Las Tres Fronteras

  | Home | Americas | Brazil | Iguazu |
| Main Menu |  

Iguazu, the confluence of rivers and countries. The region is known as "Las Tres Fronteras", in Spanish at least, as it is where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay all come together. There are two main attractions in the region, one is the Cataratas do Iguassu - one of the largest waterfalls in the world - and the Itaipu dam, the world's largest power plant when we visited.

We took an internal Brazilian flight from Sao Paulo to Iguassu and stayed for two nights on the Brazilian side, seeing the falls, the dam, and Foz do Iguassu's less-than-vibrant nightlife scene, then caught a fifteen minute bus over into Argentina where we spent another night on the Argentine side of the falls. We also crossed into Paraguay for a brief visit. I have been told that there's a place in Brazil where it almost never stops raining - I don't know where it is but it can't be far from Iguassu.


Looking towards "La Garganta del Diablo" - the Devil's Throat, the most active part of the falls. Brazil is on the left, Argentina is on the right. The only other waterfall in the world in the same league as Iguazu is the Victoria Falls in southern Africa.

The view from Brazil into Argentina. As Argentina has most of the waterfalls themselves, the views from Brazil tend to be better, but more distant.


The Norwegian Blue

Encounter with a parrot - I don't think this is the Norwegian Blue, but he's definitely not an ex-parrot.

Looking towards La Garganta again, you can see the little walkway that will take you right to the edge of the step halfway down the falls, depending on how watery a falls experience you would like.



A view from the end of the walkway towards the heaviest part of the falls. This was proper camera-disabling spray here.

Toucans in their nests agree, Guinness is good for you. Try one for yourself and see, what one or toucan do!

See what one or toucan do...


From higher up on the Brazilian side you can see more of the falls and get a clearer overview, although this still represents only a small length of the entire waterfall system.

A smaller section of the falls in Argentina. Despite the rain, we had actually arrived during the drier season - there were postcards for sale that showed the falls with much more water cascading over.


Rio Parana

We took a speedboat trip up the river for a bit more of a soaking, and it was clear that the river often runs much higher, judging by the bare darkened rock. The falls must be an order of magnitude all the more impressive when in spate.

The swanky hotel Tropical das Cataratas in the Brazilian side of the park. Although I dare say it wasn't quite as fancy as the Pousada Campestre where we stayed for a few coins per night.

Hotel Tropical das Cataratas

Foz do Iguassu

The city of Foz do Iguassu sprang up almost overnight when work began on the nearby Itaipu dam. There was a slightly uneasy feel to the place, and being a frontier town probably doesn't help. It was difficult to locate any sort of nightlife, and once we'd seen the falls and the dam there was nothing more to keep us there.

The Itaipu Dam was a joint venture between Brazil and Paraguay, built throughout the 70s and 80s to supply power to a quarter of Brazil and almost the entire country of Paraguay. Like any major project it was not without controversy, but for all the rainforest that disappeared beneath the reservoir, so much more was saved from burning for conventional power generation. The car next to the nearest white pipe gives a sense of scale.

Dam it's big


The spillways are opened to allow the Rio Parana to flow faster from time to time if necessary, but not on this day. When running at capacity, the spillways discharge forty time as much water as the Iguazu falls.

A view of the dam from the visitors' gallery, from this distance it's difficult to get a real sense of scale. The dam is just under two hundred metres tall, about the same as a fifty-storey office building.

No more dam jokes, please

Top of page

Copyright © Ross Wattie 2006-2018