Category Archives: Brazil
Paraguay and the Iguazu Falls
I had originally planned on taking this trip in Nov 2016 but I moved it up. I wanted to see the Iguazu Falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian side on this trip. Currently, Brazil waives visa for US citizens and other nationalities from June to September because of the Olympics. Argentina has suspended the exit reciprocal fee for US citizens until further notice. With these two waivers in place, attaching Iguazu Falls to my Paraguay trip made sense financially if I went now instead of Nov.
I arrived in Asuncion at 1am on the 29th, went straight to bed as soon as I arrived at my hostel – El Nomada. Later that day, I explored the old town area which is walking distance to my hostel. The center is nothing fancy, just a few plazas and historical buildings. I also purchased my ticket to Cuidad Del Este for the next day.
I arrived at my hostel in Cuidad Del Este around 2pm after a 6 hours bus ride from Asuncion. The hostel was pretty basic. Glad I was staying for just the night. Cuidad Del Este is interesting in that it borders Argentina and Brazil. It is a 20 minutes car/bus ride to Brazil and about an hour to Argentina. Pretty cool, right?
The owner of the hostel was very helpful in assisting with planning the activity for the day and giving me tips. I decided to go visit the waterfalls in Cuidad Del Este – Salto de Rios Monday Waterfalls. It costs 20,000 Guaranis for entrance fee and another 10,000 Guaranis if you want to take the elevator to the other viewing platform. There is a trail where you can bike or walk. It’s a beautiful way to spend the day. After that, I went to eat lunch and around 4.30pm, I headed to the Itaipu Dam.
All visitors to the Dam must go through the visitor’s center where they take down your information. Foreigners must come with their passports. I was lucky that a tour was just about to start when I arrive, it is a free 45 minutes tour in Spanish of the dam. The Dam produces about 80% of the electricity used in Paraguay and contributes 17-20% of that used in Brazil. Both Paraguay & Brazil maintain the dam. Every Friday and Saturday, there is a musical show and illumination of the dam starting at 6.30pm. I waited for this. The music performance was by a local group. At around 8pm, we all boarded the bus (provided by the dam) to go see the illumination. Beautiful!
The next day, I took a taxi from Cuidad del Este, Paraguay to my hostel in Foz do Iguazu, Brazil for USD$18. The taxi stopped for me to get an exit stamp for Paraguay and entry stamp for Brazil. I didn’t do much sightseeing this day. The next morning, I went on a group tour to the Argentinian side of the falls with rd fall travel agency. We arrived around 10am and didn’t get back until 6pm. It was an amazing day. I had visited the Argentinian side in 2012 but only went on the trail to the Devil’s Throat.
This time, I re-visited the Devil’s Throat and did two more trails – the superior and inferior circuit. Fantastic is all I can say! After completing the three trails at around 3.20pm, my new friend (Andrea) and I went to do the boat excursion. The boat takes you up close to the waterfalls, I loved it. Because it was a last minute decision, we obviously didn’t have change of clothes so we were soaking wet! I decided to buy change of clothes at the souvenir store. It was a great way to spend the day.
The following day, I did two things – explore the Brazilian side of the falls and do the helicopter tour of the fall. I took the public bus to the National Park and got off at HeliSur’s office which is 5 mins walking distance from the National Park by the way. The helicopter tour cost USD$120 for a 10 minutes tour. Expensive but worth it. I was lucky to be sitting in front by the pilot so my view was not obstructed. My fear of height is slowly disappearing :). After the tour ended, I simply walked to the National Park.
The Brazilian side also offers a boat excursion. Unlike the Argentinian side, there is only one trail here – leading to the Devil’s Throat. Here at the Brazilian side, you do get up close to the Devil’s Throat. There are several viewing platform but the closest is the one with the bridge across the falls. Loved it.
I left Brazil the following day to return to Paraguay where I had to catch my flight to the US.
End of vacation.
6 Lessons I Learned From This Trip
- It makes sense to see the both sides of the Iguazu Falls. Plan on spending the whole day at the Argentinian side and 2-3 hours at the Brazilian side.
- Although it is very easy to sneak in and out of the Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay from that border area, don’t do it.
- I found men in Paraguay annoying. I encountered plenty catcalling which made me take taxis everywhere. Off course not all men in Paraguay are assholes, I just happened to meet a lot of the assholes.
- You can pay with dollars almost everywhere in Paraguay. At the border towns, four currencies are at your disposal – US Dollars, Brazilian Reals, Paraguay Guarani and Argentina Pesos.
- Puerto Iguazu has more accommodation options than Foz do Iguazu.
6. Don’t miss the tour of Itaipu Dam. You can take it from the Brazilian side or the Paraguay side.
P.S. Paraguay was the only country I haven’t been to in South America, well until last week. So officially, I have visited all the countries in South and Central America :).
Hmm I’m not going to write much but you should be aware that this country is slightly overrated. First, the drop dead gorgeous people you are expecting to see probably don’t exist. Don’t get me wrong, you will find gorgeous folks in Brazil but the beauty is comparable to that of the US or Colombia. I walked off the plane assuming 99% of Brazilians are drop dead gorgeous and it took me a week to get over this shock. One thing though is that the Portuguese language is charming (yes more charming than Spanish).
I only visited Rio de Janeiro and Salvador (Bahia). Both places are ok. The only crazy thing I did on this trip is to take a 31 hours bus ride from Rio to Salvador. I’ll never repeat that again.
I spent New Year’s Eve in Salvador and yes we went to the beach to watch the fireworks. I attended lots of live shows, the best is the one by Magary Lord. The Pelourinho (the city center) always have something going on. I really like Salvador, maybe because of the awesome folks I met and hung out with. Plus I met Nigerians :). I visited the Nigerian Cultural house, and the representative made me my favorite Nigerian food :). Salvador is said to have the largest population of African-descendants outside of Africa. Here, the Afro-Brazilian culture and religion is very strong. Salvador is ore enjoyable for short stays because there is only so much you can do for entertainment here.
After 2 weeks in Salvador, I left for Rio. In Rio, I did most of the touristy stuff – Lapa, Pao de Azucar, Ipanema beach, the stairs where Snoop and Pharell shot the video of “beautiful”. The only thing I didn’t do was go to the Christ statue. One of the most fun things I did in Rio was Funky dancing. Funky dancing is similar to Reggeaton, Dancehall, Whining or Grinding dancing.