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Travelogue: Iguazu Falls

IguazuNo matter how you say or spell it the falls (Iguazú Falls, Iguassu Falls, Iguaçu Falls, or Yguazú Falls) are one of the world’s most awe-inspiring sights. They lie split between Brazil and Argentina in a large expanse of national park and surrounding subtropical rainforest that is a haven to wildlife creatures such as tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and caymans as well as over 2,000 species of plants. I was not prepared for how amazing the falls were a magnificent spectacle of 275 falls surrounded by rainforest, clouds of mist, rainbows and butterflies at every turn. It truly is a magical place and this natural wonder should be on everyone’s bucket list.

The falls originate from the Iguazu River and stretch in width for 1.7 miles to form the geographic border between Brazil and Argentina. The name of the falls originates from the native Guarani language and means “big water”. The falls became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and in 2011 it was selected as one New Seven Wonders of Nature competition. On the Argentinean side you can ride in a speedboard to the falls. We did this and it was awesome and exhilarating, just be prepared to get completely soaked. Take your GoPro with you!

DSC_2417DSC_2385DSC_2409DSC_2411Walkways and platforms have been built around the falls to allow visitors a closer look at this natural wonder.

DSC_2360DSC_2378DSC_2416DSC_2412Parque Das Aves

Parque Das Aves (Bird park) is a private park that I would describe as the Disney Land of birds. The grounds provide a beautiful tropical setting to wander through while seeing different kinds of birds up close. You could walk into some of the enclosures with the birds. The Macaw enclosure was amazing — the colors of these birds is something else. You only need a couple of hours to enjoy this.DSC_2599DSC_2700DSC_2729Itaipu Dam

The tour of the Itaipu Dam is a fairly short, well-organized tour. We did the basic 90-minute panoramic tour, which is essentially a bus trip around the dam with explanations from a guide. The tour was pretty lackluster, but informative on general information and history. The dam itself is massive in size and quite an accomplishment between the three nations of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. It supplies approximately 75% of the electricity consumed by Paraguay and 17% of that consumed by Brazil. It was selected as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Engineers.

Where we stayed:

Del Rey Hotel (Brazil side, Foz do Iguacu) This hotel was very basic and a good value. All four of us were able to sleep in one room together as it had four single beds. The hotel is in a great location, only one block from the main bus station and walking distance to multiple restaurants and stores. We walked to dinner at Bufalo Branco only a few doors down.

La Aldea de la Selva Lodge (Argentinian side, Puerto Iguazu) – This eco-friendly hotel’s location in the Parana rainforest boasts enchanting grounds. Upon entering the rustic lodge’s lobby, you can tell you are in an unique place. The lobby decor has an artsy, but indigenous vibe. To access your room you will wander down a paved, lit walkway lined with overhanging vegetation and trees. The rooms are inside little wooden bungalows scattered throughout the rainforest. The lodge does an excellent job of blending tourism with nature. The room was spacious as was the bathroom and all four of us were able to stay in one cabin together. My only complaint is the room smelled a bit musty from the high humidity and dampness of the jungle surroundings, but you get used to it. You can relax in a hammock on the porch of your bungalow listening to the chorus of the birds and animals. The lodge also has a nice restaurant. Breakfast was included and consisted of buffet. For dinner, I’d recommend sticking to what they do well there, steaks, beef and Argentinian wines. We did this and had a very lovely dinner and probably too much wine.DSC_2818DSC_2550DSC_2820Where we ate:

Bufalo Branco Churrascaria – (Brazil side, Foz do Iguacu) We decided to try this place as it was close to our hotel and it was recommended by the hotel staff. I will say it seemed to be a bit of a tourist trap, probably because of the proximity to so many hotels. Because of this, it did not feel as authentic as the churrasacria we tried in Rio. The ambiance, decor and lighting seemed more like a eatery/cafeteria vs. a nice restaurant. They had a variety of meats which were all deliciously cooked and all of the waiters were friendly, cheerful and knew basic English. The salad bar was big, but just OK. I remember feeling kind of disappointed. I think you could probably find a more authentic churrascaria for half the price if you ventured out a bit.

El Quincho del Tio Querido – (Argentinian side, Puerto Iguazu) Another day, another steak house. In Argentina the steak houses are called, Parillas. Tio Querido had a cozy abidance and felt much less touristy than the churrascaria we tried on the Brazil side. My three friends traveling with me made the mistake of ordering the fish dishes, which they really didn’t care for. The fish were some of the local types from the Parana river. I opted for something other than beef and ordered the pork tenderloin. This meal was something for the books and one that leaves my mouth watering thinking about it today.

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