We arrived into Foz do Iguaçu mid morning and. Ring an internal Brazilian flight there were no immigration queues. We took the local bus into town, which was cheap at $4BR each. After 30 minutes or so we jumped out at the bus station and walked to our hotel, about 25 minutes with our backpacks.
The room was basic but would do for 2 nights. After discussing and rearranging plans we headed out not to the famous waterfall but across the boarder into Paraguay 🇵🇾. The town sits right next Paraguay and Argentina 🇦🇷 in a kind of triangle shape. The crossing into Paraguay was really just for a passport stamp and because it was so close it would be silly not to.
Foz do Iguaçu is littered with billboards advertising Paraguay and its cheap shopping. Locals from both countries can cross the bridge over the river without any checks it seemed but foreigners are supposed to get checked and stamped. Though we could have easily slipped across without anyone batting an eyelid.
Upon reaching the boarder bridge nicknamed the ‘friendship’ bridge we had to actively look for immigration. We were stamped out of Brazil and walked across the bridge. We had heard that the bridge can be quite dangerous with sellers and pickpockets but there was just a single walkway an nobody there so was perfectly safe. One the other side we again had to look for immigration and got stamped into Paraguay. Disappointingly there was no ‘Welcome to Paraguay’ or anything of the sort.
The town on the other side Ciudad Del Este is Paraguay’s second largest city and famous for its shopping. It was 2pm but we hadn’t realised there was a 1 hour difference this side of the bridge so it was in fact 1pm. Strangely all the market stalls were packing up, but most shops were still open. Full of knock of goods and the real thing the electronics certainly weren’t cheap. We couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. After purchasing some new sunglasses (mine being at the bottom of the Atlantic) we headed back after about 2 hours. Worth the visit to say we’d been there but nothing to see. We again got stamped out and back in and headed back to the hotel for the evening.
The following day we were up early and headed to Iguazu falls. The bus from the airport took us to the falls (via the airport) after about 45minutes. I’m not sure what we had been expecting but were confronted with a very organised set up of a terminal transferring tourists on electric buses the further 16km to the falls inside the national park. Opting to sit upstairs in the open was a mistake as the cold morning air gave us a chill in our t-shirt and short.
We got off at the 1.5km walk entrance (along with 90% of tourists) and began the hiking to the falls. You were immediately greeted with waterfalls. Not the famous ones but some further down the river and worth a visit if it wasn’t for their bigger cousin. As well as the falls there were lots of Coati roaming around and taking food and treats from people despite the signs. A raccoon like creature with a longer snout.
Continuing on with the walk we darted around some slow walkers and carried onto the falls. Around every corner we glimpsed something new until finally the main falls could be heard and seen. Stretching for 2700m, 275 drops (with largest 82m) and dumping 1,756 m³/s litres of water they are a wonder of nature.
On the Brazilian side we could walk down the so called ‘devils tongue’ a bridge that took you over the river and into the heart of the falls. Spray soaking you on parts it was hard to capture with a single photograph the vast sight. Plus numerous tourists meant it as elbows out to jostle for a good photograph.
Next we headed up to a vantage point and took more photos from a different angle. From here you could clearly see people on the Argentinian side of the falls looking down. Brazilian and Argentinian flags both flapping in the breeze claiming their rights.
After some time taking in the view we headed back into town. We now had an afternoon to fill. On our research we had heard that Itaipu dam was near by a wonder if the man made world. Again we took a local bus and after failing to get off at the right stop and having a little walk we arrived at a huge visitors centre. Once again we had been expecting to rock up and just take some pictures but that wasn’t the case.
The visitor centre was vast and clearly designed for thousands of visitors rather than the 10 that were on our tour. We opted for a special interior tour as well as seeing the outside. A little more expensive but it turned out to be completely worth it.
It began with a bus tour up to and on the dam. The sheer scale of the man made dam was impressive. The lake created was bigger slightly smaller than the sprawling city of Rio but bigger than Manhattan island! We stood on top looking down: one side at a serene lake and the other a near vertical drop.
The tour continued inside where we could see the immensely thick walls and appreciate the height of the dam 196m. Surprised we discovered that the dam was mostly hollow. Inside we were taken on a tour of the hydro power plant: from the control to the spinning generators. Having never toured a dam it was quite something and extremely educational.
After some further stops to see the dam from different view points the two hour tour came to an end. Throughly worth it if you are ever in the area!
We made our way back to the hotel as it was now dusk and getting dark. The following day we were again up early and took yet another bus: this time to Argentina were we were flying from to Buenos Aires. Various blogs we had read made out that this boarder crossing could be difficult but it was far from it. The bus dropped us off and the Brazilian boarder were we were stamped out. We then waited for another bus to take us down the road and across the bridge. It wasn’t like the ‘friendship’ bridge which you could walk across. On the other side our bags were scanned, passports checked and we were stamped into Argentina.
From here we took a taxi to the airport, in broken English the driver said $3USD which turned out to be $30. We did however manage to get an earlier flight and were on our way to Buenos Aires the capital of Argentina.