Travel Journal

Travelling To Foz do Igaucu

(Monday 8 June 2009) by Brennan-adventures
Hello Folks,
I am sending this blog early as I have so much to tell and show you…

The weather here is still chilly, although in Ilha Solteira it had warmed up just as we were leaving.
We had a good drive to Maringa, nothing much changed since the last time we visited.
The countryside is still beautiful, like U.K. so we keep saying.. Gosh this is like driving to Salisbury or other such places.
We stayed at a lovely Hotel, Mike pulled out the stops, I think he was sick of the Ibis. This hotel room had a large sitting area before bedroom. It was like being a lottery winner for a day; I better not get too used to that standard though!!
We had pass a few “Sem Terra” communities (Squatters) you will see some photos; and look carefully for the house number!!

The next part of the journey was heading further south to Foz do Iguacu…… A Huge waterfall on the river between Argentina and Brasil. As far as I am concerned THE no 1 of the natural wonders of the world… sorry you lot in the U.S.A. The Grand Canyon, or Niagara falls has nothing on this beauty!!
Mike had booked us into a hotel in the city. Now this city is also a border town with Paraguay, and Argentina so is a little strange. There are loads of tourists who come to see the waterfall and lots of Brazilians who visit Paraguay for electrical equipment and blankets… The prices are supposed to be half price.
Mike had not printed off a map for the hotel, but had looked on the internet and scribbled one on a piece of paper. The map consisted of two roads at a crossroads, with names for them only… Not any names of roads before or after them.
The street signs here are at most road ends but impossible to read until you drive past… You can imagine how fraught things got in the car again….. I couldn’t believe he hadn’t printed off a map. Well he kept driving around the north of the city, when the Hotel was in the south… I had suggested trying there but you know how Bull headed men can be!! >:-) Well we eventually found it.

Then he decided we had time to visit Paraguay this was 3pm in the afternoon….It is not safe to take the car over there so we got a taxi to the border. We had to get stamped out of Brasil, then walk across this huge bridge towards Paraguay, There was HUGE queues of traffic coming from Paraguay to Brasil and the queue of people travelling on foot made it look like a refugee mass exodus. Most people were carrying bags with blankets in…. Blankets made in China.. The cars and taxis had car tyres inside with passenger squashed in beside them..
We did hear that there was a large amount of people from Turkey and from China who lived and worked in Paraguay. Well when we crossed the bridge we arrived in hell. It was dirty, rubbish strewn and the buildings crumbling. The people looked so poor. The stall holders sounded Turkish, it certainly was not Spanish they were speaking.
The stalls were filled with clothes; blankets; metal and wooden tools. The shops behind these stalls had shoes, bags and adult clothing as well as electrical equipment. All these shops had armed guards at there entrances. The people serving on the stalls were filthy, their hands looked like they had never been washed since birth…. I certainly was not tempted to eat anything here!!
There were lots of children working from the ages of 6 years old… or were they just small because of lack of food?? They stood at corners selling large bags for people to take their purchases home. The children also were selling soft drinks to people in the cars, quite aggressively so. But I suppose if that is what you do to eat then you have to be aggressive.
I was so glad to leave, it really opened your eyes to the poverty and the different classes. I cannot however condone the litter and rubbish lying around… that is just laziness.

We bought nothing so our entrance into Brasil was swifter than people who bought things. However we suddenly lost days!! We had 90 days on our visa when we landed in April, suddenly we now only had 40 days… yipes not enough to stay until August!! 8-O
We then found out the border patrol at Paraguay were not Federal Police. Most of the trade between Paraguay and Brasil comes through this border and the agreement between them is an open border, so is quite lax. They have a big problem with people smuggling cigarettes or prescription drugs into Brasil… The drugs are either out of date or made from useless things. The bridge when you start crossing over the land on the Brazilian side is all fenced off to a height of about 15ft.... check the photo of me on the bridge to see this high fence.... This is to try and stop people throwing boxes of cigarettes, or other thing over before reaching the border check area.
When travelling to Argentina or to other countries the border patrols are Federal Police, this is a more rigorous check and you get a 90 day visa.
That night we went to eat at a BBQ restaurant. See the photos….. I now have another job!!

Next day we were on a mission. Firstly a trip to the Argentinian side of the Falls, again we didn’t take the car across the border. We found a hotel close by and parked the car, then caught a taxi to the falls. We had to stop at the border again and this time, more rigorous checks were done. I always am a little concerned about Argentina as I wonder if I am going to be accosted about the war we had with them over the Falklands……… so far nothing has ever been said.

We got into the park area and made our way to the falls. On the Argentinian side you get a sense of the width of the Parana river…. (This is the river at Ilha Solteira as well). Apart from getting right to the edge of “the Devil's throat”… the biggest and strongest part of the falls, you do not see much of a view of the other falls.
The Devil's throat was impressive though, there had been large rainstorms over the past 2 weeks so the water was quite high and the power is phenomenal. I find it strange when you look at the river before the falls and see how calm and languid it flows then suddenly turmoil… Brings me to tears every time!!
On the photos you will see Mike walking over a bridge, we had 4 or 5 of these long bridges to cross before we got to the Devil. I did spot an alligator in on of the parts of the river and we saw raccoon type animals, who are a pest when you are eating anything… and not afraid of humans !!
Nice birds and butterflies, also Guinea pigs, a little bigger than ours but large groups of them.
We then picked up the taxi driver… who had sat and waited 3 hour for us, not taking money for the first part of the trip…. If he hadn’t spotted us I wonder what would have happened??
Then we raced back for our car, this time at the border we got our 90 day visa…. Whew!!

Mike then took us for the helicopter ride #60 each for 10mins…. And the BEST BEST 10 mins of my life.:-D:-D:-D
We had been on the helicopter 4 years ago so knew 1 person sits with the pilot and 3 people cram in the rear… not getting as good a chance at photos. This time when we were walking to the helicopter I was at the front of the queue and asked to sit in the front… I got my wish and JOY what a fantastic experience.
I couldn’t stop weeping though, the pilot was wonderful and kept looping around the falls nudging me and pointing where to get the photos, I had put the camera on multiple shot, so by the end I took 150 in 10 mins. I promise not to bore you with them all but you will see a few of the Falls!!

We left there, me a snotty heap by then, completely shattered by the emotional rollercoaster I had been on that day so far. It was now 4pm and we decided we had enough time to have a visit to the Brasil side of the falls. This side you don’t get so close to the water except at one small area, but you see the whole vista and magnificence of the falls…. Guess what… yes the eye taps were running again.:-,
By the time we were leaving the sun was starting to set, and we were due to have dinner with a student Mike knows who works here. At dinner there was another man who works at the Uni here but also has dealings with the Itaipa Dam. There is info about it at

Mike was visiting the dam and giving a talk at the uni. This guy then decided I should go to the dam as well…. I tried to bow out gracefully, but in the end Mike went without me… I had so much more important things to do, like Blogs. Packing and e-mails. ;-)
Well folks hope you enjoy the photos….. Might spur you on to visit here!!
Laur xx

  • glamour by Miriam
  • Looking Good by Sheila

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