"Famed Waters only One Small Part of State" Top 5 Page for this destination Estado do Parana by glabah
Estado do Parana Travel Guide: 844 reviews and 2,193 photos
Paraná is three things:
+ It is a state in southern Brasil, and the third southern most state in that country.
+ It is the name of the river that forms the western boundary of Brasil and Argentina through this area with the country of Paraguay.
+ It is also the name of a tree (see my tip about the tree) which is common in this state of Brasil, and has become a frequently used emblem of the State of Paraná.
Only a very small section of the state touches the Atlantic Ocean, but there is a fairly important port on the coast called Paranagua which among other things is a busy soybean export location. From the ocean the land slopes steeply up hill, so that much of the state is actually somewhat rolling highlands at a reasonable elevation (some 3,000 feet, or 900 meters or so). Much of the land was once forest, but has been converted to large scale monoculture crops with only scattered remains of the original forest ecosystem.
For the most part, I have put the tips associated with my visits to Estado do Paraná into the various cities they are closest to. I have actually spent a fair amount of time in this state, but most of that was doing volunteer service. While I had some wonderful experiences here, I also didn't get out and do tourist activities that much. One day, when I am rich and famous (OK, I'll settle just for rich), I will actually do some serious tourist type traveling here! There are some very good things in this state of Brasil that have received little notice in the general tourist press.
In any event, I had a wonderful time in Paraná, but the tips you want to read are actually located mostly in cities and other locations within the state, rather than at the state level.
By far the most famous tourist feature in the state of Parana are the waterfalls at the Foz do Iguaçu (See photo above). This is located in the Parque Nacional do Iguaçu near the actual city named Foz do Iguaçu. I have not written about them extensively as they are one of the most famous tourist attractions in the world, and I see little point in adding more material to a place that has already received so much international attention.
Perhpas the most famous train trip in Brazil today is the tourist trip between Curitiba and Paranaguá. This trip travels through the remaining coastal forest along the steeply sloping coast. While it is considered "mountains" in the terminology, the fact is these "mountains" are actually a single-sided descent from a very high plateau on which most of Paraná sits down to ocean level.
The vast majority of the train trip is through unspoiled forests. Unfortunately, while everyone talks of the train going from Curitiba to Paranaguá, the fact is that for the majority of passenger trips the current service only extends to Morretes. However, for the tourist oriented service of this line this is probably the best end point. Paranaguá has some interesting looking old buildings in its downtown area, but unfortunately the parts of the town I saw looked almost completely abandoned, as if the buildings hadn't seen any people for decades.
Serra Verde Express, which operates the passenger train, has developed a good web site over the last few years. While this is an intercity train trip, and therefore the photos taken along the line are most appropriate in the state of Paraná pages. However, my tips on where to stay near the train station in Curitiba are located in the Curitiba section. The train trip timetable is set up for those who are spending their time in Curitiba and spending the afternoon touring the forest on the way back up the hill in small vans.
I cover this train in two places on my Travelogues: a 2002 trip and a 2003 trip from August.
However, this is not the only tourist train operating in Paraná. If you are interested in a somewhat more exotic experience, I suggest going south to Santa Catarina and the train trip that operates out of Rio Negrinho, but the nearest significant city that is a logical tourist base for that tirp is Curitiba as well.
The capital of the state of Parana, and its largest city, is Curitiba. Many urban designers and planners from all over the world have visited this city to examine the urban planning and transportation system. It is particularly well known for its high capacity bus lines that act more like a train system.
For the non-bureaucrat, Curitiba also has a lot to offer. There are wonderful gardens, for example. The spectacular train trip that goes between Curitiba and the coast is adequately mentioned above.
While the Foz do Iguaçu National Park is where most tourists go, the majority of the services (restaurants, hotels, etc.) are to be found in the city called Foz do Iguaçu, which is slowly spreading towards the entrance to the park. City bus service is available between the park entrance and downtown.
Most of my time has been spent in Londrina, which is the second largest city in the state but has only a few attractions of minor interest.
Maringá has a few attractions, including a cone-shaped cathedral with an observation deck at the very top, a "Pioneer Park" with some historical displays and some preserved native forest land, and a natural preservation park with some animal dispalys.
Beside the highway between Londrina and Curitiba there is a state park known as Vila Velha. This state park is not in the VirtualTourist database, but to Brazilians is a reasonably well known tourist attraction. The park contains a number of large rocks that have been carved by the weather into various shapes. I have never been there. The closest reasonably sized city to this location is Ponta Grossa, but even there the VT database only has one photo of Vilha Velha. The easiest access, if you are using public transit, is to take a bus that originates in Curitiba. Several other people have written about it already, and I have put links to some of the useful information in a Vila Velha Tip in the hopes that I may one day have the opportunity to visit.
Places I would like to visit in Parana, but have never been able to do so, include the great rocks at Vila Velha, and many of the other scenic places in this state.
I only briefly got to visit the historic and beautiful buildings in Paranagua, Morretes and Antonino, and they deserve a more extensive visit.
Unfortunately, a lot of the state has been coverted to agriculture so severely that in many areas little remains of what must have at one time been a very beautiful state. What remains, however, is still quite spectacular.
- Pros:There is a lot to do here, with a lot of variety. There are no huge cities like Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paulo in this state. Curitiba has enough city feel to be good for most, without the huge hazards of big cities. São Paulo is reasonably close.
- Cons:Not famous for its music or big Carnaval celebrations (which could be an advantage - go somewhere unusual). Only about 10% of original natural area remains - huge tracts of farm land without *any* trees make interior travel rather boring.
- In a nutshell:Each visit makes me want to come back.
This odd looking "pine" tree (which isn't actually a pine) is the symbol of the state of Paraná in a number of different... more travel advice
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