Thursday, October 31, 2013

Iguacu (e-gwa-soo) Falls photo 
“Poor Niagra”. That is what Eleanor Roosevelt said upon viewing IguacuFalls. Having been to Niagara Falls a few times, Mrs. Roosevelt sure got it right.

Sue came to Sao Paulo on a tourist visa good for only 90 days having been hired late in the process by the school in Sao Paulo.  Same tourist visa for me as her husband.  To get a work visa requires leaving the country and going to a Brazilian consulate office.  The school sends those who need a work visa to the consulate in Argentina, which just happens to be in Puerto Iguazu near Iguacu Falls, which is in both Brazil and Argentina.

From Wikipedia: The name "Iguazu" comes from the Guarani or Tupi words "y" [ɨ], meaning "water", and "ûasú "[waˈsu], meaning "big".[2] Legend has it that a god planned to marry a beautiful woman named Naipí, who fled with her mortal lover Tarobá in a canoe. In rage, the god sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall.[2] The first European to find the falls was the Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541.
On November 11 of 2011, Iguazu Falls was announced as one of the seven winners of the New Seven Wonders of Nature by the New Seven Wonders of the World Foundation.

After checking into the Bourbon (no not the drink....think in French) Hotel in Foz du Iguacu, Brazil, we stopped by a tourist travel office located within the hotel and behind the desk was a 7 year old.  Well, maybe she was 20, but she sure looked 7!!  She explained how it would only cost us a small ransom to hire a driver to take us to the falls.  Other options?  Sure.  We could take the local bus.  Sounds like a local adventure to us.

The front desk clerk told us to take the “green” bus which would stop across the street at the taxi stand and cost about $1.50  U.S.  After watching a blue, then brown, then red, then multi colored bus stop and go, our green guy showed up.

Quite a different bus fare set up than we have experienced in any other country.  There is a driver and also a toll collector who sits about one-third of the way towards the back of the bus.  The front third has some seats, which looks to be for (ahem) seniors and the disabled but probably also serves for overflow.  Metal bars and a turn stile separate this front section from the rest of the bus.  If you have a prepaid toll card, simply swipe it and the turnstile allows passage to the rear.   Otherwise, pay the piper who has an ancient wooden box as the currency holder and the drawbridge will be lowered for you to the back section of the bus. 

We had no idea what to expect entering the park on the Brazilian side.  There was a woman selling inexpensive (a polite word for “cheap”) plastic ponhos, which we were told to buy regardless of the price.  We would need them.

The first views are simply jaw dropping, gawking, gazing at this water theater multiplex.  On the Brazilian side of the falls the views are panoramic with sweeping vistas of the falls along the opposite side of the river.  And multiplex?   It is like walking into a 20 theater movie house.  Along the river is a waterfall next to a waterfall next to a waterfall down river from a waterfall. photo

The Argentinian view later.

A path follows the river giving varied views as the falls thunder from afar.   At this point our only complaint was the weather:  The day was shrouded in gray with threats of rain and a sprinkle now and then eliminating those vibrant sunlit photos.

At one spot along the path was a zip line that wasn’t operational.  Yah, I would have done that.

Towards the end of the path there is a man made walkway that extends out into the river and near the top of one of the falls.  The mist is drenching and the wind howls, but it’s one of those “..if I leave here without doing this…..”  it will be regretted.   My thought while walking out to the end of the pier/walkway was: “How in the heck did they create the pilings and supports with such raging water all about?”  I’ve yet to find out.

This photo shows the walkway where you can stand at the end overlooking the falls.  Vertigo anyone?  On the day we were there the wind was blowing fiercely enshrouding the entire walkway in mist. photo

Compare the photo above with what the walkway looked like during our visit.  We did the drenched rat routine to the end.
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Continuing along the path, it ends at an elevator up to a viewpoint overlooking the falls and right next to one of the waterfalls. 
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The walk took a good 4 hours and at the end I was thinking: “Why do this again in Argentina?  More of the same?”  Little did I know.

There wasn’t enough time left in the day to get to the Argentina falls, which we were told would take 6 hours to tour,  but there was a “bird park” one of the teachers said would be worth our while.

The Iguacu Falls Bird Park (Parque das aves) was an unexpected pleasure.  Large well kept “pens” housed numerous birds which have been rescued.  Numerous other bids such as flamingoes, emu were in open outdoor pens.  The Parque das aves was hatched in 1994, by a German couple, Dennis and Anna Croukamp, who found in the Iguazu area a perfect place to realize a dream: to build a theme park dedicated to the conservation of animals.  He rescued damaged raptors and over the years has saved hundreds of birds.  This was a small tropical paradise and well worth the time to wander and relax.  In a word: Peaceful.

Sunday was to the Argentina falls and again by bus.  Right.  A different color than green.

Once inside the Argentina park to get to the  falls requires a train ride to walk the lower trails.  Then back to a station to take another train to the upper falls.

What an incredible surprise.  About 80% of the falls exist on the Argentina side and this is what gives the panorama to the Brazilian viewpoints.  What we didn’t expect is that the walkways go right up to and in many places reach over the falls giving you a vertigo experience of looking  down on the rushing, thundering, powerful water flowing underneath.

This shows howcloseyouare to the falls. photo

The day before a driver hired by the school took us to the consulate to get the work visa.  Sue asked: “Which side is better?”  The driver vigorously shook his head and said: “Not better…..different.”  How right he was.

Again a gray day but this one had something else for us.  There is about a half-mile walk along a man made boardwalk extending across a river to Devil’s Throat falls.  We were about three-fourths of the way there when the heavens opened up putting us under our own water fall.  Buckets.  No way were we to be denied so we sloshed to the end of the walkway where you are in the middle of Devil’s Throat falls watching the water cascade in torrents and ear splitting sounds to shake your core. 

Drowning in unforgettable visions and memories, we took the two train ride back to the park entrance where by then the cold rain ended and we began a hot cup of cappuccino.

Would do this adventure again in a heart beat.  Hmmm…does Sue have a 3 day weekend without plans on the calendar?

Click here for lots of falls pics--> Iguacu Falls Pics On Da Web 

CLICK on any photo to open the whole magilla slide show of me photos in a separate window

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Libby said...

Having seen Niagara Falls & photos of the other huge ones around the world, i agree with Mrs. Roosevelt. But NF is still amazing for North America. And easy to view.
(came over from Fat Cyclist)

Brenda Huff said...

Wow, those falls are absolutely breathtaking. So glad you are enjoying another international adventure.