Our first day in Foz do Iguassu had a very civilized start. We booked this part of the trip through G Adventures (formally known as GAP Adventures – apparently people confuse cheap, crappy clothes and adventure travel) and we weren’t meeting the local guide until 10:45 am. After a busy few days in Buenos Aires, and the rocky flight the night before, it was nice to sleep in a little.
At the appointed time we found our local guide, Lilian from Luar Tourismo, waiting in the lobby.
Lilian was great and we were luck to have her both of our days in Iguassu.
With her were three American nurses, Katy (she was just as surprised to meet another Katy with the same spelling), Michelle, and Rebecca, with whom we would be spending the day. You can find Katy’s perpective on the day on her blog here.
We were lucky to be paired up with them. They we easy to get along with – hopefully a visit to Katy’s blog won’t include descriptions of “that annoying Canadian couple” – and we had fun spending the day with them. We’re also very jealous of Katy and Michelle’s plan for a round-the-world tour next year.
On tap for the day was a tour of the Brazilian side of the falls. It’s a shorter trip and you don’t get as close as on the Argentinian side, but it offers panoramic views and gave us a few different ways to see the falls: on foot, by rope and in the air.
Now we’ve seen some falls in our day. Being from Toronto, Niagara Falls is just around the corner. Last year, we were lucky enough to visit Iceland which offers smaller but, I think, much more beautiful waterfalls. So, I was a bit surprised by how impressive I found Iguassu Falls. In a way, they have the best of both Niagara and what you find in Iceland. Like Niagara, the scale is impressive, only more so. I believe Niagara moves a greater volume of water, but here the falls stretch for 3 km. Also, like Iceland and sadly unlike Niagara, Iguassu Falls are surrounded by nature, not a tacky city and casino.
From a Rope
One of the more exciting ways to get a look at the Iguassu Falls is to rappell down the 55 m from the edge. By our rough calculation, that’s about 20 stories. (If we’re wrong feel free to point it out in the comments below.) The rappelling takes place soon after you enter the park and you start from a metal structure about 30 meters out from the clilff attached by a small bridge. I should say, this is nothing like what the brochure suggested. In that case you were edging your way down a cliff, not swinging in the wind like a cheap car air freshener.
After we registered we headed over to the starting point, only to find out they weren’t actually ready. So while we watched them set up the ropes, Katy paced around trying to convince herself this was in fact a wise thing to do.
Getting rigged up was a pretty standard experience, same as climbing in Thailand or zip trekking in Guatemala. The one amusing difference was that they made Katy wear a hairnet under her helmet to prevent her hair getting caught in the line.
If you’ve ever done this kind of thing you’ll know that the hardest part is the first moment that you lean out over the edge and put your trust in the rope. It takes a minute before looking down seems like a good idea. To make matters worse, though we’re doing this over a giant gorge with a large river, falling would have meant landing on rocks. While I realize that from 55 m the water wouldn’t exactly feel great, looking at the rocks made the helmet seem like a stupid precaution. In the end, repelling was definitely worth it and a gave us a perspective that I suspect most don’t get. We even managed to smile for the pictures.
After coming back up from rappelling we caught up with Lilian, Michele, Katy and Rebecca and continued our walk along the falls. Hard to say more than the pictures, in fact they don’t do it justice, but here are a few.
From the Air
When we finished the walking portion we went back towards to the park entrance to catch a helicopter ride over the falls. A little pricier than repelling, but almost as good. The helicopter seemed a lot faster than your typical tourist helicopter, I swear it had a jet. Again, not much I can say beyond the pictures so here you go.
We have about 1 million pictures of the falls, I’m barely exagerating, but those will have to do for now. Check back later and we’ll have some more up in a gallery once I get to a real computer. (I love my iPad for travel, but there are limits.)
After a long, hard day touring the falls we had earned a big dinner. Ok, we were only at the falls for a few hours and it wasn’t hard at all, but still we had yet to try a churrascaria. Okay, Katy’s rabid vegetarianism limits her ability to enjoy a churrascaria, but I was looking forward to it. Fortunately one of the best in Foz was a block away from our hotel.
First, it should be said that not only did they charge Katy only half as much, but there were enough vegetarian options that she left feeling quite satisfied. They had marshmallows and haloomi on a stick, she was in heaven.
Second, if, dear reader, you haven’t heard of a churrascaria before, it is a sight to be seen. It’s essentially a meat buffet, only at this buffet the food comes to you. A team of waiters constantly rolls past your table with different meats on a stick and you accept or decline. I think it was over an hour and 20+ meats before I saw the same meat twice. This whole time, as you can see in the picture below, I was gleefully accepting every meat that came my way.
What kind of meat you ask? Why almost every kind. There was lamb, chicken, fish, and a huge variety of steaks, from filet mignon to flank. The meat came, stuffed with cheese, wrapped in other meats, rare, well-done, on the bone, off the bone. You name it, I ate it.
When I did finally say no to something the guy gave me a disappointed look! Apparently, it’s a sign of manliness to keep saying yes. If you know me, you know that manly is not a word often used to describe me, but in this case I was holding my own. So, the next time that guy came around you bet your ass I was taking whatever he had on offer. This time? A big smile and nod of approval.
Shortly after that I shut it down. Satisfied with my performance it was time to roll back to the hotel and sleep off the meat sweats.