We have just returned from two full days exploring the Cataratas del Iguazu. Our book at home titled something like “A Thousands Things To Do Before You Die” includes Iguazu Falls way up on the list so, of course, it was a must-do on ours.
And it did not disappoint! The Cataratas includes 275 individual saltos or falls in multiple levels and ranging from dramatic churning water that soaks the onlooker to idyllic, high and slender falls reminiscent of novels set in paradise. They curve around the river on a 2.7 km cliff across Brazil and Argentina borders. Unlike Niagara surrounded by cement and development, the Cataratas are situated in 2,250 square km of Brazilian and Argentinian national rainforest, a green and verdant canopy, punctuated by falling water.
Day One saw us on the move for 12 hours. First, visiting a bird sanctuary where toucans, flamingos, parrots, owls, eagles etc. etc. were saved from vanishing habitat or from humans plundering feathers. Not being “zoo” people, we were surprised to be fully and happily occupied for almost three hours.
Next, off to the “Brazilian side” - a bit more developed but with gorgeous vistas and upclose fall encounters when we were soaked by the cloud of spray augmented by a sudden downpour.
After that, taken by our driver! for the day, to the Argentina side. This side is set up with trails for getting a more intimate view of the water rushing over the top, water falling down and water splashing into the pools at the bottom. Here we saw monkeys feasting on the water and roots of epiphytes in the trees above us, koatie families - a racoon like animal, not my favourite - scavenging at “Tropicanas” or, more naturally, digging in the earth, iguanas sunning on the paths and skittering into the bush and hundreds of magical butterflies of all sizes and vibrant colours.
Day Two we had a later start and shorter day, walking 8 km round trip on a path through the rainforest to an isolated and slender stream of water falling more than 100 m. into a round pool surrounded by trees, vines and rocks. Determined to enjoy what seemed like our first encounter with stereotypical paradise, we braved the murky water. Sadly and despite the sensational beauty of the falls, the water itself is not so pretty. Because the trees of the rainforest upriver are being cut without foresight or planning, the earth is eroding into the rivers. The water which used to be crystal clear, is now muddy and brown. In this idyllic pool which we could wade across, we could not see our feet, slightly off-putting when the day before we had seen poisonous watersnakes in the sanctuary that were long, fat and scary. This was forefront in my imaginative mind but determined to experience the falling water, I waded/dog-paddled across the pool and thoroughly enjoyed the shower.
On our return trip along the path we were startled by a pair of very large lizzards, one giving chase to the other for love or for war, only the lizzard knows. In either case, they hurtled down the path to toward us, seemingly galloping, springing inches above the path on a collision course with us. The sight stopped me cold in my tracks but quick-witted Peter did a stomping dance. Off the lead went into the bush. The second stopped turned and sauntered with a “who cares” nonchalance back from whence he came - I may wrongly assume that the chaser was a he. Sorry, we were not quick enough on the draw with the camera for a picture but those lizzards were so big....no fishing story, here. The sign even forewarned us!
Our days in the parks were memorable and wonderful. Equally so were our mornings and evenings spent with our characterful host in The Secret Garden B&B, Puerto Iguazu. But more about that in another post.
Addendum: No boat update last week. Our plans to visit Milly on Monday before our Tuesday departure for Iguazu, were scuppered due to a national holiday for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, unbeknownst to us! We plan a trip this week.