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Day 8 – Iguazu Argentina to Iguassu Brasil and back again

Day 8 – Iguazu Argentina to Iguassu Brasil and back again

Here is the picture of the giant, ponderous rat I promised you. Capibara by name and super cute by nature.

On Day 8 we spent the day being driven around by the lovely Sergei so we could see the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls.. He made the trip quick, simple and fun.

He picked us up at the hotel at 7:30 as requested, which turned out to be ideal timing both for setting out and for our later return as all the traffic was going the other way.

Our itinerary for the day was the Brazilian side of the falls, a helicopter ride over said falls for Kingsley in a Bell Jet Ranger (the same model of helicopter that we had sitting in our driveway for a month or so), the bird park and finally a tour of Guira Ora, the wildlife rescue centre back here in Argentina.

This final destination was the most interesting. Our guide spoke both English and Spanish so commentated the walk in both. We we the only English speakers but felt included the whole way round.

It was fascinating to hear that they get animals and birds in not only from road accidents and general misadventure, but also surrendered animals from people who have taken native animals as pets but have discovered that the little things that was cute as a wee thing is now trying to savage them (now illegal here) , from seizure or confiscation by authorities and as a result of injury from trapping or hunting.

These included some native cats, porcupines, toucans with missing wings or legs, monkeys and the biggest otter I have ever seen in my life.

The birds and animals that form the tour for visitors are those that have no prospect of re-release. Those that are blind, have had feet or wings amputated or have been kept in captivity as pets and would not know how to fend for themselves in the wild. The animals that will be rehabilitated are kept away from the public which is as it should be.

We learnt that the largest of the toucans is like a pelican in that it can be car versus, devouring the chicks of other birds. That sweet and open demeanor is just a cover. Beware birds bearing large beaks.

In contrast I felt a bit iffy about the bird park in Brasil. Most of the enclosures were relatively roomy and full of stimulation, but I didn’t get the feeling that it was about conservation as much as tourism. The butterfly house was lovely, but they don’t stay still any longer the than in the jungle.

The border crossing, as I mentioned yesterday (well of day 7 seeing as I’ve posting this very late), was the first I’d done on land. As I’m sure all of you already know that me at first going through Argentinian immigration (very slick) and then Brazilian ( looks like it was slick once but now not so much). Sergei took care of it all for us. At the Argentinian border then is a fast lane for tourists and you pass your passport over form the car. We had to slide open the door so the guy in the booth could see us, but it all took about 3 minutes and we were on our way.

On the Brazilian side Sergei just took or passports into a little office then about 15 minutes returned with them stamped and processed. If you recall we had our visas sorted in advance. The return journey worked the same way, except that we needed to show our reciprocity tax receipts at both.
The rain gear came in handy again as we did the other side of Garanta del Diablo.

The other side of the falls is more panoramic. You arrive at the visitor centre then jump on a bus that takes you out to where the water is. This is one we wouldn’t have wanted to walk because it is too far, not all that interesting and there is no pathway. The bus is a double decker so you can look at the rain forest from up high. E most interesting thing to watch on the bus was the very sweet little girl and her loving dad on the the seat in front of us. She was loving the ride and the most beautiful smile. It was a reminder to enjoy the simple things like the feeling of wind on your finger tips.

I may expand on this if I have time, but we check out of the hotel with the very slow internet very soon and I want to get this done, so here are some pictures of the beautiful creatures who live in this part of the world, and one of Kingsley. We did see wild toucans while at the hotel and they look pretty silly when flying.

Day 7 – Iguazu Falls National Park

Day 7 – Iguazu Falls National Park

I’m looking at the window as I write and I am struck by just how green everything is here.  From our window we can see Brazil. Our family has always lived on islands. England, Guernsey, Australia. This whole being able to see another country from your window thing, let alone drive to it takes some getting used to. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve traveled before, but all my border crossings have been through airports or ferry terminals. Tomorrow will be a first for me, transiting to a new country by road.  It is very weird to think I’ve lived this long and have never done that before.  And not because I’ve stayed home for all of my 40+ years. But I am getting ahead of myself, that’s tomorrow.
Unlike our Santiago apartment the airconditioning here works.  Too well in fact.  Craig would love it.  It’s set to 24 degrees, but I’m sitting in the room with my polar fleece on…
Outside it’s another lovely day with blue, cloudless skies (which sucks for sunsets but you can’t have everything).  You do get sweaty after walking a hundred metres, but there is a nice breeze and you can always go and stand in the spray of one of the waterfalls to cool off. Now that we’ve got our bearings the park is very easy to navigate. You’re restricted to the main paths, but given the importance of the site that’s fair enough. It does mean we are unlikely to see any significant wildlife apart form birds and butterflies, but we’re planning to head to the local wildlife refuge tomorrow which helps to rehabilitate critters that run afoul of vehicles etc. Reviews suggest they do good work.
Like yesterday I hit the lower circuit first thing and had it pretty much to myself for a good hour. I was trying out the polarizing filter for pictures of the waterfalls.  It’s one of those cases where what is in front of you is so amazing that photos just can’t do it proper justice.  Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
There are an amazing array of butterflies in the park.  Upwards of 500 species apparently. Very few stay still for any length of time. I saw one which was about the size of my hand, beautiful sky blue and black wings. No photo sadly, but I love that thrill you get when you see a beautiful creature in its natural environment.  My heart always beats faster.
About 10 o’clock we walked up to Devil’s Throat at the north end of the park.  There is a train you can catch, but that requires lining up with gaggles of tourists, so we legged it. The walk took us about 40 minutes each way, mostly in shade but you’ll need water and sunscreen. The track is flat but a bit rocky. Decent walking shoes a must. Butterflies everywhere along the way and a misc lizard of some sort.
On arrival there is a long boardwalk that takes you, and the hundreds of other tourists, out to the top of the waterfall. In retrospect we should have come out here first thing, but you live and learn.
A side note on tourists. The paths and boardwalks here are wide enough to accommodate people walking single file in both directions with room to spare.  However, most of the people here seem to think they own the joint and can spread out across the whole path, stop and block up traffic in both directions to take a selfie and generally think of no one but themselves. And at the cafes, despite the multitude of signs around the park about the Coaties (the biting and the scratching and the stealing little rug ruts that stalk anyone who might have food) we see people either feeding them, squealing at them, or taking their small and very bitable children up to point at them. Apart from that everyone seems lovely lovely…
A side not of coaties. Even with their fearsome reputation the coaties are very cute, and very quick. And like to hang out where the light is dappled.  All of which are my excuses for not having managed to get a decent photograph. First you have to dodge the tourists who are doing all the wrong things, and position yourself so you don’t actually get savaged yourself, or do any of the stupid things I mentioned above, and then you have to wait for one of them to stay still long enough in a spot with enough light.  Well you get the picture, and I didn’t.  At least not yet.
Back to the Devil’s throat.
The view at the end is spectacular and well worth braving the crowds for. There was a lot of spray, so today I got to try out the wet weather camera gear. The aquatech rain cover worked really well, but you really do need to know how to work all your camera controls without being able to see them ( changing ISO, aperture, focus points etc). A simple rain cover over the backpack worked out too, All good stuff to have tried out before Antarctica.

Lunch was buffet style at one of the restaurants at the park.  They had a great range of salads etc which was exactly what I was craving. About $30 AUD each including a couple of beers. They take USD and credit cards which is handy.
The up side of staying at the Sheraton is that the temptation of room service is removed from you because we can’t figure out how to get the phone to work. All round Kingsley has been having a frustrating time extracting information out of the guest services staff at the hotel. Simple things like how to get laundry done, what’s involved in getting a car to take us across to the Brazilian side of the park tomorrow and some other odds and sods. I’m just glad he’s taking care of it and not me.
An afternoon walk around the park revealed that it is much quieter than it was in the middle of the day. I saw a stunning rainbow, double in places, and whatever passes for a crocodile in these parts. Also lots of men wandering about with no shirts on, which did NOT improve the view.
We may meander down to the pool a little later to warm up – yes you read that right and those of you paying attention will know that the pool (bath temperature) is warmer than our room (arctic). Actually, now I think about it this room might be good conditioning for the later stage of the trip…
We are off to Brazil for the day tomorrow. Bird park, National park, a helicopter flight for the K man and the animal refuge on our way home. At least, that’s the plan…