Edit Blog Post
Published: March 24th 2007
"The captain would like to inform all passengers that the Iguazu falls can be seen from the right hand side of the aircraft. Passengers seated at the left side of the aircraft may proceed to view the falls but please return to your seat right after you have seen the falls."
That is the thing about the Argentineans, always so passionate about the things they do. The captain was obviously very passionate about navigating and making his passengers happy. The falls could be spotted before the plane approached the Iguazu Airport. But I could not be sure that this was the
falls until the lead stewardess of Aerolíneas Argentinas
made the announcement. At sunset and from an aerial view, the Iguazu falls seemed like layers and layers of bright gold curtains, with the water at the Garganta del Diablo
(or Devil's Throat in English) plunging into the unknown before releasing plume of mist.
The name Iguazu comes from Guarani
, 'y' means water and 'guasu' means big. Once upon a time, it was believed that a god fell in love with a beautiful peasant girl named Naipí and planned to marry her. But Naipí was not interested in marrying an
immortal and fled with her mortal lover in a canoe. The god was so angry that he decided if he could not have Naipí, no one else could have her. The angry god parted the river creating the falls, condemning the lovers to an eternal fall. Naipí plunged over the falls and became a rock at the base of the falls while her lover became a tree by the falls. He would always be able to see Naipí but unable to really have her by his side. Tragic.
But the present theory of the falls formation is less dramatic. The area of the falls were part of a large plateau formed by lavas more than 150 million years ago. The lava surfaced through tectonic faults and cracks without the formation of volcanic cones. Through million of years of tectonic movements, uneven grounds were formed. The falls consist of around 280 falls, located right above the confluence of the Iguazu and Paraná Rivers. The falls are also known as the "Triple Frontier", serving as the border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. The final section of the Paraná Rivers serve as the natural boundary between Argentina and Brazil.
Patagonian ice-fields to the sub-tropical rain forest of Iguazu, this was quite a change. It was hot and very humid. I had to remove all the sweaters and windbreaker I was wearing the moment I landed. Good that I'd have the chance to put them all to the wash. I would be spending some time here until I figure out where to go/what to do next. Whether to push all the way to Rio or take it easy in Buenos Aires. Everything of this trip had been so unpredictable - just the way I wanted it. I did not know I was coming here until 4 hours before I was to board the plane at Aeroparque Metropolitano Jorge Newbery. But this is what made the journey so interesting - it is always full of surprises.
It would be hard not to notice that Brazil was just less than a stone throw away, the heartland of samba, salsa and Caipirinha! The heat in Igauzu was intense. But the people here were all so happy, friendly and care-free. The locals were all fit, beautiful and tan. To make me look even worse, the girls here all looked like Gisele BÃ¼ndchen! It
Rio de Iguazu
Before it reaches the "Devil's Throat"
was easy to spot the tourists from miles away as they usually look either extremely pale and pasty or utterly burnt. I probably belonged to the second category. Tourists can never get it quite right.
I decided that after all the trekking in Patagonia, I was ready to see Iguazu the Brazilian way - the lazy way. No more waking up before sunrise. No more dragging camping gears all over the mountains. Since happy hour is such a big thing here, it would only be right to join the Brazillians and hit the pub for a Caipirinha or two whenever I can. Also, nothing much seems to happen in the afternoon here, most people must be having their siesta. I could not think of anything better to do in this weather other than having afternoon naps or chilling by the pool. I was ready to live the Brazilian life!
That was until I stepped into the Iguazu National Park - the Parque Nacional Iguazu
. Lush sub-tropical rain forests surround the falls, naturally, this is a place rich of wild animals and colourful tropical plants. Did I mention cute little furry coatis roam the national park freely and occasionally terrorise visitors
who are carrying food with them. The information centre recommended a couple of trails which will take us around the various scenic spots and look out point to the falls. It would not be right to not at least check out these trails. I was back to my trekking gears and boots.
I started exploring the falls on the Green Trail. This is just a short path that connects the information centre to the train station. The trains to the Devil's Throat depart here every half an hour. The Green Trail was not exactly a place for hikers but for tourists. When I was there, it was just a little too crowded with tourists carrying umbrellas and cameras. Most visitors get to the Argentinean side of the Devil's Throat platform using the Green Trail. The Devil's Throat platform is a good place to witness the sheer drop of the falls plunging deep down the branches of Iguazu river. The mist from the falls will give all visitors at the platform a good shower!
In the afternoon, I set out on the Lower Trail. This is an elevated platform above the Iguazu river which offers several observation points to
the falls. The halfway point is the viewing point of Saltos San Martin and Bernabe. At the bottom of the Lower Trail, tiny little motors boats can be seen taking tourists to right under the falls. The Saltos San Martin Trail starts at the branch-off point of Lower Trail. It takes visitors to the very heart of Saltos San Martin. But it is here that visitors can feel the intense heat of Iguazu. But I guess it is also the weather that draws schools of butterfly to the national park.
The next day, it was an early start to get to the Brazillian side to check out the Macuco Trail. I caught a bus at Puerto Iguazu which took me straight to the entrance of Foz do Iguazu. I passed the Argentinean custom house without a stop but had to present my passport to enter Brazil. The 6-km trail takes visitors from the Brazillian park entrance to the foot bridge of the Devil's Throat. Iguazu falls are of a horse-shoe shape. At least 60% of the falls are at the Argentinean side. Most visitors think that the Brazillian side provides a better viewing of the falls while the Argentinean side provides a better 'up-close-and-personal' experience. The Macuco Trail was breezy and quieter than the other trails. There were very few hikers. Maybe because most tourists opt to take a bus straight to the foot bridge.
At the end of the trail consists of a foot bridge and viewing platform looking out at the Devil's Throat. White haze can be seen rising above the Devil's Throat, resembling fire rises above Devil's Throat and light water spray refracts into colourful rainbows. It was said Lucifer will spatter you with the cold spray and blow on you his cold breath from his throat. The locals may have rightly coined this place as the Devil's Throat. With the scale and the force of the falls so immense, people will always marvel in awe what Iguazu has to offer.
Check out the video of
">Saltos San Martins here.