1. touko, 2017

The Iguazu falls

The small train of the natural park chugs slowly towards one of the “seven wonders of the world”, the Iguazu falls. The short journey of a few kilometres goes by quickly as we chat and share our recent experiences of South America with some lovely German tourists. We disembark at the central station, where hundreds of excited hikers spread out in different directions on the variety of walking routes available.

The trail we've chosen ploughs through the surrounding thick rainforest. To start off with we're delighted to see some playful coatis running on the path, fluffy tales whizzing in the air as these long nosed creatures enjoy a game of catch with their peers. Plush crested jays peek down from their branches, looking intrigued by the walkers beneath, and then setting off in flight on their night blue wings. We stop for a minute to photograph the acrobatic performance of a group of black and grey monkeys and we're made up to spot the orange beak of a toucan from behind the camera lens too. This natural park offers a home to many endangered species, in fact, just a couple of weeks ago they'd had to close access to tourists due to a puma family that was spotted in the area.

Underneath the chirping of the birds and the buzzing of the insects, there's a relentless background hum of running water. It gets louder and louder the closer we get to the falls. The Iguazu falls, situated at the border of Brazil and Argentina, are considered to be the most spectacular waterfalls on the earth. Instead of one big drop, it consists of a total of 270 drops of various sizes, up to 80 metres high. The panoramic view of such a multitude of falls, all gushing down the rock cliff simultaneously, is simply breathtaking!

We're in luck, because the water level in the Iguazu river is high enough today, allowing us to get on a boat across to visit the island of San Martin. The island stands at the heart of the falls, allowing for the closest views of the, most ferocious , Garganta do Diablo fall. Soon enough we're sat in life jackets on board a tiny boat, hoping that the motor won't run out of juice mid journey. Once we get on the island, it's time to set off on the most physically challenging quest of the day. In order to reach the best vantage points, we must climb enough steep stone stairs to puff us out completely! The reward however is well worth the effort! Enchanted, we take it all in, admiring the light reflecting back off the waterfalls in vividly bright rainbows!
We've reserved the whole day for exploring the natural park, allowing us the time to stop and observe the smaller wonders of tropical nature too. Colourful butterflies, a huge spider hunting in it's web and a brassy green beetle, all catch our attention. As soon as we sit down and dig out our packed lunch, a band of hungry coatis rush to the scene and make a few rather threatening attempts at our food. The previously amusing animals don't appear all that charming now. We are forced to give in, pack our stuff away and find another spot for our break, away from those cheeky little thieves.

We end our day of hiking by walking across the 1km long bridge across the upstream of the largest drop of the falls. The water is splashing ferociously up here, drenching everything. We make sure that the cameras, at least, are sealed and protected from the water. I'm amused by the innovative solutions people from different countries have come up with, in an attempt to stay dry. There are plastic bags, waterproof coats, and different protective suits. Then there's a Chinese guy, standing in his underpants, having his photo taken by his fellow countrymen!

We arrive back at the campsite at sunset, feeling happy and our cameras full of digital memories of one of the world's most significant natural wonders. Next time we get asked for recommendations of our top places to visit, the Iguazu falls will definitely be on the list!