Day 1, Thurday
Over São Paulo to Foz do Iguaçu, Brazilian Side of the Falls
Arrival in São Paulo (GRU) and connecting flight to Foz do Iguaçu (IGU), to the biggest cataracts of the world. Pick-up and transfer to the hotel Tropical das Cataratas Eco Resort. Beside its exclusive location right next to the falls the hotel features lush tropical gardens and swimming pool. After relax, visit of the Brazilian side of the falls. The view from the Brazilian side is the most panoramic. Formidable views of the spectacular “devil's throat”, Garganta del Diablo, where fourteen falls drop 350 ft with such force that there is always a 100 ft cloud of spray overhead. Watch for the rainbow!
For a close up view, walk with the guide through the subtropical forest of Iguaçu National Park to the base of Salto Floriano and take the elevator to the top of the falls. On your way you encounter the lush growth within the perpetual mist of spray in the lower parts of the park, where tree ferns like Cyatheaceae, lianasand epiphytes, with species of Ilex, Podocarpus, Aspidosperma, Cedrela and Philodendron can be observed. Dinner at the hotel. Overnight.
The Iguaçu Falls
Higher and twice as wide as Niagara Falls, 275 cascades spreading in a horseshoe shape over nearly two miles of the Iguazu River, Iguazu Falls are the result of a volcanic eruption which left yet another large crack in the earth.
These matter of fact details do nothing to describe the grandeur of the falls, the tremendous amount of water (an average of 553 cu ft per second) thundering down 269 ft, the tropical location and the sheer beauty that led Eleanor Roosevelt to say “poor Niagara”. Four times the width of Niagara Falls, Iguazu Falls are divided by various islands into separate waterfalls. During the rainy season of November to March, the rate of flow may reach 450,000 cubic feet (12,750 m³) per second.
Iguazu Falls, called Foz do Iguaçu in Portuguese, and Cataratas del Iguazú in Spanish, lie on the Argentina-Brazil border and are a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. The falls are part of a singular practically virgin jungle ecosystem protected by Argentine and Brazilian national parks on either side of the cascades.
The name of the falls comes from the Guaraní word for “great water”. The first Spanish explorer to see the falls (did you see the film "The Mission"?) was Álvarez Núñez Cabeça de Vaca in 1541.
Day 2, Friday
From Foz do Iguaçu to the Argentine Iguazú National Park
You will spend the whole day to discover the falls on the Argentine side of the river, where two thirds of the falls are. From the Argentine side you take a series of catwalks over the water rushing into Devil's Gorge. Protective rain suits are provided. On guided excursions to the Sendero Macuco and the Circuito Yacaratia you botanize through the mainly humid subtropical deciduous forest of the Iguazú National Park. Umbrella-shaped Paraná pine Araucaria angustifolia, assaí palm Euterpe edulis, the delicious palm hearts, wild coconut palm Cocos romanzoffiana, Imbuya or “Brazilian walnut” Phoebe poros and Ficus monckii are only some of the species that can be found.
Returning to the Hotel in the late afternoon. You may want to take a refreshing swim in the splendid pool of the hotel, but there is also time left to pay a visit to the Parque das Aves, right next to the hotel, featuring exotic birds from all over the world in a gigantic open-air aviary.
For the evening, we suggest to go to a folkloric show that features music and dances with colorful decorations of the Paraguayan / Argentine / Brazilian border at Iguazu. Otherwise dinner at the hotel. Overnight.
Day 3, Saturday
From Foz do Iguaçu over Curitiba and by Train Through the Atlantic Coastal Mountain Range to Morretesm, the Sapitanduva Private Reserve and Paranaguá
Early check-out and transfer to the airport. Flight from Foz do Iguaçu to Curitiba, capital of Paraná state. Your guide botanist Dr. Gerd Hatschbach will pick you up und transfer you to the Serra Verde train station. From here train down to the coast. The beautiful ride leads you through the Atlantic costal mountain range, called Serra do Mar, with its primary mountainous rainforests. Alongside 14 tunnels and 41 bridges and viaducts, innumerous steep precipices, springs and waterfalls will be passed on the 110 km railway built in 1885. Arrival at Morretes, a 1721 founded town with beautiful colonial architecture located hillside forming the entrance to the coastal valley. Lunch in a riverside restaurant, e.g. the local specialty Barreado.
In the afternoon Dr. Hatschbach private nature reserve Sapitanduva with 300,000 m² extension and 4 km of paths. Here, more than 95 % of the native flora and species from other regions, sometimes already extinct in nature, can be observed. He will present you the species typical for the southern Atlantic rainforest like Spirotheca passifloroides with its strangler roots and thorn trunk. Very photogene is Vochsyia bifalcata because of its beautiful yellow blossoms. Cecropia glaziovii produces active components, which are used for cancer treatments. Delicious palm hearts are extracted from the up to 25 m high Euterpe edulis palm trees, while increase of virility is awarded to the fruits of Bactris lindmaniana. On the relatively small area many rare and endangered species like Araceas, Orquidaceas or Cactaceas are cultivated. Transfer to the seaport of Paranaguá and check-in at the Camboa resort hotel. Fresh sea fruit is served for dinner in a fine seafood restaurant. Overnight.
Day 4, Sunday
Paranaguá Bay with the Honey Island and Superagüi National Park
After breakfast you embark for a 3 hr boat ride through the Paranaguá bay. Passing the Ilha do Mel (Honey Island), with its each year more narrowing isthmus splitting the island in two, you ship through the channels of the river delta system along its mangrove forests and many islands to the historic fishermen village of Guaraqueçaba. Check-in a simple, but clean seaside guest house.
In the afternoon, accompanied by Dr. Hatschbach and Mrs. Guadelupe Vivekananda, the parks director, you will visit the National Park and will surely be thrilled by its exuberant flora and fauna. You encounter some the typical plants of the coastal lowlands next the Atlantic mountain ranges, e.g. Galesia gorarema, with its penetrating garlic smell, the giant Pseudopiptadenia warmingii, one of the tallest trees of the Atlantic rainforest and the Schizobium parahybum of which's trees the local fishermen build their log boats. Dinner and overnight in Guaraqueçaba.
Day 5, Monday
Superagüi National Park and Guaraqueçaba Bay
A full day botanical discoveries in the Superagüi region lies ahead. The national park is the 3rd national marine park, with its unique environment of 21,000 hectares of subtropical forest / lagoon / oceanic island vegetation. The islands are home of the endangered macaw species red-tail amazon. The Superagüi National Park was created by federal decree on April 25th, 1989, and recognized as biosphere reserve by UNESCO in 1993. Dinner and overnight in Guaraqueçaba.
Day 6, Tuesday
From Guaraqueçaba over Paranaguá to Curitiba
Early departure by boat to Paranaguá and car drive to Curitiba. Check-in at the Four Point Sheraton Hotel. In the afternoon you will be taken for a sightseeing tour in the “most European” Brazilian city, including a visit of the futuristic museum built by the extraordinary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Dr. Hatschbach will take you to his “working table” the exiting botanical museum, where he is as head researcher, with a collection and taxonomy of 320,000 plants. The Museum is nationwide reference. In the nearby botanical gardens an over 200-year-old Araucaria angustifolia can be admired. Overnight in Curitiba.