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Foz do Iguaçu (4/5/07 - 5/5/07)

The Iguazu falls are South America's mightiest. Mightiest? You might say... I did. In a land which already boasts such natural wonders as Angel Falls in Venezuela and all those wonderful nearby waterfalls at Canaima, surely waterfalls can't get even more spectacular... When Anna Eleanor Roosvelt (reputedly) famously remarked "poor Niagara" I think I can appreciate what was going through her head. The Iguazu falls are quite a wonder to behold... and I hadn't even heard of them until a few months into this trip when someone asked me "are you going to the Iguazu falls?" to which I responded "the what?".

The falls lie on the river Iguazu which is the natural border between Argentina and Brazil. There are two national parks dedicated to the falls and, not surprisingly, one is on the Brazilian side and one is on the Argentinian side. My first stop was the Brazilian side. I didn't see any prancing deer, but apparently the wildlife here is almost as spectacular as the falls themselves.

There were, however, a lot of these fellows - Racoons. They were very tame and were constantly harassing visitors for food. There are even warnings everywhere not to feed them and to try not to agitate them, lest one accidentally contracts rabies.

As you walk down the marked path towards the sound of the falls, you can begin to actually "feel" their presence, not least because there is a great deal of mist in the air which slowly moistens then soaks your clothing. Nothing really prepares you for the moment when you first actually witness the falls though. This was quite an experience for me because, since I didn't know much about these falls (and hadn't heard of them until recently) I had never seen photos of them and didn't really know what to expect. Well... I was pretty blown away.

There are something like two kilometers of actual waterfall. Most of it is actually on the Argentinian side while a mere 600m is on the Brazilian side. The Brazilian side, however, does have the advantage of offering wonderful broad panoramic views of the falls. And you need them too... first you are gripped by the might of the falls... then you slowly realise just how impressively massive they are. They are reputedly the second most voluminous natural waterfalls in the world in terms of water flow, after Victoria falls (from Lake Victoria which is the source of the Nile... guess where my next major travel destination will be).

Because of the thick mist and the very pleasant weather here, there is almost constantly a rainbow arching over the falls. By now the air is saturated with the sound of the falls and one's clothes are also saturated by the mist...

A sign that John Landy obviously did not pay heed to prior to the 1954 Empire Games... (that's a terrible joke, don't worry if you don't get it, its probably a good thing).

The insect life here is almost as spectacular as the falls themselves. They're friendly too... they have absolutely no qualms about landing on you and trying to extract nectar from the fibres of your clothing.

Ant meets large butterfly...

Everywhere you go, you are surrounded by beautiful rainforest scenery... combine that with the early morning sun and the mist from the falls... and spectacular photos are easy.

After plodding along slowly for about an hour (its not a long way, you just can't help but stop every few metres to gawk at the falls) we reached that part of the falls called "The Devil's Throat" which is also about where the Argentina-Brazil border is. Constructing that walkway would've been pretty tricky.

There is a small shop at the start of the walkway that sells cheap plastic ponchos... I don't know why anyone would want one, you're generally quite wet by the time you get here anyway... and in the heat, the spray is very refreshing.

Venturing out allows excellent views downriver... and a close-up of the dramatic and turbulent water at the foot of these waterfalls.

I wasn't exactly risking life and limb, but I was risking my camera, which I kept in a ziplock bag and occassionally pulled out to take the odd picture... luckily, I hardly got any water on the lens. The spray was incredible and I had to wait for the odd gust of wind to blow back the other way to give me a "clear" window to take a photo. Here, you can see the double-rainbow effect. In theory, these rainbows continue on to infinity, but the conditions are rarely good enough to see more than one rainbow.

Another shot, just moments before I shoved the camera back into its plastic bag just prior to getting drenched by the thick cloud of water droplets that dominate the right half of the shot.

About twenty metres down from the walkway, there is an elevator which takes you to an observation platform which is above the level of the top of the falls. These visitors don't seem to give a stuff about the beautiful watery violence going on below.

A nice view of the walkway... maybe that's why they sell people those plastic raincoats - so that people standing on the observation deck can see them.

The trees surrounding the top of the falls were literally swarming with insect life. These butterflies seemed to be having a little convention while I was here.

Pssst! Hey, I'll show you mine if you show me yours...

The butterfly with translucent wings... phwoar.

Later that day, we journeyed upstream to the world-famous Itaipu hydroelectric power plant. (this isn't it... these are power lines)


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