With the hot weather in Brazil it has been nice to have a cold beer at the end of the afternoon. However the best part about the beer is that it is cold. The main brands have, to be honest, been quite tasteless similar to much of the beer in South America generally. Brazil has received lots of immigrants over the years and there are communities from Japan, Italy and many other countries scattered around the country. In the South of Brazil an area was settled by immigrants from Germany and they have retained much of their German customs and traditions including brewing Pilsner the pure way. So with Christmas approaching we decided to head to Blumenau to see if we could stock up with some good beer for Christmas. Blumenau hosts the second largest Oktoberfest in the world and whilst we had missed that we were sure we could find some good beer at the small breweries in town. The first night we headed to an English pub that served German beer and English fish and chips. Wandering around the town it felt more like we were in Bavaria than Brazil. There were a number of alpine style buildings which seemed very strange in the heat.
The next morning we headed to the exhibition grounds called Vila Germanica. There was a Christmas market on and it was just like the markets we were used to from our time living in Central Europe. The girls enjoyed all the Christmas decorations and exhibits but said it felt strange it been nearly Christmas when it was so hot.
Later we headed to a brewery to grab some supplies. Not having satisfied our beer shopping needs we headed to another "German " town not far away called Pomerode. Here we decided to sample the beers before buying some more supplies. Wanting to sample them more extensively and to enjoy some German sausages we needed to find somewhere to park for the night. As we could not find anywhere we headed to the tourist office and they told us to just go and park at the local exhibition grounds where they had all the facilities and we could park for free. Very German, very nice and very well organised. We were then able to return to the brewery restaurant for dinner.
Our last stop in Brazil was Iguazu Falls. This necessitated another long 850km drive so we had 2 long driving days spending the night at a truck stop again. Along the way we stopped for our final Churrascaria at a truck stop for lunch. It was delicious.
Just outside Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian side is a Youth Hostel with nice camping. It also had a swimming pool so made a great place to camp up for our visit as it was hot again.
We intended to visit the falls on both the Brazilian and the Argentinian side. The Brazilian side gives a better panoramic view of the falls which stretch 2.7kms whilst the Argentinian side takes you closer to the falls although the pathway to the biggest falls had recently been washed away in the floods.
As it was a Sunday there was a long queue to get into the falls. Most of the visitors were Brazilian with only a smattering of non South American visitors. Once inside the park a bus took us to the start of the trail overlooking the falls. We had all visited the falls before on a holiday to Brazil and that time had stayed in a hotel inside the national park right next to the path overlooking the falls. This had been fantastic as we were able to walk the trail before the park opened. As we are Overlanding this time as opposed to just having a holiday the hotel was not an option.
However even with the crowds the views were just as spectacular as last time and the weather was fantastic too so that at various points rainbows appeared in the spray from the falls.
The trail is only about 1.5 kms long but the views along the way were truly memorable.
The trail finished at a large waterfall where you were able to get very close to the waterfall which also meant you got pretty wet from the spray.
We had a fantastic day out. Iguazu Falls have been voted one of the seven natural wonders of the world and it certainly lives up to its billing.
To get to the Argentine side of the falls meant we would be leaving Brazil and crossing the border. We have really loved Brazil and even though we have stayed over 2 months could have quite happily spent longer.
Even though it is only a short distance to get across the border it was still quite a long day. First money had to be sorted so we could take dollars into Argentina. Then the border needed to be negotiated, which turned out to be very easy and possibly our easiest border crossing. Then we needed to shop for food as we do not like to take much across a border as fresh food can be confiscated. In order to shop I first needed to find somewhere to get hold of pesos. On top of this we had forgotten that in Argentina everything closes from noon to 4pm for the afternoon siesta. Finally we had everything sorted but still needed to drive around a bit to find a camping spot. We finally found one that also had a pool but just before we arrived we had had a massive thunderstorm so it had cooled down a bit. Still Alisha and Lucy were keen to try the pool out.
The next morning we headed to the Argentine side of the falls. As it was a Tuesday and we arrived at opening time there was no queue and we were able to start the trails on our own. The views were again spectacular and we got to see the waterfalls both from the bottom and the top just before the water crashes over the ledge.
On the trails we also saw a large family of Coatis. Although they look cute there are signs everywhere warning you that they bite so you need to keep back from them. The kids loved seeing the baby ones role around and play. There were also lots of lovely birds and butterflies to see.