Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Chasing Rainbows and Toucans, 18 July 2009

Puerto Iguazu is a bit of a dive. There is nothing there. Absolutely nothing. But, a thirty minute bus ride from the town takes you to one of Argentina´s finest attractions: Iguazu Falls.

I was disappointed to wake up to a sky filled with cloud. The weather forecast had predicted clear skies and sunshine. I was not happy with the cloud. The whole of the previous day had been wet and cloudy and I was concerned that my day would be the same. I knew that if the clouds did not clear I would not get to see rainbows. For the thirty minute bus ride I kept my fingers tightly crossed hoping, wishing and willing the skies to clear.

I started my tour of Iguazu National Park with the Inferior Walking Circuit.

The route was Inferior by name, but most certainly not by nature. As I wandered through the jungle I had a million butterflies in my stomach. I could hear the roar of the water, but I could not see it.

Then, I turned a corner and there it was before me... Iguazu Falls.

My first sighting of the falls was spectacular and my butterflies in my tummy flapped there wings so fast and so excitedly. I skipped around a little bit and then stood in awe.

There was just so much water, so much force. It was all so powerful.

I didn´t even care that it was cloudy, it didn´t matter anymore, it was beautiful.

I stood and watched in awe for a good while before continuing on the inferior trail to get up close and personal with one part of the falls.

Up close I was almost deafened by the violent roaring of the waterfalls. And in just a few seconds I was drenched.

There are several options to take boat trips into the falls and along the Rio Iguazu, but I decided to stick to my budget and take the free boat over to Isla San Martin.

Isla San Martin has three vistas that over look different parts of the falls. Every vista was incredible. I skipped around in sheer delight as I started to see the Falls from different angles.

Iguazu Falls are in the middle of a rainforest and all around the park you meet all sorts of brilliant birds as well as cute, but vicious, racoon type creatures called Coatis.

Midway through my walk along the Inferior Circuit I had met another traveller, Roman, who was also exploring the waterfalls alone. We had gone over to Isla San Martin together and when we returned to the mainland we decided to do something a bit different. We decided to do something that most other toursits at Iguazu don´t dare to do... we broke into the Sheraton.

It costs almost 300 pounds for one night in a double room at the Sheraton at Iguazu Falls. The hotel is situated inside Iguazu Park and its website raves about it´s spectacular views.

And for the grand sum of zero pesos, I got to experience the best that the Iguazu Sheraton has to offer.

Eager to experience Iguazu Falls from the most expensive vista in the whole of Argentina, Roman and I dared ourselves to get on the roof of the Sheraton. It sounds like an ambitious dare, but because of the slack security at this prestigious hotel it was all pretty easy, but exhilerating none the less.

We walked up to the front door and walked straight through the foyer into the lifts. We thought that the lift may require a room card in order to operate it. It didn´t.

We arrived on the 4th Floor and took a walk along the corridor in hope that we may find a window overlooking the Falls. To our disappointment there was no such window. Only rooms with closed doors.

Before we made our way back down we discovered a staircase with a sign marked ´Roof Terrace´. Oh yes. We raced up the stairs only to discover that the door required a special key which could only be gained from reception. We got in the lift and hatched a plan.

After making use of the free internet on offer to hotel guests we strutted up to the reception desk and asked for the key to the roof terrace.

When the receptionist asked our room number we rolled out the plan.

¨We can´t remember the room number. We´re not actually staying here, our parents are and they told us to come and check out the roof terrrace.¨

There was one flaw with this plan... what would we say when they asked for our parents´ names...!

But they never asked. Never asked. They just handed over they key and sent us on our merry way saying ´Don´t Jump!´

It was like getting into an over 18s night club when you are underage. We both wanted to skip with joy but remained composed and got back in the lift up to the 4th Floor.

We reached the door to the terrace and the key card worked. We were on the roof of the Sheraton. Oh yeah! And, the clouds had cleared to show a beautiful blue sky! Wooohoo!

The view was amazing. Of course it was amazing, the falls are amazing in themselves without a shadow of a doubt. But, I will complain that the hotel is probably a little bit too far away from the falls to be worth the hefty price tag.

After we made a casual exit from our jaunt we got on the Superior circuit and made our way to view the falls from above.

With the sun beaming down with full force, we caught our first rainbow. The crashing of the falls was spectacular from above and with the light of the sun making rainbows it was truly magical.

Onwards from the Superior Circuit we made our way to the Devil´s Throat. We had just missed the train so took the muddy option of walking along the path. Again, the Devil´s Throat was spectacular in it it´s thunderous glory, but we did get incredibly soaked. But we didn´t care we had another rainbow and another spectacular view. It was hypnotising to watch, as the water crashed down the water seemed to explode as it made impact upon impact.

After visiting the Devil´s throat, we had essentially ´done´ everything in the Park but we were keen to walk the inferior circuit again to catch more rainbows.

I had fallen in love with Iguazu Falls on a cloudy morning, but with sunshine and clear blue sky I discovered a whole new level of love.

The day exploring the Park was spectacular, but I still needed to see a toucan before I left.

Just as Roman and I set off to catch the bus back to Puerto Iguazu we saw a crowd gatherered around a tree looking up. Another monkey I thought to myself. Oh no... It was a toucan. It was THE most beautiful bird I have ever seen in the world. It´s beak had the most brilliant colours and was stunning. I had to pinch myself that I was actually staring a toucan in the eye.

I lay in bed that night looking through my photos. They didn´t do it justice. I closed my eyes and it was all infront of me again, the crashing, pounding force of the water falling over the high cliffs.

Rainbows, toucans, spectacular views, Iguazu Falls are quite simply: Wow!

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