By: G. Werner
We arrived at the Brazilian city of Foz do Iguaçu on Friday, a relatively large town which is located on the border between Brazil and Paraguay, Ciudad del Este by the Ponte Das Amizade. In the state of Parana, the city has a unique geographical standpoint due to its proximity with both the Argentinian and Paraguayan border marked by the Marco das tres fronteiras. It’s a monument built at the junction of the Iguaçu River, where the Iguaçu falls are located and the Parana River is where the Itaipu hydroelectric powerplant can be found.
On Saturday we departed early from the hotel to explore the Refugio Biologico Bela Vista. This natural reserve was created as part of the deal drafted between both countries which funded the Itaipu project. The reserve was developed on what was previously soy plantations as a method of recovering the vast forest area lost during the flooding of the dam’s reservoir. It was a measure to recover the ciliary vegetation surrounding the lake, consequently preventing the soil erosion of the river basin.
The park contains several endangered species from the rainforest biome and the facilities of the reserve act as a pioneer for green architecture and veterinary research. Among the species we observed were the highly endangered black jaguar and the harpy eagle, which is among one of the largest in the world and is able to carry a small antelope. That same day we visited the Polo Astronomico, which is part of Itaipu’s campaign to promote science and education in the region. There, we had a lecture on astronomy and the solar system, had the opportunity to see the sun through one of their telescopes and watch a video with regards to our solar system and curiosities of the universe.
The scenery is spectacular and the falls are massive. What is particularly stunning is the contrast between the rocks, vegetation and the imposing walls of water alongside the phenomenal number and variety of butterflies. Among the animals you can find are the Quati, which looks like a giant squirrel and walks around the trails in search of snacks from the tourists. That same day, during the afternoon, we went on a guided tour of the Itaipu hydroelectric powerplant, which was particularly interesting due to the complexities of this concrete behemoth. Truly a tour worth taking due to the engineering challenges that had to be overcome in order to achieve its rightfully earned title of the world’s largest electricity output hydroelectric plant in the world.On the second day we crossed the border and travelled to Argentina where we were able to see the Argentinian side of the Iguaçu National Park and have a unique view of the Iguaçu Falls, particularly the section called the Devil’s Throat. It is where the falls converge in a semi-circular wall of water. Its sheer volume per second make it a sight to behold. The following and final day was my personal favourite because we visited the Brazilian side of the national park, a sight whose natural beauty makes it worthy of its title among one of the seven natural wonders of the world.