I felt the excitement building as we winged our way through a stunning sunset from Buenos Aires to Iguazu airport. The hotel set in lush sub-tropical gardens gave us a taste of what was to come.
The next day our adventure began when a vehicle from the Lodge in the Yacutinga Reserve transported us from Puerto Iguazu into the depths of the Misiones Atlantic Rainforest. The driver put chains on the tyres as he negotiated the muddy roads through ‘yerba mate’ plantations, the rural communities and changing scenery.
Our room nestled in harmony with the surrounding jungle. Tangled vegetation, plants like orchids and bromeliads in the understory lower region we can see, lianas reaching for the sun, butterflies galore. As the forest canopy enclosed us, our senses were released to experience the secrets of this hidden world. Quieten your mind and the forest talks. A profusion of sounds of species I had never seen or heard before……………woodpeckers, humming birds,toucans, trogons, tanagers, interspersed with the eerie sound of black howler monkeys and at the night the myriad of frogs. Of course our expert guides, an ornithologist and local Guarani, had to patiently point out and impart just a little of their knowledge for us to see and understand a tiny fraction of the biodiversity of life in one of its richest expressions.
Life on the banks of the river can only be seen as you glide silently in your kayak through the water…………a Capybara family rushing into the stream, kingfishers diving for a meal, was that a Caiman?
After two days of wonder at every new sensation and sight, we had to leave this sanctuary. Not without incident ………..even chains on the wheels did not prevent us getting well and truly stuck in the mud! After all, this is a ‘rain’forest! Help was soon at hand and we were delivered safely in town, much to the relief of fellow passengers who had a flight to catch! Nothing prepared us for the awestruck wonder of the next two days………. visiting the Iguazu (Guarani for ‘great water’) Falls from the Argentina side and then the Brazil side. Four kilometres wide in all.
The falls lie within the Iguazu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our tour, called “The great adventure”, began as the truck travelled through the lush forest, the guide explaining our surroundings in detail in Spanish, which ‘sounded’ beautiful anyway! We waited in trepidation on the pier where we were to board the boat to navigate these tumultuous waters into the canyon below the falls. Our time had come! We donned our life jackets and off we set! Ready for some awe? As we rounded a bend we were faced with a moving, thunderous sheet of water gushing down from about 80 meters above us! A veil of mist rises creating a spectacular rainbow. We waited our turn to get up close and personal and be swept into the spray. Needless to say, our cameras were tucked away as we were happily drenched in this once-in-a-lifetime experience! Swifts, who nest behind the falls, were the only brave ones to venture closer! And the plants that manage to thrive as they cling to the rocks with tenacity. After landing we walked on shaky legs along the impressive walkways that extend across the top of the numerous falls that make up the Argentina section. Along the edges little coatis dig for tasty morsels, thrilling the children. Above the thundering roar of water you hear exclamations in many foreign languages as people gaze in awe.
There was more to explore the next day as we entered Brazil. Due to extensive rains inland, about 12 million tons of water flow over every second, the main walkway was closed but we did get amazing views where the Iguazu River plunges into a narrow gorge known as “the Devil’s Throat”. You definitely would not live to tell the tale if you took the plunge! I will be juggling superlatives if I try to tell you more. All too soon our awe-inspiring experience must end.
Memories are made of this.
About the Author: Moira Smart from South Africa. I have not had much overseas travel experience but my 3 trips to 3 different areas of Argentina and Chile over the past 3 years have been amazing! A senior citizen, working full-time.
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