Alongside a helicopter waiting to go on another 10-minute adventure above the falls, the entrance to Parque Nacional do Iguacu welcomes you on the Brazilian side of Iguazu National Park. It welcomes you with colors.
The name might be spelled with a C instead of a Z in Portuguese, but that’s pretty much the last thing you might notice. A bus takes you inside the park through regular Iguazu landscape – trees, trees and more trees. Talk about delight.
As you walk by the wooden trails, up and down stairs, you hear the heavy drops of the falls.
Before you reach the first official viewpoint, you already see them – and the big splash in the air that they make, the splash that might seem like smoke to you if you somehow manage to drop down here unaware of the magic that awaits.
The waterfalls might seem tiny from certain viewpoints….
…. yet rare is the eye that won’t be opened wide as it sees them in their grandness.
The Park Offers More Than Falls
It offers beautiful birds, and in summer you can see countless butterflies here.
It offers beautiful structures. On the way back from the falls to the park’s gate, I chatted with the chef of the 5 star restaurant, located at the only hotel inside the park, overlooking the falls. He explained to me that these houses are homes to park employees. He himself had permanent lodging inside the park, where he spent most of his time. He did, however, keep an apartment in town, where he would run errands and experience a more “normal” life.
A World Wonder’s Version of Capitalism
Not only can you take a helicopter ride above the Iguazu Falls, but outside the Brazilian side’s gate you can also find… advertisements. For someone like me, who visited Brazil for a mere few hours – way too little – it was interesting to see commercial ads in the midst of a world wonder’s national park.
There was one ad that claimed to promote “The Best Show in the Land of the Falls”, one that has been running for more than 50 years. The ad invited the park’s visitors to meet the cultures of Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Mexico through the show.
Another ad was more surprising. Though Foz do Iguacu, the Brazilian town of the Iguazu Falls, has its own airport – located a very short drive from the park – this ad actually advertised the Puerto Iguazu airport. Puerto Iguazu is the town located on the other side of the border, on the Argentine side of the falls, and one could have assumed the two towns would compete over their mutual target audience.
Sure, most people who visit either town visit both sides of the falls, yet not everyone does, and both sides of the park offer perks such as helicopter rides and a boat that goes underneath the falls – at extra costs, of course. In addition, there’s always lodging, food and memorabilia expenses, not to mention what people spend in airports. This particular ad claimed that the Iguazu Falls National Airport had the best duty free shop in the world. The ad starred Araceli Gonzalez, one of Argentina’s most popular actresses.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to learn that Puerto Iguazu and Foz do Iguacu combine their tourist efforts to support the area mutually?