A long drive across Brazil brought us to the small town of Foz Iguacu, a major attraction on out trip. It lies by the triple border with Argentina and Paraguay.
We visited Paraguay for a spot of shopping as we desperately needed a new rear tyre and although it’s only 5km away it’s half the price. It has to be one of the most relaxed borders, we didn’t even show our passports or even officially enter Paraguay, it’s a major destination for locals to shop as the tax on foreign goods is very low and so you can buy items incredibly cheap, especially compared to brazil and Argentina where anything produced abroad is very expensive. It seems like they don’t even really bother to attempt to stop it or tax anyone. Literally as soon as you cross you are bombarded with signs and adverts, massive shopping centre’s selling everything. It felt very much like I’d stepped into Asia, street side stalls selling imitation electricals and knock off clothes against luxury shopping centre’s selling designer goods. You don’t even need to change money as they happily accept US dollars, Brazillian Reais or Argentinean pesos all at normal exchange rates, in fact prices aren’t even advertised in their local currency!! We bought our tyre as well as some other cheap stuff we needed.
New tyre sorted it was time to visit the main attraction – Foz Iguacu. As we were in Brazil we started with the Brazillian side, the park on this side us a lot smaller; you arrive and there is a shuttle bus to the start of the trail. The trail is 1.2 km long, as soon as you leave the bus you are at an impressive viewpoint, it’s crowded and busy, as the trail is a straight path that follows the side of the falls it’s impossible to get any real space but the views all along the trail are stunning and there are a couple of small platforms, its hard to capture the scale of the falls with pictures, the volume of water and constant waterfalls as you walk all the way along the trail is incredible. There are of amazingly coloured butterflies fluttering around and covering lots of the handrails all along and any time you stop several land on you as well. Along with the butterflies there are coatis, a member of the racoon family. These have become used to people and will approach and if you have food put down your bag they will bite and claw at it to steal the food, they’re very cute but you have your vehicle very careful.
At the end of the path is the best part, its known as the devils throat, you can go out onto several platforms amongst the waterfalls and stand close up to them, you get absolutely drenched from the spray but it’s incredible and you really get a good feel for the force and scale of water. There are several restaurants at the end overlooking the falls and signs everywhere warning about the coatis which are roaming everywhere, they can get into the bins and so when you pass a bin you can hear them searching around and see them pop out. Despite all the warnings in half an hour we saw at least 3 people loose there lunch as they put it down and looked away! There is a lady whose job is to run around with a plastic bottle full of stones on a long stick shaking it at the coatis to scare them away from people – it doesn’t make for a relaxing lunch stop!
By the entrance to Foz Iguazu is also a bird park with all the native birds in the area, the birds are mainly rescused from traffickers. The park has an amazing variety of birds and the enclosures are well designed, but as always when I go to places like this I have mixed feelings, I know a lot of the work that they do is good, and so many of these animals would not survive in the wild but it always feels a little bit sad seeing animals in captivity.