After my brief and slightly nervous stay in Rio I flew to a place not on my original itinerary. The Iguacu falls are within a UNESCO listed national park, but they are a natural site rather than a cultural one and I had planned to help preserve the former by leaving them be. However, the falls are such a big tourist attraction that I didn’t think my visiting them was going to put any small furry creatures (or anything less adorable) in any greater danger of extinction. Besides, I felt in need of a dose of nature.
The falls are on the border with Argentina and can be visited from both sides – which I did. They are around 80m high, although in some places the water falls in two stages, the intermediate level marking a rock strata boundary. They are convoluted but total nearly 3km in width.
The massive amount of spray produced mean there is lush vegetation and the surrounding park apparently has many rare species. They are keeping well out of the way of the buses (Brazil) and narrow gauge railway (Argentina) that take visitors to the walks around the falls though, so the only wildlife I saw were turtles and huge black catfish (or similar).
There were also lots of furry animals with pointy snouts and long stripey tails called coati, but they hardly count as wild having unfortunately become tame from being fed by visitors. They have long sharp claws and teeth and will attempt to get into any bag left on the ground and they scamper all around the paths. So whilst tutting at their no-longer wild nature I was nevertheless cooing over their cuteness.
To get a bit more nature I also visited a bird park nearby in Brazil which has large walk-through aviaries containing some wonderfully colourful creatures, including this toucan, which made an unprovoked lunge for me and bit me on the hand.
I loved the falls. I find moving water hypnotic – I can watch the sea for hours – so the constant sound of crashing water and the ever-changing patterns in the spray kept me enthralled.