Ciudad del Este Stories and Tips

The Macuco Ride: Skimming under the falls in a speedboat..

Crammed into the Macuco Photo, Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

This may be the highlight of your trip to Iguacu Falls.

An independent operator offers an excursion which includes a trip through the jungle and a zodiac (inflatable speedboat) that whizzes amongst the cataracts and under the falls themselves. This is the ultimate thrill ride as the pilot spins and speeds along the Iguacu river zooming into Argentina and Brazil and pushing to the limit until each passenger is absolutely soaked and thoroughly exhilarated.

The company - Macuco Tours - operates on the road in and out of the park. For 90 reals (£31/$45) you get a thrill of a lifetime and everyone who visits Iguacu should do this at least once. After paying your money (they accept international credit cards) you must wait at the entrance to the jungle for a trailer to take you down to the river. The trailer appears for new people every twenty minutes and while you wait you can coat yourself in the natural insect repellant on offer. Insects buzz in from the jungle - more attracted to the repellant then dispelled by it.

An open-air trailer then chugs out of the rainforest and you climb on board. The guide was a young man with a very clear concise voice and who spoke in Spanish, English and Portuguese. The trailer rolls along at a very slow pace allowing us good views of the jungle. We would sometimes stop and the guide would pick out giant trees and poisonous shrubs. A troop of capuchin monkeys was spotted making it's way across the upper canopy. The branches would quiver then a huge black shape would launch itself at the next tree. We also spotted hummingbirds and green billed toucans in the tops of branches.

After half an hour we transferred to a landrover. The track got very narrow and headed downhill at a scary angle where only a landrover would have the agility. We got out and we were on the northern banks of the Rio Iguacu. We were downstream of the falls, a mile or so from where the Iguacu turns into the Parana and around us were towering streaked granite banks and looming jungle. Bobbing on the brown water was a floating raft with inflatable zodiacs attached. We clambered across a swinging walkway to the raft, took off our shoes and put on inflatable lifejackets, and then climbed into a waiting zodiac. The pilot then gunned the engines and spun us into the river.

The Iguacu is riven with cataracts and we bounced off these as we sped upstream to the waiting waterfalls. The currents and swirls were taken at speed making the zodiac jump and bump much to the enjoyment of it's passengers. The pilot pushed it at real speed and spun in a circle making the zodiac tilt on its side and making us think we would tip into the river. Then over further rapids and into the main falls. The light of day started to fade and softened the Argentine falls which now towered above us. We were seeing these falls at a different angle and many of us stood up to take pictures of the falls from river level (see photo). Then it was a zoom and we were in the gorge leading from the Giganta di Diablo.

Bump! Bludgeon! He hit the water at speed.

We were washed with spray and before we knew it we were under the falls. The spray was so intense we were soaked instantly. You had no option but to close your eyes as the water washed over you and you could taste it as it got into your mouth. With it's passengers soaking and laughing with pleasure the zodiac backed up, spun around, and went under again. This time we almost died of delight as the torrent knocked us sideways and soaked us to the skin. With my glasses obscured and my mouth full of water we turned around and went back in. By this time the entire zodiac was shrieking and laughing.

We finally backed away and the Giganta di Diablo from river height looked beautiful in the twilight with fading rainbows. We clambered back aboard the raft on a massive high. I've had my South American river experience. It doesn't get any better then this.

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