R.O.U.S.? They DO exist!

It's been a while since our last post because we've been earning our stripes as Nature Couple, trekking and hiking and camping all over the place in Patagonia, and we've had the Anne Heche of internet connections for two weeks: thin and fickle. 

But before we hopped down to the southern cone, we popped over to Foz de Iguaçu/Iguazu Falls. This waterfall system, the widest in the world (but not the tallest) is located smack dab on the Brazil and Argentina border. We visited both sides in a three day span and it was incredible!

 The only thing missing is some "human food" hanging out of its mouth

The only thing missing is some "human food" hanging out of its mouth

On our first day, we visited the Brazil side, which allowed us to see a full, panoramic view from a distance: all 275 waterfalls in the 1.7 mile system. It was unreal how big these falls are! Everywhere you look: waterfalls. Big ones and small ones as far as the eye can see. We did the full Brazil trail (with a thousand other tourists), and met the famous Iguaçu coatis, the raccoon-like animal that (over)populates the whole area. They look exactly like the R.O.U.S (Rodents of Unusual Size) from the Princess Bride. And these critters are quite large and aggressive. They will snatch food right off your table, out of your hand, they will rummage through your bags! I had visions of tustling with one of these things, ending with it gnawing into my shoulder. Luckily, that never happened. All they want is food.

 Three of the DOZENS of macaws in the park

Three of the DOZENS of macaws in the park

On our next day there, we  headed to the nearby Bird Park before the arduous border crossing into Argentina. This place was pretty impressive, I must say. It's really a Bird Zoo, since all of the birds are caged, so it's a little sad to see animals that were meant to fly freely all caged up. But, the organization does a lot of rescue and return for endangered birds, so that helped it feel more okay. And what an impressive group of species they have there! They mainly feature the native birds of South America, specifically the Amazon, The Pantanal, and Patagonia, but they do have some cool African and Asian birds there as well. The highlight is the interactive Macaw exhibit, where you can walk into a massive habitat of over 100 colorful macaws, and see them fly, perch, feed, and do their cute little macaw things. It never gets boring to observe macaws! We agreed the most beautiful one was the Hyacinth Macaw, which is aptly named for their hue, a vibrant purply blue. A second highlight was seeing the Harpy Eagle, the largest eagle specie in the world, and is native to Mexico, Central America, Brazil and northern Argentina. Neither Chris or I had ever seen one of these massive birds before in the flesh (or feather?). They are HUGE. Like the size of an average 7 year old human, no big deal. We saw them in flight and it's like a pterydactl overead. The female Harpy is bigger than the male, and she will prey on monkeys, sloths, and even small deer. And when a nest of Harpy babies hatches (usually 2-3 chicks), the strongest chick will actually KILL his weakest chick brother or sister in order to systematically eliminate the eventual competition for food. Yeah, Harpy eagles be cold.

On our final day in Iguazu, we did the Argentinian side of the falls. Here you can hike along the falls themselves, crossing over the falls on walkways and seeing the water rush down under your feet. We also did a boat ride, which was crazy! The boat takes you out onto the river and gets you “up close and personal” with the falls, i.e. soaked down to your undies. It was unbelievable to feel the power of these falls. Just being 50 meters away shook the boat with incredible force and drenched us all.

Iguazu was recently, in 2011, voted one of the “new” 7 natural wonders of the world, and we agree 100%! Eleanor Roosevelt visited there and famously exclaimed “Oh, poor Niagra!” upon seeing this spectacular natural phenomenon. We feel ya, El.