Since we’ve been living abroad for over a year now, I guess I have some catching up to do, right?
Around this time last year, my husband and I took our first trip in Brazil–to Foz do Iguaçu. We had heard that it was a very popular tourist site and several of our friends raved about “the waterfalls” there. Ok, we thought, why not? Sounds great for a little weekend getaway—by the way, did I mention I was five months pregnant at the time? And if you all can recall, the country was (well, still is) in a frenzy over Zika, and we were keen on avoiding the Northeast region (where unfortunately all the gorgeous beaches are!). So we spontaneously booked our flights, packed our bags, and off we went—on one of our last trips as a family of two!
Immense. Gargantuan. Breath-taking. Force of nature.
It’s hard to find the right words to describe the main tourist attraction of Foz do Iguaçu, the Iguaçu Falls. To give you some perspective: Iguaçu is three times the size of Niagara Falls. THREE times. The entire area encompasses more than 250 individual falls, which span a distance of nearly two miles. The Iguaçu River, which comes thundering over the Paraná Plateau, forms a natural boundary between Brazil and Argentina. While the majority of the waterfalls are actually on the Argentinian side, the best views are arguably from Brazil.
When we boarded the bus that led us into the Parque Nacional do Iguaçu, I was in no way prepared for what awaited us. The beginning of the walking trail that leads you along the Falls provides several lookouts and photo ops of numerous smaller cascading waterfalls. But the deeper into the canyon the trail leads, the louder the roaring water becomes. Around every turn, there are more waterfalls and you begin to sense how expansive the system really is. Finally, you arrive at the main site: a u-shaped massive drop named Devil’s Throat, which you cannot approach on the footbridge without becoming completely drenched. There is a reason that this place was named one of the nature’s new Seven Wonders of the World: the sheer force of the torrential water is truly awe-inspiring.
Now, while walking to the Falls and viewing them from the ground up is certainly the easiest and most affordable way to access them, we also decided to splurge a little and take a small adventure—by viewing the Falls from a helicopter! The aerial shots we captured here give you a better sense of just how massive the Falls are. Though the ride was over in a flash, it was certainly a very cool experience and gave us an entirely different view of the Falls.
The other neat thing to do in Foz do Iguaçu is to visit the Parque das Aves, the bird park. Now, I am not a particular fan of birds (thank you, Hitchcock), however this park was truly spectacular! Brazil is home to so many gorgeous birds. We were able to get really close to the birds and I was excited to try out my 50 mm lens. Check out my shot of the toucan!
The city itself is not that exciting to explore, but if you are looking for a great place to stop for dinner or coffee, try the Empório com Arte. It is a small, eclectic café that is decorated with a bunch of quirky artisan pieces and artwork. And their homemade pão de queijo is delicious!
One last quick anecdote before signing off: on our first day, we kept asking about information for the “Foz”, naively assuming that that was the word for “falls”. They sound so much alike, they must mean the same thing, right? Wrong!! (We language teachers would call that a false friend). Our inquiries were met with many blank stares. After much confusion, we finally learned that the waterfalls were called cataratas!