During the summer of 2019, we had spent almost a month in South America. We had visited 4 countries in a row: Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Uruguay. About some of them, we have already shared some reviews and posted articles on the blog (you can take a look at the countries’ direct links), but we missed the post of Iguazu Falls till now. Somehow I felt I would need to dedicate more time writing about it and to share properly our experiences from there.
When we have been planning our long trip, of course, we had prepared a list, included many destinations, desired places, amazing buildings, picturesque squares, hidden gems, gorgeous beaches, that we had wanted to visit. An obvious choice was Iguazu as well on our travel plan, come on, since we were there, we couldn’t miss out on this place. But besides booking the flight tickets and the accommodations around, we parked this topic. We knew that we were going and the necessary things were booked in order to get there, but we didn’t really read further on the topic. We had already seen some amazing waterfalls in our lives till that moment, not like I was actually underestimating Iguazu, (but later I obviously realized, that yes I was), but meanwhile, we were rather focusing on planning the rest of this long trip, and enjoying the trip itself, and not digging deeper on Iguazu facts.
We flew from São Paulo to Foz do Iguaçu, our LATAM flight was delayed, I was struggling with the WIFI connections on the airport, but still, I was in the mood of finally reading a bit about the falls. I had some terrible stomach pain after spending a week in Brazil, so frankly speaking I was not in the best condition. I was able to collect some basic facts, but then suddenly we needed to queue for boarding, so I couldn’t finish my preparation properly.
Then we landed in Foz do Iguaçu. And we were shocked. After spending the previous days on Ilha Grande and in Paraty, suddenly we found ourselves in Las Vegas. Vibrant colors, big hotels, artificial neon lights, fake luxury restaurants, noise, party people all around. We took a bus from the airport and arrived kind of late to our hotel.
The next day in the morning we decided to visit Ciudad del Este, just to cross the border and spend some time in Paraguay too. Since it was Sunday the buses were not coming, but if you go there during a weekday you most likely will be able to find buses that are crossing the border from Foz to Ciudad del Este. It’s less than 9 km, so if you have time and you are brave enough it’s also possible to walk from Brazil to Paraguay. We have decided to share a taxi with some other random travelers. We crossed the border without any control, and we didn’t get any new stamp into our passports. But we were there. I’m not saying it didn’t make any sense to go to Ciudad del Este, but frankly speaking, if you don’t have any urgent big shopping needs, you can easily skip this journey. Ciudad del Este is a commercial city and is one of the largest free-trade zones in the world. Its tax-free status attracts many Brazilians and Argentines to the city to shopping, but besides the crazy big shopping malls, there is not much else to see.
From Ciudad del Este we walked back to Brazil and from the border, we took a bus directly going to the Cataratas do Iguaçu. But as well directly from Foz do Iguaçu airport, the park may be reached by taking a taxi or bus to the entrance of the park. The town of Foz do Iguaçu is about 20 km away, and the airport is between the park and the town. It’s relatively expensive to get the tickets (the park has an entrance fee on both Brazilian and Argentine sides) but everything is very well organized. Once inside, free and frequent buses are provided to various points within the park and taking all the visitors via the natural park to the closest points of the Falls – but besides the green trees and forest you cannot see yet anything – from where depending on your physical conditions you can choose the best walking plan for yourself.
When finally we were out of the bus and we could catch a glimpse of the Falls we became speechless. And let even now the pictures talk instead of me…
I’m not sure if it was because of the lack of preparation, that I haven’t researched enough about the Falls ahead, and luckily I didn’t spoil the experience for myself upfront via over-photoshopped pictures from social media, so it could hit me as a real surprise, or simply because this place is one of the most beautiful natural treasures on the Earth, or what else… but for me, it was one of the most memorable visits of my lifetime. I was so amazed by its grandness, the magnificent views, the power of nature… that honestly, I didn’t feel at Niagara Falls, neither at Gullfoss – regardless of those waterfalls are also truly amazing.
Coatis is the name of this super-cute -looking animal, that always appearing during the tours, fascinates all tourists, and as well the animal symbol of the city. It is not allowed to touch nor feed them, simply we need to remember that we are only guests in their beautiful home. But if you wait a bit, they are trying to come closer in the hope of potential bites, but it’s really better not to feed them as immediately they can become aggressive and give annoying sounds if they smell the food.
The Big Water
The name “Iguazú” comes from the Guarani or Tupi words “y“, meaning “water”, and “ûasú”, meaning “big”. The waterfalls of the Iguazu River are located on the border of the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná. Together, they make up the largest waterfall in the world. The falls divide the river into the upper and lower Iguazu. For most of its course, the river flows through Brazil, however, most of the falls are on the Argentine side. The Argentina–Brazil border runs through the Devil’s Throat. On the right bank is the Brazilian territory, which is home to more than 95% of the Iguazu River basin but has just over 20% of the jumps of these falls, and the left side jumps are Argentine, which makes up almost 80% of the falls.
On the Brazilian side, a walkway along the canyon has an extension to the lower base of the famous Devil’s Throat. Helicopter rides offering aerial views of the falls have been available from Brazil, but Argentina has prohibited such helicopter tours because of the adverse environmental impact on the flora and fauna of the falls.
We have spent an amazing day on the Brazilian side of the Falls. While being there we were like keep asking from ourselves can it be even more beautiful from the other side? What else the Argentine side could offer? Does it really worth doing the visit from the other part as well? We couldn’t answer then all these questions yet, but we were sure that we wanted to see this magnificent place once again from another angle too.
To be continued with our review from the Argentine side of the Falls.