Thursday, March 12, 2015

Poor Niagra...That's What Eleanor Roosevelt Said About These Falls

Anyone who has ever met me, hung out with me, been to my house, read my writings, or had any other contact with me, knows that I love waterfalls.  And the fact that I love waterfalls means that I also know a little bit about waterfalls.  I'm what's referred to as a waterfall hunter, and most of the vacations that I have ever taken are because of waterfalls.  But, what does that mean?  That means that while most of us have heard of and seen some gorgeous pictures and footage about certain waterfalls around the globe, you might be surprised to know that you're probably missing it.  Most people know that Yosemite Park has some great waterfalls.  Yellowstone has some goodies too.  Iceland is called the land of waterfalls with Gullfoss and Dettifoss leading the way with the tourists.  Most folks have heard of the tallest waterfall in the world--Angel Falls.  Victoria Falls in Africa is widely known.  Niagra Falls is probably the best known waterfall in the world.  But, which falls is actually visited most?  Welcome to Iguazu Falls.

Iguazu Falls is one of the most unique waterfalls in the world.  It sits on the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay in South America.  There are 275 individual waterfalls flowing into a cataract gorge that in places is roughly 270 feet high.  The gorge full of waterfalls spans roughly 3 km with an overall flow rate of 1000 cubic meters per second.  It's all pretty impressive.  Okay, so you want to see this, but how?

This is not a day trip from anywhere in any of the countries.  Argentina and Brazil share the National Park that encompasses the falls and there is a hotel on each side.  The Tropical das Cataratas Hotel sits on the Brazilian Side and has a view of the falls, although it's not as convenient as the hotel people say.  On the Argentinian side there is a Sheraton.  On the Argentinian side is Iguazu City and the airport.  Fly in folks.  It's around 1000 miles from either Sao Paulo or Buenos Aries.  It's not a small undertaking.  However, it is one of the most popular destinations outside of the beaches in all of South America.

Why is this waterfall so popular?  Well, it's like Niagra.  There are several ways that you can get up close and personal with this falls.  There are walkways at both the top and bottom.  There are trails all around it.  You can flight see over it.  You can take a boat up the gorge into it.  It's warm enough to enjoy, with lots of people wearing their swimsuits around in the warm times.  There are thousands of different angles to view, appreciate and photograph these amazing falls.  Just make sure that whatever camera you bring is good with water.

Most of the activities and most of the best access to the falls is on the Argentinian side.  But, if you decide to stay on the Brazilian side because you like the quiet and the closeness, that's okay too.  You can cross over pretty easy in a place where multiple countries are sharing a national park.  When you cross the border at the falls, the officials pretty much presume that you're doing it to see more of the falls and go shopping at more gift shops.  They really don't mind.  The Argentinian side sports most boats, a train, a rainforest walk, extensive trails, and the walk to Devil's Throat.  One of the things that make this waterfall so popular is the access.  Devil's Throat, also known as Gargantua del Diablo, is the top of the gorge where the falls begin.  The walkway crosses the river right at the top of the falls.  It's a long bridge out to the middle of the river and the viewing platform hangs right over the beginning of the amazing waterfalls.  It's a thrill just to go out there and take a look, so don't miss it.

There are also walkways down in the gorge that are accessible by taking a boat across the river.  There is also a boat trip up into the gorge.  They won't promise to reach the end of the gorge, but they do pretty good at getting you up close and personal with the bottom of the head of the incredible falls.  Once again, this is one of those places where you will want to bring a cover for your camera and should probably have a camera that's good with water.  You can easily ruin a camera trying to take a picture of these falls.  There are a ton of ways to view the falls, for all kinds of people.  Some are work.  Some are fun and easy.  Take your choice of methods.  That's why this is an Adventure for Anyone.

But, the falls is not the only activity in the park.  As I mentioned, there is a train that runs from the Argentinian entrance up to the walkway to Devil's Throat.  It also stops along the way and that's where you can take the rainforest walk.  This is a great place to get in touch with nature.  You will not only see the flora and fauna that the South American Rainforests are famous for, but you will see wildlife.  They have gorgeous parrots and toucans; monkeys and other amazing animals that you don't see every day at home.  It's a lovely walk and a great place to get some shade and dry off after a wild day full of falling water.  The train is an open compartment vessel too, so that you can have a great experience communing with nature.

I can say that you should not plan this as a day trip or as an entire vacation.  It's one of those things that you should set aside two maybe three days to do.  You will have a great experience, and you'll have fun in the town with the locals.  It is out of the way, which I like.  You will want to fly in from one of the major cities in one of the three countries, because you don't want to ride 1000 miles on a bus and you certainly don't want to try and find it in a rental car.  There are domestic airlines that do this trip all the time in all three countries.  It's the best way to go.

My husband says that it's silly to go out to see waterfalls.  He thinks that they're all alike, but millions of tourists would say different and so would I.  Mother Nature is the one who made these amazing wonders of the world, and I'm always in awe of the waterfalls I see.  The size, the power, the beauty, and the danger are an amazing combination that make these sights fascinating.  There are not that many waterfalls that demand our respect and shouldn't be missed.  Iguazu heads that list.  It's one of those places that if you don't see it, you've missed out on one of the most amazing experiences that you ever would have had.  I know, you have a family, a job, a mortgage and whatever.  We should all be adults and be responsible.  Just think about this though; if you never do anything crazy like going 1000 from the major cities of three South American countries to look at a waterfall, then what's the point?  Life is for adventure and that's why I write Adventures for Anyone.  So, throw caution to the wind and go for it.  You only live once.


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