This weekend just gone, 11 of the 12 Curitiba Cohorts took a propeller plane to Foz do Iguacu, a small city about 600km west of Curitiba. As I stepped out of the plane at about 8.30am on Saturday morning, I immediately felt the welcome, almost tropical warmth that we had been missing so much in chilly Curitiba. We were taken by taxi from the airport to the gates of the Iguacu National Park, and from there by a shuttle bus to the Hotel Belmond das Cataras, the only hotel set within the park on the Brazilian side.
The hotel, which was a former Portuguese colonial residence, is set a few hundred metres away from what has recently been voted one of the "New Natural Seven Wonders of the World" - over a hundred separate waterfalls that stretch 2.7 km along the border between Brazil and Argentina, and the views there are absolutely magnifient. Visitors to Foz do Iguacu can take helicopter rides over the falls, boat-trips through them, or hikes on either the Brazilian or the Argentinian side. I chose the hike on the Brazilian side down to the wooden walkway over the water close to the Garanta do Diabo (Devil's Throat). At the start of the hike, I came face to face with a large group of quatis, that are constantly on the lookout for unattended bags that possibly contain picnic food to grab. People are warned not to feed the quatis, which can carry rabies and be particularly vicious if you get between them and the food that they are trying to steal.
As the sun was shining, I was able to get some amazing panorama photos of the falls, complete with rainbows:
On the Sunday, I also visited the Parque des Aves, a bird park that includes many Brazilian species including toucans, macaws, parrots, and humming birds. In the park, you have the chance to walk through huge aviaries where the birds are free to fly cms above your head.
Of course, I also made the most of the luxury that the Belmont Hotel had to offer for the one night that I was there. All too soon we would be flying back to chilly Curitiba for the last two intensive weeks of our Social Sabbatical.