Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Iguazu Falls Trip: Argentina (1/3)

This is the first of three posts on our recent trip to Iguazu Falls. This trip came about thanks to a Groupon deal several of us purchased. Although park entries weren't included, we knew we would be visiting both sides of the falls and the Parque Das Aves (Day 3). We also took an improvised trip to Paraguay to visit the Itaipu dam (Day 2). Today, I will talk about our arrival and the first day of adventure in which we visit the Argentinian side of the falls.

Our trip there was fairly uneventful, despite the ~hour-long delays that our airline, Pluna, had. This happened yet again on our return trip, but despite what The Way of Kings says, the Destination in this case is far more important than the Journey.
Remember: you can click to see larger versions of these pictures. The panoramic shots are saved separately in this Picasa Album.

You can see the Iguazu Falls while arriving/departing on the flight!

Crossing the border was not problematic at all. I did have to get a visa beforehand to enter Brazil, but no such requirement to cross over to Argentina by land. Our guide took care of all the details while we waited to cross.

Getting ready to enter the park itself.

There are many trails through the park, and plenty of wildlife. Here are some of the animals we encountered:
Coati (tons of them)

But we didn't come here to see wildlife. We came to see the falls. And we saw them:
Garganta del Diablo, as seen from the Argentinian viewpoint

On average, about 1750 cubic meters of water flow down each second, second only to the Niagara Falls. However, the maximum recorded water flow reached 12,800 cubic meters/second, far exceeding the recorded maxima of Niagara or Victoria Falls.
A broader view of the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat)

Victoria Falls in Southern Africa (Zimbabwe/Zambia border) holds the record for the largest curtain of water. Iguazu Falls, on the other hand, has many separate falls that together adds up to the widest waterfall on Earth.
Panoramic shots were made digitally with DoubleTake. Minor errors always show up near the individual image edges, but despite that the program works very well. 

About 3/4 of the waterfalls are on the Argentinian side, but a more panoramic view of them can be seen on the Brazilian side. They actually joke about that: Argentina threatens to put up a big screen to prevent Brazil from seeing the falls, but Brazil dams up the river (which comes from Brazil) to dry them up. So expect even more impressive pictures on my blog post for Day 3.
The lush sub-tropical jungle makes an excellent contrast to all the waterfalls.

The name Iguazu comes from the Guarani language, which used to be the official language of Paraguay. Through circumstances that I'll describe in a future post, Spanish became the official language and Paraguay lost access to the Falls. Iguazu literally means "big water" (y=water, ûasú=big), which in my opinion is a severe understatement.
The island in this shot is San Martin Island, which is sometimes not accessible (like for our trip), depending on the water level.

In addition to walking through several trails and experiencing the falls up close. You can also take a boat ride and get even closer. We were warned that we would get very wet, so we came prepared. The boat actually took us very near two waterfalls so we got soaked twice. I had my camera in a plastic bag, so it was safe, but also result in slightly blurrier photos, like you can see below:

Words alone can't express the grandeur of this place. Even photos have a hard time, and I don't want to flood my website (pun intended) with waterfall pictures. So here is a compilation I made from the videos I took. This includes both sides and captures a fraction of the awesomeness of Iguazu Falls:

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