As I mentioned earlier, Iquazu Falls straddles two countries - Argentina and Brazil. It is fed by the meeting of two mighty rivers. The first inhabitants in the area were the Caingangues Indians. This tribe was ousted by the Tupi-Guaranies who named the falls Iguazú (Big Water). The first European to reach the falls was the Spaniard Don Alvar Nuñes Cabeza de Vaca in 1541.
While it does not have the longest drop of any waterfall in the world (that is Victoria Falls), Iguazu is the biggest - an astonishing 2.3 kilometres wide with water plunging up to 80 in the biggest of the drops.
I really don't know how to start describe to you what we all saw yesterday. Our hotel is located on the Argentinian side of the border but our first visit was to the National Park on the Brazilian side. That meant a border crossing and the usual immigration checks (which was repeated when we crossed back over) and an elaborate and confusing system for gaining entry into the park (get off the bus, get back on the bus). But we had a terrific guide (Isabel) and she charted a course through the bureaucratic maze and we were in. The journey then commenced.
Iquazu Falls is a place of devastating beauty and power. After leaving the bus, we headed off on a short, easy walk to a point where the jungle opens up to reveal a line of massive waterfalls spilling into turbulent pools below. It is such an imposing sight - it is hard to know where to look first.. The spray from the crash of water below billows high into the air creating complete or partly-formed rainbows that stretch across the canyons. It is a photographer’s dream. Even bad photographers like me should (hopefully) be able to get some decent photos here. You can be the judge.
Today will be one of those occasions where the pictures will tell the story best. So I will start the photostream here and try to put some words around it in between photo collections.
Most of the falls actually "belong" to Argentina, as Isabel explained, but you need to travel to both countries to see them all. You can actually just see the whole sweep of falls on the Argentinean side only, but it doesn't really matter because it is too much to take in at one time anyway. We have, apparently, travelled here on a perfect day: it is sunny and cloudless, there is abundant water (the rivers were in flood a few weeks ago) and while the crowds are pretty big, it does not impede us too much. After the nondescript weather in Rio for much of the week, it all came good when it has mattered.
We headed off along a path that kept opening up into more stunning vistas of these majestic falls. At the end of the trail is an walkway and viewing platform that bring you right in front of one the biggest and most spectacular of the falls. You are so close that you feel the vibration of the water as gravity forces it s will on it and get drenched by the spray that fills the space above the water after it fractures at the end of the drop.
I am filled with awe to be standing so close and to feel the power of the water as it spills over the edge of clifftops and tumbles into the canyons at the bottom. It is loud and furious and peaceful all at the same time. One or two of the falls would have been enough for me – here there were 2.3 kilometres of them. It is a moment - moments - of grace.
We head back (reluctantly) to the bus. Our two hours in the park have passed remarkably quickly but we need to get going because we haven’t seen the Argentinean side yet, and Isabel reckons that this is even more spectacular! As if! How can it better than this? My desire to find out is all that gets me back in the bus. Once we were all on, we rumble off back to Argentina to find out...