17 April 2012
Ideas for Discovery at Iguassu
Beyond the gorge and its lush surroundings, a wealth of other activities await at Brazil's Iguassu Falls.
The best time to explore from Hotel das Cataratas is after 5 or 6pm and before 8am, when The Iguassu National Park closes to other visitors.
The hotel (pictured above) is set within the Brazilian park, and it is only from this edge of the gorge that you can appreciate the full extent of the falls. During a full moon, walk to the Falls to see the lunar rainbow.
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It is important to experience both sides of the falls: the road journey between the two takes around 45 minutes and the customs office is organised to keep visitors on the move. Brazilian time is an hour ahead of that in Argentina.
Don't miss the Iguassu Bird Park: it's pure delight and not to be rushed - a forest of discovery with 175 exotic and often rare species clearly identified in natural, walk-through settings. Beware the dive-bombing macaws. Even better, rise early and take a guided rainforest tour with a local guide to see birds at home among the trees.
The Itaipu Dam, beyond the town of Foz do Iguassu, is impressive for its vision and scale. Bigger than China's Three Gorges, capacity-wise it is the world's largest hydro-electric project, and supplies 90 per cent of Paraguay's electricity and 25 per cent of Brazil's. The regular 1 ½ hour guided tours are packed with facts (and propaganda about the dam's benefits).
Iguassu in NumbersIguassu is described as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. 275 waterfalls (19 of them major) stretch across a 5 km span. 10 million litres of water per second pour over.
Take a helicopter excursion over the falls and on to Isle do Sol for a private picnic and spot snub-nosed calaveras - the world's largest rodents - in their natural habitat. The view from the air offers a dazzling new angle on the vast river, as it winds through a tropical setting that seems to go on forever.
The Macuco Safari Tour combines a trail through the forest with a thrilling boat ride to within five metres of the base of the Falls. White water rafting is another adventure. Or have a real eco experience on the Poco Preto trail. Choose to walk, cycle or ride by Jeep through the forest and then continue by boat, to see amazing wildlife.
Did you visit anywhere special beyond the park itself?