After our late arrival in Foz do Iguaçu last night, we indulge by sleeping in until 8am. After a quick breakfast at the hotel buffet, we are in the van at 8:30 with our local guide, Vera. Vera is from Foz do Iguaçu and has been guiding tours of the area for 28 years. We know we are in good hands. Our mission today is to see both sides of the famous Iguaçu Falls, named as one of the great wonders of the natural world.
The Iguaçu Falls are waterfalls on the Iguaçu River at the border of Brazilian state Paraná and Argentine province Misiones. The falls have a flow capacity equal to three times that of Niagara Falls. 20% of the falls are in Brazilian territory, and the other 80% in Argentina. The “Garganta do Diablo” (“Devil’s Throat” in Portuguese) is the tallest of the falls at 318 feet.
We arrive at the Brazilian side of the falls at 9am. The falls are surrounded by Iguaçu National Park, a huge swath of sub-tropical rainforest. Vera pays our admission and we begin our journey to the falls. A short walk later, we get our first of the falls. All we can say is, “Wow!”
Two hours and hundreds of photographs later, we climb back in the van to visit the Argentinian side of the falls.
On our way to Argentina, Vera takes us to a local barbecue spot so that we can try mate. Mate is a tea-like drink made from Ilex paraguariensis. Drinking and sharing mate has its own set of traditions, much like coffee does in the US and Europe. We are in a bit of a hurry, so we are only able to enjoy the mate for a few minutes before we must leave. We pass around the special mate cup, sipping the hot liquid from a silver straw. It tastes a little bit like very strong green tea.
Back in the van, we cross the Argentina border with no problems. A short time later, we enter the Argentina side of the Iguaçu National Park. As we begin our walk to the falls, we quickly notice the popularity of mate amongst park visitors. Many carry the distinct cup and thermoses for extra hot water. After a short train ride and a lot of walking, we suddenly come upon the falls and look down straight down into the Devil’s Throat.
After the train ride back to a visitor center, we are tempted to take the train back to the park entrance. Fortunately, Vera insists we take another walk. Little did we know, this walk includes several more stunning views of the waterfalls. We can see the platforms where we walked on the Brazilian side earlier that morning. We can’t resist taking more photos.
Finally, we are done with the falls and climb back in the van to return to Brazil. We are very lucky to have Vera as our guide. Not only does she know the Iguaçu area very well, but she also loves birds, animals and plants. All day long, she points out plants and animals that she knows will interest us and carries with her a book on wildlife that we frequently reference. We are grateful to have her as our guide.
There really are no words adequate to describe Iguaçu Falls. Hopefully some of our photographs will convey some of the majesty of the waterfalls.