When I think of Brasil, I think of Iguazu and the great goliath of waterfalls that is so exotic to me. Riding east from Paraguay and into Brasil drops you nearly on the doorstep of the great cascades. The falls themselves, and the river of the same name, lie on the border between Brasil and Argentina. Our plan is to visit both sides, as everyone else tells is they are completely different. The Brasil side is known for its majestic panoramic views, while the Argentinian side provides you the incredible close up views of the plunging river. We ride out on a weekday morning from Foz do Iguacu and park at the Bird Park across the road, hoping to visit it on the way out. The super nice owners of our hostel, Manga Rosa, have highly recommended it and I’d love to see some colorful birds. But first, the falls. The forecast for the next few days calls for rain and we get a little wet once we enter the park and hop on the bus to the trails which follow the rivers edge up to the face of the falls on the Brasil side. We exit the bus a few stops shy of the viewing platforms in hopes we can enjoy the riverside walk. Immediately I notice the hundreds of colorful butterflies fluttering around the trail. It’s humid and has just rained, so Brian and I are covered in little steamy droplets of water (or is it sweat?). A butterfly lands on him and starts to drink. We get to our first good view of the falls over on the Argentinian side. But being here in Brasil gives us the chance to see it head on. Boats shoot up the river for tourists and you can ride right up to the face of some of the falls and get a good shower. Busloads of people start arriving and squeezing onto the trail, so we press on. I’m so glad we aren’t here during peak season. Although the water level is higher, so are the crowd levels. When the rivers capacity is at seasonal high there can be as many as 300 waterfalls here. But this time of year there are likely only 150-200. The face of the river where these falls descend stretches out over more than a mile and a half of cliff face. Another butterfly lands on Brian and its markings are incredible. The crazy geometric black and white pattern, centered around what I swear is the number “88”. I’ve never seen anything like it. While I admire it, another one just like it lands on me. They are everywhere. We keep moving up the trail toward the face of the falls. It seems everyone is getting to hold the butterflies today. Back to the waterfalls. We watch large birds, maybe vultures of some sort, riding the warm wind currents overhead and then go perch on a terrace in the falls and sun themselves. South America’s version of the raccoon, the Coatimundi, is thriving here in the park. Probably due in large part to the trash left by tourists. They’re awfully cute but they carry rabies and the park has posted some pretty awful photos of bites in an effort to keep tourists from feeding the Coati. The waterfalls are mesmerizing. Someone tells their friend, while I eavesdrop, that the water is really white since it’s not the rainy season now. When it is, the soil erosion colors the falls a dingy brown. So tradeoff – less waterfalls and volume for cleaner white water. We don’t get to see the giant bright blue butterflies I have seen before in tropical areas, but a guide points out some of their cocoons on a tree. But I see so many lovely other ones, I don’t mind. One that looks exactly like a leaf, and one like the pattern from an Italian designers collection. Finally we arrive at the end of the trail, and the stunning view of the Devil’s Throat, the center of the falls where nearly half the rivers volume descends. Reportedly when Eleanor Roosevelt first saw the falls at Iguazu, she exclaimed “Poor Niagara!”…and I can see why. This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been.
Note – we did visit the Argentinian side the next day, and it was amazing! Unfortunately, it was a rainy day. That coupled with the spray from the close up view of the falls meant that the only photos I took were with my phone since it was in a Lifeproof case and my goPro. Unfortunately, I can’t load those right now….so no pics of that side are included yet. But I hope to update this post when I get home and add them later. Trust me, the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat) was the most incredible viewpoint of all those of the falls we had….incredible.