Brazilian travel suggestions: Foz do Iguaçu

Posted: May 6, 2012 by Ben Weber in English, Photography
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A much higher profile destination this week, though the Foz do Iguaçu waterfalls are quite simply amazing and worth a long weekend to visit – something we did about a couple of years or so ago. Book far enough in advance (and in low-season or non-holiday weekends) and you can get reasonably priced direct return flights from São Paulo at around r$320 (more or less US$ 165) with TAM, though leave it to the last minute and you will be facing prices of r$1000 per journey (pricing of Brazilian air travel is worth another blog post in its own right). Gol operate the route as well. The alternative is a 15 hour bus-ride with Pluma or Expresso Kiaowa which will cost from r$70-r$160, depending which way you are going. They don’t have the ultra-luxury “leito” buses though…

When you get there, you will find that there are plenty of hotels and guest houses in the town of Iguaçu, and the town is a short bus-ride away from the falls – ask anyone around and they will be able to explain, as it isn’t worth getting a taxi unless you are going to Argentina (try and find others to split a cab with and it works out quite nicely. You will most likely be able to agree with the taxi driver that he will meet you to go back into Brazil – it is a good deal all round.

How many different ways can you see a waterfall without getting tired..?! Not sure, but we certainly did our best to find out when we were there – though it is worth noting that the Iguaçu falls are not just any old waterfalls and it is not without good reason that they have just been declared one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The falls are spectacular.

It is worth going to both the Brazilian and Argentine sides of the falls – both offer incredible views but in a different way. In Brazil, you get right up close to the front of the falls – you can feel the water being blown from the cascades into your face, and an anorak is pretty useful to have even on the sunniest of days. In Argentina you can go right over them, almost as if you are inside them – and is perhaps slightly more intimate with the falls than the Brazil side. However, I don’t think it is worth even arguing about which one is “best”: they are different.

Oh and then there are the dingey boat rides which take you just about into the falls and lets you feel just a little bit of the power of the water falling on you. We did this twice – from Brazil and Argentina – though the second time was this time pretty much the same as the first as they went to the same particular fall. Still a massive amount of fun (our Argentine pilot took us under the falls a couple more times than the Brazilian guy), but something that can be missed without too much regret.

With a bit of time on our hands we also got time to go on a short tour through the forest around the waterfalls – interesting, as you get to see and hear about the flora and fauna of the park (though we didn’t see too much wildlife – probably because of the large group and the loud vehicle that was used). Also there is a bird park just to the side of the waterfall entrance area, which was okay though, being a bird zoo, it meant that the birds are all kept in aviaries (think of this as you will).

Locals get the cheapest park entrance fees; then nationals of the Mercosul economic regions pay a bit more, and everybody else pays the most. Just the way it is, but still… worth it. If you have time (which we didn’t) try and make it to the Itaipu dam – a massive feat of engineering and I have been told that it is well worth a visit; missing that is a bit of a regret. The good point is that, when we are close to completing our circle, we will be entering back into Brazil at Iguaçu, so we will have a chance to see everything then!

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