Iguazu waterfalls II
It´s possible to visit the waterfalls from both sides (the brazilian and the argentinian). Maybe the argentinan size is more impressive, but from the brazilian size you have a more panoramic angle. I recommend to visit both.
Other things to do in the area
We only had one full day to visit the Falls so we did not have time to do anything else. But the guidebooks also list a few other activities should you have a visit of more than 1 or 2 days, the Itaipu Hydroelectic Power Plant dam, the Ecomuseu near the dam and the Bird Park (Parque das Aves) which is very close to the entrance of the National Park on the Brazilian side.
Parque Nacional do Iguacu
The main and probably only reason people visit Foz do Iguacu is the visit the awe inspiring Iguacu Falls. I had trouble locating tour information before we left the US but most hotels, if not all, will have information on how to visit both the Brazilian national park and the Argentine national park.
We had a tour desk located inside our hotel and the driver that picked us up from the airport also offered tours. You can also visit both sides via public bus or taxi.
Parque dos Aves
This is a zoological park that exhibits birds from around the world, with a main focus on South America. It is located close to the Brazilian side of the Iguazu falls, and if you have some spare time, it is well worth a visit. The park seems to be well maintained and the birds in relative liberty.
Itaipu Hydroelectric Powerplant
The Itaipu hydroelectric powerplant is a joint venture between the countries of Paraguay and Brazil, and is the bigges of its kind in operation in the world, supplying 25% of Brazil's and 90% of Paraguay's electricity. It's worth a visit if you have an hour to kill, but unless you are a civil engineer, it is not particularly interesting.
The tour is geared toward mass tourism and people are shuttled around in dozen of buses.
Iguazu is the obvious highlight of any visit to Foz, and the provides the reason for its existence. The Brazilian side of the Iguazu waterfalls offer a great overview of the falls, whereas the Argentine side is more action-loaded and brings you closer to the falls. In order to get the full picture, you will have to spend two days and dedicate one each for its each side
The Brazilian side can be done fairly quickly. The tours usually throw in the Itaipu, the world's biggest operating hydroeletrectic plant. Other options are the Parque de Aves, or to take a helicopter tour of the Iguazu falls.
- National/State Park
THE WATERFALLS ...DUUUHHH !!! (Argentinian side)
Well , no visit to the Iguaçu falls is complete untill you went to see the "GARGANTUA DEL DIABLO" ( the devils throat) and once you're standing there you'll understand the name....
In 2000 we still walked all the way to where the ponton-catwalk was supposed to be but the floods had washed most of the metal construction away , a motorboat brought us close by and we walked the last 600 meters on the remaining catwalk bridge ..... We had come to Argentina and did not even need the passport for the half day visit. That was pre 9/11... In 2003 nobody had brought the passport except me , so they stayed in the hotel at night while I allowed myself a visit at the Casino just barely after the Argentinian border ( casinos are banned in Brazil ). And this year , Camila and I and a couple of friends from Vienna , we arrived at the gates of "Parque Nacional del Iguazu" and , darn , they had built a welcome building just like right out of Disneyland with little ChooChoo trains that you have to board if you want to go to the falls.At the end station you step on the newly built extra wide and strong ponton catwalk bridge for a tedious 1.2 km walk ( or more) but at the end of this bridge awaits you the jawdrop and mindboggling view and hearing impairing thunder of billions of gallons of water dropping into the abyss just barely 10 meters away from you.... all you might think or say is just : " W O W ! ! ! " Yep , Gargantua del Diablo , allright....
- National/State Park
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
PARQUE DAS AVES - THE BIRD PARK
This is one nice spot you shouldn't miss. After your visit of the falls on the Brazilian side , stop here opposite the National Parks entrance and have a look at these beautifull birds..... In the beginning it's not so exciting as they have a large variety of exotic birds from all over behind bars in cages...... But soon enough you walk by flamingoes and ostriches and then you walk through a door and you're in the middle of the birds habitat , a gigantic bird vivarium with many different species that roam free within this very big closed space. I always love to play with the Tucans , they're not shy at all , I let them nibble on my fingers and hand...and it looks scary because their beaks are so big but I guarantee it doesn't hurt. Some bird species are really "weird", in the sense that you probably have never seen anything like it , for instance a blood red chicken . Another vivarium is dedicated only to parrots and Araras ( don't know their name in English , the big yellow blue birds in Annas arms and on my head.... macaw..??? ) and , as you can see , at the end of the visit you can have a nice foto session with your feathered friends..... I know , this description is not really up to it and the pictures only give a faint idea of the place , but it is , in one word , enchanting....
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
THE WATERFALLS ... DUUUUHHH ( Brazilian side)
It's more obvious that you will visit the falls when in Foz do Iguaçu than the Eiffeltower when in Paris , but it's not like it used to be 20 years ago when you could just drive up to the falls. Today you must leave the car kilometers away in a gigantic, expensive parking lot , pay a hefty entrance fee for the "Parque Nacional do Iguaçu" and then wait in line with hundreds of other tourists to board one of the many double decker busses that shuttle between the park entrance and different stops on the way to the falls. You can leave the bus to do a jungle safari or take a ride in a raft boat that will take you just barely under the falls. We always get off at the beginning of the 1.8 km catwalk where you begin a refreshing stroll along the edge of the valley formed by the river . As you move along the panoramic views of the falls on the Argentinian side get more and more dramatic , you may run into some Quati , cute and furry catsized animals with pointy snouts, sharp nails and teeth that are totally inoffensive unless they smell food on you.... They just might come up to you and rip that sandwich out of your hand as they did with the potato chips of my then 2 year old daughter who still speaks about this event 5 years later.... You will also see butterflies , lizards , beautifull foliage and more and more falls untill you reach the end and you have this towering massive wall of water in front of you.... Amazing ! Great !
- National/State Park
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
NATIONALISTIC SHOW OFF
As mentioned before the Rio Iguaçu forms the border between Brazil and Argentina and where this river flows into Rio Parana both countries meet their border with Paraguay. Picture # 1 was taken on the Argentinian side , so on the right background is Brazil , on the left across the river is Paraguay and on picture # 2 Camila on the foreground stands in Brazil , the middle background with the hotel type building above her hat is Argentina and background right is Paraguay...... Each country constructed a beacon like little tower with the colors of the respective countries flag ( picture # 3 ) , something I find quite pathetic because to me it doesn't mean like : " Hey , here I end..." but rather : "Hey , watch out !! Here I start !!" But as long as the three countries are good neighbors and don't engage in a bloody , senseless war as they did in 1865 - 1870 , it's ok to show off the national colors a little bit.... The last two pictures show some funny photo op gadgets on the Brazilian side representing the legend of the indio couple and how the waterfalls came to be and a Carmen Miranda make look a like... Camila looking perfectly like the woman with the fruit hat....
BIGGEST OR SECOND BIGGEST...??
It might be the second biggest hydroelectric plant now after the Chinese put their Three Gorges Dam to work but ITAIPU , a cooperation between Brazil and Paraguay is still absolutely impressive. Be sure to find out when they have guided tours and have a look at the engeneering and technical wonder they put here on the Rio Parana. First they will show you a very interesting documentary film of about 30 minutes in the cinema buit for this purpose , then you will get loaded into a bus and off you go. First stop is a kind of look out terrace ( all pictures taken there , # 1opposite the entrance , all my pictures taken at different trips , # 3 in January 1989 , when Itaipu wasn't even finished , # 4 from July 2003 and all the others from March 2005) , this is of course the place to take pictures. Then you drive along the bottom of the dam from Brazil to Paraguay ( no passport needed , LOL ! ), looking at all the turbines and gigantic columns and machines , then on the Paraguayan side it goes up in serpentines to the top of the dam where you return to the Brazilian side getting a great idea of the height of the dam and the size of the artificial lake behind it . All in all a very interesting visit that shouldn't be missed.
Iguacu Falls - Argentine side
Allow yourself a whole day on the Argentine side as there's a lot to get around. After entering the park, there's a small train that takes you up to the boardwalk that goes out right to the lip of Devils Throat. The amount of water that goes over the top is amazing. Then there's an upper trail that takes you right over some of the other waterfalls and a lower trail that takes you right beside one.
The Bird Park is located on the righthand-side of the road just before you get to the National Park waterfall entrance. It features over 1000 birds of 150 different species including many Brazilian birds such as macaws, parrots and toucans with their huge colourful bills who are very tame along with flamingos, ostriches, rheas and cranes. You follow a trail that takes you through some nice woody areas where they also have some reptiles and butterflies. There is a walk-through aviary where the birds come up very close. In fact one flew down and landed on my back! Scared the living bejesus out of me I can tell you! Tickets are a little expensive but it's well worth a visit.
Open: daily from 8:30am-6pm.
Iguacu Falls - Brazilian side - up close
This is the last waterfall you'll come to and it runs near a viewing platform which is quite near. You then make your way up in a lift for a higher view where there's another souvenir shop and a restaurant. This area is called the Naipi Area.
Iguacu Falls - Brazilian side - Devils Throat
It's best to see Devils Throat from the Argentine side as the view you get of it from the Brazilian side means that you'll also see a lot of spray. There's a boardwalk that takes you out for a closer view. Make sure you wear a coat as you're gonna get wet! Don't worry if you haven't got one as there are places where you can buy those thin plastic rain cover things. There's a building where you can get a lift that takes you higher up to get a better view and to see all the water before it comes over the edge. You can also see the upper boardwalk on the Argentine side.
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