Foz do Iguaçu
Foz do Iguaçu is a major city in the state of Paraná, Brazil. It is a gateway to both Paraguay and Argentina, and home of the famous Iguaçu Falls. Together with the cities of Ciudad del Este (Paraguay) and Puerto Iguazu (Argentina), it forms part of one the largest cultural tourism poles in South America.
Foz do Iguaçu is so named because it sits at the mouth of the Iguaçu river, discharging into Paraná river, where lies the frontier among Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. The word Iguaçu means "large water", in Tupi-Guarani etymology. Despite hosting one of Brazil's major tourist attractions, the city has a rather un-touristy feel, and other than the large number of hotels and occasional tri-lingual signs, it looks like any other medium-sized Brazilian city - there are practically no "tourist shopping streets" and like. There is however a new large shopping mall being constructed at Avenida das Cataratas, which shall provide additional convenience to visitors in terms of night-time shopping and gastronomy.
In the past, Foz do Iguaçu formed with a tourism pole together with the nearby city of Guaíra, which hosted the Guaíra Falls (Sete Quedas). After the construction of the gigantic Itaipu Dam in early 80s, the Guaíra Falls were inundated, leaving Foz do Iguaçu as the only major traveller destination in the southwestern border of the Paraná state.
Iguazu Falls Cataratas International Airport (IATA: IGU) is close to the city. There are frequent flights to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Santiago de Chile etc. ATMs are available on the ground level next to Arrivals. Internet terminals and WiFi are available in the upstairs restaurant area but the WIFI can only be purchased in a 24 hour package for R$25 which is quite expensive.
Bus transportation is available to and from the most important cities in the country, and even to Argentina.
- São Paulo, about 15h, with at least three departures from Iguaçu at 2.30pm, 6.00pm and 7.30pm
- Rio de Janeiro, with at least one departure from Iguaçu at 6.45pm
- Curitiba, about 11h with Catarinense
- Cuiaba, about 28h with Eucatur
- Campo Grande, about 14h with Medianeira, Integração or Unesul
- Belo Horizonte, with at least one departure from Iguaçu at 3.00pm
- Florianopolis, with at least two departures from Iguaçu at 5.40pm and 8.30pm
- Santos, with at least one departure from Iguaçu at 4.00pm
- Criciumba, with at least one departure from Iguaçu at 8.30pm
- Buenos Aires, with at least three departures weekly from Iguaçu on Sundays at 1.30pm, and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5.00pm.
Many other destinations as well.
From Curitiba, access is over the BR-227 (Curitiba - Assuncion) highway. There are 632 km of highway. Foz do Iguaçu is in the extreme west of Paraná, 640 km from Curitiba. Main highways:
- From Curitiba: BR-277
- From São Paulo: BR-116/BR-277
- From Rio de Janeiro: BR-116/BR277
- A bus (No. 120, direction Aeroporto/Parque National) leaves hourly from the terminal to the entrance on Brazilian side of the falls. The bus is also the access to Foz do Iguaçu International Airport, which is before the falls.
- It is only a short walk across the Friendship Bridge over the river Parana to Ciudad del Este. Alternatively, you can take a taxi as walking across the bridge is not recommended due to pickpocketing. You might have to ask multiple taxi drivers to get a taxi across the bridge. However, there are busses, vans, taxis and moto-taxis all around customs offices on both sides.
There is a bus you can take from the Terminal in Foz de Iguacu that leaves you at a stop relatively close to the bridge, if you tell the driver/tickets person you want to go to Ciudad del Este when boarding. However, you have to walk from the stop to the bridge for about 10-15 minutes through an area that does not look or feel safe, until you reach the Brazilian customs so this way is not advisable. Take an official taxi to and from the border instead. Also, Ciudad del Este does not feel any safer than Foz de Iguacu, it's a place for cheaper shopping not tourism.
Remember to get stamped out at the Brazilian customs and stamped in the Paraguay side on your way in, and likewise stamped out of Paraguay and into Brazil on return, even for a short day trip, otherwise you are in Paraguay illegally.
- In Iguassu you can find a lot of tour companies that make the trip to Paraguay, Argentina or any other point of interest.
- Iguaçu Falls (Cataratas do Iguaçu) (accessible with Aeroporto/Parque Nacional bus from Local Bus Terminal). One of the most famous attractions in Brazil, the falls on the Iguaçu River have a flow capacity equal to three times that of Niagara Falls. The falls are shared between Brazil and Argentina, and each side has its own network of trails and viewpoints. The National Park on the Brazilian side runs a shuttle bus between the Visitors' Centre, the falls, and numerous outdoor tour operators, including boat rides run by Macuco Safari out to the bottom of the falls.
- Parque das Aves (Birds Park) is very close 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. There may also be chances to hold and take pictures with the birds. The Birds Park is considered an ecological sanctuary. It is located near the Iguaçu National Park in a 16-hectare area of native woods. A paved trail leads visitors to the enormous aviaries that blend in with the forest and allow you to know approximately 900 birds from 180 species. The Park also has a butterfly section with 25 species and a reptile section as well. All of these animals can be seen from a distance of only a few meters. The park also has a parking lot, a souvenir shop and a snack bar. It is open daily – including holidays – from 8:30AM to 5:30PM, from March 2013 08:30AM to 5PM, in the summer. R$34.
- Itaipu Dam (Itaipu Binacional). The Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant is the largest electric power generator in the world and was considered to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineering. Take a bus R$2.85 from the Local Bus Terminal to get there. Booking in advance is recommended for special tour and/or on weekends/public holidays. There are many tourism attractions available, but the panoramic tour and of the dam is a must. R$12 - R$100 (depending on tour type and discounts).
- Three Borders Landmark. The place where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet. Each side has its own Marco (landmark). Have a look at Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, all in the same glimpse of the eye while there are cargo freighters making their way slowly along the water. Accessing it can be hard, as there is a single bus line leaving from the Downtown Terminal whose final destination is the landmark. It is also quite abandoned, with a single shop nearby. Because of this, it is recommended for tourists to experience the encounter between the Parana and Iguaçu rivers from Argentina. Free.
- Salto do Macuco (Tinamou Drop) (Macuco Safári). On this tour, the visitor takes trails in an open, electric vehicle, accompanied by trilingual guides over three kilometers of jungle. The vehicle stops at the beginning of a 600m trail that leads to the Salto do Macuco – with its crystal clear waters that fall from a height of 20m over rocks, forming a tiny lake. Those who do not want to descend on foot can take the same electric car to where they embark on the inflatable boat. It is an exciting adventure as the boat navigates over a canyon’s waters and gets very near the huge Garganta do Diabo falls and then receives the “wet blessing” from the Three Musketeers Falls. To get there take the Cataratas Highway to km 23, already inside the Iguaçu National Park. A hint: if you don’t want to get soaked, take a raincoat.
- Helicopter Tour. 9AM-5PM. This 10-minute tour provides a beautiful aerial view of Iguaçu National Park. It is the best way to understand the real dimensions of the Falls. Another option is to fly over the Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant. For the flight over the Iguacu falls, you need a minimum of 3 people (the helicopter can take 7 people + the pilot), but you can wait around and will usually find another group of one or two people. R$308.
- Poço Preto (Black Well). This excursion is made in a special vehicle – over a rustic 18 km trail - through the exuberant vegetation of the National Park. It lasts up to 5 hours. Specialized guides accompany the visitors who can photograph or watch birds. It is located on km 18 of BR 469 – the Cataratas Highway.
Foz do Iguaçu is not a shopping destination. Brazilians generally go to the neighbouring cities of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay for cheaper imported goods, or to Puerto Iguazu in Argentina for Argentinean wines and alfajor.
- Downtown. Downtown shopping is mostly located at Av. Brasil (between Av. Jorge Schimmelpfeng and Av. República Argentina) and its surroundings. Shops there are mostly aimed at locals, not tourists, and do not open on evenings or Sundays.
- [www.cataratasjlshopping.com.brCataratas JL Shopping], Av. Costa e Silva, 185 - Pólo Centro. 11AM-11PM. A typical Brazilian-style shopping mall which offers the conveniences of late evening shopping and a decent food court. Contains a branch of the Brazilian department store Havan. The mall is definitely not tourist-oriented, but has trilingual signs. 113 shops.
- Boi Na Brasa, Av. Juscelino Kubitscheck (close to Fouad Center New Time), ☎ +55 45 3523-5858. Buffet with grilled meat. From R$8.
- Bufalo Branco. The best churrascaria in town. Problaby also the most expensive. R$85.
- Martignoni Pizza Parlor, Av. Paraná 3535 (downtown), ☎ +55 45 522-2706. Tu-Su 7PM-12PM. Pizza de rodizio: the waiters bring around a selection of meats, pastas, and (the main attraction) pizza. A nice atmosphere with an excellent variety of pizzas, including some with fruit, chocolate, and ice cream. But before dessert, try the catupiry and the tomate seco (dried tomato). R13.50.
- La Bella Pizza, Rua Xavier da Silva 648, ☎ +55 45 3574-2285. 17:00-late. All you can eat pizza and pasta, 40 different types including chocolate and banana pizza. $R 12-15.
- Hostel Backpacker, Rua Tarobá 827 (Downtown, 3 blocks from TTU urban bus terminal), ☎ +55 45 3027-2500, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Friendly staff. Breakfast included. Internet. Conveniently located in the city center. Booking for organized tours to Iguaçu Falls possible. Dorm from R$30.
- Pousada El Shaddai, ☎ +55 45 3025-4493. Rua Engenheiro Reboucas 306., email contato(at)pousadaelshaddai.com.br. Dorms from R$22.00, doubles from R$60.00, incl breakfast buffet, swimming pool, kitchen use. Clean and friendly. Quiet and central location near amenities like banks, supermarkets, restaurants, launderettes.
- Albergue Paudimar Campestre (Av. das Cataratas). Twelve kilometres outside Foz do Iguaçu on the way to the Brazilian side of the falls, it's more a mini-resort than a hostel. It offers free internet, budget meals and also has a swimming pool and bar. They also arrange tours to the Argentinean side of the falls. Half the taxi fair from the bus terminal is returned if you go with two or more persons and stay at least two days. Look for the stand at the bus terminal.
- Hostel Natura, Av. das Cataratas, KM 12,5 - Bairro Remanso Grande, ☎ +55 45 3529-6949 (hostel), +55 45 9116-0979 (mobile). The hostel is located close to the Albergue Paudimar Campestre, some way outside the city. It's small, quiet, clean and has two ponds where you can swim (besides the swimming pool). It offers free internet (WiFi), has a small kitchen to use and a small bar with pool, tabletop soccer and TV. The staff is very friendly and helps you planning your visit to the falls. Dorms and doubles from R$50.00, with air condition..
- Your Place Hostel, Rua Joaquim Firmino 222, ☎ +55 45 3029 2462, e-mail: email@example.com. Free breakfast. Close to the bars and commerce area. Staying here you can easily catch direct buses to the main touristic places. Dorm from R$23.
- Nadai Confort Hotel, Av. República Argentina, 1334, ☎ +55 45 3521-5050. Central location. Offers a number of options for leisure and facilities for its businesses.
- Pousada Sonho Meu, Rua Men de Sá, 267 (close to the bus station, there are signs at the station showing the way), ☎ +55 45 3573-5764, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Family-run, friendly pousada. Breakfast buffet, a swimming pool and even a tiny gym. Doubles from R$120.
- Hotel San Rafael, Rua Almirante Barroso No 1660. 85851-010. A pleasant hotel with friendly staff. You can hire their tour guide, Val, who will take you to both sides of the falls. Hotel includes a gym and pool, which is needed as it gets very hot in Iguaçu in summer. Breakfast is included and there is a buffet in the evenings for 20 Reals a head.
- Hotel Panorama & Acquamania Resort, ☎ +55 85853-000. Avenida das Cataratas. Resort offers 155 anti-alergic rooms with ceramic tiled floor and 102 rooms with balcony. The Resort is surrounded by woods and gardens, in a green area of 130.000 m² of native forests and tropical gardens. Next to the hotel you can find Acquamania, a water park with pools, toboggans and buoy-cross.
- Hotel Das Cataratas. Iguacu National Park, beside the Falls. +55 45 2102-7000. Fancy rooms, gourmet dining rooms, outdoor pool and tennis place. 203 rooms.
- Iguaçu Falls- Obviously the most important attraction nearby Foz do Iguaçu. The world-famous falls.
- Puerto Iguazu- On the Argentinian side of the border, offers access to the Argentinian side of the falls and a number of casinos and shopping. Buses go from behind of Local Bus Terminal every 30-60 minutes and costs R$4. If you are staying for longer than a day you need to get off at each border and pass through immigration. Bus will not wait for you, so you will have to wait for the next bus, that you can board with the original ticket. As it is not far and buses do not go often, walking may be faster.
- Ciudad del Este - On the Paraguay side of the border, it is a rather chaotic mid-size town that serves as a shopping destination for Brazilians and Argentinians looking for low-tax imported goods.
Some taxis will take you to Puerto Iguazu and wait for you to pass through the two customs but are quite expensive. For example, taking the taxi only to the Argentinian border from Foz de Iguacu costs around R$40. You need to agree with the driver on a price before boarding as they don't want to use the meter for these sort of trips.