternoon there before boarding a one hour ferry to Uruguay, where we will spend the last three days of our trip in the World Heritage colonial town of Colonia and the capital city of Montevideo.

Take Care –
Sandy

P.S. Although we usually limit attached pictures to 10, we took nearly five hundred pictures over our time here, so went out to 13 on this email – hope you enjoy!