Iguazu Falls -Largest waterfall system in the World [Brazil/Argentina]

After exploring options by land (I.e. Bus), I decided to fly to Foz do Iguaçu (in Brazil). It was a good thing that I set aside several days to explore the region in detail.

Iguazu Falls … On the Brazil/Argentina/Paraguay intersection, shared between Brazil and Argentina. To get to Argentina’s Iguazu National Park, I had to ping-pong between Brazil and Argentina. I had entered and exited Argentina when I visited Argentina. I had exited and entered Argentina when I visited Uruguay (My flight was from Buenos Aires). Today, I exited Brazil and entered Argentina. Around 45 minutes later, due to some goof-up with the bus, I “accidentally” exited Argentina back into Brasil, instead of going on to Argentina’s Iguazu National Park. Within 5 minutes, I entered Argentina again! I must have set some World Record for the fastest Argentina Exit-Entry …  (Or Brazil Entry-Exit). I get a feeling that Argentina Immigration must have had enough of me by now.

On the way to Iguazu National Park, there are road signs saying “Look out for Jaguars and Puma”! The Park has within it, Green Trail, Lower Trail, Upper Trial Etc. Explored all the trails in around 3hr. There was a point where I got irritated. There was a large tour group of slow-moving elderly people. It is great that elderly folks are showing the passion to travel and explore. But on narrow railed pathways, where only 2 people can walk in parallel, is there really a need to walk in pairs and ensure the entire crowd of tourists move at the pace of the slowest person. After traversing 20 meters in 20min, I had enough. I changed to “George the Bullet Train” and with a continuous shouted warning “Excuse me!”, I blazed my way through. I must admit that my “Excuse Me!” got progressively rude-er as time went along and the slow moving crowd appeared never-ending … 

Iguazu Falls consists of around 270 individual falls over a span of approximately 3 Km. I saw as many as I could, including all the major ones. To get to the Devil’s Throat, I used the Iguazu Train (Not that the 2 Km hike appeared daunting, but because I wanted to try the tiny train).

There are easy-to-traverse walkways (both on the ground and elevated ones). The walk to Devil’s Throat, the “highlight” of Argentinian Iguazu Falls, is along an elevated walkway over the Iguazu River. At Devil’s Throat, we can feel the thunderous power of the Iguazu Falls. we have to be ready to get soaked and also ensure your devices are protected. Amazingly, I could see medium-sized fish right above the falls. They must be adept at swimming against the powerful current.

Overall, Iguazu Falls might be the biggest “Waterfall System” in the World (Note how they cleverly used the word “System” to get Top Ranking in some category ), but to me, it somehow did not pack the punch of Niagara Falls. Maybe because I saw Niagara first …

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Yay! All set to board the GOL flight … Most of the South American airlines (LATAM, Avianca, GOL Etc.) are focused primarily in the region and I have not seen them around much in other continents
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The Itaipu Dam region is awesome and very fertile … Look at the colors.
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Another great view of the region …
Itaipu Dam has received 22 million (M) visitors in 40 years (1977-2017). Brazil had 10M of them. Then Argentina (4M), Paraguay (3.8M), Germany, Chile, USA, France, Spain, China, Italy Etc. India has 7570. The Visitor Center has English-speaking and very helpful staff. I bought ticket for the Panoramic Tour. There is also one with the Interiors of the Hydro-Electric Dam. I am not too much into Electrical/Mechanical mumbo-jumbo  Built by Brazil and Paraguay. One of the 7 Engineering Wonders of the World. Built on River Parana. 8 huge 196m tall concrete towers. There were many controlled explosions (58 Tons of Dynamite) during its construction, mainly to divert Parana River foe the Dam’s construction. There was 8 times more tunneling than EuroTunnel, so it is claimed. Workers did a good job of saving the Flora and Fauna, from the resultant flooding. Itaipu Dam has 18 Generator Units. Each capable of supporting 2.5M people! The Dam sustains the entire region, by revenue sharing with local communities. The largest Hydro-Electric Plant in the World (Three Gorges Dam, China, is close competition).

I was the ONLY English-speaking Tourist during my Itaipu visit. In a way, I am proud of such occurrences during my trips, for it is proof that I am staying away from the typical overcrowded “everyone has done that” kind of Itineraries  In fact, I enjoy being the Odd-One-Out. E.g. The 2-3 Indians I saw in this trip were all in Rio (With valid reason. Rio kicks Sao Paulo’s and Brasilia’s ass when it comes to Tourist Attractions. If you can visit only one city in Brazil, then it has to be Rio de Janeiro, IMHO).

There was a 20min Video in an Auditorium, to introduce the Itaipu Dam and explain what it means to Brazil, Paraguay and the World. Then comes a Bus Tour. At 15:35 firecrackers could be heard outside, and I knew Brasil had scored a goal against Serbia 

The Dam has a 10Km long Fish-Spawning Channel, supposedly the longest in the World. Enough concrete to build 250 stadiums was used for the construction. The huge water pipes have 11m diameter. We briefly cross into Paraguay (Note this is a Bi-National area). This Dam takes care of 70% of Paraguay’s energy needs. We pass through a tunnel which is below the Overflow Outlets (It was cold inside). The Reservoir has 8 artificial beaches. There are Boat Tours in the Reservoir. The town of Foz do Iguacu was formed as a result of Itaipu workers’ migration, from various parts of Brazil and Paraguay. Itaipu produces as much energy in a day as 500K barrels of Oil, that too Clean Energy.

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Itaipu Dam … What a magnificent view.

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Approaching Foz do Iguaçu …
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Foz do Iguaçu …
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It is a very modest airport … You have to walk from the plane to the terminal.

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Not many planes around …
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Well … Well … Well … Indian Saree!?? Other than in Rio and in the flight to Lima, I did not come across any Indians during my South American trip. I guess there is an Indian store in Foz do Iguacu. 

 

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Bus #120 from Foz do Iguacu Airport to Centro …
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This Burger is a “Bomb” 
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Entrance to the Bus Terminal …

I committed a Cardinal Sin!!! Like …

# Accidently tearing the Mona Lisa painting at Louvre
# Red-spray-painting Taj Mahal
# Insulting Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang
# Showing Donald Trump the middle finger in Tennessee
# Putting pink lipstick on a Neymar poster in Sao Paulo

When i approached the Foz do Iguacu Bus Terminal, there were signs indicating “No Pedestrians”. I thought those signs were meant to have people lookout for buses  Apparently not.

Suddenly, several security guys came running (They must have seen me on CCTV) and surrounded me, similar to how Tom Cruise was surrounded in “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol” …

They have a system where you enter the Terminal through a main entrance, pay for the ride (No tickets!) and then enter the correct bus within the complex, using the bus’ rear door (Such that you are already in the “Purchased Tickets” zone within the bus) Remember that the Conductor who collects the fare, sits next to the front door. Later on, once outside the Terminal, when people get onto the bus, they use the front door.

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Foz do Iguacu City Bus … Flat rate wherever you want to go.
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Foz do Iguacu has pretty nice roads …
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Itaipu Dam Visitor Center … Very helpful and friendly staff. The Brazil WC2018 game was going on when I entered the place …
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22 million visitors in 40 years … Not bad.
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A model of the Itaipu Dam interiors …
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A great ariel photo of Itaipu Dam … At the Visitor Center.
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India has had 7570 visitors …
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Various photos depicting the construction of Itaipu Dam … Notice the Orchestra inside the Dam 🙂
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Here it is …
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Sao Tome e Principe has had 10 visitors! Never heard of Sao Tome e Principe before …
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Kiribati has had one visitor! Never heard of Kiribati before …
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One of the view points … Itaipu Dam, Foz do Iguacu.
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The Itaipu Dam Tour Bus …
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Itaipu Dam … Binacional Area … Brazil and Paraguay.
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The huge 11-meter-diameter pipes …
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Overflow vents … There is a tunnel below these vents.
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The Panoramic Tour … Itaipu Dam. The ride over the Dam.

As I have done in several other cities before, I took a “leap of faith” bus ride on Bus #101, deep into local villages. As I got on, the driver said something in Portuguese. As there was no time for Google Translate etc., I just ignored it and got on the bus. After a really enjoyable 30min ride through villages, we reached a stop where only the Driver, Conductor and myself were in the bus. Hokay! The Conductor looked at me and I Google-Translated “I want to go to Terminal de Transporte Urbano”. A discussion happened between the Driver and the Conductor. I guess the Driver was telling the Conductor, “I told this moron that the bus does not go to the Foz do Iguacu town”  Anyway, the guys decided to drop me off at the Bus Terminal (20Km away), where they anyway need to hand over the bus to the next crew. So, I got a luxurious solo ride back into the town …

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Two ladies chit-chatting in the suburbs …
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Going through various small communities …
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Right after Brazil won its 3rd game, vendors were out milking the victory 
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Foz do Iguacu is right at the Tri-Nation Border: Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. This road leads you to Argentina …
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While walking in search for food, I noticed this Lebanese eatery … Shawarma.
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The bus I took to get to Brazil-Argentina Border … You have to get out, pass Immigration and Security Check and get back on.
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Brasil Immigration/Emigration Counter … Brazil-Argentina Border.
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Local attractions … Near Iguazu town in Argentina.
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I took this bus … Wrong one! Had to get down quickly and walk all the way back.
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The “correct” bus to take you to Argentina Iguazu National Park …
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Riding to Iguazu National Park … This is a forest area, with Jaguars, Pumas Etc.
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Rio Uruguay bus timings … Convenient.
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Argentina’s Iguazu National Park Main Entrance …
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Iguazu Falls … A major attraction in this part of the World.
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Guaranis, the natives of this region of South America used canoes like these …
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Raccoon … Very common and not shy of humans at all.
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There are some mild stairs as well …
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In case someone gets injured … Good idea, considering how many elderly folks visit Iguazu Falls.
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Boards explaining the Flora (and Fauna) …
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The elevated walkway … Most of the trails are like this. In order to protect the Flora.
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Alvar Nunez Falls …
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One view of the majestic falls …
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Bossetti Falls … From below.
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One of the smaller and less crowded Falls … Dos Herranas.
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A lighthouse within the Iguazu National Park …
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Calm before the storm … How peaceful it looks. Just beyond is a nasty waterfall …
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From the top … There are many Waterfalls that together form the Iguazu Falls …
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Top of San Martin Falls …
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Had an ice-cream bar for snack …
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Argentina wants to make it clear that Devil’s Throat is inside Argentina …
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Devil’s Throat … You will be soaked. The power is amazing …
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The walkway to Devil’s Throat … It was drizzling, on top of the mist from the falls ..
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These birds were not shy at all … You throw food, they will come very near.
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The Iguazu National Park Train … Super-Fast … It would put Shinkansen, TGV Etc. to shame … 🙂
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The Brazil Border Check Post .. As far as I could see, it is a pretty porous border. Goods-laden trucks were just passing through..I could walk around the place freely …
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Local taxi at Foz do Iguacu …. There were many taxis around. But with a convenient and cheap bus service around, no wonder that most of them just idling …
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Another trial 
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Brazil’s version of Iguazu Falls … Jaguar is their emblem.
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There was a significant crowd … The first view of Iguazu Falls, as one steps off the Double-Decker bus …
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Another view of the Iguazu Falls, Brazil … With over 270 individual waterfalls (over a 3 kilometer area), the biggest waterfall system in the World …
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Raccoons! There were many and they are NOT shy … Of course, one has to be careful. They have extremely sharp teeth and claws … Also, Rabies!
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The signs warning against feeding the Raccoons …
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Another view of the Iguazu Falls, Brazil … With over 270 individual waterfalls (over a 3 kilometer area), the biggest waterfall system in the World …
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The easy to use walkways …
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Another view of the Iguazu Falls, Brazil … With over 270 individual waterfalls (over a 3 kilometer area), the biggest waterfall system in the World …
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Magnificent rainbow … 
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Selfie-crazed crowd 🙂
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Regular signs to help the tourists …
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Rainbows!!! 
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From the top … Calm before the storm.
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As close as I could get … Be ready to get drenched!
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The Double-Decker bus (included in the ticket) to move around the park …
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The nearly empty ticket counters at lunch time … Since the rainbows happen in the mornings, most of the visitors arrive in the morning … It was a totally different scene at 09:00 …
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An overall map of Iguacu Park, Brazil … You can see the Raccoons and Jaguars shown there 
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Another trial … I hope I do not get a beer gut 
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Bar with a cage!? What for, I wonder …
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Sign at the Bus Station, describing the platforms and the bus lines …
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Guaranis … The indigenous people of this region … Before the Missionaries came from Spain and Portugal …
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The “3 Frontiers” … Intersection of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay …
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Guaranis … Their original area. Right where Foz do Iguacu is …
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Tres Fronteiras … Foz do Iguacu, Brazil. The Brazilian Obelisk. Similarly, there are points in Argentina and Paraguay.
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This is how old the Obelisk is …
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The Tres Fronteiras … Other than this geographical curiosity, nothing much to see here.
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Map depicting Iguazu Falls and the Iguazu River (Coming from the left. Actually, East) and Itaipu Dam and Parana River (Coming from the bottom. Actually North), forming the overall Parana River which flows into the Atlantic, near Buenos Aires …
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When taking Selfies, why not give unique poses as well? 
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Tres Fronteiras … Iguazu River joining Parana River …
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Yet another beer trial 🙂

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Made with Tapioca … Quite dry though.
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Watching Argentina-France WC2018 at Foz do Iguacu Airport … (IGU). Later on, it really crowded up … This is 2.5hr before the flight.
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Bye bye Parana River …

 

Adios!

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