Thursday, 13 March 2014

South American Adventure - Day Twenty Two, Thursday 13th March 2014

Another of the benefits of staying at the Hotel Das Cataratas – they offer a complimentary guided tour of the Brazil side of the falls before the park opens.  So, after breakfast, we met the guide at 8.15am and just had to walk outside of the reception to start our tour.  The Argentine side of the falls are far bigger, far more spectacular, but you can only see the full extent of this  from the Brazilian side.  The Argentines have the show, but the Brazilians have the view.

How peaceful and pleasant it was this morning.  Yet another morning with not a cloud in the sky.  We walked across the road, and started on the tarmac trails that run alongside the falls.  To start with, you can see the smaller of the falls – the ones that we were walking over on metal walkways yesterday with the rest of the world!  Whenever I wanted to stop and take a picture there was no-one in the way – no-one barging past – heaven!  The guide gave us an overview of the river and how it had evolved, but as there were about twenty people in the group (and we were at the back, of course) it was hard to hear everything.  Didn’t really matter.  The spectacle was there before us, in all it’s glory.  And at this time in the morning, the rainbows were glinting in the sun as it came up over the thundering water and shone onto the spray.

All the way along the water was gushing over the edge of the eighty or so metre drop.  It was a completely different view to yesterday – and in the peace and quiet at this time of the morning was perfect.  The walkway went right up to the Devil’s Throat.  This time, the walkway was down at the bottom rather than at the top – so getting wet was the only option again!  But a completely different perspective.  A better one I think.  At this end, there is an elevator that takes you back up to the road, as the trail had been going gradually downhill all the way.  It is then a half mile walk back to the hotel.

If you only have one day here, then I think the Brazilian side would be the way to go.  If you had two, like us, then do the Argentine side first and then the Brazilian side.  And if you can, stay at the Das Cataratas to enjoy the falls virtually on your own.  You could have walked as soon as it was light – another benefit only applicable here – until it is dark.  It is so much better without other people!

When we got back to the hotel, we had a driver waiting for us to take us for our helicopter trip over the falls.  Another perspective!  The heliport is just outside the National Park Entrance, so not far.  The trip lasts ten minutes – long enough to get a really good view.  There were several people in front of us – the helicopter takes seven people – but at ten minutes a trip only we didn’t have to wait long.  We were all strapped in, and took off over the rainforest.  It was massive, and went on for miles.  Apart from the roads and the river, there was nothing but trees for miles.  The view was fabulous – and there was another rainbow shining in the middle of the falls.  It went over them a couple of times so everyone could get a good view – and a really good view of the hotel from the air.  It was all over too quickly. 

We got back to the heliport, and the driver was waiting to take us to the Bird Park – just across the road.  This, he said, was also paid for, so they have taken forgetting us at the airport seriously.  Unless this all comes on our hotel bill!  The Bird Park is meant to be one of the best in the world – not having been to any before I have nothing to compare it with.  I don’t really like seeing any animals caged, so this was not a totally comfortable experience.  They all seemed fairly happy – with some species not in cages at all.  It seems they can fly off whenever they want, but seem not to want to, so it can’t be all bad.  It does seem to be quite good – many of the areas have natural trees and it is all in natural light, so I suppose if they have to be caged this is as good as any.  There is also a butterfly house – a huge amount of butterflies, and massive!  And an alligator or two – not sure how they fit in to the “Bird Park” scenario.  And plenty of little nibbly crawly things that decided as we had arrived they would have lunch!

The driver waited and took us back to the hotel when we finished the mile or so walk around the different species.  Another part of an afternoon by the pool – someone’s happy!  We ate tonight in the A La Carte restaurant – with “breathtaking views of the falls”.  Unfortunately, all the outside tables were booked, and we sat inside with only a breathtaking sound of the falls!  It was pitch black, so they were very hard to see anyway.  The food, though, was excellent.  As one would expect!

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