Foz do Iguacu- More than just the falls?
Located in Brazil's west, near the Argentina and Paraguay borders is Foz Do Iguaçu. Home to the famed Iguaçu falls, this stop was an absolute must for us. Did the almighty falls live up to the hype? Boy, did they ever!
From our last location, Paraty, there is no direct transport to Foz. So we had to take a 6 hour bus to São Paulo and make our way from there. Reunida is the only bus company that goes to São Paulo from Paraty at 71 BRL a ticket.
We had originally planned to take a bus from São Paulo onto Foz which would have taken 16 hours. After a little research we learned that night buses on this route had previously been subject to armed robberies. Many locals take this bus to Foz and cross into Paraguay to take advantage of cheap electronics which they smuggle back in to Brazil. This practice is known as moamba. Thieves know that these people will be carrying large quantities of cash which makes these buses possible targets.
We managed to get a last minute flights with Gol Aereos for 185 BRL. Cheaper than the bus and 14 hours faster. Result.
It seems Brazil and Argentina are forever in the middle of a game of 'my waterfall is bigger than yours'. We've spoken to a bunch of people who have said the falls and better on the Brazilian side and a bunch who say the Argentinian side is better. So far we've only seen them from the Brazil side and they are spectacular.
From the park entrance you take one of the buses that shuttle back and forth to the last stop, which is where the falls begin. We caught our first glimpse from quite a distance and there are many viewing and photo points as we follow the trail closer and closer to the thundering falls. When we reached the end of the 2km trail we were within touching distance and there is a walkway which takes you over the edge where you get a real taste of what you are in the presence of. Mother Nature is capable of some astonishing feats and the sheer size and power of the falls left us in awe. Just don't forget to pack a rain jacket.
Admission to the park is 64.30 BRL and the falls alone are worth every penny. The rest of the park, on the other hand, is somewhat of a tourist trap. There are other activities such as hiking trails and boat rides, but all come at an additional expense, some even as much as the original admission price. We don't care though, we went solely for the falls and it was a day that will long live in our memories.
So, what else is there to do in Foz besides visiting the falls? Well if you like expensive restaurants and large supermarkets, you're in for a treat. Truth be told, you needn't spend more than 2 or 3 days here. A few miles on the other side of the city there is a Buddhist temple which we visited. There is no entry fee and you are free to explore the grounds and the temple on site. The gardens are beautiful and filled with statues and colourful trees and plants. A very relaxing and peaceful setting with a nice view of the city in the distance.
Foz is extremely easy to navigate and the urban bus terminal located in centro is very tourist friendly. You can get to all the main attractions from here for 4 BRL per person.
There are a few other things that may be worth checking out which we never got around to. We've heard that the Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam is an engeneering marvel and the Bela Vista Ecological Refuge is worth visiting also.
We rounded off our trip to Foz with a visit to Tres Fronteras (three borders). Separated by the Paraná and Iguaçu rivers, this is where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet. to come here for sunset. There is a restaurant, a few cute bars, live music, dancing and a water fountain/feature. The ambiance here is perfect and the sun setting over the river is so romantic. 19.30 BRL entry. A wonderful way to round of Foz.
Next stop, Pantanal.