We woke to our second day in Iguazu Falls and looked out of our balcony onto heavy, overcast skies. After packing up our bags, we went down for breakfast then waited for our driver to pick us up at the hotel entrance. After exploring the Argentinean side of the falls yesterday, we would be crossing the border and viewing the falls from the Brazilian side. Our travel companions today would be a young Boston family and a single American traveler from one of the southern US states.
It was about a half hour drive from the Panoramic Grand Iguazu Hotel to the entrance to Iguazu Park on the Brazil side. Our border crossing was uneventful. Our guide took our passports and completed all of the formalities for us - we never even went inside the customs building. This was an unusual experience for us.
We were dropped off near the park entrance and waited for our guide to purchase the tickets. The Brazilian park was created in 1939 and covers approximately 185,000 hectares of land and contains 20% of the falls in the Iguazu system.
Yesterday, while on the Argentinean side, we spent most of the day walking along boardwalks and trails that took us across the basin to the edge of the dozens of falls on that side of the Devil’s Throat Canyon where we looked down into the raging flow of water gushing over the cliffs. Today, on the Brazilian side, we were looking across the canyon , and viewing the stunning panorama, some 1200 metres long, on the Argentinian side where we had spent most of yesterday exploring.
The experience is very different depending on which country you are viewing the falls from. We felt that the Argentinean side was more immersive and allowed us to get quite close to the tumbling waters. The Brazilian side is a more serene experience that provides spectacular views of the falls from a distance but also allows you to appreciate the vastness of the Iguazu system. This side was also less strenuous with more level pathways and fewer steps so if mobility is a concern - the Brazilian side is perhaps a better choice.
We also felt that, while we needed a full day to explore the falls from the Argentinian side, we could comfortably do the Brazilian side in a 1/2 day. In order to get a full appreciation of Iguazu National Park, you should really experience it from both sides.
After our visit to the Brazilian falls, our driver took us to Foz do Iguaçu Airport (IGU) for our flight to Rio de Janeiro. This was a different airport than when we had flown into Iguazu a few days before and landed at Cataratas del Iguazú (IGR) on the Argentine side as our inbound flight had been from Buenos Aires. Both airports are a mere 15 kilometers apart, and quite close to Iguazu Falls.
Since we had several hours before our departure to Rio, we decided to leave our bags at a locker on the outside of the terminal building and take a short 5 minute cab ride to Parque des Aves just 2.7 kilometers from the terminal. Parques des Aves is a rainforest bird sanctuary and the 2nd most visited attraction in the area after Iguazu Falls. It is billed as the only institution in the world focused on the conservation of Atlantic Rainforest birds. It features the birds of the area as well as mammals, reptiles, insects and fauna in their natural forest habitat.
The light mist that had been in the air since our day began had turned into a steady rainfall as we were about to enter the sanctuary, so we splurged on a couple of full length ponchos at the gift shop before buying our park tickets.
The park is dense, lush and fragrant from the overhanging rainforest and myriad flowers (including orchids). The trails throughout the park guide you through various regions in order to explore the abundant wildlife and fauna. We saw toucans, hummingbirds, hundreds of butterflies, various turtles and other reptiles in the hour or so that we spent in the sanctuary.
We made a brief stop at a covered outdoor restaurant to eat some lunch before leaving the sanctuary and heading back to the airport.
Despite the ponchos we were thoroughly drenched from the pouring rain. We picked up our luggage from the storage locker, checked into our flight and sat in the single waiting area from where all the flights were departing. While we waited for our flight to be called, I ordered us each a glass of wine from one of the food booths at one end of the departure lounge. The wine was served in elegant stemmed glasses which I was allowed to take back to the seating area in the departure lounge. Very classy.
After a relatively short 2 hour flight from Iguazu to Rio de Janeiro, we took an Uber from the airport to the JW Marriott Copacabana which is situated at the famous beach of the same name. As it was quite late when we arrived, we ordered our dinner from room service and retired to bed to get a well-deserved sleep after an exhilarating 2 days at Iguazu Falls.
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