Tag Archives: waterfalls

Ignorance at Iguazu Falls (but a whole lot of energy too)

I don’t know whether to cry or slap him. A casual flick and the cigarette butt tumbles into the wide jungle river. He saunters off. I think I shouted ‘no!’, but maybe I just thought it. Precious nature, one of the world’s natural wonders, contaminated by an ignorant man.

I’m at Iguazu Falls (ak.a. Iguassu Falls or Iguaçu Falls) on the Argentinian side. Paying R$75 through the hostel has turned out to be a good option with quicker, stress-free border crossings from Brazil and easy entry to the park.



Catching the train to the Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls, Argentina


Whiskered fish in the jungle river at Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Once through the turnstiles, a two train trip takes me towards the Garganta del Diablo – the Devil’s Throat – where I wander along springy, metal walkways over an extensive jungle and river landscape, stopping only to watch black whiskered fish on a feeding frenzy, two foot masses competing for crumbs thrown in by rule-breaking visitors. And then I see the guy and witness the cigarette incident, and I’m upset.


The Devil's Throat, Iguazu Falls, Argentina


Feel the spray at The Devil's Throat, Iguazu Falls, Argentina

But time to appreciate what else is going on. The roar, no, the constant pounding of water is all-consuming. As it falls, lines and shapes in the stream mutate and tumble downwards with force, only to be bounced back up as puffs of cloudy spray.


Views away from The Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls, Argentina


Views away from The Devil's Throat in Iguazu Falls, Argentina

I take some photos and then put away my camera. I squeeze myself into a gap, shut out the crowds and turn my face to be kissed by misty wetness, and I allow myself to be calmed by nature’s rumble.

And I stand and stare. In the truest sense of the word, it is awesome. If I was a believer, I’d have thanked God at this point. Instead I thank life (and my ticket company for reversing my flight back to South America so easily).


By the bottom of Bossetti Falls at Iguazu Falls, Argentina


San Martin Island and The Devil's Throat, Iguazu Falls in Argentina (Brazil land on the left)


The beach on La Isla San Martin at Iguazu Falls, Argentina


San Martin Falls and surrounding waterfalls at Iguazu Falls, Argentina


San Martin Falls at Iguazu Falls, Argentina


Mbigua and Gpque Bernabe Mendez Falls at Iguazu Falls, Argentina

I take a short, free ferry ride and eat a picnic lunch on the little island of San Martin, a place with a mini sandy beach and a steep, stepped climb to vistas of the San Martin Falls. I have a voucher for the boat ride into the falls that I can choose to use or return later to the hostel. At R$50, I’m weighing up cost over experience. Should I just go for it?


A taster soaking at a smaller waterfall en route to The Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls


More of a soaking in the heavy spray of San Martin Falls at Iguazu Falls

Experience wins. Absolutely worth it. The only disappointment is that we don’t go in as far as I would hope beneath the rush of the Devil’s Throat, but we do still all get a good soaking and the thrill of the being so close to the power and force of the water is indescribable.

And it’s a blessing to get wet; the sun has been shining with such ferocity. Not that I’m complaining. It has been a perfect day to visit Iguazu.

Less than fifteen minutes later and I’m back on land. I sit on a rock to dry off and take in the scenery. I’ve forgotten about the man and his cigarette. I am just here, in the now, drinking in the beauty and energy of this amazing place. A precious moment.


Drying off and taking in the views at Iguazu Falls


Filed under activity & sport, argentina, beaches, brazil, natural wonders, south america, wow!

Bikes, bungees and waterfalls

Take four bikes at $6 each, a map of the Ruta de las Cascadas (route of the waterfalls) and four solo travellers, new to each other. Group together and have a bit of a random day.


Cycling away from Baños, the first half hour stretch took us along a busy road, which, although surrounded by mountains and clouds, was in itself a pretty ugly and dangerous start to the ride. Heavy trucks overtook us, we overtook other bikes, the smell and heat of tarmac wafting upwards. The first tunnel was unavoidable and I peddled hard to get to the light on the other side as quickly as possible. Things then started to improve with a series of pretty pathways created for walkers and cyclists, snaking around the side of the mountain to avoid further tunnels. There were plenty of opportinities for stop offs with views across deep canyons and towards tall, gushing waterfalls. Along the way there was the option to do a superman zip lining experience, chances to cable car it across the canyon, and then there was a random guy on a random bridge with a rope. We had arrived at Rio Blanco.


Puenting is considered an ‘extreme sport’ and is Ecuador’s version of bungee jumping. Whilst both bungee and puenting have the free fall experience, at the end in bungee you bounce, in puenting you swing.


I had always vowed never to do anything like it. I hated the idea. I was worried that my retinas would detach from my eyes. But Dave, one of the guys on the cycle ride, decided to give it a go. And then I thought, why not? So we bargained with José of José & Two Dogs (not sure where the dogs were, or who they were) and managed to get three of us doing the high jump for $10 each. I hoped my travel insurance covered me.


Only when I climbed onto the side of the bridge and looked down at the jagged rocks and trickle of a river below did my legs start to go, and I bottled the first countdown. Taking a massive, massive breath, I went for it, and wow, the free fall is like nothing I can describe. For a split moment, you are free. And then the rope kicks in and you whiplash a bit and then swing and swing and smile and smile because you dared do something you never imagined possible.


Adrenaline rush over, we cycled on a little further until we arrived at Rio Verde where we turned off the road to get to Pailón del Diablo, one of the most famous waterfalls of the area. Walking with our bikes down a cobbled pathway, we came across Antonio, a small framed ‘citizen of the world’ (of Italian descent but well-travelled and unhappy to be pinned down). Shaking our hands he gave us an extended overview of the place, with a philosophy lesson thrown in for free. We were invited to view his paintings en route to the waterfall viewing platforms, but what I saw I found disturbing and bizaare, – scary devils and dream scenes that reminded me of why I can’t stomach Dali.

He had, however, done an amazing landscaping job to create a lovely little walk that was full of flowers and organised vegetation and steps and pathways and benches to sit and catch ones breath. The stone circle fire pit towards the end of the walk was too much for a couple of my companions who imagined Antonio doing some spiritual dance at the end of the day. I liked it. Fire pits take me to a happy place.

This little deviation from the main route, we realised, was in fact the wrong one (or alternative one) to the Pailón del Diablo but I felt consoled that the $1 entry fee may go a little way towards the $1 billion (and 25 years) that Antonio predicted he needed to complete his work here. ‘Live and experience new things with an open heart’, he had told us. This had indeed been an experience, and one that I’m sure was more interesting than the official pathway to the waterfall.

So on day one, I got to sample both the spectacle and adrenaline of Baños. This whole region of Ecuador is really geared up for outdoor activities but Baños is predominantly about the hot springs and the sixty or so waterfalls, which, even if you tried, you really can’t miss. In fact, from my room (No. 10) in Hostal Transilvania the view out of the window is of some rooftops, the spires of the Church of the Virgin of the Holy Water (Nuestra Señora del Agua Santa) and a waterfall spewing out of the sudden mountain straight ahead. Glad to have found this place and this hostel.

See Tourist2Townie for some visual highlights of Baños.

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Filed under activity & sport, ecuador, south america