|Next up was our adventure at the Igauzu waterfalls. We've heard so many things about how great the falls are that I was a little wary that there is no way that they would be able to live up to our expectations. Let me tell you, there was no problem there.
First a little geography. The Iguazu (Iguacu in portugese and often Iguassu in english) falls is on the Iguazu river just before the confluence with the Parana river. The falls can be seen on one side from Brazil and from the other side in Argentina. Additionally, Paraguay is very close also, being on the other side of the Parana river. That's enough of that.
Our first day exploring the falls was from the Agentinian side purely by chance, a tour company that worked out of our hotel (yes I said hotel and not hostel, it was a nice, welcome change) was offering a ride to that side our first day in the town of Foz do Iguacu on the Brazilian side which would help ease any problems with the border crossings. Anything to make a border crossing easy is tops on Ali's list, so off we went with them. As it turns out, the crossing did seem very easy, but it was a nice worry not to have.
When we reached the falls, it wasn't at all like getting to Niagra Falls, or what I remember about from possibly a drunken trip during college. At Niagra Falls, you just drive up and see the falls, here the bus drops you off and you have a significant walk on paved walkways though dense forest before you even being to hear the falls. They have done a really nice job trying to maintain the natural beauty of the area while still making the falls very accessible (I can tell you that almost no other sites that we have in seen in nature have been even remotely easy to get to or see).
Anyway, after our nice stroll through nature, where we saw a tucan (which apparently eat other birds - shame on you Tucan Sam), we came to our first view of a portion of the falls. At this point I should explain that Iguazu Falls isn't simply one large waterfall but a series of waterfalls covering a very large area, some closely bunched together and some a great distance apart. There are 275 falls plunging over a precipice of more than a mile and a half, with an average drop of 300 feet to the river below (I stole this from a website). The falls are 60 feet higher than Niagara and about one and a half times as wide. Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have exclaimed on first seeing these falls: "Poor Niagara! This makes Niagara look like a kitchen faucet."
She was correct, it was breathtaking, really awesome. The trails around the falls take to over the top of many of the falls, with view basically straight over them, nearly under the falls, where you get absolutely soaked, and all around the area to get a view from every possible angle. I hope the pictures do it some justice.
The next activity for the day was a boat ride into the Devil's throat, or as close as you can get, and into the fall of some of the lesser falls. It was awesome to be drowned in the mist from these waterfalls, and to try and guess the raw power of the stongest of them. Neadless to say, we were drenched for the rest of the day, but it was worth it.
The Brazilian side of the falls proved to be much the same but with some equally impressive views of the falls and areas where you can get over and under some of the larger falls.