It took 16-or-so hours by car from São Paulo, overnight and a good portion of the next day, but let me tell you.....it was SO worth it. The falls themselves are incredible. I've never seen Niagra Falls, but I'm kind of interested in seeing it just to make fun of how small and unimpressive it will look like compared to Iguaçú. Iguaçú is GIGANTIC, it must stretch for a few miles and is made up of over 400 smaller waterfalls that together make the monster that Iguaçú is. The amount of water is incredible. The natural areas around Iguaçú are very nicely intact, with lots of wildlife (including Coatis, lots of birds and even my favorite, the Onça-Pintada although they are illusive and are almost never seen during the daytime...not that I'd particularly want one standing in front of me, but it gives me a little comfort to know they are there in their natural habitat. Anyway...enough of me talking. Here's some pictures I took: just a few to give you an idea.
A small part of the falls (maybe about 1/5 of it)
So, we stayed in the city of Foz do Iguaçú, which is right next to the falls (about 45 minutes away.) Foz itself doesn't have too much going on: it's a typical ''cidade do interior'' and has a small centro with a few good restaurant options (side note: greeat and cheap churrascarias), a few stores and stuff, but the place to go shopping is Cidade de Leste, in Paraguay...which is a 10 minute drive from downtown Foz do Iguaçú. The border crossing is pretty funny going from Brazil to Paraguai. They literally don't care who enters the country. No passport checking or stamping, no nothing. Coming back to Brasil is a little more thorough and they do check your bags and documents, but as long as you're legal you've got nothing to worry about.
Cidade de Leste surprised me a little. I was expecting a third world shithole, but in reality it reminded me a lot of Mexico. Not as developed as Brasil but still not miserable by any means. I actually quite enjoyed spending my afternoon there and hearing some Spanish, eating some Latino food and being insanely rich (as 1 real got me like 5,000 Paraguayan Guarani's.) It's an extremely cheap country. I didn't take any pictures with my camera there as I was nervous to take it out in public, but imagine a city that looks like Rocinha in Rio will look like in 10 years when it's not really a favela but it still kind of is. That's what Cidade de Leste is like. Or should I say, Ciudad del Este....
We also went to Itaipu. It's amazing. It produces close to 100% of the power that Paraguai uses, and about 20% of all of the power used in Brasil. It's on the border of the two countries, so they share responsibility for it although Brasil uses like 90% of the power generated. All of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and a few other parts of some Brazilian states rely 100% on the power generated at Itaipu. It's the worlds most productive hydroelectric plant and extremely efficient. It's an impressive place. Seguem as fotos..
Doesn't look that big? Think again. It's the same height as a 65 story building.
This picture gives a better idea of the size of the dam. Gigantic, and stretches over 2 miles across the Paraná river.
Anyway, do you see those white tubes there? Thats where the water from the River is diverted and spins the mechanisms that make power. Each one of those tubes (there are over 20 of them) produces enough power for a city of around 3 Million people. All of Campinas and it's metropolitan region are served by one of these tubes. São Paulo capital is served by around seven of them, and Rio is served by another four of them. Crazy, huh? Paraguay takes around two, and the rest of them supply power to other areas in Southeastern Brazil.
We also went to ''Parque das Aves'', it's a must. Lately I've been obsessed with birds (Brazil is a BIRDERS PARADISE, some of the birds you see here in the wild are just truly spectacular.) This is somewhat of a zoo that has a mission in reintroducing and augmenting the numbers of endangered and/or extinct-in-the-region birds. I'm not sure if there are large populations of Araras (Macaws) in Paraná state as I don't recall seeing many outside (unlike in Mato Grosso do Sul, where they are EVERYWHERE along with Tucans), but sooner or later I'm sure the population will be visible as they have ambitious reintroduction programs. They even had a few exemplar Arara Azuis, or Hyacinth Macaws, my personal favorite....the species was on the verge of extinction due to illegal bird capturing and sales on the black market, but thank god their numbers have rebounded and they are making a strong and steady comeback. Parque das Aves has a breeding program to increase the Arara Azul's population, also.
Seguem mais fotos.....
The Arara Azul! They are the largest species of Macaw and/or parrot in the world, and when fully grown stand at a height of almost two feet and have a wingspan of over seven feet! HUGE birds. This picture doesn't do their size justice.
I just love Tucanos.
Me being attacked by a macaw.
Anyway, Iguaçú was amazing, it had color coming out of it's ass, some cool things like a buddist temple, a gigantic freaking mosque (not kidding) a huge hydroelectric dam, awesome birds, Onça-Pintadas, the best f*cking waterfalls in the world, and a sh•tload of other things. Just be warned, in the fall and winter it gerts COLD there, one night dropped down to -2C and I basically got pnemonia and almost died. Winter in southern Brasil is serious, gente. Don't cross mothernature cause she'll f*ck you up.
Anyway, go to Iguaçu ASAP, hopefully it'll be there in a few years and the Brazilian government does'nt decide to blow it up and build Itaipu II in its place.....kidding, just kidding. But seriously, go.
Abração beijo beijo tchau,