Together with friends we flew from Curitiba to Foz de Iguaçu to see the most amazing waterfalls in the world. Being only 1 bus away from the waterfalls.. we decided to save the best (waterfalls) for later and have a look in Ciudad del Este. This mainly because 2 days later it would be extremely crowded by Brazilians whom had a holiday.
Ciudad del Este is notorious and loved not because of it’s beautiful buildings, rustic parks or top end cuisine.. no, Cuidad del Este is know for BUYING STUFF! For Brazilians it’s very expensive to buy electronics because of the high taxes, this tax then (for a large amount) goes to the poor, but that’s another story.
Foz de Iguaçu and Cuidad del Este are separated by a large river and you’ll have to cross a big, ugly bridge to get there. Without any problems we could skip the customs and enter the country without an exit/entry stamp in our passport. It was because of the signs and people that we realized we were in Paraguay because everything else looked like Asia to us! Crowded streets with no safe way to cross it, people selling you tasters on the street (while demonstrating it waaay to close), BB guns for sale and shops, an incredibly huge amount of shops for buying electronics.
What seemed like pure chaos to me, Imre thought was pure efficiency to use up every square meter in the city to sell stuff. Normally when I wander through a city, in my mind a map is formed of our whereabouts and how to get back. In Cuidad del Este, this system crashed completely. There was nothing we could do but follow our friends like a sheep while hoping they actually had a clue where they were going.
Wandering through the maze of shops we developed a feeling of disgust and bewilderment. This was not like anything we’d ever seen before and, then again, nothing we ever wanted to see again. Leaving the city felt liberating and again we skipped the customs like it was the European Union.
One of the 7 world wonders of nature
The 275 waterfalls of Iguazú are located in Argentina (Cataratas del Iguazú) and Brazil (Cataratas do Iguaçu). Many say the Argentinian side is a lot more spectacular than the Brazilian side. The Brazilians say this is because the Argentinian side has a view on the Brazilian side.
The second day we headed for the waterfalls on the Argentinian side. The Argentinian customs did their job and therefore it took about 2 hours to get there. After a short walk through the beginning of the park we took the parktrain to „Garganta del Diablo” – „The devil’s throat”. Nothing can prepare you for the impact facing the waterfall has. If this park would be a game, this waterfall would be the endboss. Yes I know, really poetic… but this waterfall has the power to leave one feeling insignificant, speechless and amazed. Imre would stand there without words, just soaking up the energy (and water).
I would try to find words, but every description just seemed insulting. Even though we were surrounded by many tourists, the world around us disappeared. Ok, not completely, the fence was way to low to prevent us, especially me, from falling down if somebody would give us a good push. Not a very good feeling with an extremely deadly waterfall on the other side of the fence. The other waterfalls were also really beautiful and impressive, but nothing even remotely equalled the „Garganta del Diablo”, the master of 274 other waterfalls.
Throughout the park there were funny little creatures called Quati/Coatí that tried to get or steal food from people and even would climb inside the waste bins to see what was left. Some people get to comfortable and get wounded by their huge, sharp nails. Because of this there are warning signs throughout the park, trying to educate people. Many people ignored these warnings, persuaded by their fluffy looks.
Taking the bus
The bus route between Foz do Iguaçu and Rio de Janeiro is the most dangerous in Brazil. Very frequently buses get hijacked and all passengers are left without there belongings. More safe and faster is to travel by plane.
To get a complete picture (both meanings) of the waterfalls, it’s mandatory to visit the Brazilian side of the waterfalls. Whereas the Argentinian side is categorized as the ‚in your face’ section, the Brazilian side illustrates the huge amount of waterfalls though a more panoramic view. The largest part of the trail is on a larger distance from the waterfalls and gives the opportunity to let all your neurones work out how to classify the incomprehensible power on display.
The trail is much shorter than it’s Argentinian counterpart and ends with an up close side view of one of the waterfalls. Gazing at the scene Imre realized that birds were actually flying in and out of the waterfall, playing an incredible game of death. This bizar show was a perfect way of making us clear that nature would never be boring. A great way to leave the park, heading for more adventures…