Brazilian Side of Iguazu Falls, Bird Park and Itaipu Dam
As of this morning I’m back on the Dragoman truck and it will probably take me a while to get to know all the new people which have joined in Rio. Some of them will leave us already in Buenos Aires but most people will travel until Quito. Although I re-joined the truck today, I decided not to leave my dorm accommodation and put up my tent. The Paudimar Hostel in Foz do Iguaçu is really a beautiful spot very close to the falls. When you look for good value for money you definitely should go there.
Today was a busy day. First activity on the agenda was a helicopter flight over the Iguazu Falls most people have signed up for. We wanted to do it first thing in the morning because when it rains it’s mostly in the afternoon leading to all flights getting cancelled. The cost of the flight was 195 Real (114 USD) or 110 USD if you paid in US Dollar instead of Real. Stuart and Jeremy even sponsored a flight for our crew Anki and Ross because otherwise they wouldn’t have gone and saved their money for a trip to Galápagos Islands later on this year. By speaking to other travelers in the hostel during the last couple of days I had found out that when you sit on the right side of the helicopter you will be able to see much more since the helicopter will mostly face the falls with its right side. I actually managed to get one of these seats with a better view out of the five seats available in the helicopter. The whole flight was 10min and went by pretty quickly. In comparison to the flight over the Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Zambia it took much longer to fly from the landing place to the falls and back, maybe 5 out of the 10 minutes. But once you were right above the falls the view was truly amazing. You could especially see the many smaller falls which make up the Iguazu Falls as a whole and the narrow u-shaped chasm called Devil’s Throat. You could also see the long bridge on the Argentinian side of the falls leading to Devil’s Throat on which I will be walking tomorrow. Besides the falls there is rainforest as far as your eyes can see which makes you realize in what you are actually into. My friend Michael back home went to the Iguazu Falls many years ago when he was still a student and didn’t do the helicopter flight in order to save the money which he regrets today. I hope especially you Michael will enjoy the helicopter view pictures below.
Second on today’s agenda was a visit to the Bird Park. Actually I didn’t really want to go there since I’m not very much into birds. But when looking for the entrance to the Iguazu National Park I somehow ended up at the entrance of the Bird Park at the other side of the road. As pragmatic as I am, I thought when I’m here already I can also have a quick look into the Bird Park. After the visit I was happy I have done so. The park is home to a wide selection of South American birds such as tucans and parrots. Many of the birds are kept in huge cages in which you can actually walk into so you are in close contacts with the birds. The park also features a smaller selection of other animals such as snakes and spiders for which I wasn’t keen to get in closer contact with.
After the short side trip to the Bird Park I actually made my way to the Iguazu National Park on the Brazilian side of the falls. After paying the entrance fee of roughly 50 Real (29 USD) a bus brought us close to the falls were you could walk along a trail mainly seeing the falls, which are at the Argentinian side, from a distance. Actually approx. 80% of the Iguazu Falls are at the Argentinian side so the Brazilian side is best for getting a panoramic view of the falls while the Argentinian side is best for actually getting in touch with them which most people prefer. In comparison to the Victoria Falls, which is one massive waterfall over a length of 1.7km carrying tons of water, the Iguazu Falls consist of 275 individual falls over a length of 2.7km which distributes the fall of water to many smaller drops. The Victoria Falls are in my eyes best when you want to experience the power of water and the Iguazu Falls are best when you like to have a scenic view on a large waterfall. I spent approx. two hours hiking along the major trail of the Iguazu National Park. Most I enjoyed the end of the trail when I got actually in contact with the spray from Devil’s Throat.
Around 2:30pm a few of us drove to the Itaipu Dam situated on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. First I didn’t really want to visit the dam because I saw already many in my life and it’s always kind of the same experience. But I thought I should better go and visit the dam since it’s supposed to be the world’s largest with regards to generating capacity and you cannot just visit it from the outside but also from the inside. Our leader Anki had booked us into a private guided tour of the dam which costs each of us roughly 65 Real (38 USD) and lasted 2.5 hours. Also here I was happy afterwards of having done the tour and some of us even found the tour of the dam more fascinating than the visit of the Iguazu Falls this morning. Main reason was the large scale of the dam project and to learn how it actually was finalized in a joint effort between the two countries of Brazil and Paraguay. Half of the budget for the dam, half of the employees and half of the management came from each country. In return each country receives half of the energy produced. It was also very fascinating to experience the inside of the dam where the energy gets produced. So we were able to feel the water power by touching the large penstocks and we could stand only five meter next to one of the energy generators. The tour was finished with a look into the cockpit where a joint team of Brazilians and Paraguayans are monitoring the operations of the dam.
Back at the hostel a lovely dinner was waiting for us. It was prepared by some of the people who didn’t go on the dam visit and consisted of Mexican tortillas with chicken and vegetables.