Ciudad del Este and Foz do Iguaçu are frontier towns in Paraguay and Brazil respectively, connected by Puente De La Amistad, meaning The Bridge of Friendship. The bridge is built over the Parana River that separates the border cities, and at this place, the river is hardly a kilometre in breadth. It was thrilling to be at the bridge and see Brazil on the other side. I made my first trip to Paraguay by visiting the capital city of Asuncion in December 2013. From Asuncion, I took an overnight 5-hr bus ride to reach Ciudad del Este.
Brazil is one of the difficult countries to do business with if you want to sell your products there because of the cumbersome registration process and higher duties & taxes totaling more than 170%. Ciudad del Este is a free zone as well as one of the biggest wholesale markets in South America, which depends on the traders from Brazil. Both countries have a free trade agreement between them, enabling free flow of goods without having to undergo registration or payment of duties. On either side of the bridge, there are immigration checkpoints, but I found hardly any checking at these points. A non-Brazilian with Brazilian visa can get into Ciudad el Este through this entry point without having to undergo any checking. Foz do Iguaçu International Airport is the nearest airport which is hardly 30-minute drive from Ciudad del Este. I had traveled to Ciudad del Este through this route a couple of times without having Paraguay visa and faced no problems at the entry or exit point.
Ciudad del Est is a sleepy place that goes quiet quite early at nights. It is more a commercial city than a leisure one though a few casinos dot the city. The wholesale market opens as early as 8 a.m. and closes around 5 p.m. Past 6 p.m., the city is without any hustle bustle. People from Ciudad del este drive to Foz do Iguacu for dining and shopping. With my business partner, I made such an outing to the Brazilian city.
Foz do Iguacu decked up for Christmas:
The most famous attraction in Foz do Iguacu is Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall in the world, falling on the border of the Argentinian province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Parana. I took a trip with my friend from Ciudad del Este to the Falls in December, 2019. The Iguazu River rises in the largest city, Curitiba, of Brazil and passes through the state of Parana in Brazil, later bordering with Argentina before the falls, More than 80% of the falls is situated on the Argentinian side while most of the river basin is in Brazil.
Around USD 25 is the entrance fee to the Falls. A bus ride through a neatly maintained forest-park for 10 minutes takes you to the Fall’s extended-basin side. Then, you have to take a walk uphill to the Falls, enjoying the Falls in its virgin beauty as you stream up and the falls wade down. Though it sounds oxymoron, one has to climb to reach falls.
A picture from the spot where we were dropped by the bus:
Walking up to the Falls.
As we climbed, there were outreach-spots to view the falls as well as for photo ops.
People taking boats to get closer to the Falls was a usual sight.
As we walked along the way to the Falls, enjoying its burbling sounds and awesome beauties.
A closer look at the Falls:
Water looks at its best when it flows down as frothing white streams. And the beauty gets augmented when water columns are made to come together and jump in their pristine beauty:
There is a 1-km long footbridge, a walkaway over the river’s widest stretch named the Devil’s Throat, and the bridge takes you closer to the Falls on the Argentinian side. The roam and spray is the most mighty here. One will get fully wet in the spray on the bridge.
You can board a lift if you want to get a view of the Falls from the top. At the top, there are structures built to outreach to the Falls as close as possible. You can witness the mighty Fall from a few meters away and experience its fumy canopy, along with burbling sounds at its highest pitch.
The following pictures cover both Brazilian and Argentinian sides of the Falls:
The lower Iguazu collects in a canyon that downstream into the Parana River.
This confluence-junction of the two rivers is called Tri Junction that marks the borders among Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. There is a land point of the Tri Junction that frontiers these three countries, with three roads heading to cities of Foz do Iguacu, Brazil; Puerto Iguazu, Argentina; and Ciuadad del Este, Paraguay. Tri Junction is a popular tourist attraction. One has to cross this point to go to Ciuadad del Este from Foz do Iguacu.
The visit was a sweat and shower experience. As I walked up to the Falls, I sweated profusely. But at the Devil’s Throat and near to the Fall’s top, the sweats were blown away by the spray-showers. It was a 5-hour extravaganza with nature’s wonder. At the end, I was tired but did take home the freshness of the Falls showered by the sprays, with the burbling sounds humming in the ears.