"It will take six hours to see the falls from the Argentina side" warned our guesthouse owner, a jovial fella who was proud of his footballing prowess; which was remarkable considering he would have problems seeing the ball through his belly. "A typical number 9" muttered Chris under his breath.
Our second day exploring the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site was from the southern side. There were a series of very well demarked paths and walkways to follow. It was comforting to smell the lush and dense sub-tropical vegetation as it reminded us of our jungle treks in Thailand and Borneo. We caught glimpses of the waterfalls through the trees. The natural beauty of these sheets of water falling over the vertical cliffs from the plateau above was like staring up at the edge of Arthur Conan Dolyes' Lost World. Large clouds of spray permanently soak the banks, surrounding forests and river islands. The tropical location and sheer beauty of Igauzu Falls caused Eleanor Roosevelt to exclaim "Poor Niagara".
It was busy with tourists and yet I think the waterfalls create a playfulness in people. It might be the ions in the air or the sound of the water, but the mood of Jo Public was upbeat and eager. Language barriers where overcome as strangers acted as paparazzi for individuals, couples and families who repeatedly posed for their photos.
It was very humid and topping 40C so after a few hours of walking we took a complementary train service from Cataratas station to reach the start of the footbridge on the upper part of the river. This long walkway took us to the very edge of the 'Devils Throat' or 'Garganta del Diablo". It was absolutely breathtaking as we got doused in the mist resulting from the cascade crashing down over the 100 metre or so drop to the churning river below. The sound was like thunder and didn't let up. Any poor explorer coming down this river two hundred years ago in his canoe wouldn't have survived the drop. I guessed that many fish perish here as black vultures circled overhead looking for carion. These large black birds countered the thousands of colourful butterflies that thrived in the valley. They landed on our skin and tickled as their slender proboscis sucked up salts from our sweat.
The coati were still out in force on the Argentinian side of the falls
This dude was practising his Thai Chi on a traffic bollard!
The numbers and types of butterflies were endless!
This is one of the rarest in this region - its bottom end looks like the eyes of a tarantula to scare away potential predators!
This one looked like Sanskrit markings
And this posse had flaked tails
Almost 500 species of wild fowl, 80 species of mammals and an immense variety of reptiles, fish, insects and butterflies live in this ecosystem
And don't forget the falls themselves!
This beautiful chap is a member of the jay family
And this scavenger is a vulture looking for carrion that toppled over the edge
Swimming isn't so popular amongst the visitors!
But these guys thrive on your hard work!
Iguazu has an average flow of water over the falls of 1,746m3/s and a maximum recorded flow of 45,700m3/s recorded in June 2014
That's a lot of spray