Brazil,  South America,  Travel Anecdotes,  Travels

Macuco Safari, Foz do Iguaçu

The Iguaçu Falls are a magnificent series of waterfalls that link Brazil with Argentina and Paraguay. You may notice variations on its name such as Iguaçu, Iguazú, or Iguassu depending if you are speaking Portuguese, Spanish, or English. Thomas and I were traveling with our friends, Steve and Mark, and staying on the Brazilian side for two nights before crossing over to the Argentine side for our flight to Buenos Aires.

Yesterday, we were on a walking tour to see the falls and what a breathtaking sight! Researching the area, I had seen plenty of pictures online but in person, I was simply amazed at their magnificence; the roar of the water as it rushed over the rocks, the gorgeous deep green vegetation, the rainbows that appeared so vibrant (I assumed they were photoshopped in the pictures). We wanted to experience the falls up close, so I had booked the Macuco Safari Boat Adventure. This included a short guided walk through the forest to get to the launch point for the boat ride.

We arrived at the check-in point and our guide recommended we use some mosquito repellent. The sight of four Americans spraying each other down to protect us from the pesky native bugs was laughable, reminiscent of the decontamination shower scene with Meryl Steep in Silkwood; perhaps a little less screaming – that would come later. Steve and Mark opted to wear their raincoats, hoods and all, while Thomas and I figured what the hell, we’re still going to get wet, bring it on.

We boarded an extended wagon for a dozen passengers or so pulled by a jeep for a short ride to the forest walk. It was a nice, peaceful trek down to the water’s edge. Our local guide told us a little about the flora of the area.

When we arrived at the dock, we were given plastic bags to protect our things and florescent orange jackets to protect our lives. They smelled of mold with maybe a touch of fear. I don’t like anything around my neck as it gives me a choking feeling. I wondered if the combination of the life jacket and the rough ride on the waves was going to be enough to make me ill. Maybe that wasn’t just fear and mold I smelled.

The four of us sat at the back of the motorized boat right behind the driver, who was standing. His English was pretty much non-existent which is a good way to describe our Portuguese. I suppose he could tell some of us (okay me and Mark) were a tad nervous. The ride along the river was quite enjoyable, what a spectacular perspective of the falls.

Suddenly, the driver thought he would show off his boating skills as he started going a bit faster and faster and doing donuts, okay I’m sure that’s not what he called them but you get the picture. He kept looking back and saying “Okay?” and Mark would hold up his thumb but somehow he bore no resemblance to the bravado of Tom Cruise. His cackling and howls of nervous laughter encouraged the driver on.

As we approached the falls, the mist was heavier and heavier. The driver slowed down and continued forward, slowly, slowly just to tease the passengers or shall I say splash targets, at the front of the boat. We were all laughing so hard and encouraging him to drench the targets. As we got closer, he made a sharp turn which was enough for the entire boat to feel the falls. I suppose we shouldn’t have been so encouraging as he then reversed the boat so that now the four of us were the lucky targets. Screaming and happily laughing, we were soaked.

After a spin over to the Devil’s Throat, the base of the waterfalls, and a couple more Brazilian donuts we cruised back to the dock. Mosquito repellent washed away, our clothes soaked through and the taste of the most amazing waterfalls still in our mouths, we made our way to the parking lot.

May 29, 2006
Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil

Let me inspire you to get off the couch, switch off the TV, put the dog with a sitter (or better yet, take him with you) and get traveling!