Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Iguazu Falls and Endangered Species

6455604521_2c351641b6After surviving a 16 hour bus trip (which was actually quite comfortable) we arrived at our hostel, Candy, a nice place with a friendly owner Alexandre who immediately invited us over for dinner the following night. We explored the town which is fairly touristy and walked down to the famous ‘Tres Fronteras’ from which you can see Brazil and Paraguay whilst standing in Argentina.  It’s actually a fairly non-descript place with a massive obelisk to mark the peace treaty between the three countries, but it’s a very nice walk along the river to marker.

The next day we were up early to explore Iguazu Falls.  They are stunning. We firstly explored the ‘Superior Paseo’ which gives a fantastic view down over the falls, and then the ‘Inferior Paseo’ which takes you right up to one of the biggest falls where you get completely drenched when you brave the platform.  While we were standing on the platform there was suddenly applause and we realised that a proposal had just happened.  Dave’s first comment was that the guy was braver than him because he would’ve dropped the ring into the waterfall….

6455580675_21ab00bf3fUnfortunately the boat out to San Martin Island was not running as the water level was too high. A group of tourists clearly thought the staff could do something about the rise in water level and were complaining loudly to a ranger that the boat should be running and that they were extremely disappointed about not being able to visit the island! The park ranger politely reminded them that since there was more water flowing, it was a better time to see and appreciate the waterfalls…. which is the real attraction, not the island. They sheepishly stopped complaining and left. 

We walked down to the port where the boat leaves from anyway just to get another view of the falls which turned out to be a good decision.. from the bottom, it was definitely the best view we’d had all day and since the boats weren’t running, there were nearly no other tourists around.

6463691195_837e66e002From there, after a picnic lunch spent avoiding the ‘Coaties’ who can be quite savage in their scavenging for food, we caught the train around to the famous ‘Garganta del Diablo’ (otherwise known as the Devil’s Throat, they really enjoy naming their natural wonders after parts of the Devil in Argentina…)

There is a 1.1km metal bridge which literally takes you out over the falls. The walk out is amazing and on the way you pass the old bridge that was washed away in the late 90’s during a massive flood.  The platform was packed with tourists and annoying ‘professional’ photographers standing up on their ladders trying to coax groups into paying for a ‘classic’ photo.

Despite the touts, the whole area around the falls has a magical feel with the air being full of mist, birds diving in and out of the fog with outstanding rainbows appearing every time 6462413377_17f813cd89the sun peaked out from behind the clouds.  We spent about half an hour enjoying the view before we decided to head back – but instead of taking the train, we walked along the tracks to try and spot the renowned local wildlife while the sun was shining.  We managed to turn it into a mini-safari after spotting two wild toucans, a few lizards and loads of beautiful butterflies.

On our last day in Puerto Iguazu we headed to Güira Oga which is an animal sanctuary for the rehabilitation of animals found in the Amazon and local rainforest.  Generally the animals are there because they are either injured or humanised. If they can be rehabilitated and released they are, otherwise they are kept there and taken care of. 

IMG_3888We went on a 1.5 hour tour of the sanctuary which included getting to see 5 different types of toucans, Howler monkeys which were extremely playful, many types of eagles who don’t have any muscle strength as they’ve been kept chained up for too long – interestingly, it takes over a year for them to build up enough muscle strength and learn to fly again.  They also have capybaras, which are the largest rodent in the world and rather look like an overgrown wombat.

IMG_3922That night we boarded another overnight bus bound for Resistencia, this time travelling with Andesmar, and even though it wasn’t quite the same service as our last bus ride, it was still a decent nights sleep and not too bad in the food department.

We could get used to travelling like this, especially when it’s saves paying for a night in a hostel!

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