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February 18, 2006 – A journey to Foz Do Iguacu, Brazil in South America

Foz Do Iguacu, Beautiful Falls But Too Many Tourist Traps Here

Crossed into Brazil from Salto, Uruguay and landed into the town of Foz do Iguaçu. Mainly here to see Iguassu Falls from both the Argentinean side and the Brazilian side.

Entering the town of Foz do Iguaçu from Salto was a major environment change. It was like entering a lush, green jungle from dry, hot countryside. I welcomed the change, as the scenery reminded me fondly of northwestern Costa Rica.

Foz do Iguaçu is very much a tourist town, since the falls are the major attraction. Unfortunately, though, it's not advised to go down to where the river is at, which borders Paraguay. At the riverside are favelas, and the only reason why you would go down there is for drugs. Otherwise, the town is pretty safe to walk around in.

What comes with a touristy town are tourist traps, and there are many in Foz do Iguaçu. For example, the Rafain cena dinner show, which costs $35 USD per person, is a big one. If you've already traveled through South America and have seen many of the folkloric dances in their authentic and traditional forms, you can skip Rafain and other places like it. Rick and I went not knowing exactly what it was. Since it was highly recommended by a local guide we met, we went. We were expecting it to be a show on Brazilian folkloric dances with a traditional churascarria dinner. But it ended to be a show of folkloric dances from all over Latin America and a buffet dinner (I do not like buffets). The folkloric dances and traditional music didn't look authentic to me in comparison to the ones I've seen throughout Latin America. So, don't go unless if you don't really care about authenticity and if you have money to spend.

Mexican mariachi singer (??)

Another tourist trap is the jungle and boat ride at Iguassu Falls. This was also highly recommended by the same local guide. I did this on the Argentinean side of the falls, which costed around $30 USD, and it was completely stupid. The jungle ride was a short ten-minute ride through some greenery which you can actually hike through instead (actually you're hiking through greenery the whole time when you're in the park). The boat ride was basically a five-minute ride into the falls and you get sprayed with some water. Big whoopee. You do get a great view of the Argentinean side of the falls up close, but you can hike to this place as well and see pretty much the same thing. They offer a jungle and boat ride on the Brazilian side too, but I don't recommend that either (it's more expensive, too).

In short, do not get into any tourist traps in Foz do Iguaçu. Otherwise, the falls are spectacular to look at from both the Argentinean and Brazilian sides - just by walking.

Iguassu Falls, Argentinean side

Iguassu Falls, Brazilian side

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