A lush, hidden garden full of hummingbirds in Puerto Iguazu….
The Jardim dos Picaflores is a lovely little place in Puerto Iguazu, and we spent a pleasant afternoon in its shady coolness, watching the hummingbirds and other birds coming and going.
Jardim dos Picaflores, or hummingbird’s garden, is a small garden behind an ordinary-looking house, with lots of canisters hanging up that have a sweet liquid in which attracts the hummingbirds. There are benches under the trees where you can sit and watch the birds, and even a fridge with soft drinks to buy. Its all a bit haphazard – opening hours are from approximately 3pm to 6pm, and you have to hang about by the gate until someone notices you – but this all gives it the slightly mysterious air of a secret garden.
I never realized quite how many hummingbird types there are – the owner has a checklist so you can tick them off if that’s your thing – we were just happy to watch the spectacle of them dashing about on wings barely visible they move so fast, and seeming to hover in the air effortlessly.
I somehow forgot to publish this blog post until now, but it was such a lovely afternoon I wanted to share anyway.
Visit to the awe-inspiring Iguassu / Iguazu falls, Brasil / Argentina.
Today was the big day – the reason we had trekked this far north and endured that overnight bus journey.
A visit to the awe inspiring Iguazu Falls.
These incredible waterfalls emerge out of the jungle at various points around a wide basin, and plunge into the river below. It’s the biggest waterfall system in the world, and is shared by Argentina and Brazil, with the border running right down the river. Most of the falls are in Argentina, but from Brazil you get a wider view of them all – while in Argentina you can get up close to many of the falls. I had visited the Brazilian side 20 years ago (I don’t feel old enough to have done anything 20 years ago….) and was keen to share the experience of the Argentinean side with Lauren.
There are various islands and many different waterfalls, with the biggest and most dramatic being the garaganta del diablo or devils throat, where about half of the water falls.
Its hard to describe Iguazu falls – and even harder to capture in photos – just how enormous and spread out the falls are. From the fairly slow moving river spread over a vast swathe of rainforest upriver, cutting through rocky outcrops and small islands and boulders, with huge catfish lazily swimming around and occasionally grabbing a fly, to the increasing urgency as the water reaches the top of the falls, still spread over an immense area, to the intense power and drama of the cliff edge around a huge semi-circular bowl in the earth, as the water swirls and pulses and turns in on itself, throwing mist many metres into the air, at many points along the edge, before plunging down to the river below, dividing round a big island and once again slowing down into a wide and fairly placid mud-coloured river strewn with boulders.
I can’t do it justice in words, and the pictures try, but convey more ‘pretty’ than ‘immense and awe-inspiring’ – so you will just have to visit one day yourselves!
As I say, if you get the chance, do visit – its one of those wonders of nature that truly needs to be seen to be believed.
A visit to an animal rehabilitation centre in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina.
Today we visited Guira Oga, a shelter and rehabilitation centre for birds and animals rescued from illegal trade or damage in the national park surrounding Iguazu.
The majority of the animals are seized by customs or police but some are also brought to the centre by the national park authorities, having been run over or in some way damaged – often by human activity.
The emphasis is on rehabilitation and so most of the reserve is off limits to visitors, which we were fine with, understanding the logic, but a number of other visitors grumbled, despite the very firm introduction to the tour which highlights that they are not a zoo and put the animals first. This does mean that most of what you see at Guira Oga are birds, many of whom are impossible to rehabilitate after too many years in human company. It also means that many of the animals you can only glimpse as they are in shaded shelters that give them some respite from the sun and tourists.
Actually, the sad reality is that many of the animals die within a few days of arriving. Of the rest, around twice as many are released as are kept. Some of those that are kept are used for breeding, and their young released, sometimes successfully.
The staff didn’t try to gloss over their frustration that the reason they exist at all is due to human behaviour, and at each enclosure we got a depressing list of why each animal was beyond rehabilitation (we didn’t get to see any that have a chance of rehabilitation as they are kept in another part of the reserve). There were of course some successes – an armadillo who had been run over was about to be released, some nearly-extinct birds successfully breeding and their young surviving in the wild, and a number of damaged animals nursed back to health and successfully breeding, and there is no doubt they do good work, but I found the whole place quite depressing.