Brazil: Iguazú Falls

When I was 16, I travelled to Brazil as part of a World Challenge Expedition through school with 13 other pupils and 2 of our teachers. I found my diary I wrote at the time recently, so have decided to edit it, remove some of the 16-year old me random thoughts, and write it up. To travel there, we had to fundraise the £2770 per person in the 2 years leading up to the trip and then plan and organise everything ourselves while we were there, supervised by our 2 teachers.

26/07/2003

We got off our night bus from Curitiba in Foz do Iguaçu and had barely made it two feet before we were being asked what hotel we were booked into. They then proceeded to tell us that it was full of drug dealers and whores and booked us into a different one. This was a case where our teachers made the call: they decided whether they wanted to chance us with drug dealers! The hotel we ended up in was nice though, so we didn’t care.

Everyone fell asleep when we got to the hotel so a few of us went for a wander around the local area. We found a clothes shop where everything was super cheap, and a market. We bought some stuff from the market, but we couldn’t haggle because they’d heard us talking in English (and we looked really touristy) so they refused to budge on the price. We went back to the hotel and tried to sort out our kit- we’d been away for 2 weeks and things were not packed as well as they were at the beginning! Plus I’d lost my iodine thing and needed to find it, so we all turfed our bags out. We had to make sure our water was ‘safe’ to drink, so we carried iodine purifier things with us. It was like a urine test sample bottle you get at the Doctors, which had iodine in the bottom of it. You had to fill the container to the top, leave for 2 hours and then pour it into your platypus water pack and leave that for another 30 minutes before it was safe to drink.

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Photo: Sorting our kit out

Later, we went on a bus to the Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls, situated on the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. There are a million ways you can spell Iguazú, so I’ve picked the one in my Lonely Planet Guide. We walked to the view points and took it all in. The noise was loud- roaring- and there was a lot of wind created just by the waterfall hitting the water at the bottom. It wouldn’t matter how sunny the day was, you were always going to get wet. They were huge! Apparently the Argentinian side is supposed to be even bigger!

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Photo: Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls

For tea, we went to an all you can eat pizza place where we had as much pizza as we could eat (obviously). They didn’t just have savoury flavours, we also had toffee and milk and white chocolate pizza. Definitely trying to make that when we get home.

27/07/2003

Today was my turn to be team leader (the joys), so I made everyone get up at 7.30, which instantly made me unpopular. We set off at 8.45 to get to the Argentinian side of the waterfalls.

Getting across the border was a bit of a nightmare. You have to get off the bus to go through passport control, which we did, but it then drove off without its passengers. I asked a guard (Spanish is so much easier than Portuguese) and he said they come every 15 minutes. There were lots of signs about Avian Flu- when we travelled, it was the middle of the Avian Flu outbreak so everyone was on high alert. Eventually it came, and we changed bus at a station in Argentina. After another bus, we got to the waterfalls. There was a tram to Devil’s Throat, but it wasn’t working, so we walked.

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Photo: Devil’s Throat, Iguazú Falls, Argentina

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Photo: Iguazú Falls, Argentina

It was amazing. It literally looked like the ground and water were swallowing everything up, like if you stood there for too long, it would suck you in as well. The noise was even louder than yesterday. We went for a boat ride on a speed boat which took us right up to the falls and right underneath. It was like someone was pouring a bucket of water over your head but 10 times more water and power. Everything was drenched. Even our waterproofs needed drying off! We were a bit worried that the Emergency Panic Button thing Jane has to carry would have been activated- it sends out a distress signal if it’s submerged in water so that someone can come and rescue us. It was fine though.

Back on the bus to get back to Brazil.

28/09/2003

Still my turn being team leader. I sent a few people to the bus station early on so that we could see what times the buses left for Campo Grande. Once they were back, we all set off to the Itaipu Dam at about 10am, but when we got there, we found out that the next tour wasn’t until 2pm, which wouldn’t leave us enough time to get back in order for us to catch our night bus. We tried to persuade them, but they wouldn’t let us in for a look. So we got back on the bus, had lunch, did some shopping and went to get our night bus to Campo Grande ready for the Pantanal.

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