Paraguay – Ciudad del Este
In downton Ciudad del Este there is not much to see. However, there are many exchanges, clothes stores, groceries or electro shops. There are several ugly old builgings making depresing mood. However, there is beautiful San Blas cathedral with timeless confessional which includes air-conditioning. Nearby, there is a large mosque with two minarets and a huge white dome. There are many parks around the city with some workout equipment and sporting areas. A bike circuit around Lago de la Republica lake is great as well. You can observe birds there. There is also a wharf and an amphitheater. Apart from buidlings, there is lots of greenery mostly lapacho trees (in this time of the year they blossom rose flowers making otherwise concrete city better). Jezuita Plaza is an interesting shopping town bit remote from downtown. It is n the style of a historic town. Streets, colorful houses, bridges, lamps make all a classic village. In every house is a shop selling world-known brands or there are restaurants. Quite an interessting idea.
Salto del Monday waterfall is situated on the edge of the town. There we ride on a bus to see it. It is quite large cascade waterfall which makes beautiful panorama in the landscape with dense tree cover. There is a lift on the bottom part. You can use it to get down to the river and see its rumbling water currents. There are not so many people for Iguazu, a nearby waterfall, attracts all atention Upon seeing Iguazu myself, I must say that the former got significantly smaller in my eyes. However, I still liked it.
North from Ciudad del Este, there is huge Binacional Itaipú hydroelectric powerplant on the Parana River (it belongs both to Paraguay and Brasil). You can visit the power plant for free. This colossal hydroelectric power plant is the largest of its kind in the world (the Three Gorges Dam in China has higher performance). . Itaipú produces almost 80 % of Paraguayan consumption. It was constructed between the years 1975–1984. The cost was ca. 20 billion USD dollars. The water flooded an area of 1 350 km2 meaning that water consumed the Sete Quedas waterfall. Upon registration at the administrative building, we set off on a bus to the dam itself. First, we make a stop at a scenic point which gives us a splendid vista over the dam. Then we ride right beneath the dam and pass by turbines. The return journey takes us up on the dam from where we see the large flooded area. All it takes about an hour.
Near the administration there is a museum of etnography, local fauna, flora and detailed description of the construction of the dam. Near the museum, there is a zoo. Well, it is a rather a rescue for animals inflicted by changes in local landscape. Everything is free of charge. It is sort of a compensation to the locals for damaging local ecosystem due to construction. In the vicinity of the power plant, several stations and reserves were constrcuted for animals. You can stay over night at local cottages there. And this we initially planned. Refugio Tati Yupi (about 26 km) is the closest one but we cant visit it. Local schools have booked the area until the end of the month. Another private reserve (there are eight of them) is 70 kilometers away. It is not easy to reach it without having a car. Therefore, I recommend to book it in advance.
Ciudad del Este and its surroundings is place rich on things to do for couple of days. Moreover, Paraguayans are very kind and will make your visit in the city and outside of it even more pleasant. On our way to Iguazu waterfalls in Argentine, you can use a bus from Ciudad d. E. to Puerto Iguazu (there you transfer to a bus which takes you to the waterfalls). Tourists are not allowed to transport fruits and vegetables over the border. However, I recommend to buy some food supplies etc. in Paraguay. Argentine is a much more expensive country. A Czech citizen doesn't need a visa to visit either Paraguay or Argentina.The border crossing is easy.
Text and photos: Tomáš Novák
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