With a staggering length of over two kilometers and a surface water flow twice the amount of Niagara falls, the Iguazu Falls are one of the largest groups of waterfalls on planet Earth. In December 2011, I had the honor of visiting this natural wonder of the world. I stayed at the Sheraton Iguazu Resort & Spa, which was actually inside the Argentinian section of Parque Nacional Iguazu, the national park where the series of waterfalls is located. This park has two sides in two different countries: Brazil and Argentina. It also spans two different time zones.
The highlight of my trip and something I suggest every person should do if they find themselves in Iguazu was the Macuco Safari tour. It started out as an eco-friendly ride in an electric truck. My mom, dad, sister, and our four family friends climbed into the adventurous open-air vehicle and listened to a trilingual tour guide talk about the history of Iguazu National Park. We then headed into the jungle, traveling in the truck on a small, unpaved but not bumpy dirt road. Our vehicle would stop every few yards so that the tour guide could point out an interesting plant, insect, or animal. We saw beautiful butterflies and flowers, but the eight of us weren’t completely satisfied until we saw monkeys! We were convinced that the word macuco meant monkey, and all the kids as well as some adults thought the tour was all about seeing the cute mammals. The monkeys were adorable and they looked so graceful swinging from tree to tree in the middle of the jungle. However, the tour had to go on, so we kept on driving until we came to a clearing and stopped.
We then got out of the eco-friendly trucks and started on a short, 600-meter walk on an even smaller dirt path with our tour guide until we came to a dead end. We couldn’t walk any further because we had reached the raging rapids of the Iguazu River! All eight of us stripped down to our bathing suits and left all our valuables in a locker that we rented for 5 reals (Brazilian currency). We put on bright orange life jackets and then climbed into twin-engine speedboats. The captain was our new tour guide, and I had to trust him with my safety during the boat ride to come. We were heading into the famous Iguazu waterfalls. It was a nice and warm day outside, a good day to get soaked from head to toe. I was sitting in the front row of the speedboat, so that’s exactly what happened.
Our boat whizzed straight down the river heading towards a huge and daunting waterfall. However, we made an unexpected turn and were immediately covered in mist that was created from the force of water from waterfalls hitting the river. We could hardly see anything, and soon water was pounding on our heads and faces, giving us a pleasant head massage. It was the most amazing feeling in the world, and it is still hard to believe that I got to experience it. The water was enjoyably cold and refreshing, and I will never forget the sound of it pounding into the river. We were all very sad to leave the river, but excited for the adventures to come in Brazil, the country we were heading to next. At the end of the amazing trip, we ended up figuring out that macuco doesn’t mean monkey. It’s a type of Brazilian bird!
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