By Natalia Kidd and Carlos Meneses
Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, Jul 6 (EFE).- The darkness of night, the thunderous crashing of water, the mysterious sounds of the jungle.
Iguazu Falls, which mark a natural border between Argentina and Brazil, offer a unique sensory experience for those who seize the opportunity to take in this marvel of nature by the light of the moon.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and recognized as one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, those waterfalls of the Iguazu River leave a lasting impression on the thousands of tourists who make the visit each year.
But the impact is even greater when the sun sets and 60 percent of the species who live in the rainforest-covered Iguazu National Park, Argentina’s most visited, become active.
During the hike to the Devil’s Throat, the highest and deepest of the falls, visitors first hear the murmur of the torrent, not yet loud enough to drown out the song of a nearby bird, and then start to feel misty spray on their face.
A sweet smell permeates the air. But there is not yet much to see until finally, far off on the horizon, the moon that had been blocked by palm trees and the famed waterfall system comes into view.
During the first few days of July, a reddish-toned full moon has been lending an air of magic to the Falls, the water seemingly painted silver as it cascades down from great heights to the lower Iguazu River.
And in the distance, a rainbow. Yes, at the Iguazu Falls lunar rainbows are also part of the wonder.
“At night, you have a ton of other experiences in the jungle than during the day,” Luis Rojas, a park ranger at Iguazu National Park, told Efe, encouraging visitors to become enveloped by the energy of the surrounding rainforest at dusk.
Sight reigns supreme during the day and smells can go unperceived on the trails that wind their way through the Igazu National Park.
One arachnid known as a harvestman gives off an unappealing sulfur-like odor that it uses to ward off predators.
But other smells – of fruit and the leaves of some plants – are also part of the nighttime experience, Rojas said.
As for sounds, the agonizing lament of the urutau, a nocturnal bird that camouflages itself as effectively as a tree frog, pierces the night.
“Its song is very spooky, like a woman who is crying or wailing,” the park ranger said.
Besides the wealth of biodiversity, Guarani mythology holds that the Parana jungle is inhabited by gnomes, including Jasy Jatere, “the son of the moon,” an albino boy with golden hair who can transform himself into a bird.
The bird associated with this legend is real and comes in two varieties: the pheasant cuckoo and pavonine cuckoo, which are informally known as the large yasiyatere and small yasiyatere, respectively. EFE