Tornado Tour of South America – Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil
Crossing the bordering into Brazil and visiting the Iguaçu Falls.
To get to the Iguacu Falls, I went through the border at Ciudad del Este.
Border Crossing at Ciudad del Este, Paraguay to Brazil
Having just gone through immigration, I had to figure out how to get to the park with no transportation with two bags, in a huge rainstorm. The only options were to wait for a taxi (non crossing the border were empty), get a mototaxi or walk.
Screw it, I’ll walk.
I enveloped myself into my North Face jacket and proceeding across the bridge.
The walk wasn’t as bad as expected and in a way, it was kind of fun. I paused to look around and admire the lightning and traffic. No one else was crazy enough to walk in this thunderstorm, so it felt like I had the whole bridge to myself and that I was totally alone even though there was a busy four lane highway next to me.
On arrival to the Brazilian side a man checked my wet bags then directed me to immigration. I thanked him in Spanish but remembered they speak Portuguese here.
Immigration entry for walk-ins is processed at one the traffic booths which is also used for cars. A guy on the computer didn’t seem to want to acknowledge me. Eventually a girl showed up and just gave me an immigration form while making a writing gesture.
I handed the form filled in with my passport and the guy flipped it to a page and stamped. No questions asked.
Country 70 check!
I walked through and skipped the customs building. Then stood at the taxi area wondering how I would get to the park while it was still pouring. It seems that taxis were randomly pulling over to pick people up. I stood there and a yellow jacketed motorcycle taxi drove up and asked where I was going. I said the park and he wanted to take me. He wanted me to sit behind him on a motorbike with no rain gear in this weather all the way to the park on slippery roads?
He said he could take me to the nearby bus station where I could get a taxi. So I said fine. He handed me a wet helmet, I hopped onto the back of the bike and we were on our way. The ride was only about three blocks away. I asked him to bring me to the center of town where they have a money exchange.
Getting back on the bike was a bit of a mistake. It was still pouring and I didn’t know that it was actually a good 10 min drive to the center of Foz do Iguaçu.
He drove quite well and controlled his bike which was good. But still on some turns going up hill I just imaged us slipping out. Ugh.
We also stopped at a few red lights where I just sat there feeling the rain water slowly seeping in. My jeans and shoes were thoroughly soaked as if I jumped in a pool.
We arrived at a money exchange where I changed some cash, paid the driver and found a taxi to the park.
The licensed cab driver was very professional and offered a peaceful drive through the rain. In the car I assessed the damage. My bag was soaked through but the water didn’t get to my computer. My wallet and iPhone in my jeans’ pockets were salvageable.
Iguaçu National Park is the Brazilian side of the falls. Both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Efforts date back to 1876 to preserve the now world-famous falls.
I arrived at the fully staffed reception and purchased my ticket. I noticed the staff here were all very attractive. Maybe because I was in Brazil?
I rented a locker to store my wet jeans, shoes, and bag. Then I put on shorts and sandals.
Luckily because of the downpour there were no lines, so I walked right onto the bus.
The park bus takes you on a circuit to the different sections, making stops along the way. An automated narrative announces what the stops are.
I got off at the stop for the last trail. Of the few tourists braving the rain, most have plastic ponchos on. I was drenched already so no need, plus my jacket was doing a pretty good job of keeping my core dry.
The trail wrapped around the side of the mountain offering several viewpoints of the falls.
It leads to a building with a souvenir shop and elevator down to a platform so you can walk further out right over the water.
I went out on the platform and took plenty of pictures but unfortunately the visibility was terrible. Though the rain added a certain rawness to the falls creating a natural feel not felt on a sunny day packed with tourists. They were massive and seemed to flow from every direction. Impressive would too simply describe the sensation from witnessing this natural wonder.
Before catching the bus back to the entrance, I stopped by the restaurant overlooking the falls, then made a quick stop at the five star hotel in the park.
This original Portuguese colonial mansion is the only hotel actually in the National Park. This five star retreat offers its guests a chance to visit the falls exclusively in the evening and at dawn when the park is closed to the public.
Patrick at reception gave me some information on the falls and took me for a quick tour. This is a lovely property I hope to explore more extensively in the future.
At the reception I got my clothes and jumped in the first taxi to the airport. I put on my wet jeans and shoes (as I couldn’t put them in my bag). Then I traveled for hours to Rio De Janerio with a delayed connection in Sao Paolo. All in wet clothing. It felt terrible.
Knowing I would be in a hotel soon so I could change was the only bright side of the experience.