Sunday, March 21, 2010


Earlier this week I spent 2 days in the Iguazu national parks in northern Argentina.  They are almost 2 hours due north of Buenos Aires by plane.  Like anyone, I appreciate natural beauty when I can and have always thought the Grand Canyon was the most impressive natural spectacle I've been to.  I may have to slide the canyon down a notch however, after seeing the waterfalls of Iguazu.  Without question, they are one of the most impressive and enchanting things I've ever been to. 

My hotel package at a quaint 2 star hotel included a tour both days I was there.  The first day was a tour of the Argentinian side of the waterfalls.  This side puts you right on top of things.  Our first stop was literally the middle of the falls.  It is called La Garganta del Diablo (The Devil's Throat).  To get there one must take a short train ride and then walk on platforms over the top of the rivers that feed the waterfalls. 

 View from the metal platforms

Starting to hear some rumbling.  Mist in the distance.  Wait for it...

Now we are getting somewhere...


See that grin?  I was dumbfounded by the power and size of it all.  It's like Six Flags times sixty.  It left me speechless to tell the truth because I've never seen anything quite like it.  Maybe if I had been to Niagra at some point I would have known what to expect but this was breathtaking.  The sounds of all that water violently rushing and crashing over the cliffs are completely unique.  I felt like I did the first time I went to DisneyWorld for this and other reasons I'll mention soon. 

We left the Devil's Throat to tour the rest of the top or superior side of the waterfalls.  As impressive as the Throat was, there is so much more to the waterfalls than just that spot.  It is definitely the center and if you travel and only have time to see one thing, that would be it, but the waterfalls are vast much like the Grand Canyon.  

A view of some of the waterfalls that lead up to the Garganta del Diablo.  Those 2 on the right are called Dos Hermanas or 2 sisters.  As our guide, Mirian, told us it's not because two sisters died falling over the edge, it's because they are similar in size and shape an right next to each other.  

The left side is Brazil and the right is Argentina.  After a bite, I opted for a boat tour on the inferior part or the bottom of the waterfalls.  After a 6 km boat ride up the river you come up close and personal.  From there you can get great shots of them.  

After the pics are taken, all electronics are stowed in waterproof bags and the boat driver charges into 2 different waterfalls multiple times soaking everyone on board.  Again, it felt like DisneyWorld...

A water-logged and happy version of me after the boat trip.  If you look hard you can even see my Mirian tour group label hanging around my neck.  If I'm going to be a tourist I'm gonna do it 100%!

During the hikes, we ran into a few different animals some cute, some not so much.  It is a rainforest after all.

It's hard to see, but if you look close you can make out a monkey on the right side, reaching into the river hanging down from branches using his tail and back legs.  

A family of these little racoon type animals that reminded me of Red Pandas. Very friendly but apparently will turn vicious if you show them food.  

There were LOTS of these guys!  I tried taking pictures of them in their webs which hover about a foot or less above some of the paths we walked in but my camera couldn't pick them up.  They were about as big as my hand and scared the hell out of me since I was the tallest in our group and had the best chance of running face first into a low lying web.  Right as I was taking this, Mirian ran up to me and told me to get away as this particular one had red on its back indicating it's poisonous.  She said one bite will mess up your nervous system potentially for the rest of your life.  Wish she had told me that before I got so close to take a pic, but I escaped, nervous system intact. 

The next day we went to the Brazilian side of the waterfalls.  They offered a more panoramic view of things as most of the action is on the Argentinian side.  

They were a lot of rainbows that day as we walked up the side.  If you add all the butterflies that were circling around wherever we went you again get the sensation of being in a surreal fantasy land or DisneyWorld.  

I have tons more waterfall pics like this which I uploaded onto Facebook, but I will spare the rest of them here.  After the Brazilian side was done (it's much shorter), I had an afternoon to kill so I took a selva or jungle tour.  We charged into the rainforest and after 30 minutes were surrounded by lush vegetation  (and more spiders).  

Yours truly rappelling down a cliff with waterfalls on both sides.  In about 10 seconds I would be drenched and unable to see my feet through the rushing water.  I've never done anything quite like that.  Was definitely a rush!

We also "flew" over the green trees on 800 meters of zip lines tied to massive very old trees.  After the first 5 seconds of being super nervous, but was such a thrill.  I went first and again was looking out for things looking to bite me.   Exhilarating!

Afterwards I was exhausted but still had an hour to kill so I walked to a famous point where you can see 3 countries all next to each other.  

Paraguay behind me, Brazil on the right and of course I'm standing in Argentina.

I returned to Buenos Aires spent and amazed at all the natural beauty in Iguazu.  I highly recommend it to anyone sightseeing in South America.

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