Argentina

Cataratas del Iguazú … the Argentine side of Iguazu Falls

Friday – November 28, 2008 –

Today was going to be another amazing adventure. We had a full-day pass arranged for a tour of the Argentina side.

We purchased the Iguazú Jungle Explorer for $100. It combined the Ecological Tour (Paseo Ecológico), scenic float and adventure boat ride into the falls. We began the day taking a train-looking tram (think Disney’s Animal Kingdom) from the Estación Cataratas near the Sheraton to Estación Garganta del Diablo. The mosquitos were pretty bad and Jeff pulled out some kind of wipe that he had bought that you apply to your clothes or limbs to keep away the mozzies. Some Irish girl in front of us in line was amazed by it after Jeff gave her one!

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Upon arrival at the station, we took a scenic 1.8 mile float through the upper Iguazú’s delta. The smooth journey lasted about 30 minutes and allowed us to observe flora, fauna and caimans. After finishing, we had an incredible hike. We walked the Paseo Garganta del Diablo, an 0.6 mile trail of walkways built over the river that brought us to the abyss – directly over the falls of the Garganta del Diablo. The Devils Throat is the highest and deepest of the falls, which is U-shaped. It is about 269 feet high, 492 feet wide and 2,297 feet long. It looked amazingly violent right in front of us. If you went in, you weren’t coming out alive!

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La Garganta del Diablo

Interestingly, some people frequently compare Iguazu to Victoria Falls in southern Africa – also divided between two countries: Zambia and Zimbabwe. In Argentina, the mist rises only between 100 and 490 feet compared to almost 1,000 feet in Zambia. However, Iguazu offers better views because of its shape and walkways. Also, because Iguazu is split into many smaller falls, visitors can view them one section at a time.

After enjoying the incredible Garganta del Diablo, we walked by towards the Sheraton for our adventure boat tour (aventura nautical. We descended about 300 feet of stairs to a boat dock in front of San Martin Island. We boarded a boat and put on ponchos. Our boat steered us directly into the Devil’s throat canyon. The roar of the water tumbling above us was unbelievable. Then, we were baptized under the San Martín waterfall, the second largest waterfall in the park! The 15-minute boat ride was short, but it was magical! It made me think of the award-winning movie “The Mission” which was filmed in this area. Nevertheless, we were drenched!

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A speedboat approaches the falls

We learned a few interesting facts during the journey. Apparently the edge of the basalt ledge recedes 0.1 inches per year. The water of the lower Iguazu flows through the canyon and drains into the Paraná River, a short distance downstream from the Itaipu Dam. This junction marks the border between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. Apparently the name “Iguazu” comes from the Guarani or Tupi words “I” meaning “water” and “ûasú meaning “big.” Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca first discovered the falls in 1541.

On the last part of our tour, we hike two loops of the falls. The Circuito Superior and Circuito Inferior (Upper and Lower Circuits) offered amazing views of the falls from above and below. We couldn’t believe all the rainbows we could see. We got drenched again on the lower circuit but it felt good in the tropical humidity. We met a couple from Spain who were nice. Sergio González worked for Kodak in Alicante and his wife Miriam is Argentine. She was showing him around her beautiful country.

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After wrapping up our tour of the falls, we walked back to the Sheraton. We went out and enjoyed the pool one more time as we watched sunset over the falls. Then we went back to the main restaurant for dinner. We had a great dinner of Argentine barbecue and steaks.

It was a unforgettable day touring Iguazu in Argentina!

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