I spent three days exploring Iguazu Falls and it’s subtropical rainforest surroundings. This place can be described as nothing short of magical. “Magical” seems to be the only word I can find that comes close to describing my time here. Each of my three days was an incredibly unique experience. For this reason, I need to do a separate post about each day here. I begin on day 1, by exploring the Brazilian side of the falls.
I have been told by numerous fellow travelers to “do the Brazil side first”. Everyone says that the Argentina side is better, and that if you plan to do both sides, you will be disappointed in Brazil if you do that second. I took their advice and chose to go to Brazil first.
But in all honesty, I was not certain if I would go to Brazil at all. Brazil requires a visa that is not so simple to get if you are American, Canadian or Australian. They require more than just money. They want to see bank statements and crazy documents, and apparently it can take weeks. I met a Canadian couple in my travels who got stuck at the border for a few days! All of this scared me off of going to Brazil at all without time to prepare in advance.
So on this day, I snuck into Brazil (unless of course you are my dad or brother reading this, in which case everything was done completely by the book). When I arrived at my hostel the night before, Alex, who speaks english and works there, explained that it was not a problem for me. I could not take the direct bus from Argentina to the Brazilian side of the falls – but if I take the right combination of buses, entering through Paraguay, I would have no problem. I would not be stopped and asked for my passport. So, of course I had to try! And it worked like a charm. I totally snuck into Brazil. It wasn’t even difficult.
Once in the park, I followed a beautiful trail which offered stunning views of the falls. Along the way I saw so many butterflies! Butterflies, let me tell you, are hard to take pictures of. And it is not for lack of trying. They just don’t like to sit still for very long. I saw several different kinds of fascinating insects. If anyone can identify any of them from my photos – please fill me in! I also saw lots of coatis. The coati is this region’s version of a raccoon. Alex warned me about them. But initially, I thought they were so cute. When you are not paying attention, they will walk so close to you that they basically brush up against your ankles.
Coatis are less cute when they band together to form a gang of thieves. I didn’t get my camera ready in time to capture this crazy moment – but I actually witnessed a gang of these coatis surround and attack a baby stroller (don’t worry the baby was not in it). They were after food (not babies). There must have been at least 20 of these things completely encompassing the stroller. The father had to lift up the carriage from the top of its handles and shake the fuckers off. And then when the family hurried away – a stream of coatis chased after them. Crazy. This is why there are signs everywhere begging people not to feed the coatis. It has changed their entire social structure and turned them into a group scary assholes.
Later on the trail, a group of four Polish tourists found a friendly butterfly. One of the guys managed to coax the little beauty onto his finger, beginning a spectacular game of pass the butterfly. After all 4 of the Polish group had their turn taking pictures with the forest fairy, they offered the little guy to me! And after a few minutes, I turned to find a girl who looked to be about 9 years old, and I offered it to her. One of my favorite photos from my trip came next. The girl then passed the butterfly to her younger sister, maybe 5 years old. It was such a precious moment that I captured. Not my most high quality image, but perhaps one of my most special. And a moment later, the butterfly tired of our game and flew away.
And of course, there are the falls. As you work your away along the trail, taking in breathtaking views of the falls and chasing butterflies while coatis chase you, you are finding your way towards Garganta Del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). This impressive and powerful portion of the falls is considered to be the “star” of the show. When you reach El Diablo, a walkway juts out into the mouth of the falls for your viewing pleasure. At this point, I cannot help but laugh out loud. It is literally impossible not to get soaked. I may as well have brought along soap and hair conditioner. I tried to keep my camera as dry as possible – but I also tried to take pictures! The view was incredible, the cool showers were a welcomed relief in the tropical sun, and the double arching rainbows completed the (dare I say it?) “magical” moment.
After the falls I left the park and crossed the street to check out a bird park that Alex, back at the hostel, recommended. I had mixed feelings about the bird park. Most of it felt like being a zoo but for all birds. Even in a zoo I never really enjoy the birds – something about a bird in a cage just really bothers me. I did however really enjoy the parts of the park where I was able to walk around and be amongst the birds. I mean, it’s not everyday I get to PET A TOUCAN! haha! Check out the hairdo on this fella! These 2 toucans did NOT like each other. I caught part of their fight on film!