The calendar has turned to October, and if the crisp air in New York is any indication, autumn has kicked summer to the curb. I want to say thanks for a very busy September here at The Gentleman Backpacker, where you visited us more than ever before. It’s a nice feeling to see people viewing what we put out. I’d like to encourage you to please leave us comments and ask plenty of questions. I want to help make traveling as enjoyable for you as it is for me. I’ve been busy the past few weeks as some big changes are coming in my life (stay tuned), but I’ve also been swamped with selecting entries for some photography contests. “Water” was the topic of one of these contests, and as broad as that one word is, there are so many meanings. If we take the frozen kind, for example, the Inuit People of the Arctic are famously known to have 50 words for snow. So I took to thinking about water from different perspectives as I sorted through some 30,000 photographs to weed out perhaps 5,000 water photographs, before culling my list down to 30. For the contest, I finally submitted just a handful from that penultimate list of 30, but I thought I would share these with you in the form of a post. I was surprised at just how many different places these photos came from, and they made for a very interesting look at our world. I’ve included a few lines about each photo to describe to you the place and time, and what I felt as I captured the scene. If you had to enter a contest and submit only five photos, which ones would you pick? Please let me know in the comments section below! Please note I worked really hard and traveled to many places at great personal expense to capture these photos. If you want to use one, please contact me at [email protected] and we can discuss the matter. Please don’t just download them for your own commercial use. They are copyrighted and all rights are reserved.
Iguazu (or Iguacu in Portuguese) is often mentioned in the same breath as Niagara and Victoria when the world’s greatest waterfalls are discussed. I’ve been to all three, and Iguazu is the most beautiful. Niagara is too developed and the Batoka Gorge that the Zambezi River carves out at Victoria is so deep and narrow that when the water is flowing near peak rates there is so much mist that the only way to get a good view of the falls is via helicopter. Iguazu is comprised of some 275 or so (the number fluctuates by season) waterfalls set in a dramatic, lush jungle setting. You may have seen it in the Roger Moore Bond Film Moonraker or a certain, awful Indiana Jones film we will pretend was never made.
TRAVEL TIP #1: BRAZILIAN VISAS CAN BE OBTAINED QUICKLY IN IGUAZU
Iguazu is a great place to obtain a visa for Brazil, if needed. I’ve heard of turnaround times of as fast as the same day if you go early in the morning and leave your passport. I discuss Brazilian visas here in my post about Carnival. But typical turnaround times for visa approval are as follows: Tokyo Brazilian Consulate : 2~3 weeks, New York Brazilian Consulate: 1~2 weeks, Buenos Aires Brazilian Consulate: 2 days, Iguazu: 1 day. So if you have left home without one, are required to have a visa, and want to go to Brazil, don’t despair.
TRAVEL TIP #2: FLY FROM BUENOS AIRES DOMESTIC AIRPORT IN UNDER TWO HOURS (AND OFTEN UNDER TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS)
Ezeiza, Buenos Aires’ international airport is a big pain to get to, especially with traffic. Fortunately, there is a domestic airport right on the banks of the Rio de la Plata, code BUE (not EZE). Make sure you are looking up flights from there if you are going via Argentina and save yourself a lot of hassle, money and time. A quick glance of flights this month shows daily, nonstop options starting at $150 US. You can definitely tack this trip onto a 3-day weekend in Buenos Aires, or explore several short trip options from the capital city here and here.
It is either ironic, or a higher power’s intention, that I should be faced with writing this entry with a heavy heart because it is about a time I felt such great joy—joy that is the last thing on my mind at the moment. So if I succeed in conveying to you a mere fraction of my highs at the time I experienced the majesty of Iguazu Falls, I will consider it a victory.
I had originally planned a day trip from Buenos Aires: going early in the morning and returning in the evening. Instead I missed my morning flight after a night out on the town with my hosts Michael and Natalia. I would have made it had I not forgotten my wallet on my bedside table and stepped out the auto-lock apartment door and shut it behind me. I knew what I had done the instant I heard the click, but it was too late. To steal a cliche, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise.