World Heritage Site
Favorite thing: Iguacu Falls are located in the region bounded by the municipalities of Iguassu Port (Argentina), Foz do Iguacu (Brasil) and Ciudad del Este (Paraguay).
To preserve the falls and the surrounding Subtropical Forest the countries created 2 Nacional Parks: the Parque Nacional Iguazú in Argentina and the Parque Nacional do Iguaçu in Brasil.
Fondest memory: The falls are located where the borders of Argentina, Brasil and Paraguay meet, 1.350 kilometers to the north of Buenos Aires, 350 kilometers to the east of Asuncion and 1.470 kilometers to the south of Rio de Janeiro.
Depending on the water level, you can see anywhere between 160 a 260 falls, that on average flow at a rate of 1500 cubic meters of water per second. The most impressive falls of the group, the eighty meters high Devil’s Throat.
- National/State Park
Favorite thing: Devil's Gorge is likely the reason why Iguaçú is so famous. This portion of the falls are as high as 85m tall (roughly 240 ft). Essentially a 24 story building high rush of water coming down. Add on top of this the mist from the falls rising 500 ft further in the air and you have the makings for an excellent place to enjoy. There are several viewing stands on the Brazilian side of the falls, or if you are more adventurous, you can head to the Argentinian side, where you can actually walk all the way out to the top of the falls and enjoy it there.
Move at a Snail's Pace
Favorite thing: One of the most important things to do when you are visiting Parque Nacional do Iguaçu is to operate at the same pace as this picture here, a snail. On most vacations, Sarah and I try to pack as much as we possibly can into an itinerary, as we always have limited time to really explore the places we go. We chose on the other hand to just relax on this trip, and actually spread out what would normally have been one day's activities into four, which made for a lovely trip. This part of the country can not be seen properly in a day trip, or a one night stay. Plan on making this a minimum 3 day adventure, and space it out as much as possible. Also, plan a little downtime where you can just sit on the bench and enjoy yourself.
- National/State Park
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Legend of the Falls
Favorite thing: The name of the falls comes from the Guarani Indian word meaning "great water." I love this little legend which the local Caingangue Indian tribe told to explain their origins:
The Caingangues, who lived on the banks of the Iguaçu River, believed that the world was ruled by M'Boi, a god who took the form of a serpent. Naipi was the daughter of the tribe’s chief, Igobi; she was so beautiful that the river ceased to flow when she looked upon its waters so as not to disturb her reflection.
Because of Naipi's exquisite beauty, she was to dedicate her life to the worship of M'Boi. However, there was a handsome young warrior in the tribe, Taroba, who fell in love with Naipi the moment he first saw her. On the day of the consecration, while the chief and the priest were drinking and the warriors were lost in their dancing, Taroba stole away with Naipi in a canoe and followed a swift current down river.
When M'Boi learned about the escape of Naipi and Taroba, he became insanely angry. He drove his serpent body underground, and twisted and writhed, and by thrashing his body to and fro he opened a gigantic fissure into which the waters poured from the Iguaçu river. Taken by the waters of the great falls, the canoe was borne down into the depths of the river, never to be found.
The legend tells that Naipi turned into one of the prominent central rocks below the waterfalls, forever to be touched by the waters, and Taroba turned into a large palm tree, inclined over the throat of the river, to gaze forever at his beloved.
The Falls at Iguaçu
Favorite thing: There is really only one reason to come to Iguaçu, and that is to see these incredible waterfalls. I’d seen Niagara and thought that was impressive, but found these even more spectacular. I’m in good company too – apparently when Eleanor Roosevelt visited Iguaçu, she was heard to say “Poor Niagara”.
Two thirds of the falls are on the Argentine side of the river and one third in Brazil, where we stayed. The falls are part of a practically virgin jungle ecosystem protected by national parks on either side of the cascades, where development has been well-controlled and restricted. This beautiful tropical setting is one of the reasons why for me (and Eleanor) Iguaçu had even more wow factor than Niagara.
Another reason for their grandeur is that the falls here extend for a long way, and there are so many of them. However you look at them, the stats are mind-boggling! In all, the system consists of 275 falls along a 2.7 kilometre length (1.67 miles) of the Iguaçu River. Some of the individual falls are up to 82 metres in height, though the majority are about 64 metres. The Devil's Throat, or Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese, is the most impressive of all: a U-shaped cliff 150 metres wide by 700 metres long. On average an average of 553 cubic feet per second thunders over the escarpment.
Patience is a virtue
Favorite thing: Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to explore and take lots and lots of photos if you have a digital camera, sometimes the lighting won't be quite right, sometimes you will catch an unexpected rainbow, sometimes you will find a random elbow or head in your photo......
Favorite thing: We saw butterflies all over the place when we took the Macuco safari, flitting in and out of the trees, on the rocks, on the pathway, all in vibrant shades of reds, blues, yellows. Well, there were a few dull brown ones....
Be careful where you step, we saw several mushed butterflies along the pathways.
Favorite thing: If you visit the Park, you are more than likely to encounter at least one begging coati on the trails looking for some kind hearted tourist to throw them some food. The Park requests that you don't do this, of course, as they want the animals to eat their natural diet and also they'd probably prefer not to have the tourists get chunks taken out of their hands as the coatis have sharp little teeth.
You might think that Coatis bear a resemblance to raccoons (in looks and in their begging abilities), they are part of the same family.
We saw these two coatis on the Brazilian side of the Falls when we were walking the the trail near the Falls.
Visit Both Sides
Favorite thing: Tourists pressed for time may decide to skip either the Argentine or Brazilian side of the falls. In my opinion, this is a mistake. Take the time to view the falls, and the surrounding jungle, from both sides. The overall view from the Brazilian side outshines the view from the Argentine side, but the Argentine side allows you to better appreciate the power of the falls and offers much better hiking opportunities. Neither side is to be missed.
- National/State Park
Favorite thing: "...If I live to see the seven wonders
I'll make a path to the rainbow's end
I'll never live to match the beauty again..."
"Seven wonders" - Fleetwood Mac (fragment)
I do not know if there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow... but I think the beauty of the falls and the rainbows is worth much more...
Favorite thing: The path system in the Brazilian park is not as extensive as that of the Argentine park, but the way that the paths work they way down the cliffs up close to the falls is great. Along the way, there are many great views and wonderful photo opportunities. You may even see some interesting wildlife.
At the end of one of the main paths, you'll end up at the lookout point shown in the picture below. From here, you will almost certainly see some incredible rainbows. The mist from the falls is refreshing and the view is simply breathtaking.
Favorite thing: People often compare the experience of visiting the waterfalls from the Brazilian side versus seeing them from the Argentine side. In my opinion, they are both excellent. While the view from Brazil is more expansive, the view from Argentina is more intimate. This photo show one of the first glimpses that I had of the falls.
Definitely stay two full days in Iguacu!
Favorite thing: I have been in Foz do Iguacu several times due to that one of my uncles lives around 150
kms away from Iguacu (in Brazil) and so we always went there by car and drove
the same day back to his house, so we always had been there only 1 day! This is
definitely too short time to explore, because then you can only see the
brazilian side of the falls, which is wonderful!
You have to count on around a half day for the brazilian side of the falls (if
you stop to take many photos, make the MacucoSafari and maybe a helicopter ride
over the falls)...and you still didn't explored then the argentinian side of the
falls which is a must see (but only after the brazilian side!!!).
So the ideal time for Iguacu is definitely 2 full days (better 3 days, 'cause if
you arrive by plane and has to fly back in the middle of the 2. day you do not
have enough time to explore the argentinian side)...
The ideal iterenary of Iguacu is:
1. morning : brazilian side of the falls, Macuco Safari and helicopter ride
1. afernoon and evening: Bird's Park (Parque das Aves) and Itaipu Hidroeletric
2. full day: argentinian side of the falls for a full day, best to arrive early
in the morning, in the evening come back to Brazil and venture out on the
Iguacu-nightlife (if you still has some energy for that!)
3. day: fly back
The most spectacular falls in the world
Favorite thing: Out of all the falls I've seen Iguacu has been the most spectacular in every way. The falls fall out of the jungle and are just amazing. 75% of the falls are loacted in Argentina and 25% in Brazil. For the brazilian side there is a walking path in the National Park to see all of the falls. There are some interesting platforms in the Brazilian path to go and see parts of the falls closer and cool down from the mist!
The Brazilian Walk
Favorite thing: To be honest the Brazilian side of the falls is nothing more than some great views and some mist. If you are staying on the Brazilian side of the falls you should try and get up early to get the best photos of the falls. The Brazilian path accros the falls takes about an hour and a half from start to finish and back to start. Expect to get wet! Don't forget a camera!