Cataratas do Iguaçu – Brasil   1 comment

Today is our lucky day. Firstly, our stomachs have fully recovered and we enjoy our breakfast at the ‘Crazy Summer’ hotel: jugo de naranja natural (freshly pressed orange juice), café con leche (milky coffee) and dulce de leche (traditional caramel cream) on tostadas.

With half an hour to spare, we set off to the bus terminal.

Johannes and his adventure trolley

As we approach the station, there is already a bus to Foz do Iguaçu waiting and the driver invites us to get on quickly, sells us the tickets directly and then, when we ask how it would work at the border with Brazil, hands us the necessary immigration paperwork, his pen and board to write on. Other passengers point out where we have to go at the Argentine customs, we receive our exit stamps and then we cross the river, which forms the natural division between the two countries.

On the Brazilian side we seem to be the only ones who need to get out to get our passports stamped (we still have to figure out why), and there appears to be a problem with my entry into Brazil. It turns out that I must have misunderstood the instructions of the border officials back in 2010; I thought that the transit stamp in my passport was enough, as I was only riding through on the 15-kilometre passage to Paraguay, but in fact I would have needed a proper exit stamp. Thus, for the Brazilian officers, I have never left the country…

Oh dear, Johannes is already back in the bus, the driver and all passengers are waiting and I fully appreciate that I am in the wrong. Four more officers get involved in the case, they all discuss what to do with me, the bus driver comes over – after off-loading our luggage – to enquire what the problem is, and I feel very embarrassed. A few more minutes of explanations in Spaniguese on my part and consideration on the official side ensue and then the most senior officer makes an executive decision and lets me enter Brazil – phew, muito obrigada, senhoras e senhores.

I apologise and thank all people on the bus for waiting and we continue our journey into Foz.

We get off opposite the Terminal Urbano and start looking for the Iguassu Central Bed & Breakfast, highly recommended by my colleague Erika. We are already in the correct road, we count the house numbers (a chapter in itself in South American towns) but we fail to spot anything resembling a popular B&B. In the end a helpful shopkeeper points us in the right direction, he even follows us to make sure we really find it; he asks in a drugstore and then, when we stand in front of the locked gate of a inconspicuous building, even uses his own phone to call the number displayed.

Spot the B&B…

The gate opens, we thank our helpful guide very much and enter the air-conditioned reception area, where the friendly owner tells us everything about Foz, its transport system, the average expenditure of the rucksack tourist per day, foreign exchange rates and the gastronomic highlights of the town we ever wanted to know. We are promised the most luxurious breakfast buffet the next morning by a fellow traveller and find that our room is great as well – we are very impressed by Brazil already.

We pack our day-rucksacks and set off to the stop of local bus 120, which arrives after two minutes and takes us the 25 kilometres to the Cataratas.

Johannes enjoys the experience hugely

The Brazilian side of the Iguaçu Falls offers more of a general overview of the natural monument.

The remains of the Argentinean ‘Garganta del Diablo’ view platform – swept away two months ago by high waters

By the time we reach the end of the panoramic trail we are completely drenched but happy and feel very privileged that we can see this wonder of nature in glorious sunshine with our own eyes. Photos don’t do the beauty of this place justice, you don’t hear the thunder, you don’t smell the water and the rain forest – if you have the opportunity go and visit the Iguazú Falls yourself.

On the way back into town we are impressed how may people you can fit into a normal sized local bus; the driver doesn’t let anyone standing at the numerous stops. Every time we think, ok, that’s it, it’s absolutely crammed, another five to ten passengers disappear inside our bus’s belly.

After resting and showering in our lovely hotel, we ask the owner if he can recommend a restaurant within the budget he had drawn up for us in the morning. Well, there is the Buffalo Branco, the best in town but probably outside our price range, and the Churrascaria do Gaucho, a bit further down the road. At first we don’t quite understand how a Brazilian dinner works but the friendly waiters explain what we have to to: help ourselves to side dishes from the voluptuous buffet and then they come round every other minute to offer us cuts of the most tender and delicious different meats you can imagine – until we indicate that we’ve reached bursting point.

Johannes’s delight – warm pineapple coated in cinnamon

Although the means of communication are limited due to our lack of Portuguese, we have a lot of fun with the good-natured senhores at the Gaucho and enjoy ourselves immensely – what a fantastic day full of wonderful impressions and people!

It was a good decision to stay in Brazil for a day and not just nip over from Argentina to see the waterfalls. Tomorrow we will continue to Paraguay.



Posted 9 September 2014 by Pumpy in Brazil, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

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One response to “Cataratas do Iguaçu – Brasil

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  1. We’ve had a good giggle in the team about your almost refused entry to Brazil. Hope you got the required exit stamp this time 😉
    Safe trip to Paraguay!

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