This is going to be a pretty picture-heavy/writing-light post. Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu Falls...the Brazilian side. There is a city of 300,000 people near this natural wonder along the border between Brazil and Argentina (the border with Paraguay is also across the river that this one flows into nearby). A meeting for work here was the reason for my entire South American journey, and I stayed in a hostel in the city. The city itself is nothing to write home about, but the falls more than make up for that. They are one of those places that are just indescribable in their sheer scale and scope. I've done my best to do them justice with pictures, but really you need to see them in person...they are spectacular.
The falls are really a series of falls along the Iguazu River. There are more than 250 separate waterfalls here, all spread out over a huge area. The flow rate over these cascades is more than 3 times the amount that goes over Niagara Falls...as Eleanor Roosevelt once said of Iguazu: "Poor Niagara," and she was right.
These little guys were all over the place...and they are cheeky too...they've obviously been well fed by tourists.
The Brazilian side of the falls focuses more on the epic scale and sweeping views of the system of falls, while the Argentine side (upcoming post) gets visitors up close and personal with the falls.
You can pay an exorbitant amount to take a speed-raft trip along the river. These boats are great for giving a better sense of scale to these shots! Those are big rafts...there is seating for over thirty people on board each.
The jungle around the falls is lush, and I saw many different species of tropical, colorful birds, including flocks of toucans.
These walkways provide the means of hiking along the steep canyon walls; they also allow you to get out closer to the falls.
Nice shot down on the walkways. Unlike Niagara, there is very, very little infrastructure around the falls. Fortunately, they have been kept quite natural thanks to their national park status on both sides.
If you get to visit the falls, you need to spare some time to check out the bird park just outside of the park entrance. They have an amazing collection of exotic (to us North Americans that is) birds, most of which are native to Brazil (or some neighboring country in S. America). The following pics are all from this bird park and are just some examples of what I saw.
These toucans were trouble. You could walk around inside the large cages, and these guys had no fear. They would swoop right overhead, literally buzzing you.
Not just birds here...they had some reptiles too including cayman and these lengthy anacondas, all native to Brazil of course.
This parrot cage was one of my favorite parts. There were more macaws in this one enclosure than I had seen collectively in my entire life.
Back in town, the one thing I thoroughly enjoyed and had been looking forward to my entire trip was the Brazilian churrascaria, that is grill-house. These places have a set price for all-you-can-eat food, and man is it amazing. The restaurant is centered around an enormous grill, on which is cooking up just about every cut and kind of meat you can imagine. It is a seemingly endless supply of steaks, sausages, cutlets, drum-sticks, legs, thighs, flanks, and offal. To make you feel a little less guilty and further from imminent heart failure, they have a "salad bar", consisting of a bunch of vegetables (fresh, pickled, and grilled/cooked), salads (house, macaroni, potato, etc), beans, rice, oh and a huge amount of deserts (ha...suckers...who needs desert when you have unlimited meat?!?). The meat is a never-ending stream coming at you care of the tireless wait-staff. The cuts come out on the skewers on which they were cooked, and the waiters just cut you off as much or as little as you desire. Your plate at times looks like something out of a horror film with the amount of different meats stacked on there. The best part is the price, all this for somewhere around US$16!
A plate shot...so good...the meats were all very fresh and cooked to perfection! What should be rare was rare, and what should be cooked thoroughly was still tender and moist. Amazing. I ended up eating at these a couple times during my stay in the south of Brazil (where this style originates, which is why I saved it for down there), and I found it was all I needed the entire day! Who knows how many weeks or months I may have taken off my life by doing so, but I tell you, it was well worth it!
So this does it for Brazil...I loved it there. I've already made arrangements to return in 2014 for the World Cup, which should be epic there, and I look forward to return again and again to explore more of that massive and amazing country throughout my life. I only sampled a small amount of the country, and I can't wait to get back to travel further north along the coast as well as inland to the enormous Pantanal swampland and the remote Amazon.