The One With the Waterfalls

I’m going to chat more about the exercise equipment in Buenos Aires next week, but we got to the airport waaay too early (we expected the colectivo to take half an hour to show up and, of course, two appeared within five minutes of our arrival at the stop). So we walked along the riverbank instead of going directly inside. Along with choripan stalls and seats for fishermen to sit in, there were quite a few pieces of outdoor exercise equipment. Most we were familiar with, but this was the first time we had ever seen treadmills. Running on them was hilarious because, not only were you getting a nice workout, but a free foot massage was thrown in as well!

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And on to Igazú! The airport that we flew out of is located about fifteen minutes from our apartments and is rather small. Because of this, a lot of the planes don’t actually come to the gate. Instead, the airport loads everyone onto busses and drives you out to the plane where you climb up the staircase to the plane, stopping at the top to turn around, smile, wave and pretend you’re Obama.

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Arriving in Igazú, we flew into some very cloudy weather which we prayed wouldn’t turn into rain before we finished exploring the nature reserve. As we drove along, we saw signs warning us that strange animals might be crossing the road. This was the first one we saw and all of us had absolutely no idea what animal was on it. Our best guess was some sort of strange beaver crossed with a dog/cat, who knows?

Aliens.

Pretty sure they’re aliens.

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The nature reserve was incredibly dark by the time we got there due to a delayed flight and the thick cloud cover. Pair this with cages that weren’t camera friendly and I really had trouble taking photos. The reserve was there to rehabilitate animals and then release them back into the wild; ergo, this parakeet was due to return to the wild at some point. It was a little depressing though, because, unlike a zoo where the habitats are so obviously not surrounded by the real habitat that you can convince yourself that they don’t know what they’re missing; these cages were placed smack dab in the middle of the rainforest.

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Due to the grim lighting and a little fun with my flash, I was able to make our path look like we were walking into the scene of a horror movie. When thunder, rain and lightning all began about five minutes after I took this, the scene only became more ominous (and rather fun as we were all drenched). Everyone took a turn saying “Hey guys, we’re in a rainforest, and it’s RAINING,” so that joke got really old, really quickly. But we were in a rainforest….and it was raining.

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The whole time were at Igazú we were all pretty much praying to see monkeys. While walking along the paths to the waterfalls, my friends and I laughed as I’d call out “Eyes to the sky guys! We gotta find the monkeys!” Unfortunately, these cute little guys were the only monkeys we saw during our brief trip.

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What? You want waterfalls? Okay…okay…This was the first waterfall we saw. At first it seems really impressive, it’s called Las Dos Hermanas (the two sisters); there’s lots of mist rising up from the bottom because of the amount of water splashing…

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But then you come around the corner and see this and suddenly Las Dos Hermanas only seems sort of impressive. There are three main trails to walk along and this was one of the views from the upper trail. The slight sheen over the photo is not because my camera sucks, that’s what it actually looks like, the waterfalls were generating a ton of mist and the sun wasn’t there to burn it off (it was a cloudy morning but no rain).

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There are one million butterflies in the national park (I totally made that statistic up, but I’m sure it’s in the ballpark). They come in all different sizes and colors and are happy to land on you and enjoy the salt from your sweat. In order to break up the endless waterfalls photos (no really, they’re endless), I’ve added nice shots of wildlife.

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You don’t want butterflies? Have some more waterfalls then.

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These pictures were both taken along the upper trail. We all thought these were rather incredible vantage points, but that was back when we were young and naive and hadn’t seen the lower trail yet.

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This butterfly was pretty special because it has an 88 on its wings. Our tour guide was really fond of them because you can see symbols that humans use in nature.

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Okay, okay, back to the falls…

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Our last edge on the upper trails may have had my favorite view, along the upper trail anyways. It was certainly a good photo spot and after taking all of my friends photos, my friend grabbed one of me before we vacated the spot for the other tourists attempting to take pretty pictures as well.

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And so the alien animal returns! I hope you haven’t forgotten about the strange animal on the sign because of the waterfalls. This little guy is called a coatí (surprise! I actually saw one for the first time in Costa Rica, I just didn’t recognize it). They resembles raccoons in their mannerisms and striped tail. However they look slightly different, and somewhat cuter. These guys were nice enough to not even hiss when we came too close!

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D’awwwwww look at the mommy grooming her baby! We saw this on the way back to the train to the Devil’s Throat and I sat and became their new paparazzi. Coatí means “long nose” in Guaraní, the official language of Paraguay and the language of the natives in the area. That long nose becomes incredibly useful when they use it to sniff around in the dirt to hunt down insects.

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The walk to The Devil’s Throat consists of strolling along a quarter-mile to half-mile long bridge about fifteen feet above the river. This allows tourists to see the falls even when it rains and the water rises. Along the way, you can view pretty birds and turtles (such as those below) hanging out in the water. Despite the fact that this looks like a horned turtle of some sort, there’s actually just a butterfly sitting on his nose.

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Last year the original path to The Devil’s Throat was flooded for so long that they had to restore the whole thing, this is the remnants of the old bridge. The new path opened two months ago after being closed for seven months, so we were lucky to use it! This is also what it looks like when you are in the center of the river, it’s a rather cool sight.

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THIS is The Devil’s Throat, the top of it/part of it. The water disappears into the mist making the exact height of these waterfalls hard to guess. The Devil’s Throat makes a large U, this is the bottom of the U.

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This picture was taken looking straight down into The Devil’s Throat, as you can see, it’s all mist down there. This giant flock of birds was flying around in the spray and showing off for us. It’s probably one of my favorite pictures…

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The first picture was a view to the right in the The Devil’s Throat, this is if you look over to the left. You can see the amount of spray in the air, we practically got a shower standing up there.

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This is a view looking towards The Devil’s Throat, we were standing up on the right side where you can see a nice cloud of spray from the waterfalls was. I have a ton of pictures from up there but I’ll admit I spent most of the time up there wiping water off of my lens or covering it my hand as soon as the first drops of water started hitting my face.

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Heading down to the lower trail we found this lovely little waterfall. I fiddled with my camera settings a little bit to get this photo and I absolutely love it. This fall was named after the guy who originally found the falls and, just like Dos Hermanas, it looks super impressive until you walk around the corner.

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Because what beats this view?! My first thought, and every consequent thought, was that I must have walked into the inspiration for the hanging gardens on Babylon as the Civ II video for the wonder portrayed it.

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Here’s that view from a slightly different angle, and without the palm trees framing it.

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I never saw my monkey, but I spent so much time invested in my “Eyes to the sky” mantra that nature decided to give me something even better! I scarcely hoped that I would get my rainbow picture with the clouds covering the sun all day, so when the sun poked it’s head through the clouds I stopped staring at the sky and immediately swept my gaze along the waterfalls, searching for the rainbow. It wasn’t there.

I kept looking, waiting, knowing I didn’t have much time. Eventually we started descending to the base of the cliffs and the rainbow appeared! I was so glad that my polarizing filter could be spun to the off position so I was able to snap the photo of the rainbow without having to fuss with my camera. About five minutes later, the sun vanished for another half an hour and when it finally returned, it was too low in the sky for rainbows to reappear. But I had what I wanted, even if it wasn’t a monkey.

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Check it check it! Dem waterfalls doe! And, if you look closely, you’ll see an orange speedboat in the water headed straight toward those big falls! Now why would a speedboat do that, you ask? Well, for those who are somewhat adventurous, you can take a ride in the speedboat and enjoy some up close and personal time with the waterfalls…

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And who am I to turn down some up close and personal time with the Igazú Falls?! I abandoned my camera for a thrilling ride through the spray at the bottom of the waterfalls. We were warned we might do this so I was prepared with my swimming suit and was thoroughly soaked but stoked that I’d done it. For about five minutes we also hung out in Brazil as the border between the countries runs through the center of the river.

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Our walk back included a stop at these three waterfalls, very slowly the path was weaning you off of waterfalls so you wouldn’t be too shocked when you arrived back at the visitors center surrounded only by bugs and jungle.

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A sign on the way out wished us a “Nice Trip,” which we all giggled over a little bit. I though the French translation was closer to what they were going for than the English, but hey, French is a bit closer to Spanish so it makes sense. English is hard.

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BONUS: At the end of the day, instead of dropping us off at the hotel, our bus dropped us off the the “Triple Fronteras” or the “Three/Triple Borders” On the lefthand side, Paraguay is featured on the dark side of the water and Brazil is featured on the right, bathed in the light pink of the sunset. Each country also has an obelisk painted to resemble the countries flag but I’m trying not to use all of my WordPress space so you’ll have to see those when I get back.

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Behind the obelisk is this nice representation of the Triple Fronteras just in case the obelisk wasn’t the ideal photo spot (which, because of the lighting, it wasn’t).

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#datcitylyfe: Igazú is a tiny little city, and because I’ve already written so much, and you’ve stayed with me this far, I’ll keep this little blurb short and save the funny translation stories for next week. The cool thing about Igazú though, is how environmentally friendly the city and its population are. It’s really geared toward ecotourism with many signs reminding people that it’s their job to take care of the environment and that part of a tourist’s job is to care for the country they visit. My favorite fun fact, however, was one that we learned at the nature reserve we visited the first night. They told us that the majority of the animals that they received were injured by cars while crossing the road; because of this, they were working to lower the speed limit on the roads in an attempt to lessen the number of animals killed each year.

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