Saturday, 12 August 2017

Niagara Falls, Canada

First View of the Niagara Falls from Canadian Side ©Solange Hando

Here they are: the American Falls to the left and the thin Bridal Veil, with Luna island between them, and to the far right, beyond the long Goat Island, the (at times disputed) Canadian Horseshoe Fall. 

The Niagara Falls are neither the highest nor the most scenic -within sight of the road and tourist developments- but they are the most powerful in North America and claim the highest flow rate in the world with an average of four million cubic feet per minute.

The Horseshoe, Niagara ©Solange Hando

With its 2600 foot wide crescent, the Horseshoe is the most expansive of the three falls, boasting up to 90% of the water. There are vantage points behind the fall, accessed via elevators and tunnels and that is one way to feel the full force of the water tumbling over 160 feet.

It may be a good place too to reflect on the many daredevils who defied the falls, the first one a 63 year old school mistress who went over in a barrel or the Frenchman Blondin who walked across on a tightrope, carrying his boss, top hat and all, on his back.

Getting up Close to the Horseshoe ©Solange Hando

But most exciting is the boat trip to the base of the falls where you can fully appreciate the height as well as the power and thundering roar.

The Horneblower on the Canadian side and the Maid of the Mist on the American side constantly ply the turbulent waters  with a full load of excited passengers. Plastic ponchos are handed out, red or blue respectively but expect to get wet nevertheless. Be careful with cameras.

The Upper Niagara approaching the Falls ©Solange Hando

After the boat trip, you can stroll  along the cliff-edge promenade, part of the parkland created to beautify the scene and prevent further developments.

Draining  Lake Eerie, the Niagara river flows north for 36 miles to empty its waters in Lake Ontario. Some 12,000 years ago, the falls were located near Queenston but due to erosion, they gradually receded south towards Lake Eerie.

Looking Downstream ©Solange Hando

Canada to the left, USA to the right and in the distance the Rainbow Bridge which forms the border. Nowadays walking across the bridge is subject to strict control and not as straightforward as it used to be.

Downstream, beyond the falls, the Niagara enters a gorge, over six miles long. It is too dangerous for kayaking but there is a rambling trail and an exciting aerocar to take you across the river, suspended in mid-air over a whirlpool. Nearby is the helicopter base for bird's eye views of the falls but if this is beyond budget, go up the Skylon Tower at the Falls and enjoy the panorama from the observation deck.

Aerocar downstream from Niagara Falls ©Solange Hando