• Day35

    Up Close at Iguassu

    June 1, 2018 in Brazil ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    The mighty Iguassu Falls was recently voted as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. This is more than can be said for Victoria Falls or Niagara Falls, both of which missed the final cut.

    The falls themselves are situated in the north east of Argentina on the Iguassu River. This huge river forms the natural border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. When I had last visited this place in 2010 I was only able to view the falls from the Argentina side. Even so I remember thinking that it was one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen. Soon after that visit I was able to travel to Africa to view the famous Victoria Falls, and I must admit that I was a little disappointed that it was not as memorable as Iguassu.

    On this time I had arranged the plans so that we would be able to view the falls from both the Argentina and Brazil sides of the river.

    Our first stop was on the Argentina side. Rising early we caught a bus to the entrance to the Iguassu Park and then took a slow 30 min train ride to the Devil's Throat, the largest and most spectacular of the hundreds of waterfalls that make up the complex. An elevated steel walkway took us to the very top of the falls. This walkway was recently washed away in a large flood and had to be completely rebuilt. Fortunately the river was not in flood this time, so we were able to make the walk safely.

    As you near the thundering torrent, a huge spray of mist saturates anyone brave enough to venture near the cascade itself. The plastic ponchos which many of our group paid 4 Sols (about $2) each for, did very little to keep us dry. They did serve to make all of us look like grade A, certified clowns.

    After an hour or so exploring the walkways on the Argentina side, it was time to return to the bus and prepare for another series of border crossings as we returned back into Brazil. From this side you are not as close to most of the dramatic action, but the advantage is that you can see almost the entire span of falls from a single viewpoint. The effect is absolutely mindblowing. In a single second, almost 2 million litres of water flow over the edge. In flood times this volume can increase a staggering 20 fold. In times of drought the flow can reduce to almost zero. Fortunately, at the time we were there, the falls were neither in flood or drought. In fact they were just about right.

    Just as important was the fact that the fine weather that has followed us for the entire time we have been in South America, held on for another day. This is a high rainfall area where it rains almost every day, but NOT on the day the Ghostriders paid a visit.

    After another drenching and hundreds of photos, it was finally time to say bye to the falls and return back to Argentina to catch our flight to Buenos Aires. The tiny airport on the Argentina side is currently undergoing major rebuilding and the place was in a bit of a mess. This leg of the trip w as the only time we would be flying with Argentine Airlines (all other legs were with LATAM).

    We had been warned that Argentine Airlines had recently reduced their baggage allowance from 23 kg to only 15 kg. With this in mind we approached the check in desk with fear and trepidation. I needn't have wooried. When I dragged my large 21kg bag to the scales, the lovely check in girl just smiled and handed me my boarding pass. "Too easy" I thought, and wandered to join the rest of the group.

    A few moments later I was joined by David. Something was wrong. He was absolutely livid. "That $^@@&$ girl made me pay excess baggage", he yelled. I must admit that I had never heard him swear like that. I had always thought him to be quiet and dignified.

    "You have really had a LOT of luggage", I suggested. He replied that his total luggage was only about 17kg. I decided not to tell him that I had exceeded his total by a good 4 kg and paid not a cent extra. he already seemed to be well past his breaking point. He went and sulked in the corner, counting how the lost $40 would affect his future retirement plans. Oh well, life sometimes is never fair. I secretly smiled to myself and went to have a cup of coffee.

    A couple of hours later we were landing in Buenos Aires. Actually it really did feel like we weer landing right in the middle of the city itself. The Aeroparque domestic airport is right near the centre of the city. As we descended to land I could see the large illuminated high rise buildings passing by a few metres past the end of our wings. For the while it felt like we were driving along the freeway, as I could almost wave to the drivers moving along parallel to our plane. Even with the "exciting" landing I was still a little surprised when all the passengers broke into excited clapping and cheering when the plane landed without careering off the end of the runway and into the centre of town. Maybe it is unusual for planes to survive such a landing. I was just relieved to be on the ground. It almost felt like the pilot had landed us at the door of our hotel, just to save a bit of time.

    After collecting our luggage (and David having collected his tiny, but very expensive bag) we were met by an energetic local lady who introduced herself as "Sandra". It is always a relief when you land in a foreign city to be met by someone who is expecting you. Soon we were escorted to our large waiting bus and driven to our nearby hotel.

    After getting our room keys we all went out in search of dinner. Buenos Aires is a large, modern city and is often likened to the Paris of South America. Since nobody eats their evening meal here until after 9 pm, we were certainly not out of place walking into a restaurant at about that time. In fact I think we were one of the first ones there. The food was excellent, but the waiter's insistence on being rewarded with a generous tip is a little hard for us Australians to get used to.

    Fortunately the beds in the Cyan America Tower Hotel were huge, warm and comfortable. Sleep came easily.
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