Thursday, May 07, 2015

Iguazu Falls, April 1-6, 2015

I'm catching up on blogging.  I now have consistent Internet and a computer that doesn't crash, so I'm going to post going backwards for a bit, starting with our Iguazu trip a month ago and then posting from our travels in Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia in January and February.

Over Easter Break we went to Iguazu Falls with our friends from Seattle, Mark and Vanessa.  It's on the must-see list for Argentina and Brazil, and was totally amazing.
Here we all are at the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) on the Argentinean side.  This is the biggest fall of the many on the Rio Iguazu.  The spray was amazing.  There were tons of rainbows, and swallows diving behind the falls to their nests.   This is where we went first, and it was mighty impressive.  We were there on a holiday weekend, and the park was packed: the walkways right near the viewpoints were pretty busy, and the Brazil side was a crush to get to the falls walkway.  Other than than, we didn't find it too crowded.  It helped that we visited the parks for 3 days (2 Argentina, 1 Brazil).

Every day, we saw tons of these cute little critters, called Coatis.   This one was next to the rail road track, part of a group we saw while waiting at the train station for Garganta del Diablo.  They've got a long snout, racoon-like tail, and are adorable.  I took tons of photos the first day.  Later, we were trying to eat a snack, and the coatis came running.  Neither the coatis nor we got a snack there.  At a snack bar, there was a park employee with a net running around netting and scaring coatis to keep them from the tourists.  Argentina had coati-proof trash cans.  Brazil didn't, and the coatis climbed up and in the trash.  They were a total menace.  There's a nice short story by Horacio Quiroga about coatis that's also worth reading (English, Spanish). 

This is in front of Garganta del Diablo, looking downstream.  Lots of spray.

In addition to coatis, we saw other wildlife.  There are big cats in the park, but they stay far from the hordes of tourists.  We saw some birds, and a band of capuchin monkeys the last day which was amazing, but what there was lots of was butterflies.  The kids became experts at having them land on them, and at one point both Maeve and Silas had 3 or 4 on their arms.  Many were white, black and orange, and there is a very large blue one, but it was shy.  There are also swarms of yellow butterflies that apparently live only 1 day in butterfly form, mate, lay eggs, and they're done.   

Another view of some of the falls, Argentina side.  The rainbows were amazing.  Really, the falls just go on and on along 3km of river, and there are several walkways on the Argentina side to see parts of them.

Silas didn't much like getting wet.  We put on jackets before getting close on the walkways, but there was a lot of spray and a lot of wind.  This was on the Brazil side, where you're at the foot of Garganta de Diablo.

On the Brazil side, we did a boat excursion/walk on the upper Iguazu.  This is the river between the dam and the falls. The boat ride was awesome, and the short walk through the woods to a lake was hot.  We were glad we weren't there in summer.  Silas napped in the boat on the way back while we checked out the scenery.

Our second day on the Argentina side, we walked the Sendero Macuco to this waterfall, with a pool at the bottom where you can swim.  We went swimming and Mark and Vanessa took pictures.  We got there early and it was deserted, but by the time we left there were several other groups.   The water was chilly.

At the end of the day, we did another boat ride on the Argentina side in the eddies and side streams, to the side of Garganta del Diablo but before the other really big falls.  The boat ride was nothing special, but on the way back to the train station, we saw a group of Capuchin monkeys playing by the side of the trail.  They were just hanging out, checking out the tourists.  We watched them for at least 15 minutes.  That was a highlight!

Just as a side note, we also visited the bird sanctuary outside the park on the Brazil side, full of colorful tropical birds.  We also went to the Hito Tres Fronteras, which is a small obelisk where the Rio Iguazu meets the Rio Parana, and you can see matching obelisks in Paraguay and Brazil (painted in their national colors) from Argentina. And we went to the Aripuca, a tourist complex built around a massive replica of a Guarani animal trap.  But about the best thing for the kids was the hotel pool...  always a joy to swim.

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