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January 2013

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Homepage -> Countries -> Brazil -> Foz do Iguaçu -> City Centre, Parque das Aves, Cathedral, Buddhist Temple, Mosque

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Flying over the Parana River near Foz do Iguaçu Bookmark and Share

Distances are long in Brazil so bus travel can last for several hours. But when buying in advance, flying can cost the same as taking the bus. There are several domestic airlines like TAM, Avianca and Gol.
We found a good price with Gol Airlines from the 2 hour flight from Rio de Janeiro to Foz de Iguaçu.

Sunset in Foz do Iguaçu

The flight itself was a great experience. After taking off we flew over Rio de Janeiro on a clear day, and that was the best way to understand the might of this city. The views of the beaches and the Sugar Loaf are amazing. After a few minutes, the plane goes inland and the only colour we saw down there was green: we flew over huge and dense forests for most of the time.

The soil is red in the area around Foz do Iguaçu, so during our descent we saw some red roads in the middle of the forest.
Once we got off the plane, we were kicked by a suffocating hot and humid weather!
Welcome to the Jungle!

Park in Foz do Iguaçu

Foz do Iguaçu is a not so small town in southern Brazil, home to some 250 000 people. Many people come here only for the mighty Iguaçu Falls, but Foz is actually a pleasant city to spend a few days. We spent a total of 5 days here, camping at the Favela Chic Hostel.

There are several parks, where locals go to run and work out, and also several interesting sights.
Foz do Iguaçu stands at the triple border with Ciudad del Este in and Puerto Iguazú.
But this is not a dusty town like Tabatinga, which is also at the triple border with Leticia in Colombia and Santa Rosa in Perú.

Find cheap flights to Foz do Iguaçu
The Cathedral of Foz do Iguaçu

Foz do Iguaçu is a truly cosmopolitan city.
First, its triple border location gives it a particular feeling: Spanish is widely spoken, or at least a blend of Brazilian Portuguese and Spanish called Portoñol.

Second, the Iguaçu Falls bring people from all over the world, so it's easy to find people from everywhere.

Third, the city’s location and its wealth have brought its lot of immigrants, who have opened business in Ciudad del Este, or restaurants, hotels, shops and travel agencies in Foz do Iguaçu.

Buddha in Foz do Iguaçu

People have brought their traditions with them, and Foz do Iguaçu is one of the few South American cities to boast a large mosque and a Buddhist Temple!
Unexpected, isn’t it? The main religion is still Catholicism and there are a lot of churches, but the Cathedral of Foz is rather small.
This is probably one of the only towns in South America where the cathedral isn't the largest religious building.

For a taste of the Far East, the Buddhist Temple of Foz do Iguaçu is surprising.

It’s located at the edge of the town, not that far from the Itaipu Dam. Bus 103 stops 2 minutes away from the main entrance.

Buddhist Temple in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil in Foz do Iguaçu

I wondered why was it built in such an isolated place, but it makes sense once passing the main gate.
We found ourselves in a peaceful place, surrounded by green fields and with views to Ciudad del Este, the Paraná River, and Foz do Iguaçu.

There are dozens of statues, inside and outside the temple.
Some of them were brought straight from Taiwan.

It’s certainly not the most impressive Buddhist temple I’ve visited, but these kinds of buildings are very rare in Latin America so the visit was totally worth.

Foz Do Iguaçu Mosque Omar Ibn Al-Khatab

For a taste of the Middle East, we headed to the Omar Ibn Al-Khatab Mosque, which was built in 1983.
For a couple of hours, I didn’t feel in South America but some tropical muslim country like Malaysia.
Rua Meca (Mecca Street), the street in front of the Mosque, has several Lebanese and Syrian restaurants.

In accordance with islamic traditions, women wear long sleeves and have their heads covered. This is a real contrast in Brazil, where ladies don't mind to dress lightly.
We couldn’t visit the Mosque inside, but the guard at the door was very welcoming and pleased that some travelers came to see it.

A Tucan in Iguaçu

Visiting the waterfalls is the main attraction of Foz Do Iguaçu, but the second best thing to do in town is the Parque das Aves.
This large bird park stands next door to the national park.

It’s impossible not to be charmed by those colourful toucans, ibises, parrots and other species! You might even want to take them home… but that’s the wrong thing to do.
Sadly, illegal traffic exists. Most birds from the bird park have been seized from traffickers who remove birds from their natural habitat in order to sell them.

cassowary bird

Other birds are endangered species, whose natural habitat has been modified or destroyed by human activities.
The Parque das Aves is not exactly a zoo, but a new home for these birds. They’re currently working on a programme to reinsert them into the jungle, but it’s not as easy as it seems. Cages are spacious and the lush vegetation recreates their habitat.

Some animals were brought for display, including a cassowary from Papua. That’s the largest bird I ever seen! It’s also a strong and grumpy one, he can easily kill a human. This lonely giant is waiting for a female, who is already on its way.
Along with the birds, the park also has spiders, crocodiles, snakes, turtles, iguanas and butterflies.

Hidden crocodile

Not far from Foz do Iguaçu is the Itaipu Dam.
It was the largest dam in the world until recently, when China built the Three Gorges Dam.
The dam is owned by both Paraguay and Brazil, and it’s one of the main income sources for Paraguay.

We didn’t go because only fast guided tours are available, which is normal because strict security rules are enforced.
It’s worth to note that a lot was destroyed to create this dam: thousands of kilometres of rainforest, indigenous villages and the Sete Quedas Waterfalls which allegedly were more impressive than the Iguaçu Falls.

Click here for some pictures of the Cataratas do Iguaçu.

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Red Ibis in Foz do Iguaçu
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