Iguazu Falls (Argentinian side) & Parque das Aves Bird Park

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March 23rd 2016
Published: April 27th 2016
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Gina and Arlete wanted us ready to go early this morning to cross back to the Argentinian side of the falls. I woke up feeling a bit like death warmed up and had to get myself showered and breakfasted and ready for a very full day of sightseeing by 7.00am. Ugh! At least this morning's gourmet breakfast buffet was a vast and very welcome improvement on the fare that was on offer for the last two days in BA! A decent breakfast - and a cup of coffee - certainly helped to improve my mood.

As always our very punctual group was ready to go at 7.00am. Julio drove us to the Brazilian border check point and Arlete went in to have all our passports stamped. Then we drove to the Argentinean border check point and Arlete went in with all our passports for their Argentinean entry stamps. This was the main reason that Arlete and Gina wanted us on the go nice and early - so that we could beat the crowds passing through the border check points.

The viewing point for the Argentinean side of the the Devil's Throat is not as accessible as the canyon walkway on the Brazilian side. From where Julio dropped us we had to walk to a railway station where we queued up to take the small train into the Iguazu National Park of Argentina. When the train pulled in everyone started to rush through the barrier and onto the platform to make sure they got the best seat?! Over the PA they kept announcing that there should be four people on every bench seat. Whoa, that sure made for a pretty cramped ride; thank goodness it was only short.

From the train station at the waterfall end we had another walk ahead of us over steel mesh walkways that have been constructed over the languidly flowing Iguazu River right before it commences its thunderous drop over the falls. We were surprised to see tortoises sunning themselves on rocks in the river. I guess they know not to get too close to the falls? The walkway ends at a point where it is suspended over the Argentinean side of the Devil's Throat waterfall. Thank goodness it was warmer and sunnier this morning because we were sprayed with mist again although definitely did not get quite the drenching that we did yesterday afternoon on the Brazilian side.

Once again stupid tourists were a source of frustration. There is a loop at the end of the walkway and it is clearly labelled Entrada and Salida. OK, we did have Gina and Arlete to point us in the right direction, but even we have picked up that Entrada = Entrance and Salida = Exit i.e. there is supposed to be a ONE WAY flow of traffic; a concept that was clearly beyond about 30% of all tourists visiting the falls this morning!! And then there were the ones taking selfies and hogging prime waterfall viewing space while they immediately posted their photo on Facebook!! It's a sad fact that people, especially young people, don't seem to think they've actually done something now unless/until they've posted it on Facebook.

There is supposed to be a 'Keep Right' traffic flow on the walkways, but that didn't stop us from having to fight our way through people heading in to the viewing platform on the outbound side of the walkway. And the fact that it was very busy at the falls in the lead up to Easter did not stop people from stopping to pose for pictures all along the walkways, stopping to pash or just generally dawdling along getting in everyone's way. We were in a rush because Arlete wanted us to make the 10.30am train back. Of course we made it back to the station by 10.30am and then waited about 15-20 minutes for the train anyway. The timetable seemed to be fairly relaxed?! Fortunately we were kept entertained by butterflies landing on various members of the group. Each time another butterfly landed there were half a dozen or more cameras being zoomed in to snap close-up shots of beautifully coloured butterflies.

After our short return trip on the train we started heading for the trail that takes visitors to viewpoints that are opposite San Martín Island. On the way we saw some cuatis sniffing around one of the cafes where they have obviously been fed by tourists here on the Argentinean side of the falls. The poor little buggers were so fat on white bread sandwiches it was really distressing to see. Why do people think that it's OK to feed wild animals on human food that is entirely inappropriate for them? Certainly Gina and Arlete reminded us repeatedly that it is not OK to feed the wildlife. I guess most visitors come in without a guide to keep an eye on them and, despite plenty of signs saying don't feed the wildlife, they do anyway.

After taking the trail along the Argentinean side of the falls for more amazing views of the falls, the group was split in two with those wanting to take the boat trip close up to the falls proceeding to the dock with Arlete while the rest of the group went to one of the park's restaurants with Gina. Of course we were in the adventurous group that headed down to the dock! Besides we did 'The Maid of the Mist' at Niagara Falls we had to view these falls up close too.

Down at the dock we found big rubber bags to stow all of our gear in. Arlete directed us to a spot where we could stuff our gear into the bags ready to go on the boat trip with some hope that our change of clothes, money, passports and the like would not get wet. After filling our bags we turned the top over twice and engaged the clip with our fingers crossed that we had achieved a waterproof seal.

Once on the boat we removed our shoes and added those to our dry bags, resealed them and then - we were off - into the Devil's Throat! Actually the ride started out rather tamely with an approach to one of the lesser falls. Just as we got close enough to get wet the boat driver backed off and we were a bit - don't tell me that's going to be all there is to it? However, the crew then put their waterproof gear on and we knew the ride was about to get serious and we would be getting wet, wet, WET!! Chow and Kim were wearing their raincoats and their side of the boat was the first to be drenched. The rest of us laughed at the two of them getting soaked despite their raincoats. Of course then the driver turned the boat around so that our side of the boat copped a deluge of water!! After a quick trip around to the Devil's Throat and an even bigger drenching there, we were returned to the dock soaking wet, but laughing.

We stopped to put our shoes back on for the walk back up to the restaurant at the top of the canyon where the rest of the group was waiting for us. They had eaten their lunch and had a little siesta while they waited! All of us except Bernie changed into our dry clothes (Bernie decided he would dry quickly enough so didn't bother about a change of clothes) before grabbing a quick bite to eat because we still had lots of activities to fit into the day.

Julio met us with the bus and we piled back on board for the short drive back to the border checkpoints. We sat in the bus again while Arlete looked after the immigration formalities. Back in Brazil we made our way to the Helipad so that we could take helicopter flights over the Iguazu Falls. We had been tossing up whether to do the helicopter flight here at Iguazu or in Rio. The weather was beautiful so we decided we would fly today and then wait and see whether we would take another helicopter flight in Rio.

Although they were only flying one chopper this afternoon it was not very busy at Helisul Táxi Aéro so, after only a short wait, we were boarding the helicopter along with Meredith, Lidia and Carol and a young couple who had arrived ahead of us. The safety checks and boarding procedures were much less rigorous than at the Grand Canyon. When we flew over the Grand Canyon we had to weigh in so that they could work out the seating arrangement that would keep the helicopter balanced! No such formalities in Brazil. I guess they have a good eye for people's height/size/weight when all they do all day is load tourists into the choppers?

As soon as we were all buckled in we lifted off and commenced our flight over the Atlantic rainforest towards the falls. The first thing we could see was the cloud of mist that hangs almost permanently over the Devil's Throat. Very soon we were flying right above the falls and the panoramic view from the air certainly reinforced just how HUGE these falls are. We were treated to several passes over the falls during which we even managed to see that a guest at the Hotel das Cataratas was making use of the swimming pool. All too quickly our arial waterfall viewing was over and we were on our way back to the helipad.

When everyone had flown we made our way across the road to the Parque das Aves which is a centre for nature conservation and a sanctuary for the recuperation of rescued wildlife. Arlete told us that we could explore the park until its closure at 6.00pm at which time we should meet at the restaurant near the main entrance. Once again we were all generously coated with insect repellent so not a mosquito was seen ... or heard ... as we made our way around the park.

We certainly had our fill of birds - parrots, parakeets, flamingos, eagles, rhea, macaws, owls and toucans. This morning we saw some wild toucans high up in the trees at the front of the hotel. Seeing them at the bird park we certainly had a much closer look and ... up close ... they look like they are fake! They are such a ridiculous short, squat shape and with their huge banana shaped orange beaks they really looked like plastic inflatable children's toys! In the butterfly house we saw, not only butterflies, but more hummingbirds. Righto, these hummingbirds are in captivity, surely we can take some great photos?! Hmmn, maybe, maybe not, they were still awfully fast. There was one that was the most amazing emerald green colour that I tried to stalk for a photo. With the motor drive whirring away there are hundreds of shots that will have to be reviewed to see if I succeeded.

It was dusk as we drove back to the hotel and we were very lucky to catch a glimpse of a deer venturing out of the forest beside the road. Arlete told us that we were very lucky as they are very timid and rarely seen. Back at the hotel a few of us decided to watch the sun set behind the Iguazu Falls since tonight's sunset was due to occur in about a quarter of an hour. Even though we were out at dusk, waiting for the sun to set, we still weren't bothered by mozzies. I think if the air had been buzzing with the little blighters we may not have stayed out. The sun duly dipped below the horizon and, although it wasn't a spectacular sunset, we were treated to some interesting pink-tinged clouds behind the falls.

When we went into the hotel there were plenty of tables in the bar so we decided to eat first and shower after, even if we were looking a bit bedraggled after a big day of sightseeing! We had a feeling that the crowd wouldn't be as hoity toity tonight anyway. We felt like last night's diners were looking down their noses at us ... that would be the people who had their suitcases out this morning - ready to check out - complete with 'Posh Club' luggage straps!! Oh, la-di-dah.

Back in our room we showered off the DEET and fell into bed exhausted.

Steps 17,563 (13.07km)

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


29th April 2016

That bird cannot be real!
It seriously looks like a fake - particularly with that beak that looks inflatable! Great shot :-)

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