As the bus approached the park, I wondered if we'd hear the falls before seeing them. After all, such a tremendous amount of water dumping over cliffs has got to make a tremendous noise. All we could hear was the bus engine.
Then we noticed a white plume of mist floating stationary over the tree tops: the falls. The park is fairly developed and reminded me a little of the Wild Animal Park in San Diego: clean, nicely made paths, shiny souvenir shops, visitor center and birds and other animals wandering around (OK the Wild Animal Park has more visible animals but Iguazu scores higher on jungle environment). We headed straight to the station where little trains (like at the Wild Animal Park) whisk you off to 2 stops: one where you can hike and take a boat to the Isla San Martin, the other is the trail head for walkways to above the Garganta del Diablo. Metal catwalks lead across the water which is uncannily smooth and calm.
There are turtles swimming and sunbathing on rocks as well as fish flitting about. The walkways pass over the open water and through tree covered islands. Off to the sides were concrete pilings and broken pieces of a previous catwalk destroyed by a flood. The jungle and water was peaceful with the only signs of the falls being the floating mist. As we got closer we could hear the rush of water.
The walkways terminated at a point overlooking the edge of the falls. Within minutes we were drenched. Everyone was but no one cared. All around, copious quantities of water rushed down. We couldn't see much because everything was obscured by mist generated by the falls. The numerous cataracts rushed down one cliff and then crashed down a second. Billows of mist rose, coating people and camera lenses. Rowshan resorted to cleaning lenses with a corner of his underwear, the only dry piece of cloth he could find. It wasn't as loud as I expected. We were above the falls and the water crashed far below. However, the vision of the white foaming torrent (with a slightly greenish tinge) constantly gushing over the edge was breathtaking. It seemed to move slowly if you focused on a certain area but then moving your vision out to take in the whole scene, everything just seemed to rush, out of control. Water just poured.
Iguaza falls (Garganta del Diablo)
Through the mists we could barely make out the river winding its way through the jungle between tree covered cliffs. Back along the path, we found some cute black magpie looking birds with sky blue feather "eyebrows" and a blue ruff on the back of their necks.
Accustomed to human handouts, they hopped from tree to tree, posing for photos and taking bread and chip handouts.
As we started down the path to where we could take the boat to San Martin Island, we were caught in a downpour. This time we threw on our ponchos but there was no place to shelter on the metal walkways, so we got drenched again. The benefit was the trails probably would have been a lot more crowded if it hadn't been raining. The walkway led through thick jungle growth past several more waterfalls.
Everywhere you look there seems to be a waterfall. I guess that's what makes it such an amazing sight. At the Garganta del Diablo, it seemed we were at "the falls" but that was only a small (though very powerful) part. The trails led around to a different part of the falls from where you couldn't even see the Garganta. Instead you just saw a long stretch of other waterfalls. The surrounding jungle was rich and full of butterflies and birds.
The boat trip was a quick hop over to the island. From there we walked up to a couple view points. One had an impressive view into a double terraced area of cataracts. Bright green grassy bushes clung beneath the pouring water. One area of green covered rocks made me think of a giant sitting in a chair with water pouring over him. From our high vantage point, we were able to see the tops of the trees where butterflies flickered and birds soared.
Iguaza falls (San Martin Island)
Another viewpoint looked upon trees filled with condors. An arch in the rock revealed more cataracts off in the distance.
We were also able to see some of Brazil.
Our final hike went along the tops of several falls. I imagine how frightening it would be drifting down the river in seemingly calm waters, then suddenly coming upon slight rapids, and then next thing you know the world drops away in a rush of water.
A heron didn't seem to mind and leisurely caught fish (or frogs) within 10 feet of the drop.
The area is beautiful. Aside from the falls, the jungle is deep and verdant. We saw a toucan hopping about a tree. The jungle seems much thicker than what we saw in Pucalpa. The greens range from almost fluorescent green to greenish black. The earth is reddish brown and the puddles are bright oompa loompa man (original movie version) orange.
We saw a couple different types of lizards: one huge and one with a reddish orange chin. In the grassy areas of the park, little animals that look like wild versions of guinea pigs wandered around.
As we left the park, we passed a group of Guarani people who were singing and dancing.