We've just spent a long weekend at Iguaçu, enjoying some of the most fabulously stunning views of nature I've ever seen - waterfalls, rainforest, rivers, animals, birds. You name it, it was there. And it just went on and on, in every direction, for as far as you could see. I managed to take 230 photos in three-and-a-half days and I still don't think I did the place justice. Luckily for you, though, I'm not going to put them all in the blog - only the most impressive 100 or so.
For those who don't know, the Iguaçu (or Iguazu, or Iguassu, or Yguasu - take your pick depending on which language you prefer) Falls lie along the Iguaçu River, which is part of the border between Brazil and Argentina. Most of the Falls are in Argentina but to do them justice you really have to see them from both sides of the river and so this is what we did.
Day one was taken up with getting out of São Paulo and settling into our very nice hotel at the other end. We were staying at the Iguassu Resort (their spelling) which is on the Brazilian side, about 5 km from both the entrance to the park and the airport which are right beside each other. There was a lot of building work going on around the resort which unfortunately meant that the main swimming pool was out of action, but seeing as the whole place was inundated with smaller pools and jacuzzis at every turn, this wasn't so much of a problem, and I can honestly say we were never bothered by the noise or inconvenience.
Getting out of Brazil took us five minutes while someone looked over our passports and then stamped them. Getting into Argentina then took us three-quarters of an hour while our driver queued with all our paperwork to have our names written down somewhere. And that was quick, thanks to a judicious bit of queue-jumping on his part. Sometimes, when it's busy, it can take up to three hours apparently. This is not something they tell you about in the guide book so if you're thinking of making the trip, bear in mind that your whole morning might well be taken up just sitting in a car park. And why is it so quick to get out of Brazil and so slow to get into Argentina? Well, in the words of our driver, "porque Argentina é chato."
Once we were actually at the Parque Nacional Iguazú all was forgiven however. The park is very well laid out and the various different routes are well sign-posted. There is also a train which takes you all the way up to the top of the park so you don't have to waste time wandering through the rainforest for a couple of hours before getting to see any waterfalls.
After that we called it a day, spent another half an hour or so at the border and then went back to the hotel for a well-earned and needlessly large buffet dinner of soup, bread, salad, rice, sandwiches, seafood paella, steak, vegetables, creme caramel, chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and chocolate pavê (who knows, but it was so nice I went back for thirds). Also on the menu, but not making it as far as my plate, were the wonderfully named 'sweetish rice' and 'nuts pudding'.
The following day, after a leisurely breakfast of... well, by now you've probably got the idea, we set off to do the Brazilian side of the river. The Parque Nacional do Iguaçu is a lot smaller than the Parque Nacional Iguazú and the trail which takes in all the views of the Falls only takes about an hour to walk. The views, however, are amazing. Being further away from most of the waterfalls, you get a much better idea of the scope of the entire region than you do on the Argentine side, even though you can't actually see all the individual falls.
Note to self: eight metres is a lot higher than it sounds, especially when you're struggling your way along an obstacle course while balanced on a narrow wire cable. Okay, so we were roped off to a safety wire, but relying on that would have been tantamount to cheating and I was not about to be shown up by an eleven year old who seemed to find the whole thing so much easier than me. I did, however, use my bad back as an excuse to duck out of the final challenge which was to climb a telegraph pole, stand on a tiny platform at the top and then hurl yourself across to catch a trapeze about eight feet away before being lowered back down to the ground (rather quickly).
For our final day we decided not to do the other thing people like to do when they visit Iguaçu - namely pop across the border into Paraguay and spend the day at one of the massive shopping centres there, filling up several suitcases with cheap knock-off copies of brand name electronic goods and designer clothes. Instead, we decided to go to the Parque das Aves, which is a wildlife sanctuary - mostly for birds but with the odd snake and crocodile thrown in for good measure.
It was a fabulous holiday from start to finish. I now have many, many wonderful memories and many, many average photos.