Tuesday 18th February 2014
Asuncion, Paraguay to Foz do Iguacu, Brazil (380km)
We left at 7:00am today from Asuncion heading east across the country towards Brazil. We were in a different truck for this journey, and although it had the same number of seats, it was not as roomy or as comfortable e.g. no seat pocket for book etc. The weather became hot during the day, up to about 35-36°C. Out from the city and across the countryside, we had lunch in the grounds of a service station in the shade. We reached the border at about 1:30pm, but then it took us about 2½ hours to get through both the Paraguay and Brazil borders due to the traffic and also the fact that we all had to get money from an ATM in the border post. Shortly after 5:00pm, we arrived at the camp/hostel which had a very nice pool and bar/restaurant area. We pitched our tents in a grassy field and had a drink while we waited for dinner. After dinner, we went to bed around 11:00pm.
Wednesday 19th February 2014
Foz do Iguacu, Brazil (visit to Iguacu Falls, Brazil side)
We left the campsite at around 8:00am and arrived at the Bird Park adjacent to the Cataratas National Park. We walked around in the bird park for about 2 hours looking at all of the rescued birds (rescued from smugglers as well as injury or near death). This park has many different threatened and endangered species in cages and walk through aviaries as well as a number of birds that fly in and out of the park freely. At 11:00am, we headed over to the National Park and caught a shuttle bus from the park headquarters into where the Iguacu Falls are. The trip is approx. 20 kms through heavily jungled areas. The bus dropped us off at the “Pathway to the Falls” and we walked on. There are many views of the falls from the path that winds up and down at a height of about 20-30m above the river (Iguacu River) over which the falls tumble. There are approximately 270 different cataracts in the whole falls encompassing both the Brazilian side and the Argentinian side and it is a most impressive panorama that continues for about 3 km along the walkway. We stopped at various vantage points and took photos. Today the weather was fine and very warm. Eventually we reached the viewpoint suspended over the Devil’s Throat where there is a waterfall that disappears in a shroud of mist down into the river. There is spray going in every direction and the noise is deafening. There is also a tower which has platforms at various levels looking down over the Devil’s Throat. We stopped on the top platform and ate our (late) lunch and then an ice cream. Some of our fellow travellers were sitting at the next picnic table enjoying cans of soft drink when a coati (small creature with long thin nose and long tail) jumped onto their table, grabbed a can of drink and, after spilling it on the ground, proceeded to lap it up with great enjoyment. After final looks at the vantage points and a number of photos, we headed out on the bus again back to the start after which our truck picked us up at 4:30pm and took us back to the campsite. We had a swim in the pool then had a couple of drinks after which it was pizza night, so we had our “all you can eat” meal and then to bed around 11:00pm. A very good day.
Thursday 20th February 2014
Iguacu Falls (Argentinian side)
Overnight it rained quite heavily but fortunately nothing in the tent got wet. The rain continued in the morning and we left for the Argentine side of the falls at about 8:45am. As we were staying on the Brazil side, we had to cross the border. Everything conspired against us at the borders and it took us about 2 hours to get through all the formalities, even though we were only going for the day. Finally, we were through and drove to the falls entrance, and parked the truck. On the Argentine side of Iguacu Falls, you enter the National Park and walk into the park and there is a train to take people nearer to the various viewing points. You can walk but it is a long way – more than 5km to the end. There are many more viewing points on this side and the views are more spectacular (in our opinion). Instead of getting on the train we firstly walked along the Green Trail and then reached the point where you can walk on an upper and a lower path. We chose the upper path first and were rewarded with glimpses of the various cataracts from a distance – through the forest. On a number of occasions, you get up quite close to the falls from above and sometimes even walk over the top on a metal boardwalk. The rain had gone by mid-morning but it was overcast so not as hot as the day before. The Upper Trail suddenly ended due to some repairs to the boardwalk and so we decided to eat our lunch with the wonderful views and then walked back to the start of the trail. We then caught the train up to the Cataratas del Diablo, the climax of the day’s visit. After you get off the train, you walk across metal walkways across 5-6 branches of the river (Iguacu River) until you reach the viewing platform directly next to and over the main waterfall. The sound is deafening and the spray goes directly upwards and you get very wet. The entire experience is very exciting and exhilarating and on this, our second visit to Iguacu (here in 2002), we both decided it is high on our list of favourite places in the world. We had bought 2 ponchos yesterday and so wore these around. They protect your camera and bag from getting soaked. After standing near this point for about ¾ of an hour soaking (literally) up the atmosphere, we sadly turned our backs and headed back over the walkways and caught the train back one stop, then walked along a lower trail, where there were more spectacular views of the panorama. When we finished there and had taken all of our photos, we headed back the final stop on the train and met everyone back at the truck at 5:00pm. We then drove back to the campsite across into Brazil again – no problems at the border this time – had dinner then to bed, not too late tonight. Today was a great day, the falls are just magnificent. Truly one of the best places we have ever visited.
Friday 21st February 2014
Foz do Iguacu campsite, Brazil
Today we decided to have a rest in the campsite, do some washing (all dry by 2:30pm) and just sit around vegging out. Some people in our group went back to the falls today, others went into Foz about 15km away and the rest just hung around the campsite. It is a pleasant place with large grounds and a number of shelters as well as a bar and restaurant and pool. Although we camped, some people had upgraded to a dorm. It is very hot today (about 36-37°C) and we are doing nothing much. We may go for a walk later to a shop down the road about 1km away. Tomorrow we leave for the coast about 1300km away so there will be 2 long driving days with early starts on both days.