“Brazilians consider Brazil ‘God’s Country’ – and not just in an esoteric sense.” Adriana leans forward against the back of my chair a row behind me on the double decker bus as she shares this insight. “We have no wars, our soil is fertile, we respect one another, love our country, and our prosperity is at a turning point. It’s God’s Country because it is so divine, and you will know exactly what I mean when you stare at the Iguaçu Falls for the first time. I guarantee the sight will change you.”
‘God’s country;’ almost impossible to imagine a place so exquisite it could be considered the country in which god resides. But now I look back and reflect. Adriana was right. After spending a week in Foz Do Iguaçu with some of the greatest people I now know, Adriana’s insight could not be any closer to the truth.
Most people visit Foz Do Iguaçu for a one to two day period to see the actual Falls themselves, but if you are willing to give it a little more time, there is so much more to see. Foz Do Iguaçu, Brazil is a magical place and shouldn’t be rushed. To really experience Foz contact Loumar Turismo, the premiere Foz tour operator. By the time you leave Brazil, you will feel like you are leaving family. I sure did.
If you are feeling adventurous, check out anything and everything Cânion Iguaçu offers. Cânion Iguaçu’s activities almost all involve wearing helmets which makes it so much more bad ass. Rock climbing, ropes courses, boat rides into the falls, white water rapid rafting, and more. If you’ve never abseiled before, my suggestion is you drop everything you’re doing and figure out when to experience it at Foz.
The Itaipu Dam:
The massive Itaipu Dam, the worlds largest hydroelectric plant, stand menacingly like a scene right out of Game of Thrones (think The Wall, only made of concrete). Itaipu dam is located on the Paraná River located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay.The impressive structure is worth a visit, especially when you get to go inside and see how fortified the dam is from the inside. Itaipu is a sight out of a sci fi film down to it’s name: in the Guaraní language, Itaipu means “the sound of a stone”. It’s also one of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World.
Parque Das Aves:
The Parque Das Aves, or “Bird Park” is practically across the street to the entrance of the falls. You can take a self-guided tour of the park to come in close contact with all different types of exotic birds which bring this particular bird park so much fame (this was the first time I’ve ever seen a ‘Harpy Eagle’). It’s no wonder the Birds Park is considered an ecological sanctuary. A paved trail leads visitors to the enormous aviaries that blend in with the natural forest and allow you to get up close and personal with approximately 900 birds from 180 species. The Park also houses a butterfly section with 25 species. All of these animals can be seen from a distance of only a few meters – some of which will willingly land on you for that awesome photo opportunity.
The Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Mosque:
Foz is the second largest Muslim community in Brazil. It’s amazing to see the arabic influences in Foz, particularly in food options. You can find a good kabob place around every few blocks.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was the food, which is an experience in itself. Bufalo Branco was my first experience in a Brazilian Churrascaria, or a Brazilian steakhouse. Churrascarias serving some of most delicious (and exotic) grilled meats in the world ranging from top grade sirloin to chicken hearts, all cut off of a metal stake and directly on to your plate.
Iguaçu National Park:
No visit to Foz Do Iguaçu would be complete without a visit to the Iguaçu National Park. The Park spans an amazing 185,262.5 hectares and a length of about 420km, 300km of which are natural borders by bodies of water and the Brazilian and Argentinean sides together comprise around 225 thousand hectares. The park is considered a pioneer in conservation and preservation, which is no wonder why when you see the Falls for the first time, you also expect to see Pterodactylus flying around.
Upon arrival, you don’t initially see the falls. You hear them. The white noise slowly starts to build. The whisper resonates louder and louder until the roar of endless water practically mutes you. A few more steps through sub tropical brush, and you discover the falls for yourself the same way they were discovered hundreds of years ago. ‘Natural wonder’ is the most basic way to describe what you are gawking at.
One of the reasons Foz Do Iguaçu is such a great destination is you are on the border of both Argentina and Paraguay. Cataratas De Iguazu, Argentina is a cute town with lots of boutique shops and delicious restaurants. The Argentinian side of the park is also where you can experience the Devil’s Throat up close.
Ciudad Del Este, Paraguay is…well, definitely an experience (especially if you like shopping). Brazilian imports are known for their outrageous taxes essentially quadropling the price of foreign goods such as Apple iPhones or Nike shoes. Ciudad Del Este, Paraguay is where Brazilians and Argentinians come to shop – especially for electronics.