The Falls

After three days in Asuncion with my parents, our group made its way to Iguazu Falls on the border between Argentina and Brazil.  Since it would have been awfully uncomfortable for the seven of us to sit crammed into our car for six to seven hours, my mom and Kev and I flew to Ciudad del Este on Paraguay’s border with Argentina and Brazil.


Brian, my dad, Patrick, and Danny dropped my mom, Kev, and I off at the airport at 4:30am and just kept driving.  Around 10:30, they met us in Ciudad del Este and we all headed to Brazil.  Traffic was slow as we left CdE and crossed over the Paraná River on the Friendship Bridge connecting Paraguay and Brazil.


Our first stop in Brazil was a bird park.


All three boys were fascinated by the koi pond at the park entrance.


We saw easily recognizable birds such as flamingos.


There were many interesting and unusual birds, some of which we did not recognize.


We saw a bird dragging a dead mouse in its beak, though we left before consumption began.


We saw another bird, of the same mouse-eating species, that did a lot of screeching.


Patrick quickly ran away when another mouse-eating bird started walking towards him.

We watched toucans having lunch.


We saw owls.


We watched tiny little hummingbirds.

In the non-bird category, the park had snakes, fish, turtles, and alligators. 

There were many beautiful tropical plants.


The boys liked the butterflies.

We saw parakeets who are apparently messy eaters.


I had never seen a Southern cassowary before.  It was the size of a small cow, has a ridge on its head, and has interesting coloration.  This bird does not fly.


The highlight of our visit was probably the macaws.  There were so many of them in the enclosure and they were beautifully and brightly colored.

Some birds at the park, including these two injured macaws, had been rescued from traffickers and were no longer able to fly.


Danny and my mom, the two biggest bird lovers in the family, especially enjoyed our visit.  Danny kept hiding in the plants (perhaps thinking we would just let him stay in the park with his new bird friends?) and my mom took lots of pictures.


Everyone had fun at the bird park!

We loaded back into the car and headed towards our hotel.  We left our car at the entrance to the national park and took a bus to the hotel, the only one in the park.


It was a 15-minute drive to our absolutely gorgeous hotel.

We walked into the well-decorated lobby and checked in.

We walked up a majestic staircase past two large jungle animal paintings and down a long hallway.

Brian and I were excited to learn we had been upgraded from two basic adjoining rooms to an amazing two bedroom corner suite with six balconies and a large sitting room.  The woman at the reception desk noted that since Brian and I were repeat guests (we had spent our tenth wedding anniversary here a few years ago) and they were happy we had returned with our family, they upgraded us!  The suite was really beautiful.


We took our hungry and tired kids to the pool for a little swimming and a snack. Kev had fun wearing my hat!

Waiters at the pool served guests fruit on skewers.


Kev chased butterflies around the pool deck.


Once the waterfalls closed at 5:30, all park visitors who were not hotel guests left the falls leaving the trails practically deserted.   We hiked the trails around 6pm and it was perfect – we had the place to ourselves!  Aside from being beautiful, the real advantage to the hotel is that guests have access to the falls anytime even when the park is closed.



He highlight of the park is la garganta del diablo (“the devil’s throat”), an enormous wall of water pouring over the cliffs of the river.

Kev, who had been a bit hot and sweaty, especially loved the mist from the falls spraying his face and cooling him down.

The walk was beautiful!


The boys were excited to see several coatis (aggressive raccoon-like critters) run past us a few times on our hike, “coati parades” the boys called it.


We also saw some fairly large lizards walking the trails.

We walked back up to the hotel and poor Kev was a bit worn out by the afternoon’s activities and fell asleep.


We ate dinner at the buffet in the hotel dining room.  Grandma and Grandpa entertained Kevin with a napkin –  or was it the other way around?


The next morning we visited the Argentine side of the falls.  It was a long day since the park is huge and it’s harder to get around.  To reach the top of the falls requires on a lot of walking or taking two trains with long lines.  

Despite all the signs warning against feeding the coatis, we still saw more than a few park visitors tossing food to the animals.

We only saw one thing at the park – la garganta del diablo – the highlight of the park where the falls begin and it stilltook us several hours to do only that. Although it was not easy to get to, the garganta del diablo was impressive.  On the Brazilian side of the falls, the garganta is directly in front of visitors, while on the Argentine side, visitors are above the garganta and look down to see it.


Patrick and Danny were amazed by the butterfly that landed on my mom’s hand as we left the garganta.  On the way down to the park exit, my mom and the kids and I took the train. Brian and my dad walked – and beat us to the bottom.

When we got back to our hotel in Brazil, we went to the pool for a little swim.  The kids had an early dinner (yes, Danny is licking the ketchup from that bowl) and the adults had a snack. 

Sophisticated Kev lounged in his hotel bathrobe, unwinding from the long day.

Brian and I put the exhausted kids to bed and met my parents for dinner by the pool. 


I had a shrimp appetizer and duck confit (forgot to take a picture of the duck). My mom and Brian drank caipirinhas, the famou Brazilian drink.  (See here for more info about caipirinhas and when Danny and Patrick learned how to make them during a trip to Rio.)

Early the next morning just after sunrise, I met my dad and we walked the empty trails while the rest of the family slept.


After breakfast, my parents and Kevin and I played at the pool while Brian took Danny and Patrick to walk the trails again before we had to pack up.

The boys had one more chance to play with the large outdoor chess set, or chest as the kids called it.  They had played with it every chance they got during the trip.


Brian and the kids and I climbed to the top of the hotel bell tower.


Since the boys had been (mostly) well behaved, we finally allowed them to go out on one of our suite’s balconies.


After lunch, with an amazing salmon wrap for me and a highchair nap for Kev, it was time to leave.  


We took the hotel shuttle back to the park entrance, loaded back into our car, and headed to the airport.

The boys had one last snuggle with Grandma and Grandpa.


About 24 hours after we said good by to my parents in Argentina, we both arrived at our respective homes – them having having flown three flights to get back to Chicago (including an overnight flight from Buenos Aires to Miami) and us having driven many hours and spent the night at a hotel in Ciudad del Este that had no running water the next morning.   Everyone was glad to be home!  What a great adventure we had enjoyed together!

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