Iguašu Falls 2/09

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Breathtakingly beautiful and powerful...

Argentina's lower circuit morning fogged view

Iguašu Falls (spelled Iguaz˙ in Argentina) is more than double the size and flow of Niagara, made up of 275 falls along 1.67 miles of the Iguaz˙ River at the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, 700 miles southwest of Rio. The tallest falls are 270 ft, with most higher than 200 ft. A photographer's dream, the national parks in Brazil and Argentina provide excellent close-up and panoramic views. Contrasting the two sides, Brazil's got a particularly great view (large picture below), but Argentina's got a lot more places and ways to explore. Here's something I can't capture on this page - I heard and felt the rumble of these falls throughout both parks and even on my hotel room balcony.

Sunday February 8th - Argentina

I arrived from Rio just after noon at Foz do Iguašu airport (IGU) on the Brazilian side of the border. I met my driver and headed west for the scenic 45 minute drive to my hotel, the Sheraton Iguaz˙ located inside of Argentina's Iguaz˙ National Park. The border crossing and currency exchange were painless. What this hotel lacks in service, luxury or value is more than made up for by its location (first picture below - 18mm wide angle shot to Salto San Martin from my balcony). After checking in, I booked my full moon walking tour of Garganta del Diablo for that night and headed out for the Upper Circuit Trail. Follow this link for a map of the trails and lookouts.

 

Brazil's "Devil's Throat" platform 270░ view

The Argentinean side has three major approaches; the half-mile upper circuit where you look down on the falls from their spills, the one-mile lower circuit where you get immediately in front of the falls, and the 3/4 mile Garganta del Diablo trail where you look over the top of the "Devils Throat" directly across from Brazil. By luck, I was there on a full moon, so I decided to do the Garganta del Diablo trail late that night and cover the upper and lower circuits in my afternoon and next morning. The second through fourth pictures above were taken from the upper circuit: Salto Dos Hermanas to Salto Rivadavia. The second and fourth also show rainbows formed in the spray from the falls. Even snapping lots of pictures and changing or cleaning lenses a few times, I covered the upper circuit in about 40 minutes.

The lower circuit provided even better views, although the spray was more intense - forcing some lens maintenance. The first picture above shows Salto BernabÚ Mendez and Salto Mbigua from a midway lower circuit viewpoint. The second picture above is a 13mm wide shot from above the boat launch with Isla San Martin in the foreground and Brazil's Salto Santa Maria and Salta Floriano in the left background. The third picture above shows me at a viewpoint near the end of the lower circuit. The crowds in the late afternoon made picture taking difficult, so I decided that I would return to the lower circuit before the park opened Monday to try again in the morning light. After a relaxing snack with a glass of Argentinean Chardonnay on my balcony, I met my full moon tour group at the park's central station at 8pm. Getting to the Garganta del Diablo trailhead requires a train ride from the station. When we arrived at the trailhead, the full moon rose as if right on cue, providing lots of light for our walk. I had some trouble with a camera setting, so I got just a few good night shots, but the ethereal fourth picture above captures it well. I strongly recommend the full moon tour to anyone - it was a highlight of the trip. After dinner at the park center and a glass of good Malbec back at the hotel, I retired for the night.

Monday February 9th - Argentina lower circuit in morning light & the Brazil side

I woke to a nice sunrise over the Falls, enjoyed some strong South American coffee on my balcony and then headed out for the lower circuit as soon as the gate was opened to the trail, an hour or so before the park opened for visitors. The trail was all mine (first picture above), with the problem being the yet uncleared multitude of spider webs that I had to find a stick to get through. A second problem arose - my cameras and lenses had rested through the night in air-conditioned comfort and were now in 85░F 95% humidity, so all the glass was completely fogged. In a nice twist halfway down the lower circuit trail, as my 18mm lens partially cleared, I got a great effect shot (large picture top of page left - unretouched). The morning light coming from the left gave me some nice views. The second picture above frames Salto San Martin to Salto BernabÚ Mendez in the near field trees. The third picture above is a bit closer looking through palms and the fourth shows the platform right under Salto Bossetti.

Late morning I checked out of the Sheraton, met my driver and headed east for the Brazil side of the falls, which is only minutes from Foz do Iguašu airport. From Brazil's Parque Nacional do Iguašu visitor's center a 20 minute bus ride took me to the trailhead. The first picture below shows the approach to the "Devil's Throat". For a geographic perspective, the center of that picture about 60% of the way up vertically was the spot I had stood taking the full moon picture in Argentina the night before. The Brazil side offers a spectacular 270░ surround view (large picture top of page right and second picture below) from the Devil's Throat platform (third picture below). As you might guess from the location of the platform, there's a lot of spray. The fourth picture below shows that effect in a shot of me directly in front of Salto Santa Floriano at the end of the trail. After a change of clothes at the visitor center, I headed off to the airport for my three flights home. All in all, a great trip that added a new continent to my passport along with lasting memories.

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