The Devil's Throat Tracy LauGhlin

Arriving at Argentina’s Iguazu State Park, I noticed there were very few people gathered around the park’s entrance. Something pulled everyone in another area: the waterfalls. The anticipation of something special ahead kicked in, and I became eager to follow the path I saw stretching to the right. While we waited for the group to gather, I craned my neck around, failing to catch a glimpse of the huge waterfalls that our tour guide was buzzing about. We began our walk to the mini-train station, where were able to sit while we waited some more. The train itself perched on thin tracks and had no doors or enclosure whatsoever. I could have dangled my feet off the side if I’d wanted to. Though ensured by our tour guide that countless species of wild animals live in the forests of Iguazu, we saw nothing but trees on our ride to the next waiting area of the park. My sense of anticipation took off each time the train took a slight turn; I was hoping we would maybe be able to sight something other than green and brown.

forest of Iguazu

Photo courtesy of MiguelVieria.

As soon as we unloaded from the train, our guide Diego let loose dozens of facts about the falls: how much water flowed per second, how much of Iguazu River they took up, how many tourists visited the park a year -- all in rapid Spanish. Lastly, Diego informed us that the waterfall we were about to see, La Gargantua del Diablo (the Devil’s Throat in English), was the largest and most amazing of all Iguazu’s falls. As we moved on, my ears met a constant white noise that I knew meant water was close, and lots of it. Despite hearing it, I couldn’t see it. When our group finally rallied and took a collective few steps to the right, there stretched a metal walkway that seemingly just skimmed the surface of the rushing Iguazu River.

aerial view of the Iguazu River walkway

Photo courtesy of ustung.

Many in our group were wary of the walk we had in front of us, unsurprisingly. We still had a couple minutes walk to the Devil’s Throat, and there were some serious doubts about the precarious-looking bridge. I figured, if millions of people have visited Iguazu, like Diego had said, and the park hasn’t been closed, then this walkway is safe enough to walk on. Throughout my walk though, I couldn’t ignore the strong wind beating against my windbreaker and the fast pace of the water below me. The thought of falling in and being swept away and off a rocky edge was pretty much the only one in my head. I could tell the same was true for my friends, especially because one kept reminding me every ten seconds how easy it would be to slip and topple over the waist-high railing.

water under the bridge. photo by Jessie Sherman.

Thankfully, that never happened. We took one last turn, and La Garganta del Diablo revealed itself. Walking onto the tourist platform, I almost tripped over my own feet. All my attention belonged to the powerful white water throwing itself off the edge of the waterfall, exploding into mist as it did so.

La Garganta del Diablo. Photo by Jessie Sherman.

My eyes followed the water, dropping further and further down, trying to find where the waterfall ended and the water settled down. It never did. A never ending cycle of white mist shot vertically into the air and fell back down. The sound of the relentless water pouring out in front of me made it difficult to hear what others in my group were saying. As I looked over at them, I could tell they felt the same level of amazement as me. Despite the sharp wind pushing against me and the bright sun aimed at my eyes, I was captive to the water falling eternally over the side of the Devil’s Mouth. I realized the arduous wait and the tiring walk were insignificant in the Iguazu Park experience. I may have been impatient, and I may have been afraid of an untrustworthy bridge, but I those feelings both dissipated the second I took my last step off of that bridge.

Credits:

Created with images by MiguelVieira - "Forest on Iguazú National Park Sendero Macuco"

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