10.11.2009 - 13.11.2009 21 °C
OK I just have one thing to say about the falls... and it is probably the most mis-used word in the English Language.. fantastic.. truly it is awe inspiring. What a rush of an experience.
So I arrived at my hotel as described in my previous blog... then managed to get organized for my trip to the falls.
Deciding against an organized tour for about $5 for a return ticket to the falls I took the regular city bus.
Arriving in grey weather I was mostly prepared for rain and or heat. It is after all the most northern point of Argentina, which also means the hottest more or less... certainly the closest to the tropics.
For a relatively small fee I entered the park.
On the bus before boarding I started talking to a women, who when she spoke sounded South African, anyway after a few hilarious exchanges it turns out she is an Israeli grandma.
So after a lengthy conversation on the bus we decide to tour together for a while, or at least until early afternoon when she had to return to fly back to Buenos Aires to join her tour group.
So there are two ¨"levels" of the falls... upper and lower.. we started with the lower.. and caught a train, which in hindsight would have been easier had we walked, the distance being so short.
The trails are great there... all boardwalked and with handrails, which is great for keeping people off the ground and hopefully keeping the disturbance to a minimum...
Welll the first viewing of the falls was in one word unbelievable.
Then it rained... and rained... tropical rain... it was steaming hot.. I had on a pair of short pants... luckily... but the rain was relentless. I have a great coat from MEC.. but it was not enough to keep out the rain when I kept taking off my hood... so wet wasn´t bad as it was so warm.
After my companion left I went to the upper falls, an area called devils throat. The walkway which was newly constructed crossed the river then went out above the falls... HOW incredible... you are standing above a huge waterfall with about 5000 cubic meters per second flowing over.. and as a water manager I can only say... almost nothing.... but the spray is almost blinding.. and so hard to take a photo. There are these entrepeneurs who have step ladders and charge to take photos from above the spray of one standing on the edge.
I also took a chance and bought the adventure package. It included an anemic tour through the jungle on the back of an truck.. then into a huge and powerful jet boat.
The captain then took us upriver and into and I mean INTO the falls... they force the passengers to put everything into waterproof bags. I did except for my waterproof camera. The lady behind me from Puerto Rico was screaming.. after she told me she was scared at first.. then when the boat went into the spray she was so excited.. she even bought the video they take to show her kids at home.
I have to say I am so happy I went to the falls.
The next day I purchased a second day half price ticket and walked through the downstream jungle in the hopes of seeing a toucan or the monkeys that inhabit the area.
Saw nothing but did manage to get eaten alive by mosquitos. I thought I bought Ben´s insect repellant.. but seemingly I bought Bens Insect attractant.
From Iquazu I returned by bus to Buenos Aires.. and this time slept almost the whole way.. and the food was palatable...
From Buenos I relaxed for a few days and took a flight from Buenos Aires to El Calagata in Argentinian Patagonia.
It is funny how one meets people on ones travels, and how much they can affect one. I met a couple who was their last day in Iquazu. They were a Belgium couple having a steak at the table next to me. They extolled how incredible it was to watch the whales and walk amonst the penguins in an area called Puerto Madryn. So the night before I left.. I phoned Aerolina Argentinas and changed my flight, and how efficient the service was... done over the phone.. so much for thinking that I would get inefficient service.
So I arrive at the airport to fly to El Calafate on the first leg of my flight and was told to go to the sales counter to pay for my change.
I get served by someone who looked at me like I was something on his shoe. Then when I gave him my details he started typing.. then writing down figures on a piece of paper.. then typing.. and typing... At least 20 minutes later.. he tells me I owe $300 dollars.. fine I pay.. then go to the ticket counter... where the attendant checking me in.. does the same... bearing in mind I planned to be early so I could get something to eat and not rush... so I ask and she tells me that the agent had messed up the flights totally...
SO back to the sales center... at least my check in agent phoned the other counter and went to the front of a lineup about 20 deep. Again... typing and typing.. I nearly screamed at him.... it was gettting later and later... then finally a ticket in hand and again back to my check in agent who called me to the front of the line ahead of glaring passengers.
SO I JUST made it onto the plane... luckily the airline still serves food and had a sanwich and arrived in El Calafate uneventfully.
( More blog chapters to follow I am typing this in Chile after many chapters written in a diary sitting in El Calafate and I am currently in Puerto Natales with a rotten cold and a badly blistered foot... so keep looking for entries and once I am back to Argentina I can get my card reader and post some photos.... )