Raccoon-spotting by the devil’s throat

Edel, Teresa and Anne in Buenos Aires.

Edel, Teresa and Anne in Buenos Aires.

We flew in to Buenos Aires just around midnight on Christmas Eve – lots of fireworks all over the city which was fun and strange to look down on instead of up at! When we arrived at the hostel the place was loud, drunken and dancing…and that’s just the staff. We spent three days in Buenos Aires, mostly just walking around the city and the San Telmo market, then caught the 17 hour bus north to Puerto Iguazu. The bus company we picked this time spiced up the unavoidable ham&cheese sandwiches by serving us wine, rum and champagne one after the other. The rum was “Old Smuggler” and the wine a special bus-brand with a picture of a bus on the bottle…

Capuchin monkey at the Iguazu falls.

Capuchin monkey at the Iguazu falls.

Tegus lizard at the Iguazu falls.

Tegus lizard at the Iguazu falls.

Coati at the Iguazu falls.

Coati at the Iguazu falls.

Me and Edel spent half a week around the Iguazu waterfalls at the beginning of our last trip, and it’s a nice place to come back to. Within a few minutes inside the national park that contains the falls we had seen capuchin monkeys, coatis, big tegus lizards and tons of different colourful butterflies. I think I took more photos of the animals than the falls this time. The falls are of course amazing though, long curtains of dozens and dozens of different waterfalls sending clouds of spray drifting in over the rainforest – and even more full of water this time of the year than the last time we were here. This also happened to be the time of year for coati-babies – coatis are cute brown long-snouted raccoon-like animals that are hanging out in hundreds of all over the park…watching them run around and raid bins, fight, play, and generally misbehave is another highlight to Iguazu. We walked the two lower paths on the Argentinian side the first day, saving Garganta del Diablo – the biggest – for day two. This fall is really amazing in high-water – like an enormous hole or drain in the middle of the big flood-plain as you walk closer and closer following the kilometer or so of boardwalks over the water to get there. The walk takes you right up to the edge! Flocks of swallows swirl in and out by the falls, and clouds of mist that can be seen from miles away hide and reveal the Brazilian side. Anne and Teresa did the boatride right under the falls after, and came back properly soaked.

The next day, the 31st, we spent in three different countries – viewing the Brazilian side of the falls plus a quick dash into Paraguay. We booked a taxi for the day through the hostel, first crossing in to Brazil which was the simplest border crossing ever – got a stamp in the passport without even leaving the car. First we went to see the Itapu dam, the worlds second biggest after Three Gorges in China. The tour at the dam took us to a viewpoint where we could see the overflow release sending water hundreds of meters high into the air, then a quick drive along the edge of the dam, and finally a 30min film about the history of the dam that sounded like a commercial and made you want to shout out “Ok, I’ll buy it already!” halfway through. The dam generates 20% of Brazil’s electricity and nearly all of Paraguay’s, but the film forgot to mention that the 1300 square kilometer dam flooded a waterfall even bigger and more impressive than the Iguazu…

Iguazu falls.

Iguazu falls.

Iguazu falls.

Iguazu falls.

Iguazu falls.

Iguazu falls.

Iguazu falls.

Iguazu falls.

Iguazu falls.

Iguazu falls.

Next we did a five minute hop across the border into Paraguay, supposedly the most corrupt country outside Africa. I’ll have to change my mind about the border crossing – this is the simplest one we’ve ever done..nobody even stopped us or looked at our passports… You don’t build a reputation for contraband by inspecting passports! This particular corner of Paraguay looked messy enough to remind us of India, with the touts even taking a step further from trying to drag you from the street into their shops – here they hunt in the middle of the road trying to stop cars!

Toucan in Parque das Aves, Brazil.

Toucan in Parque das Aves, Brazil.

To the Brazilian falls next, first visiting a nice little bird zoo breeding endangered parrots. Covered the walk by the falls in the next couple hours – there’s less to see on this side but you do get a better overview over all the falls, and one walkway leads right out into the middle below Garganta del Diablo, guaranteeing a soak. In the evening we went looking for restaurant for our New Years Eve dinner – most of the ones that were open were trying to pull off a 5$ buffet for about 60 euro (buffet’s are where you get sick..stuff lying around lukewarm for hours..) but after a bit of walking we found one lovely place that still went by a menu. We could hear Brazil enter 2010 at 11pm, and when it was Argentina’s turn an hour later a place nearby put on some great fireworks. Shared a couple bottles of red, leaving the next day for a lazy-day before waving goodbye to Anne who was going back to Buenos Aires, and the rest of us catching another bus to our next destination.

Coati with babies at the Iguazu falls.

Coati with babies at the Iguazu falls.

Leave a Reply