After visiting the falls and the bird park there is not much more to do in Foz do Iguacu, except for the Itaipu dam. Until two years ago this was the worlds biggest hydroelectric plant considering the power it collects. Now the Chinese have a bigger one.
We chose to take a day to visit this plant and take one of the tours offered. Some quick research let us know that the “Panoramic Tour” is the best value for your money and also the one that contains everything necessary.
To get there we took bus 102 from the TTU terminal (101 is also supposed to take the same route), and after 25 minutes we arrived at the visitors center. The tickets are something like €6 and includes a short movie letting us know how amazing the plant is!
The bus that the panoramic tour consists of takes a tour with three stops, the first one is this view above of the flood ramps, they open these to let out excess water from the reservoir, at full speed they let through more that 40 times the water of the falls. We were apparently lucky to see this, as they only open them 10% of the year.
An interesting fact is that the dam is owned by both Brazil and Paraguay, and the land it sits on is more or less both Brazilian and Paraguayan. It produces 80% of the electricity used in Paraguay and 20% of the Brazilian consumption.
The above picture shows the dam as the huge 70s concrete structure is it, it reminds of something one might find in Ukraine, build before the fall of Soviet. Gigantic, concrete and functional but not too beautiful. It is an amazing structure, and the trip is well worth it if you have the time while here, and the guides on the Brazilian side speak Portuguese, Spanish and English!
After visiting the waterfalls which were a 30 minute bus ride away from the bus station inside the city of Foz do Iguacu there is the possibility to also see some birds. Right across the street from where the buses leave from the tourist center is Parque das Aves, a bird park of 17 hectares containing over 250 different bird species.
At around €7 for the entry we thought that this was a good thing to do after viewing the astonishing waterfalls.
This is where I should put the names of the different birds, but that would require me to know them, which I dont. On another note: Linn was a bit ambivalent about being so close to all these flying pest-carrying creatures. I told her that it would be no problem, it wasnt, until one bird found it a lot of fun to briefly land in her hair before continuing its flight.
This was my favorite, a Toucan. It not only is a beautiful bird, it also has a very nice temper, at least the ones we saw in the park.
Some sort of yellow parrots, apparently very curious as the sign warns you of putting fingers through the web of the cage.
More colorful parrots, apparently the colors confuse animals who hunt them. I learned this after googling the fact after our visit, I could not understand the sense in being as colorful and living where many animals would like to have you for dinner.
Okey, let’s be honest: this waterfalls are worth their own trip! And it is most likely more fun if the weather is clear. We were on the Brazilian side yesterday, cloudy but no rain and it were amazing.
From a bit distance.
Never been much of a nature person but this really caught me. Most of the people just took pictures and walked further.
The falls were extremely big and there were many small falls on the way, like the one above.
In a couple of days we gonna go to Argentina and see the same falls from the other side and take a boat into the falls. But first we plan on doing a day trip to Paraguay.
This pic is very describing of the experience at the falls: wet, windy, wet but good.
A comfortable bus took us to Florianopolis to enjoy some days of beach life. Said and done – we have had great days here: enjoyed the beach (used sunblock – except for on the eyelids, and Jon got burned on them). The hostel where we stayed had surf boards, body boards and some other beach toys for us to use for free and we tried to surf and Jon were able to stand up after a while – we both really liked it and had a great time.
And maybe the best thing during this time here: horseback riding!
Jon was a bit scared when we started but he did very well. Classic horse pic =)
And yes, we know that you should have a helmet, but none were supplied! My horse were cute and very strong. In the woods me and the horse lost a battle with a tree and I fell off. But not to worry, all went very well and I didn’t hurt myself.
Pretty cool to gallop by the beach with this nature as backdrop.
Jon did very good all the tour. We might do this again because of all the fun it was. I also learnt a lesson from yesterdays adventure on horseback: do not do horseback riding in suit trousers.
Today we both have a massive muscle soreness and are a bit hung over. T0morrow evening we leave for Foz do Iguacu. The first night bus is booked! Its a 14 hour trip with the bus company Catarinense, the same that brought us to Florianopolis. We took the leito seats which are more expensive, but you are more or less able to recline into a fully horizontal position – a review is coming later on!
After reading on Wikivoyage about a train ride from Curitiba to Morretes that is supposed to be amazing we decided to try and find a solution to squeeze this into our schedule. With the weather report somewhat ambiguous about if it is going to rain or be sunny in Florianopolis which is our next destination we decided to book an extra night on our hostel here in Curitiba and do the daytrip to Morretes.
Online sources gives that the train is cheaper on the way back from Morretes (more on this later), there is a bus that takes about 45 minutes and is very cheap and last but not least it is important not to miss eating the barreado which is meat that has been cooked in a clay pot for about 24 hours. Also it is possible to go down the river in the village by the means of inner tubing (riding a larger inner tube).
We read that a bus is available at 11:00 from Curitiba and it costs 17 BRL, when we arrived at the desk to buy the tickets we were advised that the ticket is 21 BRL, the trip takes 90 minutes and it leaves at 12:00. This meant arriving in Morretes at 13:30 and taking the train back at 15:00. The train is supposed to be the main attraction here, so we decided to do it anyway. So, we bought tickets for the bus.
Next up we arrived at the ticket desk for the train that was supposed to cost 55 BRL back to Curitiba in economy class we were informed that the tourist class is the only available one today. Not much to do, we already bought bus tickets and an extra hostel night. 79 BRL later we had tickets for both transports and one and a half hour to waste before the bus were to depart. If it departs on time!
We spent the time wandering through a nearby market hall that had all kinds of food for sale, and also a large organic section in which Linn found these beautiful vegetables.
Finally it was time to get to the bus, which departed perfectly on time! The bus took the road BR-277 which has some very beautiful scenic views.
We walked from the bus stop into the old part of Morretes where we found a restaurant serving the famous barreado.
We ordered the “tourist plate” which apparently is everything on the menu, and about three servings of each. The barreado was a good meat stew, but nothing that we felt was that extraordinary, maybe we were at the wrong riverside restaurant. We did have a really good time trying to figure out how anyone could imagine that we would eat all this food. I think we gave up after about a 10th of all of it.
Next stop: The train ride back to Curitiba!
The first hour of this train ride is both amazing and (for me) nerve-racking! This is a trip through a biotope known as atlantic rain forest which is very scarce nowadays. The train starts on an altitude of only a few meters above sea level, and reaches Curitiba at an altitude of almost one kilometer. Being afraid of heights as I am, the words “amazing view” always has a bitter aftertaste as it always means being faced with what can easily result in certain death. This said, this trip is totally worth it!
It is very hard to capture the fact that the train is passing a bridge, you feel like it is almost flying and you see amazing scenery for miles!
An amazing ride, a must if in Curitiba! It might be a better idea to take the more expensive train from Curitiba to Morretes and not the other way around, it is a three hour trip, and the hour closest to Curitiba is the least exciting. The dramaturgy would have been better with an ever increasing quality of views and excitement, and also me getting used to the heights!
Before we went to Sao Paulo we had heard different opinions about this big city. “Built up city” and “you only need one, maximum two nights”. And of course people who loved it. We like this city and it’s much more like Europe than Rio. They also have proper roads and cars, much less chaotic.
Yesterday we went to see some famous graffiti spot called Beco do Batman. Jon was still a bit sick but much better, so we explored the neighborhood walking.
We found a charming deli-store but couldn’t buy anything, everything need to pass “is this really worth to be in my backpack?”
Tomorrow we are leaving and going south towards Curitiba and Florianopolis.
From the bus station we took the metro to Vila Madalena and our hostel. We were both tired and sweaty, a shower has never felt better. After some episodes of Criminal minds we went to bed early.
Our first day we met some other people at the breakfast in our hostel that invited us to join them for a city tour. Some were in need of buying some things but it started to rain so we went to a museum about the Portuguese language – all in Portuguese of course but we had people in our group that were able to help us out.
In the evening Jon began to feel a bit sick but it was a great day over all.
And the best thing about this city? All the great food. Burgers, noodles, tartar, tacos – all very delicious especially comparing to Rio.
One day early we left Ilha Grande because of the weather. My mood was not the best on Saturday night after the electricity had disappeared. And we couldn’t watch more episodes of Criminal minds. Jon was doing the best of the situation – talking to the other guest at the hostel, I was most angry at the rain and hung out with the hostels kittens.
On the ferry back to Angra dos Reis we met three others with the same mindset – leaving as soon as possible. As you read before we took the local bus to Paraty. We followed the people from the ferry to check their hostel and it was both cheap and clean. Before we arrived our plan was to stay one night on our way to Sao Paulo, but in order to explore more of the little city we decided to stay another night.
Said and done – we took a Jeep-tour to see more of Paraty, some waterfalls and how to make Cachaca.
A natural water slide in the rain was awesome.
Rain again after lunch but we had a great day in Paraty. In the evening we had planned for go back to the great restaurant that served Turkish food but we meet the London guys from the hostel at the bus stop and went with them to another great restaurant.
This was our 72 hours in the city and we took the morning bus a little bit hung over to Sao Paulo. And here we are now.
After two bus trips we felt like we were starting to get the hang of travel by bus in Brazil. Sit in the middle of the bus, away from both the stench of the bathroom and the arctic chills of the air conditioning. Buy the bus tickets in the bus station, not online. Simple as that.
We went to the bus station one day before our departure, only to find out that the only free seats were in the back of the bus, right beside the lavatory. Ah well, at least we wont die from the freezing cold of the air condition.
The bus was listed as a “Conv” which is supposed to be a regular coach, but nothing real fancy. Turns out that it was what is called “Semi-Cama” almost a bed! The price was very competitive too, €12 for a 6 hour bus trip! The company was called Reunidas.
The trip was on good roads, but I still had my fears seeing what was ahead of us on the GPS map. This was a climb from 0 to 750 meters above sea level in a matter of minutes. Circling mountains and climbing the sides of the, but as mentioned before, on good roads, which will calm everyone that is like me.