Argentina and Antarctica 2008/2009:
Day 12 - Iguaçu Falls


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Antarctica 2008: [Day 1 - Buenos Aires] [Day 2 - Uruguay] [Day 3 - Ushuaia] [Day 4 - Drake Passage] [Day 5 - South Shetland Islands] [Day 6 - Antarctica] [Day 7 - Antarctic Peninsula] [Day 8 - Antarctic Sound] [Day 9 - Drake Passage] [Day 10 - Cape Horn] [Day 11 - Ushuaia] [Day 12 - Iguaçu] [Day 13 - Iguazú]

Thursday, January 8: We took a cab to Aeroparque, stored two pieces of luggage (check it at the Aeropuertos Argentinas 2000 information desk), and flew north to Iguazú, Argentina.
We took a cab from the airport to our hotel, and ended up with a wonderful cab driver, Carlos. He helped us plan our two-day stay and offered to drive us to the Brazilian side for the afternoon. We happily accepted, since we knew we wanted to go but weren't sure how to do it.
But first, we had to check in at Sheraton Iguazú Resort, the only hotel on the grounds of the Iguazú National Park.
It's an unusual hotel, sloped out this way for the three floors of jungle view rooms, and sloping the other way for the falls view rooms.
We had a falls view room on the second floor. There are the falls! Let's go there.
Back out to Carlos and his cab, then past the city of Puerto Iguazú, ...
... then through the Argentine border stop, ...
... over the bridge spanning the river that separates Argentina from Brazil, ...
... and through Brazilian immigration. We had Brazilian visas for our November 2005 trip to Rio de Janeiro that were still valid, and we were glad about that. If you visit this region, you must visit both sides of the falls, so plan ahead and get a visa if your nationality requires it.
Within an hour of leaving the hotel, we were at the Parque Nacional do Iguaçu in Brazil.
Carlos helped us pay our admission in Argentine pesos and we got on the shuttle bus that takes visitors to various stops throughout the park. All shops and restaurants accepted various forms of foreign currencies, including dollars, euros, and pesos.
At this point, we opted for the open top of the double-decker bus where it was extremely warm but had a great view.
Here's the park map. The Argentine park is on the right and the Brazilian is in the middle.
There it is! We got our first glimpse up close from the top of the bus.
It's probably very lovely, but we were starving, and food was our highest priority. We picked the only table with shade (everyone else was in the covered pavilion) and sat down to eat lunch from the food court at the end of the bus route.
We both ordered Super Dogs, and they were so super, there were two hot dogs in a single bun! They were topped with some sort of sauce and very tiny potato sticks.
Once we were fed, we headed downstream to check out the falls. This is the river just before it plummets downstream ...
... and here it is plummeting. In this photo, the Argentine side of the falls is the wall of rock and water in the back, and the Brazilian side is the waterfall and plateau in front.
The plateau stretches out to the right, and a catwalk takes viewers to the edge.
But wait, there's more! Another series of falls on the Argentine side begins at the right in this photo.
We took an elevator down to the plateau level and were stunned at how close we were to water.
We were riveted, and shot a few photos from the base of the elevator tower.
We were closer to the catwalk now, so that was our next destination.
From the catwalk, we could look back to see the elevator tower and the observation ledge where we just were.
The view at the end of the catwalk was stunning. We couldn't believe we were here already just a couple of hours after arriving at the airport. The Brazilian side is definitely the better side for instant gratification! The Argentine side has many charms as well, not the least of which is getting to the catwalk that ends at the top of this photo just to the right of the main horseshoe of falls. We'll show you that tomorrow.
Looking straight down from the catwalk, ...
... and looking downriver (Argentine side is now on the left; Brazilian on the right).
At all times, there were dozens of hawks or hawk-like birds soaring over the chasms.
Down river, we spotted a boat tour approaching some falls, and we knew we wanted to do that the next day. Both sides offer boat tours that are similar.
We made our way downstream and looked back for this last photo of the catwalk observation point we were on earlier.
Further downstream, the Argentine side continues to put on a show. The river flows more widely on the Argentine side, so it falls into the canyon below at dozens of points along the river.
We were there.
We grabbed a shuttle bus back to the visitor center to meet our cab driver. He was willing to stay longer, but we thought that two hours would be enough. If we had all day, we could have easily spent another hour or two here. We spotted South America's most delicious soft drink, Diet Antarctica Guaraná, now renamed Antarctica Guaraná Zero, and bought ten cans of it. We don't get to Brazil very often, so we can't pass up a chance to drink one of our favorite beverages.
Since it was 1,000 degrees out and we were hot and thirsty, we downed two of those cans immediately. Carlos got a shot of us just before we left.
We headed back through the Brazilian checkpoint and across the river again. The bridge is painted in Brazilian green and yellow vertical stripes on one half, and in Argentine light blue and white horizontal stripes on the other half to indicate which country you are currently in.
Back through the Argentine checkpoint (yes, we were getting stamps in our passport at each of the four checkpoints, just as we did when we went to Uruguay), ...
... and back into Parque Nacional Iguazú where we showed our admission passes we had purchased earlier.
In our room, here's the view looking from left to right. Starting with the long flat lawn and this mysterious dome at one end, ...
... to the pool area with the falls in the background and the Brazilian park's only hotel visible on the banks on the left, ...
... to the main path leading from the hotel to the park, ...
... to the rest of the hotel.
Yeah, there are the falls again from our balcony.
The park closes at 6:00 and the hotel's only restaurant doesn't start serving dinner until 7:00, so we had to kill a little time until then. The hotel has lots of couches and chairs with views of the falls, and many chairs and tables outdoors. We spotted this butterfly on the glass just inside.
We walked by the pool area which was hopping at this time of day.
Here's the hotel from the path to the park so you can see the layout of the rooms.
It was finally dinner time, and we opted for the dinner buffet at a table by the window. It was expensive by Argentina standards, but about what you'd expect for an upscale hotel. There are many restaurants in Puerto Iguazú, but with at least a twenty-minute cab ride both ways, you're pretty much trapped in the hotel for dinner.
The buffet included sauteed-to-order pasta with your choice of two pastas, two sauces, and a dozen ingredients.
These birds patrolled the patio and lawn in front of the hotel for dinner.
This guy had bright splotches of blue on his black feathers, but wouldn't cooperate with us to get a good shot.

At day's end, we enjoyed the view and got caught up with Facebook and other contacts from home.

Day 13 >


Antarctica 2008: [Day 1 - Buenos Aires] [Day 2 - Uruguay] [Day 3 - Ushuaia] [Day 4 - Drake Passage] [Day 5 - South Shetland Islands] [Day 6 - Antarctica] [Day 7 - Antarctic Peninsula] [Day 8 - Antarctic Sound] [Day 9 - Drake Passage] [Day 10 - Cape Horn] [Day 11 - Ushuaia] [Day 12 - Iguaçu] [Day 13 - Iguazú]

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