The Falls are on the border between Brazil (Iguacu) & Argentina (Iguazu), each encompassing a beautiful national park, so being a family of national park junkies we did both! And we are glad we did because each side offers very different views of these incredible waterfalls that cover nearly 2 miles of river and include 275 falls, most at about 200ft tall. The largest U shape fall in the middle is called Devil’s Throat or the much cooler Spanish name: Garganta de Diablo!
Brazil’s Iguacu is spectacular for a wider overall view (you get a 260 degree lookout of falls from some points) and you get quite wet from the spray on the observation points, plus a very beautiful rainbow. Wet was order of the day in a Zodiac boat trip to experience the falls close up, and driving us under the waterfalls certainly did that. The power of the water was furious and a little bit cold but we were screaming with both laughter and a little fear!
From Argentina’s Iguazu there are long walkways guiding you to the falls from both below and above with each turn giving you to another breath-taking view. The falls really do ‘thunder’ here and if you’ve ever seen the movie The Mission with Robert De Niro then you’ve seen these falls already, but I can’t imagine that this nor the photos we’ve taken do them any justice. The wildlife is fantastic, especially if you like butterflies, we have never seen so many or number of different species before. Oliver is our resident butterfly whisperer and managed to coax many of them into his hands for a closer look. He continues to walk with his nose to the ground and spots all sorts of wonders, from giant ants to large lizards, turtles and beautiful flowers.
A side trip to the Park Das Aves (Bird Park) was an unexpected treat. It is a stunning bird sanctuary that includes a large collection of Toucan’s & Macaws in massive aviaries you can actually sit inside, much to the delight of the boys. The Toucans are extraordinary to look at and are quite inquisitive coming close to look at you too, and the bright blue, red and green macaws are huge. A set of Harpy Eagles (biggest in the world at about 3.5ft tall – not much smaller than Ollie) made this a place not to be missed, we had to practically drag the boys away.
The Iguacu & Paraná Rivers also divide the third country in this triangle, Paraguay. A day trip there was an eye-opener as it seems to be the duty free mecca for everyone from Brazil. The queues at the border were long and many people simply walk over or take a motor-bike taxi but on their return trip are laden down with enormous bags and boxes of electrical goods, housewares and clothes. There isn’t any requirement to show your passport either, but some ‘arrangement’ is made with the tour company. The market place is quite full-on though with one sock seller persistent in trying to sell me not one but then two, three, four pairs until at about 12 pairs he understood that no gracias meant no thank you (maybe my accent is not so good?). Here we also visited the Itaipu Dam, the largest in ‘power’ capacity in the world, providing power for both Paraguay and Brasil. Unfortunately the ‘tour’ was only in Spanish so we just took lots of photos and wikipedia’d it later! We then got stuck in a traffic jam created by taxi drivers striking but this just seemed to give the motor-bike taxi’s more work instead.
We stayed on the Brazilian side, in the small but nice city of Foz du Igaucu, at the excellent Cataratas Pousada (very reasonable at £55 per night) and also had the benefit of Fabio as our driver and guide. He and ‘Mr Ben’ spent hours teaching each other their respective languages and genuinely enjoying each other’s company. I think Ben should be looking for a job at the United Nations on his return as he has an amazing capacity to make friends everywhere he goes. You can’t help but like the Brazilian people. they are so helpful, friendly and love to laugh. Whenever we have struggled with the language or just met people as part of our day to day travels they have been charming and welcoming. One lovely lady Regina and her family we met in Paraty took the time to send me her insights into other interesting places to visit in Brazil, and as well as being kind and thoughtful it made us realise we have only just scratched the surface of this amazing country. We have promised to come back!
Finally, a word about the food. We have been eating some of the most delicious meat, as we’ve mentioned before, in particular picanha in Brasil. But there are also the portion sizes to mention, this is a nation of food loving people! We are not complaining, but our waistlines soon will be!
Tonight we pack for Buenos Aires and we are flying out of the Argentinean side this time. So it’s tchau, tchau (bye-bye) Brazil for now and hola Argentina!