Iguacu Falls like you've never seen them before!


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South America » Brazil » Paraná » Foz do Iguaçu
June 9th 2014
Published: October 24th 2014
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I usually like to follow a chronological order when I write about my traveling but when describing our experience at Foz de Iguacu, one of the New Natural Seven Wonders of the World, I have to start by telling you about the flooding and how the torrential rains made our trip to Iguacu Falls a unique, quasi supernatural experience! So you’ll have to wait to read about the 1100 kilometers my parents and I drove from Sao Paulo to the Iguacu Falls, and how warmly the local cycling community welcomed us (Thank you Warmshower.org!) in Foz de Iguacu.

I can’t emphasize enough how incredible, how inconceivably spectacular, the falls looked to us and the few other tourists who happened to be in Parana Province in the early June 2014, after several days of heavy rain in the area.

We had looked at images of Iguacu Falls and we couldn’t wait to see the white water cascading amid rain forest into the green-blue river below. We knew that Iguacu Falls encompassed some 275 individual falls and so we could imagine us following a nice trail to admire the exquisiteness of Mother Nature. I was personally very excited at the idea
Crazy vista!Crazy vista!Crazy vista!

Incredible!
of getting to the middle of the river on the man made walkway, and feel the strength of the water rushing all around. Well… maybe next time!

Breathtaking roar, you said? No kidding! Mother Nature had for sure unleashed her power and it was terrifying! The Iguazu River was overflowing. The water flow rate rose from the usual 1,500 cubic meters per second to 5.230 in one day. On the second day of flooding, it had risen to amazing 46,300 cubic meters per second. Floodwater covered wooden footbridges hanging over the falls on which tourists usually walk. According to measurements, there was 33 times more water than usual!

We couldn’t believe our eyes and I don’t think I was able to say much more than “WOW!” for a long time. My Mom was completely speechless (which doesn’t happen very often ;-) and my Dad, who’s usually always in a hurry to get going, fixated on the water flow. I think he could have stayed there contemplating the spectacle for hours if night hadn’t fallen upon us. I really wish I could upload the videos we made (maybe in the future, TravelBlog?) so that you could really realize the intensity, the force, the noise, the wrath of the Brazilian version of Paricia (the Incan god who sent a flood to kill humans who didn’t respect him).

Before embarking on this journey I had gotten in contact with Ricardo and Fabio, the founders of the cyclo-touring club of Foz de Iguacu and they had invited my parents and I to stay in their HQ. It was great! We had a little house to ourselves with a bathroom (better than camping!), a kitchen and a garage! We had slept in the car the night before… so we were very pleased to get a warm shower and a place to relax and chat with our new friends. Ricardo spoke excellent Spanish so we were able to communicate without too many problems. Thank you again for your hospitality, dear Ricardo! My parents are waiting for you near Lyon to watch the Tour de France together next year!

We had 2 days in Foz de Iguacu. Some tourists we had met in Bahia had strongly advised us to visit the Argentine side of the Falls and since we had time and it was fairly easy for us to cross the border we
Unbelievable!Unbelievable!Unbelievable!

My parents @ Iguacu Falls
decided to spend our first day in Argentina. However, we couldn’t take our rental car out of the country but Ricardo offered to take us to the border. At the immigration office, a man told us the National Park in Argentina was closed… We were told! But we thought we’d check it out anyway. So after getting a quick stamp on our passport we hopped in a bus that took us to Puerto Iguazu, from where we could catch another bus to the National Park. But once in town, it was confirmed that the park was closed to all tourists because of the flooding. We couldn’t believe it! We had driven 1100km from Sao Paulo to see the Iguacu Falls! We had slept in our small car; we had crossed a border… and now that we were only a couple of kilometers away, the Park was closed?!! How often does such flooding happen? Never?! How unlucky! The 3 of us were so disappointed… We had no clue what to do next. But we were in Argentina for the first time, so we decided to walk around and explore the small town of Puerto Iguazu (a lot more charming than Foz
overflowing Iguacu Falls!overflowing Iguacu Falls!overflowing Iguacu Falls!

Absolutely amazing!
on the Brazilian side). We bought some postcards… some handmade souvenirs… and we walked to the Iguazu River on the edge of town. We realized how high the water had gotten. It was scary. The road was under water. Apparently there was an immigration office by the dock that was completely submerged. We walked pass the many cafes and youth hostels and went back to the bus station. I asked more travel agencies on the situation at the National Park but they told me it would be closed for at least a week. And then somehow the idea of going on a helicopter ride stroke us… Yes, it was expensive. Yes, it’s definitely not environmentally friendly but we really wanted to see the Falls! And it didn’t take much to convince my parents. None of us had ever flown in a helicopter, and we weren’t planning on coming back to the Iguazu Falls anytime soon. We bought 3 tickets for the helicopter tour! But… the heliport was on the Brazilian side of the Falls! We were asked to get in a car with a young Argentinean man who thought he was Ayrton Senna… We got back to Brazil crazy fast! But at the heliport there were hundreds of Asian tourists waiting! I live in China and I was hoping to get away from the Chinese crowds by coming to Brazil! Haha! At the counter they told us we could only go up in the helicopter at 5pm... but we knew that the sun would go down around 5 so we wouldn’t see much. We asked for our money back and drove back to Foz. We were defeated… I was frustrated and discontented. We made sandwiches and had a few chocolate cookies then, fired up again, we chose to drive back to the National Park of Iguacu and see if we could maybe get in on the Brazilian side…

To our surprise, we were let in but were told that we would only be able to see the Falls from far away. At this point our expectations were very low and we were just happy to be doing something. So you can imagine our amazement and merriment when we got to see this spectacle. I don’t think we will ever get to see anything this astounding in our lives again! It was a scene from another world and we were
Coatis were running around everywhere!Coatis were running around everywhere!Coatis were running around everywhere!

Coatis are members of the raccoon family
speechless. I think that the pictures speak for themselves. It wasn’t the pretty scenery we had expected but it was a sensational phenomenon to witness.

We will never forget this crazy day. Something tells me that even if the Iguazu Falls are very far away from any other city we might visit in the future, we will try to come back to experience the beauty of the Falls on a normal day… who knows, we might even be able to catch a helicopter!



Nous avons conduit 1100km depuis Sao Paulo pour atteindre les fameuses chutes d’Iguazu, une des 7 Merveilles Naturelles au Monde. Les chutes sont celebres pour etre merveilleusement belles, avec une collection de 275 chutes cote a cote qui se deversent dans le fleuve bleu-vert d’Iguazu. Pas cette fois! Pas pour nous! Mais, et on on aurait du s’en douter après les trombes d’eau qui sont tombees ces derniers jours, une crue historique nous a ferme les portes du Parc National du cote argentin… Nous avons quand meme pu admirer ce spectacle on ne peut plus impressionnant sur la rive bresilienne. Et Waou!!!! C’etait incroyable! Le niveau des eaux etait 33 fois plus haut qu’a la normale! Les passerelles sur lesquelles les touristes peuvent habituellement acceder au milieu du fleuve ont ete emportees ou completement ensevelies. C’etait un paysage absolument hallucinant, presque terrifiant. Je pense que les photos parlent d’elles-memes.

500 000 personnes ont ete affectees par la montee des eaux.

Merci a Ricardo pour son accueil chaleureux au sein du club cyclo-touriste de Foz de Iguacu! Nous t’attendons en France!

- 8h: Ricardo nous emmene a la frontiere Bresil-Argentine

- 8h30: on nous met en garde au bureau d’immigration que le parc national est ferme!

- 9h: on arrive a Puerto Iguacu, Argentine. Et surprise (…)les agences de voyage nous disent que le parc national est ferme en raison des innondations!

- 9h30: On se promene en ville… depites! Nous avons roule 1100km, franchi la frontiere pour arriver a 4 km des plus belles chutes au monde et elles sont fermees?!!!!

- 10h: nous decidons de tenter le coup en helicoptere! C’est cher mais nous ne sommes pas venus ici pour rien! L’heliport se trouve… du cote bresilien evidemment!

- 10h30: en voiture Simone! Nous retournons au Bresil a 200km/h avec notre guide qui nous a vendu les tickets pour le tour d’helico.

- 11h: A l’heliport il y a une queue de ouf! Et des centaines de Chinois qui attendent. Ca valait bien le coup de quitter la Chine!... Nous ne pourrons monter a bord de l’helico qu’a 17h… non merci! On se fait rembourser car a 17h au Bresil en hiver, il fait nuit!

- 11h30: on retourne en taxi a Foz en silence… nous sommes tous les 3 degouttes! On mange un sandwich, quelques cookies, et puis on decide d’aller voir le parc national (cote bresilien) plutot que d’attendre demain.

- 12h30: le parc est ouvert mais un seul sentier est accessible. Ca sera toujours mieux que rien…

- 13h30: WAOU! Quel spectacle! Et en plus il fait beau! Nous passons l’apres midi le long du chemin pour admirer les nombreux points de vue. Nous n’avons jamais vu quoi que ce soit d’aussi incroyable!

- 15h: arc en ciel au dessus du fleuve de boue. On a retrouve le sourire! ON EST AU BRESIL!!!!!!

- 17h: l’eau continue de monter: c’est terrifiant!

- 19h: gros repas en ville. Quelle journee memorable!


Additional photos below
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Can you believe this?!Can you believe this?!
Can you believe this?!

the Devil's Throat! Garganta do Diablo! At the Iguacu Falls
Fantastic vista at the Devil's Throat! Garganta do Diablo!Fantastic vista at the Devil's Throat! Garganta do Diablo!
Fantastic vista at the Devil's Throat! Garganta do Diablo!

June 2014. This doesn't happen very often!
Iguacu FallsIguacu Falls
Iguacu Falls

June 2014


24th October 2014
INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!

INDEED
Nothing like a surging frothing mass of water to remind that Mother Nature demands respect. INCREDIBLE indeed Jeremy. What a place to take your folks...karoomba!
24th October 2014
INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!!

Dave, it was very special. Made us feel very tiny.
I'm running out of words to describe this amazing experience.
24th October 2014
Iguacu Falls

A mighty roar!
Speechless-I love the photo with your parents' hands over their mouths-so funny! How lucky you were able to see such a mighty spectacle, hear such a mighty thunder and not get caught in the downpour that produced it! Hard to imagine all those walkways under water--wow, really a unique experience! Love those cheeky coati, too, and best wishes getting back when it's 33 times less powerful.
24th October 2014
Iguacu Falls

Thanks for your comment, Tara!
We were extremely lucky to witness this breathtaking roar. I read later on that 500 000 people were affected by the floods. How many died in Parana, Argentina or Paraguay? As we were driving to Foz, we got caught in a very serious downpour and the road disappeared for a a minute. It was so scary in our little rental car... Would have sucked on my bike!
24th October 2014
the Devil's Throat! Garganta do Diablo!

Effrayant mais magnifique !
27th October 2014
the Devil's Throat! Garganta do Diablo!

Ouaich Cousin!
Est-ce qu'il y a ce genre de cascades vers Clermont? ;-)
25th October 2014
people can usually walk on this footbridge...

Wow
Having taken many photos of the falls from that platform. This really puts the scale of the extra water in perspective! Incredible.
27th October 2014
people can usually walk on this footbridge...

Dear Ali, Crazy sight it is!
I can't wait to go back in a few years and take photos from the same spots. Where are you based, Ali? I was looking at your blog entries (incredible!) just a few days ago but realized you hadn't published on TB in a while.

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