From Buenos Aires, we flew to Iguazú Falls located along the northern border between Argentina and Brazil and not that far from Paraguay. The falls are stunningly beautiful even in low-water flow such as we experienced in August.

It was quite a shock to the system to travel from the snowy Andes to the cool, temperate climate of Buenos Aires, and then to the frankly tropical humidity of Iguazú.


Iguazu overview

As we made our approach in the plane, we flew directly over the falls. This graphic, which was on a sign near the top of the falls, pretty well shows what we saw, although the real thing is more dramatic. Check out the pictures at Twisted Sifter to see some aerial shots (pay no attention to the relative size claims at that site; just look at the pictures).

The large horseshoe basin at the lower left is called "The Devil's Throat."

The buildings shown in the upper right are where we were staying. The hotel is represented by the oddly shaped triangular building closest to the river.


Balcony View

There was some anxiety at check-in. Ray and Nancy had been told we would all have rooms overlooking the falls, but as it turns out none of us did. One of the group complained mightily and after some intense negotiation we all got rooms with a view. This was what we could see from our balcony.

The mist is rising from the Devil's Throat. The land to the left of the falls is Brazil.


Iguazu cataract

There were extensive walkways through the rain forest on both sides of the falls. There was a bus excursion to the Brazilian side, but we chose not to go. Later we heard that much of the time was spent waiting in line for paperwork approvals. In contrast, a few folks simply took taxis to the Brazilian side and they had no delays at all!

There was plenty to see at our doorstep.

The walkways took you right up to the various cataracts – or in this case, right on top of them. I can't imagine this kind of access in the litigious USA.


Midstation

The falls were in two layers. The cataract above, for example, would cascade onto this lower middle terrace and then over another drop into the river.

You can barely see the large bird perched on the rocks in the center-left of the picture. The forest was a birder's paradise and several of our number stayed glued to their binoculars. There were also numerous colorful butterflies.


Bromeliad

There was not a variety of colorful flowers, but we did see bromeliads here and there along with some wild begonias. I expect we were not in the right season.


Coatimundi The most common wildlife was the coati


Multiple cataractsIt seemed like the falls continued on for ages. Pictures can't convey the sound of all that water.


Martin's IslandThis set of cascades separates San Martín Island, the high ground on the left, from the mainland. The island is accessible via a free water shuttle from the base of the falls, but we didn't visit it ourselves.


San Martin from ZodiacWe did sign up for a Zodiac tour of the falls from the river. This is the same cascade shown in the picture above. San Martín Island is on the left.


Jim in Zodiac

We were well fitted out for the boat ride. Jim still had hair in those days! And mine wasn't quite so grey. Ah, youth!

Ray is in the background.


Devil's ThroatThe Argentine Zodiac tours do not go all the way into the Devil's Throat although those run from Brazil did. The Argentine guides cited environmental reasons for not venturing any farther. I were quite envious of a group of Brazilian tourists who braved the rougher waters. Jim thought we were quite close enough.


Iguazu TrainOn another day some of us made an expedition to the head of the falls. The trip started with an open train through the rain forest to the embarkation point for the boat.


Putt-putt

Unlike the powerful Zodiacs used at the base of the falls, we rode across to the viewing platform in a little putt-putt that didn't seem adequate to keep us from getting swept over the edge. We were required to wear life jackets in the boat although one of our group quipped that if he fell in or the motor failed, he'd rather drown BEFORE going over the falls!

To be sure the current at the top didn't seem that strong – probably because of the breadth of the river in that area.


Devil's Throat Overlook

After the putt-putt ride, we clambered onto a walkway that took us right to the edge of the falls. The noise was tremendous!

From left: Jim, me, Bob Harmon & Gorman Young.


Top of Devil's ThroatThe top of the cataract is actually a short drop to a shelf before the water plunged into the canyon.


Devil's Throat

The view down the canyon is largely obscured by mist. The cataracts on the right are in Brazil.

The World Waterfall Database of the top 100 waterfalls in the world lists Iguazú as the world's number one waterfall. I've not seen that many large waterfalls, but it surely is special!

Our trip home was somewhat eventful, unfortunately, but Ray and Nancy worked their magic with some uncooperative airlines and we made it back! What a fabulous trip it was.


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