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Entries about foz do iguassu

Waterfalls, birds and butterflies


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Landed at Foz do Iguaçu – Cataratas International Airport at 1am. Even if you managed to doze off during flight you were totally mushy in your head. For an international airport it is a very small airport. We had to disembark and walk on the ground into the terminal and since I had no checked-in luggage to pick up I could continue out to the arrival hall and look for my transfer. But there was no one with my name. Okay, I guess I could wait a few minutes (how would he/she know I wasn’t waiting for my checked-in luggage?) before I started to get worried. And sure enough, within two minutes my driver showed up with my nameplate. His name spelt João and I didn’t even dare to pronounce it. But I could call him Joe. He told they just had a period of rainy season during last 3 weeks, but that it now would become dry weather. Obviously – now that I’m here ;)

We walked to the car and he wondered why I only had one small bag with me. So, I had to tell the story once more, how my bag got left in Berlin. It was pitch-black outside and humidity out of the ordinary. From the airport we went long on a straight road. Passed a round-about and kept on going as straight as before. After a while buildings and hotels started to show on both sides of the road, which was still dead straight. Joe stopped the car outside Hotel Viale Cataratas, where I checked in. Before I went to bed, I logged on to the WiFi and happily saw an email from Baggage Express. But the joy quickly switched into anger while reading that my bag had been in Manaus already the day after my arrival there. WTF?! Why wasn’t I notified? Had they just sent the email – like 1 day earlier – I could have picked it up before flying from Manaus to São Paulo!!! Stupid idiots! I wrote back that they could send the bag a.s.a.p. to Foz do Iguaçu and the hotel I stayed at.

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Was able to sleep a few hours before breakfast. Though I didn’t wake up to the cell phone alarm as intended, but from the light outside the window. What time was it? Quickly checked the cell phone… the alarm had sounded without me hearing it! What now?! Tried to play the alarm melody again, but there was no sound… Turned up the volume at maximum, but still nothing. Hoped not my cell phone was about to break down on me, not now! Tried to restart the phone, then the sound got back to normal. But how fun is it traveling with a cell phone you cannot trust to wake you up as planned!? Joe picked me up at 11.30am and we headed to Iguaçu National Park. I had been told that this was a guided tour in group here in Iguaçu, but Joe told me that I was the only one, i.e. a private tour. Even better – especially when I’ve paid for group tours (=cheaper).

Iguaçu National Park is in south west Brazil and borders to Iguaçu River in the south. The National Park consists of subtropical rainforest and nature which leaves the humidity at 95% all year around, independently of rainy/dry season. The park houses over 400 species of birds together with cougars, jaguars, deer’s, raccoons, iguanas and so on. The National Park shares together with Iguazú National Park (Argentina) one of the World’s largest and most impressive waterfall – Iguassu Falls. The Iguassu Falls is shared by Argentina (80%) and Brazil (20%) and is one of the New Natural Seven Wonders of the World. With a height of 82 meters and depending on which season (rainy or dry season) Iguassu Falls has between 160 to sometimes over 270 individual waterfalls spread over 2,7 kilometers. And now after 3 weeks of rain the water flow was extremely high according to Joe. Normally 1 million liters of water passes every second, but now during rainy season it was about 5-6 million liters of water each second.

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Joe collected my ticket and I passed through the entrance, while Joe drove the car around and met up with me inside the park. We went through the park for 20 minutes and drove to the Path of the Falls, which is a 1,2-kilometer trail with panoramic views over the Argentinean side of Iguassu Falls. The first we saw was a raccoon close to the trail. The raccoon showed no fear for humans, rather the opposite. Apparently, tourists had fed them to get close up for a picture. But I kept myself on a safe distance, since this one probably had rabies and I didn’t want to get bitten. Joe showed me the direction I needed to go in and that he would meet me at the end of the trail at Naipi Square, a high tower by the waterfall Devil’s Throat. Joe said it would take about an hour to walk. A bit skeptical, I started walking… an hour to walk 1,2 kilometers? The positive about this trail was that it basically went downhill all the way, wet and slippery here and there due to mists from all waterfalls.

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Only at the end, at Devil’s Throat, it got damn steep uphill… thank God you could take an elevator. Along the way there were views points, there it was the best outlooks over the waterfalls. For the braver people you could use walkways and stand in the middle of the water basin, but since the water flow was strong and created serious winds with mists (close to rain) from the waterfalls around, I passed. I had brought a rain poncho but you would get super wet anyway, I could see that on the people walking back from the water basin. Just as Joe said, he met me up in the tower at Devil’s Throat and it had taken me 1 hour to get around. Must have been for all stops taking pictures that took time.

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We drove back and out of the park and parked the car at the Bird & Butterfly Park, just next to the National Park. Now I was starving and bought lunch inside the park. Joe then followed me.

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As the name implies there were obviously butterflies and all kind of birds; macaws, parrots, pheasants, peacocks, owls, flamingos, toucans among others. There were many loud noises inside the park. It was warm and humid and the smells inside the park varied from place to place. When we had walked around the entire park, Joe drove me back to the hotel. After a hot and sticky day, a shower was longed for.
Just before dinner a thunder storm gathered. The low clouds came very fast and the wind changed rapidly. Then the rain came. And the thunder. The lightning lit up the entire sky in the evening darkness and it was like a magnificent spectacle up in the sky that kept on going for hours. Nice to be inside and the thunder storm didn’t bother me at all since I didn’t have to be outside.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Brazil Tagged waterfalls iguassu_falls foz_do_iguassu Comments (0)

Don’t cry for me Argentina


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Today was a full day on the Argentinean side of the Iguassu Falls. Joe picked me up already at 8.00am and then headed for the border control to Argentina. Even though it was only for about 8 hours, I had to bring my passport to get in to Argentina. Got my passport stamped and we drove further on towards Iguazú National Park. I think it is fun to get the passport stamped, a small proof you’ve actually been in a country. So sad we stopped doing that within EU. Argentina is a Spanish-speaking country which is why Iguazú spells with a z, and not with ç as in Brazil. As soon as we had crossed the border into Argentina, we set the clock back 1 hour. Joe explained that Argentina and east Brazil has the same time zone, but east Brazil now apply summer time. As tourist it’s impossible to keep track of all that. And to complicate things even more, people living close to the Brazilian/Argentinean border have a language called Portuñol – a mix between Spanish and Portuguese. I would probably understand Portuñol better than just Portuguese, since I know more Spanish.

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We drove about 20 minutes more before arriving at Iguazú National Park. As soon as the entrance opened up, we went to the little train that took us the more than 3,5 km to Devil’s Throat, the trains end station. The speed of the train wasn’t very fast, but was faster than compared to walking the same distance. From the train station you could already hear the waterfalls muffled rushing and Joe pointed out where the walkway I had to take to the falls started. Well the walkway, it wasn’t that stable as I had wished for. The pillars looked good and reliable, but that metal net you stepped on felt anything but reliable. It wasn’t that thick and looking down you could see the strong current underneath. I tried to have an internal dialog; “Suck it up. Be cool.” It took about 20 minutes to walk those 1,2 km’s out to Devil’s Throat and the sound from the rushing water was deafening.

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Tried to take panoramic pictures of the falls, but it looked more like my cell phone had gotten an epileptic seizure or something. All choppy and strange. Guess the camera couldn’t relate to any useful reference points to create a panoramic photo. Turned and walked the same way back to meet up with Joe at the train station again. I had to ask Joe how deep that water was, underneath that walkway. He told me it wasn’t deeper than 1 meter, but due to last 3 weeks of raining the current was really strong and the water was all brown from all sediments that come with the water. With normal water levels the water is turquoise and current is not as strong.

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We took the train and disembarked at the Upper and Lower Circuit, two trails bringing the visitors close up with the waterfalls. The Upper Circuit was easy and manageable without any huge affords thanks to a level trail and easily becomes full of elderly people and families with strollers. You had great views over the falls. Though it took one hour to walk back and forth. For the fit person you could walk the Lower Circuit which contains steps, uphill and downhill. That probably took 2 hours for Joe and I to complete that trail, and then both he and I were well fit. You can definitely not be scared of getting soaked, since the trail will bring you very close to the falls and with high water levels the mist blew far in over us visitors.

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The boat tour under the falls was schedule at 11.15am, or well… at least up to the falls. Due to the high water-levels we couldn’t embark the boat at the usual place, but further down the Iguassu River. We rode a jeep along a bumpy and rough road to get there. Equipped with a life jacket and waterproof bag each, we embarked the boat. Did put on the rain poncho (underneath the life jacket) and flip-flop, because we would get wet. I wrapped myself in like a cocoon to minimize the risk of getting completely soaked with water. Then you just had to hold on. Full speed with sharp turns that meant cascades of water spraying in over the boat. Though the air was warm, the water was freezing. Or well, it was probably not freezing but the difference between the air and the water made I felt like it. The boat stopped just in front of the falls for those who wanted to take some pictures sitting in the bow. I had already taken pictures of the waterfalls from every known angle, so I skipped that. The last turn the boat made was to get as close to the falls as possible. I don’t know how close the boat eventually got, but it felt like very close. Because we weren’t hit by drizzle but more like a massive monsoon rain. When back at the floating pier and you finally got off your life jacket and rain poncho, I realized I escaped pretty well from being soaked or wet. All in all, it took about 2 hours, even though it didn’t feel so. What took time was the jeep transportation to and from the boat (20 minutes one-way), the boat ride itself felt like 10 minutes. When I met up with Joe again, he looked at me like “You’re not soaked. Did you even embark the boat?” But I explained I had wrapped myself like a cocoon and only got my lower legs wet.

Now I was starving and stood in line to buy something to eat. But bear in mind two things; 1: They have Argentinean Pesos (AR$) in Argentina, 2: They only accepted VISA credit cards in the entire park. And I had neither Argentinean currency nor VISA credit card, so I just had to accept it. I told Joe I would buy something later at the hotel, it was easier that way. After a long and warm day, we drove back crossing the border into Brazil again. Crossed the bridge over Iguassu River, where the borders of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet. Had I been smart enough I could have paid Paraguay a visit too…

This morning I had asked Joe if he could drive me to the airport so I could search for my bag, because my patience was over now. It would probably be easier on site, with passport and everything, to get the bag on a plane here to Foz do Iguaçu. And since we would pass close to the airport on the way back, he was kind enough and dropped me off the airport and waited outside. Found TAM Airlines and tried to make myself understood. Got sent around to one after another before ending up with Deborah, that was responsible for lost baggage. I don’t know if she either understood me, her English wasn’t that great. Eventually I got to speak with flight attendants from TAM. Finally, someone able to speak English. It took him five minutes to call to Manaus, locate my bag and put it on the next flight via Brasilia and then on today’s last flight to Foz do Iguaçu (arriving just before midnight). With careful optimism a smile spread across my face, thanked the man for the help and went out to the car and let Joe drive me back to the hotel.

Those of you who knows me, know I’m a realistic pessimist and believes in things when I’ve seen it, i.e. in this case holding my bag in my hand. So, it wasn’t over by a long shot. Back at the hotel I notified the reception staff they could call my room as soon as the bag arrived, didn’t matter if it was in the middle of the night. The staff was probably dead tired of my frantic nagging about my bag by now.

Posted by bejjan 16:00 Archived in Brazil Tagged waterfalls iguassu_falls foz_do_iguassu Comments (0)

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