Iguazu Falls: Brazilian side
On Tuesday, I saw the spectacular Argentinean side. Today, I completed my tour of the border-straddling marvel that is Iguazu Falls, by checking out the Brazilian side. While not quite as dramatic or as "in-your-face" as its rival vantage-point, the Brazilian side gives you a grand overview of the falls, with a panorama that lets you take in the entire set of cascades through one big, all-encompassing sweep of the eyes. In my opinion, the falls are simply too amazing to not be seen from every possible angle — so do yourself a favour, and don't shirk on the Brazilian angle! Photos follow below.
Although Paudimar isn't in the most convenient location — being 12km's out of town, and all — it is at least quite close to the falls. So it was little more than a 10-minute bus ride today (on a cheap local bus) from the hostel, up to the national park entrance. Once you get into the national park, they have a shuttle bus that takes you down the road, through about 10km's of dense forest, to the falls themselves.
The grand overview of the smaller falls.
This is the view that you're greeted with, when you get off the shuttle bus and arrive at the falls themselves. Not bad, eh? A lot of people don't bother with the Brazilian side — as you can see, anyone who makes this choice is really missing out.
Some of these look quite spectacular from a distance.
It's quite funny — pretty much all the Argentinians that I met, back on the Argentina side, had no intentions whatsoever to visit the Brazil side. And not just because they're not as spectacular. There's absolutely no love lost between these two nations: they can't stand each other, and they consider it a matter of pride and of "sending a message", to not visit each other's side of the waterfalls. Brazilians end up visiting the Argentinian side anyway (albeit reluctantly): but only because they have no choice but to admit that the Argentina side is better (it's quite obvious); otherwise, they wouldn't even consider it. Amazing, the divisions and the chasms of hatred that can be forged, simply over a bit of fútbol :P.
Grand panorama of Garganta del Diablo and the river following on from it.
Brazil really did get the short end of the straw on Iguazu. Basically, the falls themselves are about 90% situated on the Argentinian side of the river. While this does mean that the Brazilian riverbank affords sweeping panoramas across the channel, it also means that only on the Argentinean can you really get up close and see it all properly.
Unlike the Argentinian side — which is a maze of paths and catwalks (and choo-choo trains!) that you can spend all day exploring — the Brazilian side is little more than a single track, which hugs the cliffs overlooking the river for most of the way, and which gives way to a bit of catwalk towards the end. So there's no need for a logistics plan on this side: you just start walking from where the bus drops you off, and keep going until you reach the other end. Real simple.
The enchanting lookout on the Brazilian side.
The main lookout on the Brazilian side isn't quite as dramatic as its Argentinian rival — which is all but hovering right over the Garganta del Diablo monster of a fall — but it has quite an enchanting charm to it, if you ask me. Mist drifts through the air from the falls all around it, and gently cascading pools lie directly under the catwalk lookout, making their way lazily down to the cliffs and the falls.
Getting close to one of the falls.
Elevator on the Brazilian side.
Falls near the elevator.
From the main lookout on the Brazilian side, they have a tower with an elevator inside, to take you up to the exit. Nice touch, although it's really not that far up: I doubt that anyone would object to walking it. Since the Brazilian side is not that extensive, and also not quite as grand as its rival, I got through the whole whing inside an hour: I don't think you need much more than that. From the exit, a shuttle bus back to the park entrance, and another local bus back to the hostel, completed my waterfall adventures for today.