Iguazu Falls, Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
A narrow dirt path crunches under your feet with every anticipating, uneven step towards the rushing sounds of cascading water. The sun rays reach for you with outstretch arms through the thick, rich jungle that overwhelms your city-dwelling peripheries. You walk a little faster with excitement in your step, following the increasingly loud hum of flowing waves, until you reach an opening to a gorge, lined with exotic flowers, like a natural red carpet entrance. You glance over to your right, and come face-to-face with majestic waterfalls that streams effortlessly; the sun caresses the spray of water, reflecting a perfect rainbow through the cascades.
Welcome to Iguazu Falls, situated in the humid, vast jungle of Puerto Iguazu, that borderlines countries Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The waterfalls, which can be seen from both the Brazilian and Argentinian side, are boasted as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
I went on an all-day trip to see the Iguazu Falls on a beautiful, 28 degree, azul cielo (blue skies) mid-winter day. Perks of living near the equator is that it’s always hot and sunny enough to never need a spray tan. On this particular day, the sun was shining brightly, the long-beaked birds were chirping, so I hopped on a bus with the beau that took us deep into the green abyss, where one of the seven natural wonders of the world awaited.
Breathing the fresh and humid air of the jungle, I giggle at the signs cautioning tourists about the food-snatching animals, knowing little that this exact scenario would happen later on.
Farther down the dirt path through the humid jungle, we reach Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat) and the Argentinian side of the falls. Garganta del Diablo is an intricate array of cascades and with the pressure of the water, form a narrow, high-intensity crevasse. The roaring falls and veils of spray sputter from the Throat’s gurgle for lustful attention. When we arrive, the closest vantage point to feel the sins of the Devil are closed. This is apparently due to the high level of water that could easily whisk someone over the edge of the viewing bridge, a light push from el Diablo himself, into the deep roar of the ocean, with any cry for help drowned by the rushing waves.
As we walk further onto the man-made path to an open area with a restaurant, I manage to catch several glimpses of a new species lurking in the bushes, the black and brown coatie. These cute crossbreeds of ant-eater and raccoon suddenly ambush the rest area and initiate food raids on poor tourists who fall victims to these frequent attacks.
The coaties then retreat to the forest where their tasty prizes are rationed amongst the clan. These are not shy animals. They are not afraid to claw open backpacks and purses if they are by your feet, as the warning sign had hinted.
The experience of this place was bewildering, and I feel privileged to have witnessed the atmosphere and beauty of the falls and jungle of Iguazu. Although the site is now heavily seduced by tourists on a daily basis, it doesn’t stop the majestic falls from gliding alongside a rainbow into the depths of the river, all year ‘round.