STOP 33 | Day 105 to 106 |
Iguazu Falls attracts more than one million visitors per year (compared to Victoria Falls which sees only ~250,000). For our visit we flew into the town of Foz do Iguaçu, the main town on the Brazilian side of the falls. As we took a taxi from the airport to our hotel (you can pay by credit car before leaving the airport and make up the difference in cash as the taxis run on meter) we were impressed with the development of the town. You could tell it has adapted to cater to the tourist volumes.
The next morning we took the local bus to the falls. The bus terminal was located a short walk from our hotel, Taroba Hotel, so catching the bus was quite easy. It was also very economical – costing only 7BRL for both of us (around $2.50USD). After a 45 minute bus ride we purchased our tickets to enter the National Park. The ticket tells you what boarding time you should be lining up for the buses that take you to the main walkway for viewing the falls. The falls are surrounded by a lush tropical rainforest. There are some additional tours/activities you can purchase as well at the main entrance.
Iguazu Falls stretches in width for 2.7 kilometers, with its height varying between 60 meters and 82 meters and includes over 275 individual drops. The falls originates from the Iguazu River which forms the boundary between Brazil and Argentina. The view gets more impressive as you walk along the walkway towards Devil’s Throat. Devil’s Throat is the largest water curtain of the falls, with a 80 meter drop that causes a permanent cloud of mist. After recently being at Victoria Falls, we were far more impressed with the setup of this park. The walkway really allows guests to be exposed to the power and strength of the falls; especially as you get to stand beside a torrent of rushing water on top of the falls. In hindsight we should have bought those ponchos that everyone was selling before entering the park! The highlight was definitely walking out on the platform into the lower base of Devil’s Throat (J captured a great video below). It took us about 2 hours to walk through the falls and at the end we grabbed some food. However, note that the food options are pretty mediocre and expensive (comparatively to within the town). We also encountered many coatis (members of the raccoon family) throughout the park. They seemed to be very aggressive when food was around and weren’t shy about getting their noses into people’s bags. There were many signs throughout the park warning visitors not to feed them but we saw many cases of this being ignored. This is unfortunately what caused them to be aggressive in nature. That evening we ate at another all you can eat churrascaria place next to our hotel. The quality of the meat wasn’t as good as in Rio but for only $12USD per person it was great value.
The next day we booked a tour to take us over to the Argentina side of the falls. However, once we got to the border we were told A wasn’t allowed through as she needed to pay the Canadian reciprocity fee. In July the Australian reciprocity fee was eliminated making J able to enter. It was frustrating as generally border officials have waived the need to for the fee to be paid when individuals are on day trips to the Argentinian side of the falls. Unfortunately we weren’t so lucky (perhaps we got an angry immigration official). We ended up heading back into town and even the tour company employee said that previously with tourism related to the Olympics the various fees weren’t enforced on that border! After spending some time walking around the city with a coffee and some açaí, J decided a good way to kill some time would be to cross the border to Paraguay (A was hesitant given our Argentina experience this morning). However, without much else to do, we got on a local bus and headed to Paraguay. Brazilian’s love to head to Paraguay to shop as they don’t have taxes there. The bus just drove right across the border and entered into shopping chaos. We were surrounded with towers housing malls with western brands (and prices) and stalls all along the sidewalk selling everything from clothes, sunglasses to electronics. After wandering around the mazes of stores for a bit we headed back to Brazil and got ready for our 24 hours of travel to our next destination.