The city of Foz do Iguaçu sits at the very edge of Brazilian territory, just a few kilometres north of the “triple frontier” where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay share a common border.
We planned a quick visit, hit the main spots and continue on to Paraguay. But our stay the Tetris Container Hostel was so much fun, we ended up spending much longer! We met some great people, from France, Australia, the U.S., the U.K., Armenia, Poland, and more. The place had a great mix – and they have free Caipirinhas, every night, from 7.30 to 8pm! The building, unusually, is assembled from brightly-painted shipping containers. They’re combined in various ways to form a complete structure. Other than being a bit noisy when someone walks upstairs, it works really well.
The main attraction here is the enormous waterfall, that gives the city it’s name. We visited from the Brazilian side, and later from the Argentine side. If you’ve got the time, do both – but the Argentine side is probably the more impressive. Words don’t really do it justice though… See for yourself.
Truly one of the most amazing places on our trip, it’s hard to imagine the force of all that water, plunging over the edge every second. Huge clouds of mist rise high above the Garganta del Diablo, so until you’re right next to it, it’s almost invisible at water level.
Coati’s – cute, furry, and vicious predators. They gather everywhere that people do, around the Falls. Especially on the Argentine side, they go crazy if there’s a whiff of food. Large warning signs posted all around the parks inform visitors that they’re more than willing to bite or scratch if humans get too close.
For a visit to the Argentine side, you really need a whole day to see everything, we left it a little late. There are numerous trails, boat trips to the bottom of the falls, and more. Be very sure you have enough Argentine Peso before you arrive too, otherwise you’ll get hammered by the awful exchange rates at the ticket office. Strangely we weren’t able to pay with credit cards at the entrance, but inside we could use them for food and drinks without any issues.
We ended up staying longer at Tetris purely for the fun factor, the other travellers we met there were absolutely fantastic. One of them even gave us a free avocado!
- Nune, a food blogger and chef from Armenia. She writes at callmenune.com.
- Laura, a musician from France with her band Whales.
- Andrew, from the U.K, a drilling engineer.
- Ben, a musician, also from the UK.
- Travis, an Australian miner.
- And many more!
The triple frontier is marked on the Brazilian side by an obelisk painted in the national colours. When you arrive it appears that you need to pay to enter. We said “fuck that” and continued on down the hill, following some locals to their angling spots. From here you have the exact same view, and there’s a creepy abandoned building to explore too. Much better! Plus it was our first view of that mysterious, distant land, Paraguay.
Next morning was a very early start, up north of the city, to the Itaipu Dam. An engineering wonder of the world, it’s the biggest hydroelectric generator on the planet, in terms of power generated per year. (Only China’s “Three Gorges Dam” is physically larger). Ben and I took the “special tour” which needs to be booked online in advance.
Shared 50/50 between Brazil and Paraguay, most of the power is consumed in south-eastern Brazil. Paraguay makes a significant proportion of its national income from the power they sell back to their larger neighbour. The water flow here is actually twice what goes over the Iguazu Falls, but funnelled through the huge metal feedstock pipes, down to the generators below.
The city of Foz do Iguaçu is surprisingly multicultural. A spot worth visiting is the Buddhist temple, with it’s large sculpture garden. A small donation will get you an incense stick and a candle, where you can deposit your thoughts for Buddha to consider.
Late one evening on our way home, we stopped for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. We were intrigued by a group of asian-looking men at two tables nearby, exchanging identically-wrapped gift boxes. Our waitress explained they were part of a Korean trade delegation, and apparently worked for a shampoo exporter. One by one, these serious-looking salarymen opened their boxes to retrieve a large, fancy looking shampoo kit. Very weird.
And so we ended our stay in Foz, bringing us new friendships, great memories, and many, many photos of the most gigantic waterfalls we’ve ever seen!
Next stop: Paraguay!
- Tetris Hostel: R$140 / €39 per night for private room, R$45 / €12 each for a dorm. (Free breakfast & a free drink included each day)
- Iguazu National Park (Brazil): R$50 / €14 entry + open top bus, R$20 / €5 parking per car
- Iguazu National Park (Argentina): R$110 / €30 or lower depending on exchange rates, inflation, and your bargaining skills.
- Itaipu special tour: R$74 / €20 which must be booked online.
- Buddhist Temple: Free entry, a candle pack costs R$5 / €1
- Chinese Restaurant: R$20 / €5 per person.
Looks awesome guys. Waterfalls, Buddhist temples and transformers: there’s a movie script in there somewhere
Got Michael Bay’s number handy?