We’re walking on the Lower Falls Trail at Iguazu Falls inArgentina, looping along connecting paths, all the while gawking at the indescribably beautiful cascades of water roaring over walls of rock and plunging into the Iguazu River below. It’s a moody, mystical scene reminiscent of Niagara or Victoria Falls—but the enormity of Iguazu Falls dwarfs both.
Powerful waterfalls in every direction
Water pours magnificently over huge black boulders into the abyss below. At places the rocks gleam like yellow gold under the flowing froth. Mist rises high above the ledges obscuring everything behind it; then it dissipates and plumes again even higher, casting a haze over the entire landscape.
As huge sprays of water shoot like geysers into the air, a chorus of “oohs” and “ahhs” from the crowds of people on the walkway reflect the amazement shared by onlookers who are jostling for space by the railings and unobstructed views. On this September day, the sun occasionally peeks out, but mostly the weather is cloudy and pleasant--perfect for taking pictures, which we do often.
Although I had heard about Iguazu Falls, I could not visualize the sheer numbers of thundering waterfalls—and the incredible maze of concrete and steel pathways that allow visitors to experience the spectacle in such a close and personal venue. Travel brochures don’t come close to conveying the scope of the gigantic water-drops or the immensity of the site in this national park.
Getting soaked on land
One path is specially designed to take brave souls into the pounding spray, a most spectacular sight if you can keep your balance and your eyes open in the forceful wind and water. We don ponchos before walking to the end of the path, knowing we’ll be thoroughly drenched in seconds. Of course, the spray carries for some distance. Having felt it on our approach we had stashed all but the waterproof camera in dry bags. (Eager for more thrills, I do this again on another day of our visit).
Getting soaked by boat
We then scurry down a rock path studded with pink periwinkles and purple, white, and yellow flowers of various shapes and textures on our way down to the river. That’s where our next adventure begins--a boat ride with Iguazu Jungle that takes us under the falls. It’s an exciting and risky-looking excursion, although apparently it’s safer that it appears on first glance. On reaching the bottom of the path, we’re issued life jackets and dry bags for our backpacks and gear—and then wait for our turn to board the boat.
To make up for an uncommonly long delay, the speedboat driver gives us even more thrills than usual. First, we go toward the waterfall of St. Martin’s Island, the second largest one. Then we bounce and lurch closer, retreat, and go back in even closer. I’m soaked and water is pouring over my face.
As if that isn’t enough to get our adrenalin pumping, the driver zooms back to the main river and then takes the boat around the bend to another thundering waterfall inside Devil’s Throat Canyon, screeching the powerboat as he drives further into the spray. We’re almost directly under the pounding falls, and I can’t open my eyes. The boat is in rock and roll mode, so I simply hold the camera high and snap away, hoping for a few good photos. Finally, we head back to the dock, a bit wobbly but thoroughly exhilarated by what we’ve just done.
It’s late afternoon when we return to the pier, and a chill is settling in the air, so Larry and I head back to the hotel for dry clothes and dinner in the restaurant.
Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier
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