Number 3 – Iguaçu/Iguazú Falls, Brazil & Argentina
Iguazu Falls straddle a border between South America’s two largest nations and consists of the widest set of falls in the world.
Having flown in from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú, we stayed on the Argentinian side of the great divide, but were first to visit the Brazilian part.
This entailed drawn out border controls which took an hour to complete, before motoring the 8km jungle clearing road to the entrance of the Iguaçu (different language now of course) National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We got our first glimpse of the Falls straight away, a wow moment that will live long in the memory. A seething tumult of white water set amongst lush green sub-tropical jungle.
We were 1 ½ km from the Satanic Waters but could clearly see the clouds of spray as the torrents violently joined the River Iguaçu below.
Being careful to avoid the scavenging raccoons and basking lizards, we made our way along the twisting path that must have cost thousands of hours of arduous toil to create, so that our progress could be tourist comfortable.
The pathway was selfie central with plenty of panorama spots to pose in front of. The majority of the tourists were actually groups of LATAMs rather than Westerners, come to see one of their continent’s many jewels.
After a fair few selfie stops ourselves, we reached the target after around 45 minutes. Our experience was to be absolutely exhilarating. Virtually in the Devil’s Throat (the name given to the most spectacular fall) itself.
As the spray lashed into our faces and left us and all of our possessions dripping wet, we blindly photographed the scene hoping against hope that we had some shots that aptly captured the moments.
The walkway took us right into the maelstrom, the shower going into maximum setting to drench us completely and provide wonderful respite from the beating sun. See a video by clicking SOAKED
A rainbow had formed as the sun’s rays joined with the fine mist providing yet more photo opportunities. South American swifts darted behind the raging liquid curtain to their nests in the invisible cliff face behind. Daredevils to fit in with the name of their neighborhood.
Our exit point was a glass fronted elevator taking us up to street level, providing a final view of the waters as we ascended.
An hour later we were sat around the hotel pool with a cold beer – a fine way to wind down on any occasion.
Day Two – Iguazú Falls, Argentina
We were up bright and early to get to the park for opening at 8. The queues however were already ridiculous thanks to a Brazilian national holiday. To be fair the lines were pretty orderly despite a lack of discernible queuing system and after 20-minutes we were in.
Our first port of call would be the Argentinian part of Devil’s Throat. We first had to get our free train ticket and this told us that we would have an hour’s wait.
We ‘wasted’ the time by trying to photograph elusive birds in the tall trees. Managing two or three fairly mundane hits was as good as it got. Mrs Wilbur spotted a magnificent toucan but sadly I was to go toucan free for the whole two days.
At one point we were entertained by a pair of blackbirds teaming up to send a large monitor lizard scurrying for sanctuary in the undergrowth.
The 60-minutes passed incredibly quickly – if only it felt like this at London Victoria I thought to myself.
The British manufactured ecological train runs on gas with a top speed of 20 km/h over the 7 km journey. Thankfully it wasn’t liveried in pictures of waterfalls, flora or fauna, instead painted an environmentally friendly racing green. Nothing noddy about this transport!
We had an open carriage to ourselves for the first half of the journey to Cataratas Station, gateway to a 3km trail to some of the lesser falls. We were memorably cheered and applauded in by the waiting passengers who soon filled every available space.
We were joined by four Brazilian ladies of a certain age looking resplendent in their beaux chapeaux. We exchanged a few words with the lovely ladies and were rewarded with fond kisses and photo requests aplenty after disembarkation.
As I waited for Mrs Wilbur to use the servicios, I was treated to a lovely display of some dancing yellow butterflies. You don’t get that at Clapham Junction! See a video by clicking ALL A FLUTTER
The 2km walkway bridged the Iguazú River and wound its way through the jungle. Gallons of sweat must have been expended in its construction to give us one of the most pleasant strolls that I can remember.
At one point a toucanet soared across the river far too quickly to capture, though some cormorants lingered long enough in a relatively tranquil stretch of water for a picture.
As we approached the sound of the devil clearing his throat, the going got slower due to the selfie crowd. The raging cascade was spectacular once more. We were spared the soaking this time as we were a tad further away than the previous day.
The sight was no less spectacular however with falls from either side as well as straight ahead. It was to be one of those rare occasions that we had our picture taken by a pro and were to purchase as we exited.
After lingering for twenty minutes it was time to head back.
We soon however had passengers for company. Attracted by the salt in our sweat Mrs Wilbur and I gave free carriage to two large and attractive butterflies who both refused to budge for a good half hour.
We took it to be good luck and my toucan spotting hopes were raised again on the back of it. A false hope as it happened.
We waited at the snack bar at Devil’s Throat Station watching people desperately try to keep their snacks away from the scavenging raccoons.
We were soon back on the train for the return to Cataratas Station. We could have paid for a boat ride right under the Falls from here to get a proper soaking, but decided to give it a miss. Instead we walked the 900 metres to the exit, picking up our £6 cheesy photo before we left.
Coming Next – Number Two, Central Asia (Again)