Our first chance to all get to know each other, during the Doi Inthanon trek, presented itself today at lunch. There are 15 of us in all, and Europe definitely dominates: two Swedes, two Dutch, two Germans (two guys), four Danish (two couples), two English, two Canadians, and myself. We enjoyed a quick lunch in "*Cluck*'s village" — *Cluck* claims to live in the village's largest house — and we explored the houses and farmyards a bit. When someone asked *Cluck* if he had a baby in his stomach (due to his constantly baring the formidable chubby spot and patting it), he said: "yes, baby ladyboy" :P. From the village, we spent most of the afternoon hiking, until we reached our gorgeous camp by the falls.
On Tuesday, I saw the spectacular Argentinean side. Today, I completed my tour of the border-straddling marvel that is Iguazu Falls, by checking out the Brazilian side. While not quite as dramatic or as "in-your-face" as its rival vantage-point, the Brazilian side gives you a grand overview of the falls, with a panorama that lets you take in the entire set of cascades through one big, all-encompassing sweep of the eyes. In my opinion, the falls are simply too amazing to not be seen from every possible angle — so do yourself a favour, and don't shirk on the Brazilian angle! Photos follow below.
The last and the most spectacular thing that we saw today, on the Argentinean side of Iguazu Falls, was the Garganta del Diablo (lit: "Devil's Throat"), the biggest waterfall in the national park, and an absolutely, unbelievably, mind-blowingly massive stream of water. Do yourself a favour, and save this baby for the end of the day: it doesn't get much better than this. You could stand and stare at it for hours. We did. And the catwalk takes you right to the edge of it, where you have a simply phenomenal view of the thing cascading down all around and below you. Enjoy the photos below.
Following the awesome speedboat ride, most of the day today at Iguazu Falls was spent wandering around the catwalks, and taking in the up-close views of the many minor falls that make up the national park. The six of us saw falls big and small, fat and thin, long and short. Plus, plenty of cool animals, and a great little train ride across the park. The catwalk system is very extensive, and quite impressive: you can walk right up to the edge of many of the falls, over numerous bits of water. Photos and video below.
The sweetest thing that we did today, at the spectacular Iguazu Falls, was go on a speedboat ride up the river. We started a few k's downstream, and then powered up the water at ridiculous speeds, before we came close to some of the waterfalls. Then, it was time to get very wet, because the boat drove almost diretly beneath some of the falls! I tell you what: that certainly woke me up for the day :P. Great little adventure, and the drivers are utterly nuts. Fortunately, they also give you dry-bags to put your camera and other personal items in, so nothing gets damaged (but your clothes still get soaked). Photos and videos below.
This morning I woke up at 8am, in order to make my 9am tour to the Argentinean side of Iguazu Falls, one of the biggest waterfalls in the world. After last night's adventure, however, this early start was not very fun. I really should have gone to bed early last night — it was so stupid of me to have gone out pubbing all night! Anyway, I somehow managed to drag myself out of bed, to check out of the Hostel Inn (since I'm going to Brazil tonight), and to wolf down some breakfast, before falling into my seat on the bus. And it was lucky that I did manage all that: because I definitely wouldn't have wanted to miss the breathtaking sights that I saw today. Iguazu Falls are bloody amazing.
I really love cycling, and I haven't done nearly enough of it on this trip. Since the 60km stretch of road from Baños to Puyo is considered the best and the most popular bike ride in Ecuador, there's no way that I was going to miss out on it. Along with Patrick, I rented a bike in Baños this morning (usual $5 for-the-day deal, from one of the tour agencies in town), and we were on the road by about 10am. Beautiful scenery, great stops along the way, relatively easy riding (downhill most of the time), and reasonable weather. And, of course, the great feeling of being back on a bike all day long.
Following the crazy bridge jumping, the other major stop on today's ride to Puyo was the Pailon Del Diablo waterfall (lit: "The Devil's Cauldron"). The waterfall that I canyoned through yesterday was big and impressive; but this one was the fiercest and the most concentrated stream of water that I've seen in my entire life. The name couldn't be more fitting: if the underworld had mountainous jungles and crystal-clear waterfalls, this is what they'd look like. The waterfall is so fierce, that the air is filled with misty spray for about 50m in all directions; and where it hits the pool at the bottom, it looks like a volcano spouting white lava. This is why my nickname for the Pailon Del Diablo is: "Christmas in hell".
I've done some pretty crazy and exciting adventure activities during my trip — but never before have I done anything quite like canyoning. Canyoning is a sport that basically involves abseiling down through waterfalls. Baños, with its verdant hills and its roaring waterfalls surrounding it in abundance, is an ideal place to do it. This afternoon, Patrick and I spent over 2 hours at the Río Pastaza — just 10 minutes out of town — trying out the falls there. Quite scary, quite cold, and quite wet. But very fun, and the experience is simply spectacular.