Foz do Iguacu is the perfect location to explore the Brazilian side of the world famous waterfalls. As the river marks the border between Brazil and Argentina, there is also the Argentinean side to visit. But I’ve heard from friends that both sides are worth a visit. The former one is easily accessible by public transport, which takes you right to the entrance of the national park. From there it is necessary to take another bus inside the park to get you to the actual falls.
The first sight of the falls is already impressive, as the water drops over the edge in several places – some with the full height of 84 meters, some with another level in-between. It is quite amazing when you look at it, wait a few minutes and notice that still the same amount of water is falling down every second. It is just so much water! And while you continue to walk along the edge, there are still more waterfalls you haven’t seen before.
The main attraction on the Brazilian side is a boardwalk that takes you close to the center of the “Garganta del Diablo”, the throat of the devil, where you are sure to get wet just by looking at it. Or you can dare to look over the edge to see how the water must feel like just before dropping another 20 meters.
But Foz do Iguacu has another attraction to offer – the world’s second largest hydroelectric dam, located on the Parana River on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. The dam and the company that manages it belong to neither country, but are part of a big national contract between the two countries. It generates enough power (14000 Mega watts) to cover nearly 20% of Brazil’s and 80% of Paraguay’s energy demand. The power plant was built in the 70s and began operating in 1984, with the last turbine being installed only in 2007, after the reservoir was completely filled.
Going on the “special tour” also enables you to get a look behind the scenes – going inside the dam, looking at the control room, which is permanently vibrating under the force of the turbines and going all the way down to the generator rooms, where it is hot and noisy. And if you thought that the Iguacu Falls had a lot of water, think again, because the amount of water would only fill two of the 20 steel tubes that lead to the generators.
After exploring both sights, I crossed the border into Argentina. Of course they have their own border-town, Puerto Iguazu (now with a z), mainly built for tourists visiting the falls. Again, local transport will bring you to the main entrance, but from there a little train will take you to the main attractions. Being on the first train of the day, I managed to get to the “Garganta del Diablo” ahead of everyone else, getting a superb view from the top of this large waterfall.
But the view from the “Upper circuit” was truly amazing, when you’re in line with the main section of the waterfall. When you look at it without camera, smartphone or tablet it will surely give you goosebumps! And if that’s not enough, there are cute and crazy coatis, wild toucans and even a waterfall to take a bath.