Into Brazil and the splendid Iguacu Falls

We have a slightly dodgy couple of hours getting from La Paloma, Uruguay, to a petrol station on a major road 15 miles away to pick up our overnight bus at 11pm, heading for Brazil.  It involves a taxi, a local bus, and then another taxi to Km 207, where the bus is inevitably late.  The local bus passed within 400m of this point, but despite half the passengers of the aforementioned bus arguing on our behalf the conductor wouldn’t stop and let us off.  Hey ho.  At 8am the following morning, we arrive in Porto Alegre, a large city, and pass a couple days recovering from the journey.  There’s not much to do here, but we take a turn round town on the tourist bus and eat in the central market.  Oh and yes, we find out that Portuguese is impossibly difficult to understand and no-one around here speaks any English or Spanish.  Then it’s off to Florianopolis, further up the coast, a more touristy town, although it’s still early season here, so there aren’t many people around. Here’s a couple of shots of us in Floripa, enjoying the coast and enjoying the beer, which they serve in little insulated jackets to stop it warming up in ten seconds.  It’s really warm here.
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We travel by overnight bus to Foz do Iguacu, a small town on the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.  We’ve got four days here, so on the first day we decide to go to the point where the three countries meet, a well-known tourist attraction, and a simple ride on the local bus.  Too complicated for us, though, as we get on the wrong one, travelling in completely the wrong direction.  We end up, bizarre though it sounds, at a Buddhist temple, where a large statue of a laughing Buddha gazes across the river at Paraguay.  I’m laughing too, doubtless at the serendipity which led us here.  He’s probably laughing at us for getting on the wrong bus.
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It’s a nice quiet place with many other statues.
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The Iguacu falls divide Brazil and Argentina, so we decide to see them from both sides, even if it means another trip back into Argentina. First the Brazilian side, a simple trip on a local bus (and we get it right this time).  They are marvellous, stretching for a kilometer or more.  Here we are enjoying the views before we walk out on the walkway to get a close up view and get pretty wet.
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The next day we take a trip to the Argentinian side, which involves a minivan transfer, a simple border crossing and yet more Argentinian passport stamps.  The area of national park here is much bigger and it’s easy to spend the whole day here.  We begin with a walk along a metal walkway almost 2km long – it’s hard to picture the scale and force of the water in the following photos, where the separate waterfalls coincide to create a jawdropping sight.
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The little blobs in the bottom half of this photo are swifts which are nesting in the cliffs above the falls.
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We’re tempted with a boat ride to view the falls close up.  You know how Captain Paul loves boats and water.
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Yup, it’s touristy but good fun – and we get wet, very very wet from head to toe!
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So, once drowned you might as well go down the trail again and get even wetter.
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The wildlife alongside the trails is pretty tame.  The butterflies insist on landing on you, and are very photogenic.
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These guys were basking in the sun.
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The coatis are everywhere, even rifling the bins.
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All in all a grand couple of days out, in our opinion a true wonder of the world.
We have half a day to use up before our last (yes, the very last) overnight bus of the trip.  We take a local bus ride to the Itaipu Dam, the world’s second largest.  We take their short tour, but nothing to write home about and the photos are of huge grey concrete structures, not very inspiring.  We’re happy to board the bus early evening headed for Sao Paulo and then on to Parati – if all goes well we will arrive a mere 24 hours later!  On the plus side it saves money on a hotel room for the night :’)

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