Saturday, September 28, 2019

Iguassu / Iguacu Falls, Brazil & Argentina, and Paraguay

Iguassu/Iguacu Falls of Brazil & Argentina; and next door Paraguay

Sachi G. Dastidar

In September of 2019 Shefali and I took a trip through Brazil. Our first stop was at Brazil’s Amazon Rain Forest, then to the newly-built capital city of Brasilia, followed by a trip to Iguassu Falls of Argentina and Brazil, and on the beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro. Iguassu is a junction of three nations: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Thus we journeyed to the Argentinian side of the Falls, then made a brief trip to the Paraguayan border city of Ciudad del Este.
If one lands at Manaus, the center of Amazon and the capital of Amazonas State, as we did, one may not realize that one is landing in the middle of a forest, as Manaus is a huge metropolis of 2.3 million people with freeways, skyscrapers, theaters, hotels and restaurants.
These days we hear a lot about fires in Amazon. There was none in the Metropolis. But we witnessed small fires set by residents during our road trip to our jungle lodge, as well as when we flew over the forest going to Brasilia. Most of the fires are at the edges of the forest as people were land/forest grabbing at the edges going towards the center. Manaus is at the center of the forest area, hundreds of miles from the border forest fire/cleansing.
An added pleasure for this travel was that many Brazilians looked like us, thus many locals took us for “locals” until we said something. Then there were some who were confused learning that we Indians were not traveling from India, but from the United States.

Brazil Iguassu Falls, also called Iguacu in Argentina is possibly the largest falls of the world by many measures. Most of the falls is in the Argentinian side while a section is in the Brazilian side. Not far from the falls is the border of Paraguay, across Parana River, thus the area is also known as tri-state or tri-nation area. We stayed at the Brazilian side in Iguassu City which is a large urban center, visiting both Brazilian and Argentinian falls. In both sides it is their National Park, now declared as a World Heritage Site.

Iguacu Falls in Argentina: Up and down walk on the Argentinian side is several kilometers long, in addition there were train rides to various sections, and a boat ride to inside one of the water falls giving us a total drench. We also had to climb down and then up of hundreds of steps to and from the boat station. A van ride took us from train station to the boat steps through the reserve forest.

Walk on the Argentinian side is several kilometers long, in a nicely planned and designed steel walkway. Building of the infrastructure began in 1930. 

Brazil Iguassu Falls: The Brazilian side has a shorter walk, still over one-kilometer-long where one has to climb down several hundreds of meters to the end of the walk where there are shops, rest rooms, rest area and transport pick up.

Bird's Eye View: A helicopter ride gave us better idea of the enormous size of the falls areas that are preserved as national forest on both sides of the border.

Ciudad del Este, Paraguay: We also took a short, side trip to the city of Ciudad del Este across the bridge connecting with Argentina. In Brazil it is known as a city good for shopping. The city looked very vibrant-yet-congested like many cities in developing countries. Right after the bridge crossing stands one of the finest stores, Monalisa, a multi-storied structure. Its cafĂ©’s menu is in US dollar, not in local Guarani. Seeing us one of the waitresses offered us Hindu Tea, most likely hibiscus tea. This border crossing is among the very few places in the world, beyond European Union, where the border is completely open with no checks of immigration and customs on either side. (White crossing to Argentina and returning to Brazil, there were border checks in Argentina, but not in Brazil, taking only a few minutes.)
Argentinian Falls

The Brazilian Falls

Bird's Eye View from the Helicopter

Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

Monalisa Departmental Store

Its Menu in US Dollar

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