Butterflies, Rainbows and Waterfalls

Sounds magical doesn’t it? Well, it’s not magic, nature is just that incredible.

We’ve arrived back to Michigan eager to start new projects and catch up with where we left off.  However I want to do a quick run down on how the rest of the trip went and maybe provide some useful information for others visiting Iguazu Falls in Argentina.

Briefly I will jump back to where I left off – Salto, Uruguay.  If you find yourself in Salto, it’s probably because you are attracted to the idea of lounging in hot water all day… Salto is full of termas (hot springs) and is the perfect place to rejuvenate.  We were there for the termas, but also to cross back into Argentina.  We had two options: take the bus or take a boat.  The bus was a couple of dollars cheaper and a couple of hours longer.  You have to deal with everyone else crossing the border on wheels and going through customs.  The boat took less than a half hour to get our passports stamped in both countries and cross the river.  You have to walk about 20 or more blocks to the bus station once you are in Concordia, Argentina but it was worth it.  Only 5 other people were on the boat with us- it was quick and casual.

One of many... still need to identify. Any ideas?

From Concordia we took an overnight (15+/- hours) bus ride to Puerto Iguazu.  The ride was long enough to enter into a more tropical climate full of new birds and trees.  We found a really cheap and rad place to camp.  A couple has their yard set up for camping, full of beautiful vegetation and a nice covered kitchen area.  The place is called Modista, and it’s in town, maybe a 10 minute walk from the bus terminal.  It’s cheaper than all of the other camping options.

I don’t think words exist to explain Iguazu Falls.  I took around 100+ photos, none of which do them any justice.  The earliest we could get into the park was 8am, and we arrived just a few minutes after.  Skipping the little train they have to get you around to different parts of the falls, Matt and I walked down their “green trail” and it was here where we met the Toco Toucan (Toucan Grande).

As Matt pointed out an interesting spider to me, I caught a glimpse of the Toucan so very close to us and in clear view.  He let us watch him in amazement for a few minutes.  A perfect way to start our 9 hour day at the falls.  I added a few other birds to my life list and also identified a dozen or so butterflies.  As for mammals, it’s clear that humans have made an impact on the coatis (Nasua nasua) – we watched them chase people away from their tables so they could quickly snatch their food.  We also watched a couple of Azara’s Agoutis (Dasyprocta azarae) dig around in the leaf litter.

I feel like I can’t really say much more, as it is best to observe rather than read about.   If you are a nerd and plan to go to Iguazu, I suggest getting a field guide before going, or a couple.  I bought an inexpensive one (Iguazu: Vida y Color) in town and found it to be very helpful.  It contains a decent collection of birds, butterflies, mammals, trees and more.  Names are in Spanish, English and scientific.

I’ll end this with a brief video I took with my camera at the falls.  You can see the great dusky swifts flying around, birds endemic to the falls!

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Uruguay in just over a week…

Matt on the beach of Punta del Diablo, Uruguay

Exploring Uruguay in just over a week is not nearly enough time for this beautiful country.  However we have now reached the point where everyday we wonder what we will run out of first, time or money?  I often tend to live my life not thinking much of either of the two but now everyday we reasses our situation.

It was in Uruguay that it hit us hard that we must purchase our tickets home or try to find jobs to sustain ourselves here.  If we took the risk of trying to stay in South America then we may have taken the chance of not being able to afford our tickets home.  So tickets were bought and reluctantly we will make our way back to the U.S.  It´s probably about time I stop putting off my student loans and well…. look into more studies as well.

But enough of that….

In Rosario, Argentina we both decided we didn´t feel like being in another city and scoped out the bus station as soon as we arrived looking for a way out.  A night bus into Uruguay.  We thought, perfect this way we can also avoid the cost of sleeping in a hostel.  Matt scribbled down some numbers, comparing the cost of different bus options and estimating camping and hostel options.  We chose to take the bus that would take us to the first city on the Uruguay border, Fray Bentos.  From here, we would look for more affordable traveling options (hitchhiking!), which we managed to do from Fray Bentos to Colonia del Sacramento.

One would assume that the bus would take you to the city you have paid for, but instead we found ourselves at the Argentina Uruguay frontera at 430am being told that this was our stop.  I wasn´t able to convince them to take us a little closer to Fray, so we set about our way walking on the empty highway to Fray Bentos.  The guy at the border told us we had to walk 10km to get to Fray… I think it was closer to 8, but either way it felt like 20 with our packs and being half awake.  We laughed at the inconvenience of it all and enjoyed entering a sleeping town.  As the sun was rising and people were filtering into the streets we found ourselves in the center plaza, soon followed by the comfort of a bed in a cheap hotel after a long and draining bus ride and walk into Uruguay.

With not much time we had to limit what to visit here.  We left Fray and spent a couple of relaxing days in Colonia del Sacramento.  A bit of a tourist town being just a boat ride away from Buenos Aires, but as with most of our travels, we were visiting during the off season.  We did what we do best, walk around the town.

We made the long ride over to the other side of Uruguay to find ourselves on the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean in Punta del Diablo.  Well worth the long ride, in Punta del Diablo we found nature, relaxtion, hiking, and the sound and smell of the ocean. It was nearly a ghost town in May- we were told that other parts of the year the city and beaches are full of surfers and others craving the sun and the ocean.  But we found only a  few people scattered here and there, wandering about enjoying the solitude.  The hostel we stayed at was very comfortable and we both thought it felt more like couchsurfing than staying at a hostel… it was even really cheap due to the off season.  I fell asleep and woke up to the sound of the ocean for three nights in a row.  It was difficult to leave.

Now we find ourselves in an empty hostel in Salto, Uruguay back at the border of Argentina.  Tomorrow we explore the termas the town is known for and set about for some hiking and camping.