Finding Heaven in Foz do Iguassu, Brazil

  • Laura Fornadel
  • 9 July 2009

They’re certainly not hidden from sight. Jettisoned by their enormous power, towering rainbow-spangled plumes of mist carry spray over the Tríplice Fronteira (Triple Frontier) where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet. Hundreds of hotels in the vicinity serve the interests of travellers from all across the planet who come to gawk at them.

The Floriano Falls at Foz do Iguassi

The Floriano Falls at Foz do Iguassu

‘They’, of course, are the small piece of heaven in Foz do Iguassu (also written Foz do Iguaçu), the fourth largest city in the Paraná state of Brazil. And no, we don’t mean the city’s Buddhist Temple or the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab mosque (the largest outside the Middle East), but, rather, a spectacular natural wonder and the area’s number one attraction: the massive and thundering Iguassu Falls. Once you’ve laid your eyes on these awe-inspiring cascades, you’ll certainly understand why.

Iguassu Falls and National Park

Iguassu Falls, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the widest waterfalls in the world, with a total of 275 spillways spread out along 2.7 kilometres of the Iguaçu River and with a flow equal to three times that of Niagara Falls in the USA. All that water powers the world’s largest hydroelectric generator built into the Itaipu Dam. A guided tour of the Brazilian falls includes a walk along a path that runs into the river canyon and extends to the lower base of the Devil’s Throat, a vast and towering U-shaped cataract on the border between Argentina and Brazil.

Cataracts speedboats take you close to the action at the Iguassu Falls

Cataracts speedboats take you close to the action at the Iguassu Falls

The falls may be the area’s primary drawing card, but in the surrounding Iguassu National Park, travellers will be equally amazed by rich and subtropical vegetation, as well as wildlife including jaguars, ocelots, howler monkeys and giant anteaters. Organised tours of the park, like the one along the Black Well Trail, take in some of its most memorable sights.

Buddhist Temple

While the Iguassu Falls are ideal for adventurers and nature-lovers, they are not the only reason to visit Foz do Iguassu!

If you’re searching for serenity and an escape from the crowds, look no further than the city’s Buddhist Temple, one of the least-visited places and an ideal location for contemplation. The temple’s positively charged atmosphere greets visitors with over 100 statues of bodhisattvas, or those working towards Enlightenment, their hands extended forward in a gesture of welcome. Each conveys something spiritual about life, mainly health, joy and luck. Other statues of dragons, elephants and a large reclining Buddha also adorn the 42-hectare garden-filled grounds.

Statues confer positive energy to the grounds of the Buddhist Temple visible in the background

Statues confer positive energy to the grounds of the Buddhist Temple visible in the background

The main temple itself – covering 2,500 square metres – is the largest in Brazil. The local Chinese communities of the tri-border area built it, and all of the temple’s interior statues were shipped from China. The balcony of the temple is a very favourable lookout point with views of Acaray Island, the Paraná River, Bridge of Friendship, parts of Foz do Iguassu and the centre of Ciudad Del Este, Paraguay. For an equally splendid vista, stand beside the seven-metre-high golden seated Buddha, Mi La Pu-san, who appears to be laughing and delights all who gaze upon him.

The temple is a central point of prayer and meditation for Buddhists in Foz do Iguassu and the surrounding region. ‘ORBI’ is written above the entrance, meaning ‘place of heaven’. Given how few tourists visit the temple, it truly is a refuge.

The temple is located in the California Garden on Aluízio Ferreira de Souza St 99 and is open Thursday to Saturday from 9:00 to 17:00 and Sunday from 10:00 to 15:00.

For more information about Foz do Iguassu, including accommodations, tours, activities and lots of insider tips, contact your local whl.travel connection: the team from Falls Vision Receptivo at www.iguassu-hotels.com.br.

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adventure travel, architecture & landmarks, Brazil, holy sites, local knowledge, South America, waterfalls, WHL Group newsletter, world heritage,

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