Ciudad del Este Stories and Tips

The Argentine side - along the rim - the Superior Cataract walk

The edge of the waterfall Photo, Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

There are two walks through the jungle that no visitor to Iguacu should miss.

One is along the precipice where over forty waterfalls plunge onto the escarpment - the Superior (higher) Cataract walk. And the other is underneath the falls - the Inferior (lower) Cataract walk. Both are spectacular and take you through primary rainforest bursting with animal and plant life. They make a good excursion after seeing the Garganta di Diablo and are within easy walking distance of the visitors centre and the Sheraton Hotel.

But for me this was a good opportunity to see a South American rainforest at close hand without tracking up to the Matto Grosso or Amazon and without doing it damage. After a while it seems natural to walk beneath towering trees, watch insects buzz around and watch for monkeys in the rainforest canopy.

I would do the superior Cataract walk first, mainly because the Inferior leads to a more fitting climax. But the views from the Superior across to Brazil are amazing and it gives you the opportunity to get close to over 100 waterfalls pouring into the gorge below. To get to the start of the gorge take the miniature railway to Estacion Cataratas (Waterfall Station) and follow the signs. You know you are heading in the right direction when you enter a meadow which houses the Torre Mirador (Viewing Tower) which looks like a lighthouse in the middle of the jungle. Jarring even more with it's surroundings is the glass and chrome Sheraton Hotel which is the only (expensive) hotel in the Argentine side.

Then follow a track into the jungle. For the most part we walked along metal walkways, these were well kept and easy going, but we did use a couple of staircase and those with mobility problems may encounter problems.We followed our guide, Silvano, over tiny rivulets and cataracts. Through the hanging vegetation we could see the Brazilian side of the park across the gorge and realised we were at the western end of the falls. This is where it arcs for over three miles along a great escarpment then plunges down onto a plateau.

As we progressed we travelled over rushing rivers and the walkway travelled the lip of these rivers as the water plunged over. As it goes over the edge it turns translucent before plunging into the Iguacu gorge. Then a great vista opened up showing the vast horizon of the Isla Martin and the jungles of the Brazilian side. Birds wheeled above us and in view were over forty waterfalls gushing into space. We crossed about ten of them as we walked on. You never quite got used to the sight of the vertigo-inducing drop to the frothing cauldron below.

At the furthest point we reached a viewing platform which looked on the great arc stretching eastwards. This looked down into a gorge behind the Isla San Martin and was fed by ten enormous waterfalls. We could spot the waterway that the zodiacs used the previous day and the island between the two gorges - San Martin - was awash with glistening tropical foliage. Three of the waterfalls poured directly into a narrow gorge and the power of the water pouring through was terrifying. Instant death to anyone who fell into the crashing seastorm of ripping froth (see photo).

The whole walk took an hour but seemed like five minutes and we were reluctant to go back to the Torre Mirador. Walking back through the jungle became fascinated by what dwelled there. There are no piranha's in the waters of Iguacu (piranha by the way, is a filthy word in Portuguese - it means bitch) but some caiman. But there are tapirs and coatimundis, southern river otters and peccary's. There aren't any mighty anacondas but there are ocelots, pumas and jaguars. It is unlikely that you will see such creatures as most are nocturnal. There used to be night-walks at Iguacu but they were discontinued. When I asked why I was unprepared for the answer:-

"A jaguar got hold of a child and ate him".

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