IGUAZU FALLS NATIONAL PARK – Agoutis and coaties, monkeys and toucans and brilliant morpho butterflies blessed my path in this jungle wonderland, as did a brightly colored bird whose name in Guarani means “grandchild of the rainbow.”
These waterfalls are famous the world over but are known mainly in the United States for their starring role in Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons’ classic film The Mission. I’d dreamed of coming here for years; its majesty dwarfs the mighty Niagra, and the natural beauty of its jungle habitat bids one to linger.
I arrived first thing in the morning but waited to see the falls, choosing instead to integrate myself into the natural surroundings first. I started with a seven-kilometer hike through the jungle on the Macuco Trail, named for a reclusive, chubby brown land-dwelling bird that lives in these parts.
The jungle is best visited in the early morning, when the birds and animals are still at their most active. The insects clacking and chirping in the trees are overwhelming in themselves; the trail winds through vine- and moss-draped trees and groves of bamboo. I hadn’t been on the trail more than five minutes when a family of coatimundis ambled across my path, snuffling under leaves and bark in search of juicy ants and other insects.