Sunday March 26, 2017

There’s this place on the South American map where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet up. It’s a humid jungle-zone of red soil, lush greenery, colourful moths and butterflies, and gorgeous birds … an eco-tourist’s paradise set in huge swaths of untouched forest. And we Mad Midlife Kiwis headed there several days ago (a 1hr-45min flight) to see the world-famous, jaw-dropping Iguazu Falls.

“Niagara on Viagra!” is how one visitor put it when he saw them for the first time. And having got up close and very wet on the spectacular Argentine side, then got wet all over again on the panoramic Brazilian side, we can fully understand why.

The trouble is, words and pix simply don’t do it! Sorry folks, but you’ve gotta BE THERE! You’ve gotta HEAR the sheer, raging, overwhelming roar as 23 kilometres of churning water crash down into a giant gorge – and you’ve gotta FEEL the sting of spray on your face as those geyser-like eruptions surge forever into the air.

Born in Brazil in the Serra do Mar, the Iguazu River flows westward for more than 500km before emptying into the Parana River and then the Amazon. It widens and curves until it reaches a fault in the subtropical rainforest, where it divides into many arms and becomes a thundering waterfall, exploding onto the rocks below in dense clouds of mist.

Iguazu isn’t one waterfall – there’s actually 200 or 300 of them (especially when the river’s running high). They’re spread out over an area four times the size of Niagara – and the most awe-inspiring fall of all is the Devil’s Throat. We eyeballed it from the safety of a steel catwalk, peering over the terrifying edge of the monster’s mouth and watching, spellbound, as an entire chunk of the river emptied itself endlessly into its gaping 100-metres-deep gut.

Those steel catwalks go everywhere – and, while some of our group walked their little legs off on the Upper Trail, the rest of us climbed aboard a hi-speed jet boat, racing down-river, then actually driving under the crashing, roaring torrent … getting soaked to the skin, and looking like drowned rats!

A highlight? Absolutely. And, give us half a chance, we’d go straight back and enjoy the entire unforgettable experience again.

Turn your volume up full, and click on the video-clips above (captured by Mrs Cooney) to experience Iguazu live!

In the early afternoon, we took a break from waterfalls and near-drowning, and headed across the border into Brazil to a truly magnificent bird-park – the Parque Das Aves. That, of course, isn’t possible – because, sadly, we’re leaving Iguazu this afternoon. And the final exciting chapter of our South American saga is about to be written …

COMING UP: We catch an early morning northbound flight to Lima, Peru … then another flight to Cuzco, high in the Peruvian Andes … then head out of town on a local coach in search of the beautiful, magical Sacred Valley of the Incas. The mysterious Lost City of Machu Picchu is on a mountaintop somewhere along this valley, and we may have kept the best till last. So don’t go away …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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