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March 11th, 2012 | Argentina

Iguazu Falls from Argentina…

We crossed the bridge over the Iguazu River at 9.00am this morning, and headed into Argentina… We had taken all our strapped on gear off the bikes to minimize temptation for the long-fingered individuals who frequent parking grounds…

The Igiazu Parks emblem features the thousands of swallows that nest on the cliffs around the falls....

We managed to avoid handing our Brazilian Bike Registration papers in at the customs, by telling them we would be back in just a few hours….

On the Argentine side, we did the same thing…!! The Customs official warned us not to ride past the turnoff to the falls, as beyond that, if we were stopped by the police, they would confiscate our bikes…!!

It is not often that we heed the advice or instructions from officialdom, but in this case, Roger and I agreed that it would be frightfully inconvenient to have our bikes taken away from us, so we agreed to go no further than the turnoff to the National Park…

It was a weird feeling riding into a new country without any official paperwork, though…!!

We were told by many people that the Argentine side was the best to see the falls from… Even Brazilians said this…

I have to admit that they are spectacular from this side, but the crowds…!!

Things aren’t nearly as well organised as they are on the Brazilian side…

It just wouldn't be right....!! Rather wait until you are in a less crowded place...

For a start, there is an ATM right at the entrance gate you ride through before you get to the parking area about a kilometre away… If you do not have Pesos with you, you have a problem if you don’t draw cash here… We didn’t… Have Pesos, or draw cash…!!

In 40 degree heat, waiting 45 minutes for a train is not much fun...!!

There is another ATM in the main visitors centre at the actual entrance, but as luck would have it, it was out of order…!! And nobody bothering to attend to the problem…

Crowds lined up to try their luck, but all to no avail… We had to dash back to the parking, get on our bikes and ride back to the entrance gate to draw cash before THAT machine either ran out or malfunctioned…

The nearest town is 20 kilometres away if both machines are out of order…!! Considering the thousands of people that entered the park today, five ATM’s would have been kept very busy…

Crammed in like sardines, eight people to a section, four on a bench... I got jammed between two folk who would give any bathroom scale an anxiety attack...

There are no buses in this park either… They use an antiquated train to ferry people to and from the main falls, and to two other stops where you can walk down to other sections of the falls from…

The trains leave every 45 minutes or so, and if you are unlucky enough to still be standing in the queue when the train is full, you better have a hat and sunscreen with you… I had neither, and my pip took a beating…!!

This tiny train is not built for speed, and pulling six coaches with 300 people aboard, is just about as much as it can handle…

Some people gave up on waiting for the next train, and actually walked alongside the track and beat us to the terminus…!!

On arrival, 300 people squeeze their way down a narrow walkway towards the falls, which is about a kilometre away… And of course, you meet the 300 people from the previous train heading back towards the station…

More traffic...!! The walkways were jam-packed as well...!!

The majority of the people dawdled along as if they had all day…!! I managed to speed them up by telling them that the falls were being switched off in half an hour so they had better keep moving and stop acting like they had never seen a river before…!!

The elevated walkway crosses half a dozen tributaries of the river, that are on their way to other falls further downstream… After what seemed like ages, I finally made it on to the main viewing deck, to find every man and his family (no dogs…!!) jostling for space to take a photograph…

I managed to barge my way to an open spot at the railing, neatly cutting in front of a small group of Koreans who looked like rabbits caught in the headlights… They were just being too NICE…!! Too much head-bobbing and apologizing going on to make any headway in this crowd…!!

The platform stands at the edge of the Devils Throat, and the roar of the water makes the air vibrate with energy...

The “Garganta del Diablo”, or Devil’s Throat is a magnificent sight…!! It is a massive u-shaped waterfall, 150 metres wide and over 700 metres long, and drops into a bowl 82 metres below the lip of the falls…

Spray covers the area and the wind moves it about so that one moment the falls are clearly visible, and the next they are almost hidden from view…!!

Over 1 800 cubic metres of water per second, crashes into the basin below...!! In the background is the restaurant we had lunch at on the Brazilian side of the falls...

Further along the walkway, you can see the outer edges of the Devils Throat...

"The next person who bumps into me while I am trying to take this photo, will see the inside of the Devil's Throat...!!"

Roger and I stood looking out over the falls for just a few minutes, before heading back the way we had come, so that we could be certain of catching the next train back down the line to the halfway station…

Even so, we had to wait in a long queue again, and only just managed to squeeze onto the train before the guards brought the rope barrier down to signal that the train was full…!!

We got off at the next stop, and then began a very long walk along the edge of the falls, stopping to take photos as we went, and all the while dodging through groups of people crowding the pathways…

Iguazu is made up of hundreds of separate waterfalls...

We also had to make our way through bands of foraging Coatis....

We could look down onto walkways that led to the base of the falls we were standing on...

Waterfalls, waterfalls, everywhere you look...!!

We also had to keep an eye out for finger-slicing butterflies and flowers...!!

We were heading towards the area where boats take people out among the cataracts and right under the falls themselves… We were a bit perturbed by the number of steps we would have to descend to get there…!!

“You realize of course, that we have to walk back up here, don’t you…??” I asked Roger… “I don’t want to hear any complaints from you and that gimpy leg of yours…!!” I joked…

“Never mind the getting up, Bro… It’s the bloody getting down that I have a problem with…!!” he replied…

“Well then maybe you better go in front… I don’t want you falling down on me…!!”

We could tell by the size of the people in the bottom left hand corner, that we had a rather steep descent ahead of us...!! Yes, those are people drying their clothes on the "beach" of one of the islands...!!

There were no shortage of takers to pay $100 for the ten minute ride...!!

We clambered down a long series of either metal or concrete stairways, until we were directly above the boat station…

We watched boatload after boatload go out and make a series of sweeps in the wide bay below us, and then duck under the smaller falls to get the passengers completely soaked, before reversing out again…

“We’ve seen these bloody falls from every other angle, so we might as well do this as well…!!” Roger quipped…

I could understand his reasoning, and knew that the chances of us ever doing this again were pretty darn slim, so we hiked on, passing many other waterfalls as we did so…

We began joking aloud each time we came upon a new one…!!

“Look Roger, it’s a waterfall…!!” I would say loudly enough for everyone in shouting distance to hear…

To which he would reply,

“Really… A waterfall…!! That’s our first one today…!!”

 

Another bend in the path and another waterfall comes into view...!!

This is one of those optical illusions... If you look closely at this photograph, you will see a waterfall in the background...

We stopped again to take in yet another panoramic view of the falls… Even though we had begun horsing around, we had to admit that this was a place that was well worth visiting…

Another boat prepares to go under the falls...

We paid the fare, then we were given a life-jacket an a waterproof sack to put any gear in that we did not want to get wet…

“Does this mean we can go naked…??” I asked… “I’m wearing jeans for heavens sake…!! There’s going to be some awful chafing going on in places where I don’t want chafing…!!”

"Roger, the guy behind you makes your beard look rather amateurish...!!"

"Never mind that...!! I think you have an escapee from the funny farm next to you...!!"

We rocketed out towards the falls, and headed directly for the large spray you can see on the left...!!

Seconds before the cameraman disappeared completely, and the rest os us took an early shower...!!

Then we headed for another dunking under this waterfall on the Brazilian side of the falls...

It was the shortest ten minute boat ride that we had ever had, and at $10 a minute, not worth the price…!!

"Look Roger...!! Another waterfall...!!"... "By Jove, Ronnie... I think you may be right...!!"

It's Mr. Bean in a Superman outfit...!!

We were sopping wet, and bemoaned the fact that our planning had been more than just a little off…!! We should have packed our shorts into our panniers and changed before we set out on the tour of the falls…

Our shoes were also wet and as the water ran down our legs, our shoes kept filling up and never got dry until we put them in the sun back at the hotel…

On our long trudge back up the hundreds of steps, and back to the station, we came across a guy wearing a superman outfit…

“What the f**k do you think you are doing…??”

asked Roger loudly of the young man…

The guy took one look at Roger and I and then hurried off with his mates… Perhaps he thought we might want to see if he could really fly, by hoisting him over the edge of one of the falls… Which is exactly what we were thinking…!!

I think I've seen enough waterfalls today to last me for the rest of my trip...!!

We caught the train back to the main entrance, and rode back to the border town of Puerto Iguazu, where Roger wanted to refuel…

While we were there, a neat little scooter rode into the service station… We could see that the owner had lavished much love and attention on the machine, and told him so… He beamed proudly back at us and took a few photos of our bikes as we were taking photos of his…!!

You little beauty...!!

We cruised through the border with no hassles at all, but were back in Brazil too late to take in the Bird Park, which I really wanted to see… We had to admit though that all the walking in the heat of the day, had taken it’s toll on us, and in the end we were happy to get back to our hotel and chug down a few cold ones…

We sat chatting to people we had met the day before while we waited for dinner… Silvia, and her daughter Sylvia were from Venezuela, and were visiting the falls for the first time as well… they had driven ten hours to get here from further south in Brazil, where Sylvia lived…

Silvia is a professional artist, and lives and does her painting from her home in Valencia, Venezuela… (Check out her website here…) She told us about conditions in Venezuela and warned us to be careful in certain areas…

At the point where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet....

We sat around the kitchen table, chatting for hours about the different interest we had and comparing experiences during our travels…

They were doing the ten hour drive back south the following day and wanted to get an early start… We had the same thing in mind, as we had no idea what to expect from Paraguay…

We retired to our rooms to get as much sleep as possible before our respective journeys began…

The last thin I remember Roger saying before he went to bed, was, “Well, after the last two days, I am all waterfall-ed out…!!” I don’t care if I never see another waterfall for year…!!”

But we had to admit that it had been well worth the effort getting across southern Brazil to see them…

©GBWT 2012

 

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