Sunday, September 18, 2011

Iguazu Falls

Location: Iguazu Falls, border of Brazil and Argentina

Rundown: On the border of Brazil and Argentina the wide, lazy Rio Iguazu falls spectacularly off a basalt plateau. Worth a long bus ride to see!

From Buenos Aires took an overnight bus up to Puerto Iguazu, some nineteen hours north on the border of Brazil and Paraguay. The duration at first seemed daunting, but reflecting on how much I run around every day, it ended up being a treat to just sit in one spot for a long time.

Splurged just a bit for a fancy bus where the seats lay all the way flat, they serve dinner on the bus, you get your own movies, and they don't stop until you get there! I think I'm getting soft.

After driving nineteen hours north, the first steps out of the bus were into a semi-tropical climate. The air was pleasantly humid and the vegetation lush. We found our B&B, Casa Yaguarete, stuck in a grove of various tropical fruit trees. Roughing it yet again.

Since we arrived in the morning, we dropped off our gear and hoofed it to the Parque Nacional Iguazu a few minutes out of town by bus.

The park has beautiful walkways through the jungle. Sometimes you have to share with others like this cute little coati, a racoon-like jungle dweller.

Metal catwalks hug the side of the valley leading towards the falls. You can hear the falls through the selva long before you can see it. Occasionally breaks in the earth were gapped by bridges spanning spitting tributary falls.

The cataracts cascade for several kilometers along the massive plateau drop reaching into the distance as a series of side curtain waterfalls.

Just walking out near the base of the side curtains was enough to drench your clothes.

Followed the side falls for several hours before heading up to see the falls from above. The spray from all of the falls throws up huge plumes of water droplets which create hundreds of rainbows, obscure the other side of the valley, and occasionally pour a fine rain on unsuspecting onlookers.

Hiking on the catwalks through the heavy jungle was a fun way to see the extreme terrain. Very accessible area and no bushwhacking required...for once.

The sheer dimension of the drop and the amount of water continually falling was impressive. I would make a hydrologist weak in the knees.

At the top of the falls catwalks hovered over the slow, placid water of the wide rivers unaware of their immanent drop.

The Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) is the massive horseshoe of falls where biggest torrent is thundering. These two aerials aren't mine, but they show the scale.

At the top of the Garganta the river looks like a lake and upon approach a massive foaming hole appears to open in the center of the lake with the water furiously and perpetually draining into it.

The sheer chaos was humbling.

An incredible sight to experience.

That's all for now. Climbing Cerro Plomo a local mountain peak, around 18,000 feet, at the end of October with a buddy. Don't miss it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Rundown: Spent the Chilean Dieciocho break in Buenos Aires, Argentina soaking up the fine wine, great steaks, tango, and smooth culture.

It's cold in Chile this time of year! The mountains were deep set in snow as we jetted over them for a week or so in Buenos Aires and other parts of Argentina.

Spent our first few days walking around the beautiful, European city.

Tons of great parks, long boulevards, and interesting architecture made for excellent wandering.

Although some parts of the city has an old-world feel, others are very modern. The combination makes for an interesting vibe.

Perused the huge Sunday markets, walking up and down the cobblestone streets and into the San Telmo antiques market.

We ate like kings (or pigs?). The food was amazing!

Lots of cute sidewalk cafes to stop and... have a cafe. Did I mention the food?

Also hit up the live music scene most nights. Lots of great musicians with influence from all parts of Latin America. This Brazilian jazz group accompanied a swanky dinner and a nice bottle of wine. All in all a terrific night.

Spent a few evenings with some friends from Nido, which was a treat. We run so much at work it's nice to share some time and a bottle of wine and catch some good live music.

Buenos Aires has a fabulous above-ground cemetery, with huge marble tombs, ornate statues, and narrow walkways. Made for an interesting afternoon of wandering while the shadows stretched out...

Helpful people to show you around... if you don't mind your hand being held. Literally. This old gentleman led us around Cementerio de la Recoleta as the bells were tolling to send the living back to their homes. He seemed part specter himself.

The whose-who of Buenos Aires are immortalized here, including the famous Eva Peron, or 'Evita', a political leader during the 40's and 50's.

Perused the different barrios of Buenos Aires, including the gregarious La Boca, with it's obnoxiously colored buildings and intense touristy feel. You can get off the main drag and find some pleasantly seedy streets though.

After a walk around the area it isn't hard to imagine how tango became so popular here. The whole place is odd and sassy. Aren't we all.


Spent a day finding and exploring the zoo in a town called Lujan. It's a petting zoo, plain and simple. So there were little enclosures full of cute animals like goats that you could play with.

Other petting zoo animals included tigers.

...and lions.

All of the animals are born and raised in the zoo, and are touched by people from the time they are small. Also, all there are friendly dogs in all of the enclosures to keep the cats used to inter-species socialization. It has worked so far...

Some of the creatures were too dangerous to handle, like this nandu.

I always feel bad for having animals in zoos, and I came to this one hesitantly. For the most part the animals seem well cared for (at least well fed!). It's an incredible experience to be able to put your hands on them though.