Days: 364-365 (24 June 2015 – 25 June 2015)
Total distance travelled: 81,804.76 kilometres (50,810.41 miles)
One full night, a change of buses, then another full day.
Almost 1,450 kilometres later and our bus was finally pulling into Puerto Iguazu.
By coincidence, it was also the 364th day since we’d left Australian shores, meaning that tomorrow, through a lot of dumb luck, would see us celebrate a whole year (although through that quirk that saw us live our first day twice, 366 days could technically also be considered our end of year) with a visit to Parque Nacional Iguazu…
The Iguazu Falls!
But that would be for tomorrow, so we prepared with a quick trip to the grocery store for supplies (by all accounts, food and drink within in the park is exorbitantly priced), before settling on a stroll to the ‘downtown’ area of Puerto Iguazu for dinner.
As we strolled the rather quiet streets searching for a reasonably priced eatery, I spied, seated outside a small Mexican style (the food that is) eatery, a head of hair that we definitely recognised.
It was Javier, a Spanish companion on not just one, but both of our day excursions from Salta.
He invited us to join, and before we knew better, we’d shared five or six large beers, along with a couple of Tequila shots, and had a wonderfully good night!
We enjoyed ourselves so much, we agreed to meet up again the following night as well!
Back at our hostel, our dorm was relatively empty, our only companions a couple of young Americans (by that I mean folk from the USA), one of whom had eyesight so poor, I think back home in Australia he’d have been classified as legally blind…
Sometime during the night, the number of our dorm companions increased by one, although his efforts to figure out the mechanics of key into lock and turn at 5am (possibly also inebriated) were agonisingly slow and loud… at least to me with my head right beside the door.
Still, we woke feeling fine (incredibly… the fine part, not simply the fact we woke at all) and made ourselves ready for our 8am trip to the national park.
We dined on our free breakfast and sat waiting for our pick-up to arrive… only it was already there, our driver sitting waiting… eventually we stumbled upon each other, had a chuckle, and got on our way.
The morning itself was warm enough, the previous night being our first taste of warm weather in a long time, and jungle humidity in an even longer time.
Thankfully this early, it didn’t feel too sapping to the energy levels.
After a brief ride and some enjoyable conversation, we were delivered to the main entrance of the park, and what a scene it was.
It wasn’t quite bedlam, but there were certainly people everywhere, so all we could do was queue, pay the hefty entrance fee then head directly to the falls, not that we had any idea of the layout of this place, nor where was best to travel first.
A train was about to leave, so we hopped aboard this multi-carriage affair, eventually finding ourselves at the end of the line and faced with a journey over metal walkways, elevated above the flowing waters that coursed by the station.
The walk wasn’t difficult, but it wasn’t short either, possibly extending a kilometre or so out over the flowing river, winding its way from island to island, ever closer to the wall of spray and noise that lay ahead.
We were being lead towards the place known as Garganta del Diablo, the Devils Throat!
What a sight it was…
The spray came in waves, if you were lucky there was time enough before a phone or camera would be bathed in the next assault, and of course all this fine mist and the sun high above meant that for the rainbow lover, this was indeed heaven, not hell.
We eventually thought we’d call time, as the train load of tourists that had arrived with us, had finally completed the walk, making the slick observation platforms crowded indeed.
With no train waiting at the platform, we opted to walk back to the other areas of the park (Garganta del Diablo is one of the more distant areas), a task that required something in the vicinity of twenty to thirty minutes.
Who could really tell… well Sarah could, as she wears a watch, but still buzzing from our first encounter with Iguazu, we didn’t truly care.
We felt our decision to walk totally vindicated, as a small troupe of Coati (the first we’d seen since a pack of forty or so wandered nonchalantly by amidst the Guatemalan ruins of Tikal) made a brief cameo as they darted across the train tracks.
In the spirit of one up-manship, this encounter was quickly superceded by another posse that put on a show for us as we began to explore some of the lower walks.
Now despite their cute look, it appears that too many stupid (yes, I make no apologies for that label) tourists over the years have thought it a good idea to feed the many Coati that roam the park.
Large signage showing off mauled hands a testament to the potential outcome when their sensitive noses catch scent of some tasty morsel, that the bearer is reluctant to part with it.
Well as we walked, and I munched on a plain bread roll, suddenly we were surrounded by a large pack of these ravenous beasts (okay, they didn’t look that bad, but I did still have that image of a mauled hand fresh in my thoughts).
I went to diffuse the situation by dumping the remaining food into a nearby bin, only to refrain from doing so when Sarah yelled what I was doing that for!
As the horde followed us further, getting ever closer, attempts to shew them away proved fruitless.
Ultimately, as they get ever closer, I did what any brave soul would do… I panicked and tossed them the remaining bread, bag and all!
This lead to a second “What the fuck are you doing from Sarah?!” as after all, we shouldn’t be feeding the wildlife!
We were both agreed on that point, I guess we just had a completely different read on the whole unfolding situation (she’d also thought I was just discarding the bread when I’d earlier moved to pop it in the waste bin)…
Still we move on and we had the perfect distraction readily available, the falls!
As we began to climb, our view began to take in the length of the falls, or at least a section of it, a view something akin to the gorgeous Plitvice Lakes… but on steroids when it comes to the height and sheer volume of water.
Speaking of water volume, information boards near the area threw some incredible numbers at us.
Apparently the average flow of water over the falls is around 1,750 cubic metres per second (a shitload of water), however this figure has fluctuated over the recorded history of the falls.
Incredibly, drought saw the falls almost run dry in 1978, whilst a mere four or five years later, the flow increased to an astonishing 39,000 cubic metres per second!
So strong, it washed away the existing walkways out over the falls, as well as many smaller islands!
Thankfully, for our visit, conditions seemed almost perfect.
We wandered the walkways atop the falls, as well as those along the lower levels, leaving only two areas we’d yet to investigate.
A boat excursion out to the base of the falls (we weren’t certain we’d brought sufficient funds along), as well as use of the ferry across to Isla San Martin, which, situated at the base of the falls, can be climbed for some apparently amazing views.
The only problem being that when we’d earlier looked, the ferry across to the island had been closed…
As we wandered by a crude hut, we found we did indeed have funds enough for a boat out to the falls, and figuring we weren’t likely to return (at least any time soon), forked out the cash, then made the descent down towards the waters and the waiting dock.
To our delight, as we passed the dock for Isla San Martin, we could see it was indeed running.
With the sun shining on its small sandy beach we figured it would be the perfect destination for us to dry off after this jaunt, as after we’d likely get a little wet wouldn’t we?
When waterproof bags were issued, we filled it with most of our gear, leaving little but the GoPro for a little filming, and our standard point and shoot camera in my pocket.
Initially, all was calm (well, the waters weren’t glassy, but we remained dry).
People took photos of the falls, posed for selfies, then we were ferried to a new location, closer to, but certainly not below the Garganta del Diablo.
We lingered nearby as another boat took its group up to and indeed into the cascading waters, a sight we took in whilst bobbing ourselves in washing machine like conditions.
Then came our turn.
Imagine sitting on an uncomfortable plastic chair and having buckets of water emptied upon you.
That’s essentially what the experience was, and at those first falls, we did it not once, not twice, but three times!
At this point all on board were completely saturated.
For the women in white, it resembled something like a wet T-shirt competition, and for those that had taken the time to apply make-up, it was wasted, as faces looked as though they’d endured a good half an hour or so of crying…
As for us, well we were both saturated, and that plan to leave our normal compact camera in my short pocket had me fearful for its welfare.
However there was little that could presently be done, as soon enough, we were headed into the maws of another powerful section of the falls!
Did I also mention that it was cold?
In fact this water was fucking freezing and were it not for the adrenaline that was coursing through our bodies at that point, that cold would have been even more apparent.
Then, just like that, we were done, our boat gently (at least in comparison to a few moments earlier) bobbing its way towards the dock.
Here in the shade that being near the base of a cliff affords you, we staggered back ashore to assess the damage.
Our clothing was sodden, but our other gear had been protected by the provided waterproof bag, and the camera… incredibly, it was okay, its smaller leather case and my hand enough to keep it dry enough!
We climbed back up towards the dock for the ferry service across to Isla San Martin, as surely a bit of sun would prove welcome in this situation, but to our surprise, the boat had now stopped, as the river levels had gotten too high (they were of course still collecting people from the rock, but no new people could head over).
Talk about rotten timing!
So with our original afternoon plans in tatters, we decided to head back up and walk our way back to the Garganta del Diablo and in doing so, try and get ourselves dry.
We passed some additional falls we’d not yet seen, and as we got closer to the metal boardwalks that would get us back out to see the maelstrom, we had a vast array of colourful butterflies to keep us entertained.
It was however whilst out over the water that we spotted a bird just as impressive as any Mariposa (butterfly).
Lured by the promise of tourist crumbs, a small collection of Plush Crested Jays were taking turns flying up and retrieving morsels of bread on the railing.
Out near the falls, the views were as impressive as earlier, but despite the sun being higher, the continual spray ensured that it was certainly no drier.
Then we spotted a familiar face, Javier!
He was nursing a sore head, having kicked on for another three or four hours after we parted company, but like the good soldier that he was, he was ready to back it up again that very night as agreed, but with a twist!
His late night hadn’t been wasted, in fact the local men with whom he’d carried on, had invited us all to dinner, a prospect we thought sounded pretty cool indeed!
So there we three sat a little later that day, beers in hand awaiting the arrival of Javier’s new friends… only the problem with new friends met over beer, is that beer on occasion, has the power to induce amnesia.
It appears we were either forgotten, or just as likely, the waiting wife was none too impressed with the 3am conclusion to the previous night, and wouldn’t entertain the thought of us!
Still, we had another good feed and another good night, all in good company…
* Our journey from Salta to Puerto Iguazu was another 2 bus effort. An overnight bus from Salta to Corrientes cost us $735.00 pesos per person.
* The second leg, a day bus from Corrientes to Puerto Iguazo hit our wallet to the effect of $ pesos apiece.
* We arranged our to and from las Cataratas (the Iguazu Falls) through our hostel for $75.00 pesos per person.
* Entrance into the Parque Nacional Iguazu was a hefty $260.00 pesos per person (tickets can be re-validated for a 2nd consecutive day at half the face value).
* Our Nautica boat tour whacked us with an extra $270.00 pesos each for about a 15-20 minute ride.