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Argentina

February 2015

Oh what a rush! With the wish to spend at least a couple of days in Buenos Aires before flying home for a new job after nearly six months of traveling, there was not much time left to get from the Bolivian border down to the capital. Argentina is unfinished business – but was a great foretaste anyway.

Salta

From the western-like landscapes of Tupiza we dropped into the western-like Gaucho culture of Argentina. As the weather wasn't that good in the highlands, we spent a day on the ranch behind Salta with Asado – the Argentine way of barbecue – pestering our host with questions, playing with the ranch's puppy and a super old school football table.
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Next morning

After the rain was mostly gone the next day, we started a second attempt to ride the Argentine cloud forest – a landscape completely different from what we expected after spending several weeks in the Andean Altiplano region. Between impenetrable bushes grow cactuses, wild chilies and all kind of herbs. Our Gaucho's ranch stretches all along a lonesome, wild valley an hour away from Salta.
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San Ignacio Miní

By leaving Salta, we were also leaving the Andes behind. Through endless soy bean fields, cow paddocks, the Argentine Pampa. Our next stop was San Ignacio Miní, a former Jesuit mission. In the early 17th century, Spanish priests built the settlement, or 'reducción', to evangelise the indigenous Guaraní population. Nearly 150.000 guaraníes were living in 30 missions, christianised but free and safe from Portuguese slave hunters. In 1767, the Jesuits were expelled by royal edict – leaving their missions behind or in the hands of other orders. Most guaraníes left the missions in the following years and returned to the countryside, letting the settlements go to rack and ruin. Today, San Ignacio Miní is among the best preserved parts of this history.
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Cataratas del Iguazú

A few more hours on a northbound bus and we arrived at the Triple Frontera of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Between Río Iguazú and Río Paraná lies the small border town of Puerto Iguazú – and just a few kilometers further west the famous Iguazú Falls. With several hundred waterfalls along a 2.700 meters long edge, Iguazú are the largest falls of the world by length – what is emphasized wherever possible in the surrounding national park. Speaking of that: It probably also is the only national park in the world that features a Subway restaurant and a Sheraton Hotel right in its middle… We first tried to avoid the masses by hiking a small jungle trail to meet the natives: Ring-tailed coatis and black-capped capuchin monkeys. The toucan, that we were actually looking for, ironically was not to be found in that lonely eastern part of the park, but next to a crowded restaurant.
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Infernal Uproar

If you want to see the great U-shaped heart of the falls, there is no escape from the masses. Even though the weather was horrible that day – with probably as much water raining as running down the falls – there is no lonely spot next to the great falls. Nevertheless it's a crazy experience standing underneath, next to, above and finally even in the middle of this incredible water flow. An adventurous walkway (don't ask me how that thing was even built…) leads right into Garganta del Diablo – where you are surrounded by 260 degrees of waterfalls. It was unbelievably wet, freezing cold, horrible to take pictures of, but one of the most intense natural spectacles I have ever seen.
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Itaipú

Weather forecast my ass! We spent the most shitty, rainy day you can imagine at the waterfalls, just to have perfect sunshine the next day. Regrettably we were too stingy to enter the national park a second time. So we took the the chance and crossed the border to Brazil to visit the Itaipú Dam. It's one of the largest power plants of the world, impounding an artificial water reservoir 170 km long and double the size of Lake Constance. Unfortunately the technical visits were already sold out that day, so all we got was rather boring bus tour on top of the dam.
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Last miles

The final 20 hours bus ride of our travel around the world brought us from the jungle through the Pampa down to Río de la Plata and eventually – Buenos Aires! Have I already mentioned how relaxing, comfortable and smooth buses are compared to our previous destination Bolivia?
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Buenos Aires

As you see, I was a bit of tired of photographing at the end of our trip. Barely any photos exist from 'BA', but it was an amazing last week anyway in this huge metropolis. The last days of our epic trip around the world were just flying by. A bit of sightseeing in Buenos Aires, a last drink in Florería Atlántico, a tango at the end, and our last flight was home bound.
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© 2017 Benedikt Altschuh