03.10.2013 - 03.10.2013
Got up early as h*** to catch the transfer that picked us up at our hostel at 5.10am. A dark red van stopped outside and picked us up. We were the first being picked up so we had to go around half of Manhattan and pick up 10 more people before heading towards JFK’s Int’l Airport. We got our boarding passes, passed security check (and they just had to pick me out of all people to do an extra check up on) and then we waited by the gate. The flight departed at 8.08am and arrived at Buffalo Niagara Int’l Airport at 9.28am. We met our guide Eduardo that was waiting for us (originally from Peru). He took us to his bus we were riding in during the day and handed out name tags for everyone to wear with Eduardo’s name and phone number in case we got lost from the group. He told us people did get lost (not very often but it happened). Often because they didn’t listen carefully at his instructions or happen to join a complete different guided group (had also happen). It took about an hour before we got to the actual Niagara Falls.
Facts about the Niagara Falls...
It was discovered in 17th Century by Louis Hennepin and consists of three waterfalls that are created by the Niagara River on the border between America and Canada. The falls are just in between the twin cities Niagara Falls (New York) and Niagara Falls (Ontario). The falls were shaped when the glaciers went back during the last ice age and water from the newly created Great Lakes carved its way through Niagara Escarpment and all the way out to the Atlantic Ocean. The clear green color of the water comes from dissolving salt and minerals and the total erosion per year is 30 centimeters and according to calculations the Niagara River will get undermined and cease to exist in 50000 years from now.
The Niagara Falls includes three waterfalls; American Falls, Horseshoe Falls (also known as Canadian Falls) and Bridal Veil Falls. Niagara Falls has a height of fall at 54 meters and is totally 1203 meters wide and apparently far away from being the highest waterfall. But the falls are wide and the total amount of water running through is high during the summers and regulated down to half in the winter. More than half the river water in Niagara River does not run through the falls but runs through turbines and provides electricity for the surroundings nearby in both Canada and the US. The Horseshoe Fall (Canadian Falls) belongs to Canada. The fall is 53 meters high and 790 meters wide. In October 1829 Sam Patch became the first to survive a fall down the Horseshoe Falls. He thereby started a long tradition of adventurous persons who tried the very same thing. Nowadays it’s illegal to try going down the falls without a special permit. The American Falls belongs to USA and is 320 meters wide. Height of fall is 21-30 meters depending on big boulders at the waterfall base. Bridal Veil Falls also belongs to USA.
From the American side you can see the American Falls from the pathway along Prospect Point Park, which also has an observation tower and a harbor for the Maid of Mist (the boat that takes all the tourists close to the waterfalls). Goat Island separates American Falls from the Horseshoe Falls and offer more viewing points over the falls and is available by a bridge over the American Falls. From the Goat Island you can reach the Cave of the Winds by an elevator that leads the visitors to a point under the Bridal Veil Falls. The Canadian side has also a observation tower (Skylon Tower) from where you can get a nice opposite view and as long as to Toronto. On the Canadian side there are also underground tunnels leading up to an observation room giving the impression of being inside the waterfalls.
We embarked the boat Maid of Mist that took us all the way up to the falls. We stood on the deck in our blue rain covers (as provided) with the water falling around us. Foggy water drops were everywhere and even though we had those blue covers we got wet and moisture everywhere. The tour on the boat took about 15 minutes and after the tour we got 30 minutes of free time to explore and take photos. When everyone was gathered again we got onto the bus crossing the border into Canadian side of the falls. We then had a well-needed lunch. Lucky us it was a lunch buffet and you could eat all you wanted. And the desserts were delicious! When we had ate all that food we got on the bus again. I almost fell asleep due to food-coma but I just had to stay awake because we made stops for photographs all the time on the Canadian side.
We saw the Horseshoe Falls, the Whirlpool and one water power station along the Niagara River. It was now afternoon and the early morning started to catch up on you. But we had the American side of the falls left to visit. So we got back onto American territory again and over at Goat Island, the one separating Bridal Veil Fall from the American Falls. We got an hour to walk around on our own. We were all tired and hoped that this was the last stop for today. But it was only one more stop Eduardo promised us. Then we were going back to the airport again.
We arrived at Buffalo Niagara Int’l Airport at 7pm and our flight departure was 8.46pm back to New York. The flight took off as scheduled and we arrived at JFK Int’l Airport at 10pm. Then we ran around on the airport before we found our transfer back to New York and our hostel at Times Square. We arrived at our hotel at 11pm and we fell asleep pretty un-rocked I can tell you.