Sunday, 13 November 2011

IATTOUR November 8-12

November 8,2011 Puerto Iguazu
Well we both survived the night in our separate dorms; each with different experience- Elaine's room mate preferred no fan or AC due to too much noise thus was a bit toasty; Tony had some bloke arrive sometime in the wee hours.  The end net result we both decided we prefer the private double; at least you know your roomate even if they have their own special attributes.  Up for the standard continental breakfast before striking off for the "Gran Adventura" tour through the jungle, jet boat ride up the lower Iguazu River rapids then a dip under a few of the falls on the Argentine National Parc side.  We must say this tour was a blast, but could have settled for just the boat ride under the falls (about 1/2 price)  which was the best part.
After this last picture, the commander of the boat directed everybody to put away the camera's into the dry bags as we were going under the falls.  Both of us were in our swimming suits, but a good portion of the customers on the boat were fully dressed, long sleeves and jeans; needless to say who had more fun.   The boat made at least 3 runs under different falls and had everyone asking for more, this was thrilling but over too soon and dropped off at the lower landing to begin our exploration of the Argentine side of the falls.
The park perspective from the Argentine side is quite different from the Brasillian; you do not get the large panoramic shots, but you are up close to feel and hear each of the falls.  The park area is a lot larger, so the crowds do not seem quite as big; but maybe we were there on a good day.  The trails meandered through the hillside to the top of escarpment with numerous small falls along the way and interesting flora and fauna to watch.  The pinnacle of the park is the Gargantua del Diablo "Devil's Throat", which you view from directly above.

You will notice in the video a lot of birds flying around; these are Swifts.  They roost on the basalt cliff faces on the sides and underneath the waterfalls.  We were mesmerized watching them plunge through and emerge from the walls of water.  This was a very cool place; just made the list for the new 7 wonders of the natural world and would recommend as a must see place if you are anywhere in lower SA.  It was a warm day and we were pretty played out by about 3pm so headed back to the hostel to check into our double room for the night.  Sat around the pool, drank a bit of beer chatting to an Aussie couple and German woman;then went off to another good grilled dinner with the whole group.  The room tonight was to both our liking and a good night's sleep was had in preparation for our bus trip tomorrow.

November 9,2011
We had a liesurely day in Puerto Iguacu today, sightseeing in the morning (looking out at the "Tres Frontiers" where the waters from Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina merge), window-shopping in town and relaxing in the lovely gardens of the Garden Stone Hostel. 
Thank goodness for the pool as it was melting hot outside. The owners are very generous and allow guests to stay after they check out; most trips away from here start in the evening.  Watching a beatiful bird in the garden extended into a wonderful conversation with a pair of guests from Spain--father and son who were birding in the area.  The son was a fire fighter from Barcelona, who was quite and adventurer/mountaineer/birder; made us look like pikers.  He was showing us photos of a mother Condor and chick taken on some mountain peak in Southern Argentina on previous trip- spectacular  National Geographic quality.  They were off to some remote lodge in SW Brazil to study the flora and fauna of the large swamps.  We bid them goodbye and headed to the bus terminal to catch our overnight bus with CAMA seats to Concordia/Salto.  The CAMA seats although comfortable, lacked leg room, so took a while to figure out how to get comfortable but was OK.   Dinner was served, but no wine or scotch as the rumour promised.  Settled in for the long 13 hour ride.  Through the night, we woke a few times to find the bus travelling through a severe rain storm, lashing at the windows, lightning flashing everywhere, not sure how the driver could see the road. 

November 10, 2011
We survived.  The next morning came too early and we were literally dumped by the side of the road near Concordia.  Fortunately there were a couple of cabs hanging around, we decided to take the easy way and cab over to Salto in Uruguay as opposed to figuring out the urban bus or the boat across the river at 0630 hours.  The cab driver led us through the Argetine-Uruguay border formalities, then crossed over the dam traversing the Rio Uruguay into Uruguay. 

We were deposited at the Salto Omnibus terminal, then had to figure out our next moves.  The girl at the information kiosk was helpful but the exchange was limited by her English and our Spanish.  Fortunately, there was a free hotspot so were able to arrange a room for the night out at the Termas de Dayman. We picked up our Montivideo bus tickets for Saturday, then checked our bags before heading off on foot to explore Salto.  This is a very pretty little town with lots of old colonial style buildings, squares with green space and statues. 

On trying to figure out the local ATM, Tony realized that he did not get his VISA card back from the agent at the Nunez bus counter when buying our tickets to Montivideo.  Panic city...we hoof it back to the station to find the card safe and sound; they were as concerned as we were and spread word through out the terminal (checked bag storage lady asked about our card).  High praise for these guys.  Our heart rates back down to normal range, we catch the urban bus back to town to have lunch and finish our wander.  The town shuts down from about 12-3pm.   Later in the afternoon, feeling a bit fagged from the overnight bus, we head out to the Hotel in Dayman.  This is a tourist destination for the Termal Baths right across the street from our hotel.  Went for a soak in the baths before dinner, did that feel good or what.  The place was so nice we opted for 2 nights.

November 11, 2011
A lazy day,excellent breakie-pool-nap-lunch-pool-nap-walk-pool-dinner. What a life. 

On one of the walks we spotted a bunch of Parrot Condo's in the town up top of some Palm trees, really fun to watch, boy are they a noisy raucous crowd.  Off to Montevideo a manana.

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