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January 23, 2008

Foz do Iguacu Waterfalls - Parana


Foz do Iguaçu Waterfalls - Paraná - Brazilian Cities

Foz do Iguaçu is located in the extreme west of the State of Paraná, on the border of Brazil with Paraguay and Argentina. Together with the Argentine cities of Ciudad Del Est and Puerto Iguazu, it forms part of one the largest cultural tourism poles in South America.

Foz do Iguacu Waterfalls

The word Iguaçu means "large water", in Tupi-Guarani etymology. It is a perfect name for the greatness of Iguaçu’s waterfalls, one of the planet’s natural wonders, with 275 waterfalls and an average height of 60m. Every year, thousands of Brazilian and foreign tourists visit the Falls, one of the country’s main tourist attractions. The biggest attraction is the Garganta do Diabo (Devil’s Throat), which is on the Argentine side. It is possible to take a boat ride on the Falls rapids in the exciting Macuco Safári.

But Foz do Iguaçu offers other attractions, such as the Iguaçu National Park, one of the most beautiful ecological reserves in the world, with 225 thousand hectares and recognized by UNESCO as a Natural Heritage of Humanity. It also has a Visitor’s Center, an electric bus and the Canoas Port, an area with souvenir shops and a panoramic restaurant.

There is also an international quality golf course in Foz do Iguaçu, not to mention the Ecomuseum, the Guarani Woods Zoo and the Three Borders Landmark, where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet.

Another interesting tour is the visit to the Itaipu Hidroelectric Plant – the largest in the world of its category – to get to know the gigantic dimensions of this feat. There is also the Birds Park with hundreds of species from the five continents.

On the other side of the river, in the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Leste – which borders Foz - it is possible to buy duty-free imported items up to the amount determined by the Brazilian Internal Revenue Service.

Iguassu National Park
The Park was established on January 10, 1939 and declared a Natural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1986. It is one of the largest forest reserves in South America and one of the largest reserves of renewable natural resources in the State.

The Park is open from Tuesday thru Sunday, from 8AM to 5PM; and on Monday from 1PM to 5PM. During the summer, the park stays open until 6PM. There is a fee per person, as well as a fee for the vehicle.

The Falls can be visited all year long. In the summer, there are quick, strong showers, but the Falls have greater water volume and the brush is more exuberant. Extended rains are common between the months of September and October.

Besides the Falls, the region also maintains an area of Atlantic Woods, with great diversity of flora and fauna. Approximately 350 species of birds, 250 of butterflies and 50 mammals – some of which are endangered species, such as the jaguar and purple-breasted parrot – live there.

The Park can be explored over trails through the woods and by kayak and boat. There are areas appropriate for rafting, rappel and tree climbing. There is complete infrastructure for visitors, including internal transportation and snack bars, as well as a traditional resort.

Iguassu Falls
The Falls are formed in the Iguaçu River and they extend for 2,700m. Trails flanked by the Iguassu National Park’s picturesque subtropical forest lead to walkways and observation areas for the Falls. A must stop is the observation deck near the Garganta do Diabo Falls – which is 90m high -, on the Argentine side of the Park.

Helicopter Tour
This tour provides a beautiful aerial view of Iguassu 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.

Visitors Center - Museum
The Center is located in the Iguaçu National Park. It is set in a large house from the 1940s. Its collection includes countless specimens of stuffed animals, mineral samples, vegetal species, regional ethnographic material, Indian objects, funeral urns and arts and crafts from the Tupi-Guarani culture – as well as existing botanical specimens in photographic panels. Outside, in front of the Museum, there is a stairway that is approximately one thousand meters long that leads to the bank of the Iguaçu River.

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.

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.

Rio Branco Inlet (Canoas Port)
Located 1 km above the Falls, the Rio Branco Inlet is a place for relaxation and leisure. It is a wooded area, with barbeque pits, benches and tables, and a beautiful panoramic view of the Iguassu River.

Guarani Woods Zoo
Ever since 1996, the Municipal Zoo has been an example of environmental education, leisure and tourism. The 40 thousand m² area has 20 enclosed areas – reached by trails – where the visitors can enjoy animals such as toucans, macaws, wildcats, monkeys, and many more. The area also has around one thousand native trees and three lakes. The zoo is home to nearly 683 animals of 49 species. It is located at Rua Tarobá, 875 – Downtown, and it is open from Tuesday thru Sunday, from 9AM to 5PM, in the winter, and from 9AM to 6PM in the summer.

Birds Park
The Birds Park is considered an ecological sanctuary. It is located near the Iguaçu National Park in a 17 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 sector with 25 species and a reptile sector 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 located on the Cataratas Highway (BR 469) - km 11. It is open daily – including holidays – from 8:30AM to 5:30PM, in the winter, and from 8:30AM to 6PM, in the summer.

Itaipu Lake
The Itaipu Lake is the result of the damming of the Paraná River. It supplies the hydroelectric plant and borders 15 townships. The hydroelectric plant belongs to Brazil and Paraguay. Monitored visits take the tourists to know the external installation, going through the dam and the observation deck, and a view of the spillway that forms an enormous curtain of water. The Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant, the largest electric power generator in the world, was considered to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineering. Itaipu Lake offers several attractions, such as artificial beaches, boat rides and regattas, clubs, marinas and parks.

Bridge of Friendship
The bridge was a decisive factor in attracting investment and business between Brazil and Paraguay. It was inaugurated in 1965. Located at the end of BR 277 the International Bridge of Friendship gives direct highway access to Asuncion, over Ruta 01 in Paraguay.

Bourbon Iguassu Golf Club & Resort
With its 18-hole professional golf course that occupies over 600m² of the enterprises total area, the Bourbon Iguassu Golf Club & Resort is part of the circuits that gather sports enthusiasts from all over Brazil. The project, with its complete leisure and lodging infrastructure was conceived by Tai-Ping Hwang, a Chinese American. It valorizes the ample and cozy apartments installed in seven villas, each with a total of tem apartments. It is located on Cataratas Highway, km 2.5.

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