In the language of the Guarani Indians, Iguaçú means "big water". There's nothing to add. The huge river Paraná flows softly and inert kilometre by kilometre through dense tropical vegetation. The fertile red soil gives its water an intense ochre tone. Inevitably one remembers the excellent movie on the quest for El Dorado "Aguirre, the Wrath of God", with the maniacal great Klaus Kinski.
Everything is calm - if there appeared not suddenly a few rocks and some slight chutes - and this strange cloud, hanging very deep and not at all fitting into the bright summer's day. Quite the same with that permanent dull rumbling of thunder.
The riddle's solution is not that difficult to guess: the gigantic waterfalls of Iguaçú. With their height of up to 80m and a length of more than three kilometres, these falls are amongst the most spectacular and impressing natural sites worldwide.
The plain carrying the river Paraná seems to be suddenly sunk down vertically. The landscape looks thus like two giant bathtubs with water pouring inside from all brims. This geological phenomenon is even more astonishing regarding the fact that rock in this region seems to be extremely hard. Even after thousands of years under constant impact of 150 millions of tons of water per day, the rocks are still keeping their sharp lines.
Brazilian side of the falls
The falls can be admired from the brazilian side as well as from the argentinean side. The brazilian side does not offer that much a choice of possible itineraries. However, its main path along the heights opposite the falls allows magnificent views on these giant curtains of falling water.
Who never saw coatis will surely have more luck here. These cheeky guys with their long and hairy noses, black Zorro masks and annulated long tails are generally hanging around at the beginning of the path.
Despite multiple warnings not to offer them anything of eatable, there are regularly happening porkfests with chocolate cookies and other kinds of tourist provisions. And if the tourists are not willing to give away the cookies voluntarily and immediately, the coatis take what they desire. That's what was happening to this poor and scared lady, having three of these small bears hanging at her plastic bag.
Argentinean bus driver
To reach the argentinean side of the falls, it is necessary to cross the broder to Argentina. In that case it can be helpful to have an argentinean bus driver. Since he's doing that trip in an everyday's routine, he knows everybody along the way: the customs officials, police officers, owners of restaurants, shopkeepers, car mechanics...
And above all, he's fan of Boca Juniors, the most popular and successful football club of Argentina. The yellow-blue relics decorate abundantly the dash board and the driver's back and head. Additionally, he shows his affection in greeting pedestrians at top of his voice, while waving by the window and sounding the horn. In that way, nobody can resent him his shortly touched "beep-beep"s, followed by "Chica!" (girl) - to beautiful argentinean girls in thight jeans.
Argentinean side of the falls
It is easy to spend all the day on the argentinean side of the falls without getting even a little bit bored. The most spectacular perspective is undoubtedly from the visitor's platform directly above the Devil's Throat (Garganta del Diablo). There, one is virtually on eye's level with the river Paraná and one can watch him for hours pouring its waters into emptiness. The enormous quantities of water just disappear in a cloud of water dust.
Further down the river, it is possible to take a 20 minutes ride on a speed boat. This is really good fun and should not be left out. Still it is recommended to protect the camera inside a plastic bag since everything gets completely wet during the ride - even the innermost fibre of your underwear. During these so-called "baptisms", the boats approach the waterfalls so close that the falling drops sting like needles and it gets impossible to keep the eyes open. Of course, this is most exciting sitting in the very first row of seats
If there's still some time left, one should not miss the beautiful birds park (Parque des Aves) on the brazilian side. Its main actors are undoubtedly the Araras. Many of these gorgeously coloured parrots live in a cage of the size of a building. There's hardly any colour that is not to be found in their plumage
There are also uncountable toucans, a typical bird for that region, black backed bird with yellow chest and a huge beak. They're hopping sideward on the wooden handrails of the visitors path, goggling sideways at the human visitors. At the exit there's even a big and tame toucan that likes being photographed while sitting on the visitor's forearm.
Otherwise, there are all kinds of coloured plumages hopping around: permanently babbling green parrots, small singing birds with bright yellow plumes, bright red water birds from Pantanal, light rose flamingos with long tinny legs, and whirring humming birds.
In the earlier mentioned language of the Guarani Indians, Itaipú means "Water at the singing stone". This word gave the name to the biggest hydroelectric plant of the world. Carried out in a co-operation between Brazil and Paraguay, this site devoured astronomical quantities of building materials: with the used concrete, 220 Maracanã stadiums could have been built, the used steel would have been sufficient for 380 Eiffel towers.
Its arch dam reaches a height of 196m and the accumulated water is constantly falling over 18 electric turbines. Doing so, Itaupú produces sufficient energy to cover 95% of the energy demand of Paraguay and 25% of Brazil. Its overall capacity corresponds to 10 nuclear power-plants.