The Brazilian national park, Iguaçu National Park, is nearly three times bigger than its Argentine sister park (=1550km²), but again the highlights are the Iguazú River and the amazing Iguazú Falls… I booked a tour to the Brazilian side through my hotel (Sheraton) and had no problems crossing the border. I just showed my passport at the border, exit stamps etc. were not necessary. However, I don’t know the procedure today!
I heard the words “wow”, “great”, and “fantastic” numerous times when I was following the trail system along the river and waterfalls. So many amazing views… I visited the falls from both the Brazilian and the Argentine side. I came really close to the waterfalls in Argentina, but the Brazilian side provided better panoramic views. To get the total experience, go see the falls from both sides… but I preferred the views from the Brazilian side...
A fantastic scenery, and one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited!
I visited the falls from both the Brazilian and the Argentine side. I came really close to the waterfalls in Argentina, but the Brazilian side provided better panoramic views. To get the total experience, go see the falls from both sides… but I preferred the views from the Brazilian side...
However, my hotel was located in Argentina and I used most of my time on the Argentine side. I spent hours walking the trails along the river and the falls. The biggest fall is the ‘Garganta do Diablo’ (the Devil’s Throat) with a height of 80 meters. Very, very impressive… If you don’t want to walk all the way to the ‘Garganta do Diablo’, you can take the little train that runs through the national park.
A fantastic scenery, and one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited!
If I were to choose one of the two Circuits, the Upper one would get my vote. With the walkway system bridging the various streams very close to the edge, and small viewing platforms on each side, there were some amazing views both out along the cliff-face and down to the Lower Circuit.
Here, we are in one of the viewing platforms looking directly across to the viewing platform on the other side of the waterfall. If you look down, you can see what the people are doing on the Lower Circuit (bottom right corner of the photo). It was just nice to stand there and watch the infinite variations as the water smoothly flowed over the edge and dropped away!
Having used up the last of our time on the boat excursion, we returned to the park the next day on our own, via a taxi from our hotel. This time, we intended to tour the Upper Circuit that we had missed the day before.
As we started out on the walk, we had this panoramic view of some of the many cataracts along the 3-km long arc of waterfalls here. The small part of this arc that is equipped with catwalks and viewing platforms allowed us some great views as we walked along or hung out on the very lip of the waterfalls. The trail stops short of Salto San Martin, the most distant large waterfall in the photo.
A data-base on all of the major waterfalls in the world rates them on a number of factors. Being an engineer, I did a little summary of their statistics for the Big Three: Niagara (North America), Iguazu and Victoria (Africa). If you rate them by height it is Victoria (107-m) in first place, Iguazu (82-m) and Niagara (51-m). Width places the rankings as Iguazu (2.7-km), Victoria (1.7-km) and Niagara (1.2-km). Going for Average Waterflow sees Niagara in first (212 cubic-ft./sec), Iguazu (62 cfs) and Victoria (38 cfs). The final factor of Maximum Waterflow gives the nod to Iguazu (452 cfs), followed by Niagara (292 cfs) and then Victoria (250 cfs). If you then tally the points up on a 1, 2, 3 ranking basis, Iguazu comes out as the "Most Impressive Waterfalls in the World" with a combined total of 6 points (lowest number wins). Victoria and Niagara tied at 9 points each, but I would give the nod to Victoria because of it's better natural landscape due to far less obvious human intrusions (well, I may have been influenced by our Honeymoon there!).
By the time the waters of the Rio Iguazu have reached the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat), they have covered 1300-km (800-miles) from their origin near the Atlantic Ocean, starting at 1300-m elevation in the Sera do Mar mountains of eastern Brazil and are now only 25-km from the end of their journey, where the Iguazu merges with the even larger Rio Parana.
This section of the river flows over a large plateau of hard volcanic basalt rocks formed about 150 million years ago when lava bubbled to the surface through cracks in the earth's surface, then hardened. The constant flow of the water is gradually eroding these rocks as it plunges over the edge, falling 82-m (269-feet) into the lower river gorge.
Here, the spectators on the viewing platform are watching as the waters take one small step down onto a ledge before making the final leap to the bottom of the gorge.
We had a fantastic introduction to Iguazu Falls as our Aerolinas Argentinas jet was about to land in Puerto Iguazu after the flight from Buenos Aires. The pilot came on the intercom to announce that we would be passing directly over the spectacle as we prepared to land only a few kilometers outside Parque National del Iguazu!
With my camera at the ready, I was able to snap a few shots as we passed over the centre-piece of Iguazu, the main cataract of Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) as it plunges into the river gorge separating Argentina from Brazil.
If you expand the photo, you may also be able to see, starting just below the top left corner, the long and narrow metal catwalk that has been built to allow visitors to walk right to the lip of boiling white water where the Devil's Throat plunges into the gorge. The other major cataract, Salto San Martin, is visible in the top right corner of the scene. At the bottom right side (just in front of the aircraft wing) is the reddish roof of the major hotel in the National Park on the Brazil-side of the falls).
The good thing about staying at the Sheraton Iguazu Falls is that you are inside the park. After spending a few hours walking around the park in the heat, we decided we needed some cooling off, so off to the pool we went.
The pool is a really nice size where you can enjoy a few hours of lounging and cooling off. Ferni and I had a nice few hours of just relaxing.
There are many (not exactly sure how many, maybe 10-12) different and separate waterfalls located here in Iguazu Falls. Most of them are accessible and reachable by the three different Paseos, Paseo Garganta Del Diablo which will take you to the largest and most dramatic fall, Garganta Del Diablo; Paseo Superior which will give you a view of many of the falls from above the falls; and Paseo Inferior where you'll have a chance to get closer and view the falls from below. If you decide to got to Isla San Martin you will be abe to see a few other falls that are only visable from there (I'll be back with that information).
If you are pressed for time and are only in the park for 1/2 day, I would recommend that you take the Tren Ecologico to Paseo Garganta Del Diablo which will take about 1 hour of your time, make your way back to Paseo Inferior where in my personal opinion you will have some the best views of most of the falls here in Iguazu.
The picture here was taken from Paseo Inferior and is of Salto San Martin.
And.....here you are! After walking for about 10-20 minutes meandering through the catwalks and bridges anticipating the dramatic vew you are about to see, you finally reach them!!
The thundering of the water tumbling down to the gorge, the sheer amount of water that is in front of your eyes and the vastness and mist that sorrounds the falls is quite amazing!!
When you see something as dramatic and as powerful as Garganta Del Diablo words can't even describe their beauty. Take the time to contemplate at the magnificnet natural wonder that is right in front of you.
We were so pleased and happy to be able to see the falls for ourselves.
You will probably arrive to Paseo Garganta Del Diablo via El Tren Ecologico where you'll be dropped off right in front of the entrance the way to access the viewing of the largest and most dramatic of all the waterfalls found here in the park, Garganta Del Diablo!!
Just like the other two paseos, this one is a series of catwalks and bridges crossing over the Rio Iguazu meandering through lush jungle where you'll have the opportunity to see butterflies, birds, caiman, and a host of other animals before you even reach the falls themselves. Prior to approaching the falls you will be welcomed with the thundering noise that the falls make as they plummet to the gorge down below.
The walk takes about 15-20 minutes each way and there is a very large platform where you'll get the opportunity to view the falls, marvel at them and of course take plenty of pictures.
Plan on spending about 20-30 minutes here before making your way back to the rest of the park.
The view you see here of Salto San Martin to the right (left on the pic) of Salto Mbigua is from the Paseo Inferior. As you can see Salto San Martin is the fall with the larger volume of water adjacent to Salto Mbigua.
It's hard to distinguish the two falls and the only why you'd even know they are two separate falls is by consulting with your Iguazu Fall pamphlet. If you are viewing the falls from the Paseo Inferior you will see that they are to the right of Isla San Martin.
Salto San Martin is a large dramatic water fall with a large volume of water cascading down to the gorge below and the Rio Iguazu. It is here where you'll get the chance to experience the water falls up close and personal if you decide to take a boat ride on the Rio Iguazu.
Paseo Inferior or the Lower Trail is one of two such trails that provides you with some of the best views of the falls from a lower vantage point in Iguazu. Just like Paseo Superior, this trail is a series of paths and bridges that connect to different viewing platforms of some of most beautiful water falls you will ever see.
The Paseo Inferior allows you a greater view of the Igazu River along with the massive Garganta Del Diablo. You can also view Alsto Alvar Nunez, The Dos Hermanas falls and its here where you can also take a boat ride to Isla San Martin.
Walking along the paths and bridges was an experience we soon won't forget, the marvel of the roaring thunder of the of the powerful waterfalls are amazing and very romantic.
Salto Dos Hermanas are reached via Paseo Inferior and are two small waterfalls that are side by side and are joined by a common pool.
The falls are a stark contrast to the larger more dramatic cascading water falls you will find through out the park but were a nice welcoming sight. You could barely hear the falling sound of the water as it tumbled into the pool. It was a nice surprise to be able to take a few minutes and take in the soft sounds of these two falls.
Salto Mbigua is reached from the Paseo Superior and is a series of many tiered falls that make this one big fall.
Unlike some of the other falls, this particular fall doesn't have an actual viewing platform, but you can see if from the end of the Paseo Superior. The falls are quite dramatic and plummet down via a cascading affect to the Rio Iguazu.
This is a dramtic waterfall that provides just enough water to make it one of the most beautiful to photograph.
Visually speaking and the most strategically placed fall for that perfect picture is Salto Bossetti. Reached via the Paseo Superior is this amazing waterfall with plenty of water and a very large viewing platform.
We were amazed at how close this fall was to the platform, it felt like you can actually reach out and touch the fall from a very close distance, you can also feel the mist of the falls upon you as you position yourself for that all too important picture.
Personally I thought this fall was one of the most dramatic aside from Garganta del Diablo that we saw during our visit.