Thursday Feb 3, 2011

After another yummy breakfast yesterday, we rode our coach to Buenos Aires’ domestic airport for a short (1hr 45min) flight to Iguazu. This humid jungle-zone of red soil, gorgeous butterflies and birdlife galore (on the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay) is an eco-tourist’s paradise set in huge swaths of untouched rainforest. We saw some of that from the air, but what we’d really come to see were Iguazu’s world-famous, jaw-dropping waterfalls.

“Niagara on Viagra!” is how one visitor put it when he saw the Iguazu Falls for the first time. And having spent half of yesterday hiking around the panoramic Brazilian side, plus seven hours today getting up close and very wet on the spectacular Argentine side, we can fully understand why.

The trouble is, words and photos simply don’t do it! I mean, sorry about this, 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 blinding spray on your face as those geyser-like eruptions surge forever into the air.

Iguazu isn’t one waterfall – there’s actually 200 or 300 of them (especially when the river’s running high, as it was this week, thanks to flooding in Brazil). 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 saw it first in the misty distance, from the Brazilian side. But, today, from the safety of a steel catwalk, we peered over the terrifying brink of the monster’s mouth and watched, spellbound, as an entire chunk of the river emptied itself endlessly into its gaping 100-metres-deep gut.

Those steel catwalks go everywhere – and we (with a zillion other Argentines and foreigners) walked our little legs off, stopping every few seconds (it seemed) to ooh and aah and oh-my-goodness. What the spray didn’t wet, a heavy afternoon tropical downpour did – and we all got thoroughly soaked, over and over again, arriving back at the elegant, top-of-the-range Iguazu Grand Hotel looking like drowned rats! But, give us half a chance, we’d go straight back and enjoy the entire unforgettable experience again tomorrow.

That, of course, isn’t possible – because, sadly, we’re leaving Iguazu tomorrow. A luxury ship is waiting for us at the cruise terminal in Buenos Aires … and the next exciting chapter of our South American saga is about to be written.

FOOTNOTE: Remind me some time and I’ll tell you about the strange wildlife, birds and butterflies we caught on camera …

PEOPLE NEWS: While we’ve enjoyed some fun at Barbara’s expense, as a result of her disappearing passport, it’s highly likely the document was stolen. We’ve learned that Kiwi passports are in hot demand internationally – and criminal elements will actually buy cheap airline tickets so they can get inside the secure areas at airports (like Buenos Aires) and help themselves to passports from just-arrived travellers – like us Kiwis!

(Thought you should know …)

TOMORROW: We board the ms Veendam, bound for Cape Horn and the Chilean Fjords. So, while we settle in for some five-star pampering, you keep in touch and stay close to your computer …

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

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