Brazil (Argentina) - Iguassu Falls

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May 16th 2017
Published: May 17th 2017
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Suzanne here...

Getting into Foz do Iguacu from the airport was easy. Local bus 120 stops outside departures (make sure to get one going to Downtown not the national park). It's not the first stop so can be busy. David had to stand but I was lucky enough to grab a seat. It was R$3.45 each and the journey into town takes about 40 minutes.

Less than ten minutes from town a huge storm hit us. The rain and wind was incredible, with trees and branches crashing into the road. The bus had to take a detour to avoid a huge branch. We waited it out at the bus station for a few minutes before making a dash for the hotel, luckily only a few minutes away.

Hotel Bogari was pretty nice. It's actually a bit of a treat to go for a proper hotel rather than a B&B or homestay. I rather like anonymity of it all. Not that they were unfriendly, but it was all very professional rather than feeling you are houseguests. The room was comfortable too. It was still raining hard, so we stayed in, other than a quick trip to Panificadora Doce Pao for dinner. It was fine. Not amazing, but ok and the cheapest meal we've had in Brazil at under R$50 (£12). We treated ourselves to some of their homemade biscuits to take back to our room.

Much like I was looking forward to Machu Picchu, David had been looking forward to the Iguassu Falls. It's the main event of the trip for him. So I was desperate for some decent weather. The weather forecast for the following two days was sunny. I admit that I was slightly dubious, but it turned out to be absolutely right, thank goodness.

After breakfast (one of the better ones of the trip) we set off for the Brazilian side of the falls. Good old bus 120 served us again, after the airport it continues to the waterfalls. We got there easily, bought our park tickets, and hopped on the park bus to the beginning of the falls.

I only hope that the photographs capture some of the magnificence of Iguassu Falls. No waterfalls I have ever seen even begin to match up. They are simply spectacular. The scale and power has to be seen to be belived. Truly a wonder of nature. We spent a happy few hours there. It was quite busy, but not unbearable (even if a large number of people are totally oblivious to anyone else but themselves). The only drawback is that the route is very focussed on walking from A-B. Not a huge issue, but there was nowhere just to sit and take a breather and relax. Anyway, a very enjoyable day.

We got back to town quite early so decided to explore. As expected, there was not much to see in Foz do Iguacu. It's a perfectly nice town, with a low crime rate and plenty of shops and restaurants. But it didn't really grow until tourism at the falls took off, so everything is relatively new. There is no cute old town, impressive cathedral or historic colonial buildings. A few tourist attractions have been built, waxworks and the like, but nothing of real interest to us.

For dinner we finally got around to visiting a churrascaria. Shameful that we'd not done so before in Brazil really. Churrascaria do Gaucho was only R$39 (£10) each, a bargain compared to the Rio one we'd looked at. We both enjoyed it, but it didn't wow us. I hate to say this (must be getting old) but 'all you can eat' doesn't appeal like it used to. One plate of decent food is enough really. Of course that is not to say we didn't give it a bloody good go! The buffet was pretty good. The meat was nice, a bit salty but that's the same all over Brazil we've found. It was very good value. So although it wasn't quite the meat heaven we'd hoped for, we would try it again. Next time we'd be fussier about accepting the meat that comes round and only say yes to the best looking cuts rather than taking a bit of everything that came along.

Day two of the falls was to be spent on the Argentinian side. It seemed a bit of a faff as you have to properly leave Brazil and enter Argentina, forms, stamps and all. Just for a day. You can do the trip yourself from Foz do Iguacu via public transport. I wish I could report back on this. Usually we would DIY it to save money. But when it came down to it, we decided to take the easy route. Our hotel did a trip, door to door, for R$95. (£24), excluding park entry fee. Having done it I'm not sure if it was actually any quicker than DIY. But it was easy and meant we could just enjoy a stress-free journey sitting on our bums in an airconditioned mini-van. They also stopped at a money exchange, useful as the park only takes pesos, not cards. There is an ATM at the park but we decided not to risk leaving it until then as if it was out of order or didn't take our card we'd be stuck.

We had a great day. We were lucky to be there on a Monday in low-season. There was an estimated 3,000 visitors. Apparently a busy day can see up to 19,000. About 80% of the falls are in Argentina, so it was a much bigger park with a lot more walking, and more actual falls to get up close to. A lot of people claim that the Argentinan side is better. I'm not sure. It is a lovely park with more opportunities to see wildlife, as well as wander around and simply sit and enjoy the place. Certainly we spent a lot longer there than the Brazilian side so it makes more of a day trip. It was also great to get so close to the largest of the falls, 'The Devil's Throat', and appreciate the sheer power and volume of water. But, for a great, panoramic view of the falls, you can't beat the Brazillian side. For this reason I'd say this was our favorite. But it's a close-run thing and if you can do both you should.

A lot of restaurants were shut, so we ended up at a nearby burger place called Brasa Burger. Actually a very good burger. Mine was pehaps the bacony-ist bacon burger I've ever had!

We'd booked a 9am flight to our next destination, Porto Alegre. It meant an early start but at least we'd arrive in daylight and have an afternoon there. Unfortunately Azul Airlines decided to cancel the flight and put us on the 7pm one instead. In any circumstances this would have been annoying. But what really made us cross was that they didn't even bother to tell us. We only found out when we tried to check-in online. Thank God we did (we've not bothered for the last few flights). Otherwise we'd have ended up at the airport 10 hours early, having missed breakfast, and I'd have been even more angry. As it was, at least we could stay at the hotel for breakfast and a leisurely morning before checking out.

It did mean we were left with an extra afternoon in Foz do Iguacu with nothing to do. We wandered round the shopping centre for a bit, had a coffee, then wandered around the town. There was a plus point though, as we bumped into Scott. We'd met him on the tour the previous day, and had a bit of a chat about his hometown of Hobart in Tasmania, which we've been to and loved. It was good to see him again.

After a bit more aimless wandering we grabbed our bags and got bus 120 back to the airport. Annoyingly you have to queue to get to the check-in area. Once that was done we decided just to go through rather than have to go back just to go through it all again. Mistake. We'd not had lunch, and there was just one crappy sandwich place airside. We didn't bother.

So here I am, finishing this blog entry off at one of the poorer airports we've been to. Not sure how long it will take to get to our hotel in Porto Alegre. I'm annoyed to be arriving in a South American city after dark, which we try to avoid. Hopefully all will go smoothly and we'll get some dinner before bed.

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