Parque Nacional do Iguaçu Things to Do

  • A speed boat along the Devil's canyon
    A speed boat along the Devil's canyon
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    parrots
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  • wet fun at iguazu boat ride
    wet fun at iguazu boat ride
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Best Rated Things to Do in Parque Nacional do Iguaçu

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    Boat trip beneath the falls

    by toonsarah Updated Jan 22, 2008

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    One of the best ways to see the falls at Iguacu is by boat. There are trips available on both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of the river. We went on the tour organised by Macuco Safaris. This consists of a short ride in open wagons towed by jeeps followed by a walk down through the forest to the water's edge - this is about 600 meters and you can opt out if you're not able to walk down the rather steep pathway. The guide points out the different plants and other sights, and there's a small waterfall.

    At the bottom of this path you come to the final part of the tour, which is the real highlight - a boat ride right into the jaws of the falls! The boats are inflatables and easy to manoeuvre which is important as the pilot will take you right up to the base of the falls, at the point known as the "Devil's Throat". You WILL get wet! The tour company provides life-vests and plastic containers to protect photographic and filming equipment, so make sure you use these. You might like to take a disposable waterproof camera for the last-minute shots as you go right into the spray - we found this the only safe way to take photos. You also need to consider what to wear - you can either use the waterproof clothing the company offers (plastic macs) or do as we did and go in your swim-wear. The weather was hot when we visited so that seemed like a good plan, but be warned - the water is VERY cold and you may find yourself thinking the mac would have been a better option!

    But whatever you decide to wear I really recommend this trip. It's a truly amazing way to appreciate the sheer power of the water pouring over those falls.

    Heading into the Devil's Throat Getting closer On the boat - BEFORE I got wet!
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    Itaipu Dam - World's Largest Power Station

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Sep 5, 2007

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    If you are just taking a walk along the Rio Iguacu to enjoy the sights of the Falls, and not doing a Jungle Adventure tour of some sort, it should not take more than about a half-day to get your fill of Parque Nacional do Iguacu. That leaves lots of time to also include an excursion to the nearby largest power station in the world at Itaipu Dam. This tour, as well as a stop in the city of Foz do Iguacu are often thrown into the package tours of the Brazil-side of the falls.

    Located on the nearby Parana River, only a few miles away from Iguacu Falls, the Itaipu Dam is one of the engineering marvels of the world. Back in the mid-1970s, Brazil and Paraguay began construction of the dam, presently the world's largest power station in terms of electrical output. Taking 18-years to complete, this massive 200-m high concrete structure stretches for about 8-km (5-miles) across the Parana River only a few kilometers above Foz do Iguacu.

    The Rio Parana is about the same size as the Mississippi River in the USA in terms of water flow, and is second only to the Amazon for drainage area in South America. As a result, the flows into the headpond of the dam very often exceed what is needed for maximum electrical output from the hydro generators. Once that flow level is exceeded, the excess water is diverted away from the power house and discharged directly into the Rio Parana below the dam (othewise it would come right over the top of the dam - and that would not be good!). The photo shows this 'spillway' complex where three huge concrete chutes channel the water down to the edge of the Parana. In this case, we were in a lower flow period, so only one of the three chutes was in action as a man-made waterfall!

    Itaipu has twenty generators, each rated at 700 MW of power or 14,000 MW maximum total plant output. This is enough electricity to supply the needs of half of either New York State or Ontario, Canada (or one quarter of Brazil's demands). For more details, see my 'Foz do Iguacu' page.

    The 'Spillway' in Use at Itaipu Dam
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    Join the Crowd

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Apr 28, 2005

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    The entrance fees for the Parque are not too bad for tourists, we paid a total of R38 Brazilian (US$11) for the two of us. However, being close to a large city and with only a single main walking trail along the edge of the falls, the Brazil-side seemed to be more crowded than the spread out trail network on the Argentine side.

    The trail walk from where we first got off the bus until we reached the rest area at the end only took about 40 minutes. The railings along most of the main viewing areas were crowded with people, so it was difficult to get that 'good' shot lined up! Here, I managed to find a spot along the railing in front of the Salto Tres Mosqueteros. It was nice to listen to the roar of the cataracts while feeling the pleasant breeze as it rustled the tropical undergrowth beside the path!

    Posing Near 'Three Musketeers' Waterfall
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    Looking at Brazil

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Apr 28, 2005

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    We had done the Argentine-side of Iguazu Falls the day before (see my 'Parque Nacional del Iguazu' page for the details), so we had the opportunity to take their catwalk out to the very edge of the Devil's Throat. This scene shows some of what you will see, including the Gift Shop/Restaurant complex in the background where the Brazil-side walk comes to an end.

    Overall, I preferred the Argentinian side because it has so many more trails and different views of the series of cataracts at Iguacu. Of course, it really is something to actually get to the edge of the main waterfall too!

    The View From Argentina
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    The View From Above

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Apr 27, 2005

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    As our Aerolineas Argentinas flight from Buenos Aires was approaching it's landing on the Argentine-side of the Rio Iguacu, we were treated to a great view of the famous waterfalls!! All of the land shown at the top, right and bottom sides of this photo belongs to Argentina, with only the thick green point of land jutting out from the left being part of Brazil.

    The major gorge near the middle, with all the white water, is the star of the show - Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat) where the river plunges about 270-feet into the gorge, as it continues it's way toward the left in it's now much narrower but deeper channel. Your Brazil-side walk will take you along the edge of this channel, from the fancy Cataracts Hotel (seen at upper left) out to the Restaurant/Shops area whose roof can be seen near the Devil's Throat.

    About half-way along this walk is the round-looking San Martin Island, separated from mainland Argentina by another series of white waterfalls - including the impressive Salto San Martin. The narrow trail running across the bottom of the photo is the free gas-powered railroad line for tourists in the Argentine National Park.

    Rio Iguazu Makes it's Turn & Plunge
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    Boating Thrills Available!

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Apr 28, 2005

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    If you really want to explore the Falls from every angle, try the Iguazu Jungle Explorer boat rides from the Argentinian side. They will give you a great thrill-ride in large Zodiac boats powered by twin 200-HP engines, including taking you right up the gorge to the bottom of the main cataract at Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat)! Be prepared to get soaked (they do provide plastic bags for your valuables) while you are being thrilled! At the bottom right corner you can see one of the Zodiac's pulled up at the boat landing-dock area where we walked down to from the Lower Circuit to board our ride (see my Argentina 'Parque National del Iguazu' page for the details).

    This view is a close-up into the gorge that separates San Martin Island (just out of view on the left) from the Argentinian mainland. In the background are the Upper and Lower Circuit waterfalls, along which you can take catwalks to get a glimpse as the water goes over the upper edge or you can choose be down below where it hits the ground before taking a second plunge into the river bottom itself.

    The big waterfall at the right is Salto Bossetti, fairly impressive in it's own right!

    Upper & Lower Circuit Close-up
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    Below the 'Devil's Throat'

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 3, 2007

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    The further we walked up into the main gorge of the Rio Iguacu, the closer we came to the main waterfall of Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat). It is there that the one main viewing platform area on the Brazil side is located.

    As you can see, it allows you to get out to the edge of Salto Santa Maria for a closer look into the gorge - if you can see anything through the mist from the Devil's Throat which is just up the gorge to the left. You can get plastic bags and raincoats before taking a stroll out to the viewing platform if you want to protect your sensitive equipment from the spray.

    Crowds exploring Salto Santa Maria
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    Above the falls

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 3, 2007

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    Once you have done the catwalk thing, the tour is just about over. On returning to the edge of the gorge, a short walk will bring you to a double elevator complex. After lining up with the other tourists for a short wait while the elevators did their job, we climbed aboard for the easy way to get back to the top of the gorge! The glass windows allowed a good view of the whole scene as we ascended, but it was a bit too crowded to do any serious photography!

    On exiting at the top, you are at the modern gift shop/restaurant complex where the park busses will pick you up for a return trip to the Park Entrance. We had some time to linger here while the remainder of our particular tour group straggled up from below. This view was taken looking out across the shallow waters of the upper Iguacu River before it disappears into Garganta del Diablo where the mist is rising on the left. At the right side is one of main waterfalls on the Brazil side, Salto Floriano - but all you can see is the water flowing toward it's lip.

    Topside View of the Devil's Throat Area
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    The View Into Argentina

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Oct 24, 2006

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    On emerging from our Parque bus, the first view that greeted us was this panoramic view across the Rio Iguacu into Argentina. Naturally, any waterfall that has about 270 individual cataracts takes up a lot of space - in this case, 3 km (almost 2 miles) of water falling left and right! Most of this is on the Argentinian-side, which has 16 of the 19 largest cataracts.

    Here, in the distance at the right side, we can see the famous two-tiered waterfalls of the Upper and Lower Circuit walking trails in Argentina's sister Parque Nacional del Iguazu. Toward the left side, the water disappears behind a small island, called San Martin, located in the gorge. Behind the island, spray is visible from the second most powerful of all the waterfalls at Iguacu - Salto (waterfall) San Martin itself.

    Part of the 3-km Arc of Waterfalls
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    The precipice

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Jun 3, 2007

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    Well, we had come this far, so a bit of spray was not going to stop us now! Luckily, the clouds of mist generated by the numerous cataracts seemed to have intermittant lulls, so we seized the opportunity to take a walk on the catwalk out to the edge of Salto Santa Maria. From there, we had a great view up the gorge to the very area where the main cataracts of the Devil's Throat make their 275-foot plunge into the river bottom. I slipped my digital camera out of my back-pack long enough for this quick shot!

    Looking Into the 'Throat'
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    No Man's Land

    by Bwana_Brown Updated Apr 28, 2005

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    Near the middle of the long arc of waterfalls on the Argentinian side, there is a section that is not easily accessible because of San Martin Island on one side and the big guy himself, the Devil's Throat, on the other side. This little forest-covered and isolated chunk of Argentina is shown on the left, separated from San Martin Island (right side) by the typical double-tiered waterfalls at Iguacu. In the foreground is the Salto Tres Mosqueteros (Three Musketeers) while the impressive Salto Rivadavia holds sway in the background.

    The geology of Iguacu Falls stems from molten lava that flowed to the Earth's surface 150 million years ago through cracks in the bedrock. It did not form the usual volcanic cones but, instead, spread out over a wide area, forming hard layers of basalt rock. Since then, the constant action of the rivers flowing over it's surface has gradually eroded away the edges of this layer of basalt, as the Rio Iguacu seeks it's downhill path to the Atlantic Ocean.

    Inaccessible Area of Iguacu
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    Iguassu National Park

    by andal13 Updated Apr 17, 2004

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    Parque Nacional do Iguaçu has an area of 185.000 hectares; it is listed as Natural Heritage of Humanity since 1986. The Iguassu river runs through it, and the spectacular waterfalls, shared with Argentina, are the main attraction. (There is an Argentinian National Park at the opposite river bank).
    A subtropical jungle occupies most of the area; all kind of plants, colourful birds and butterflies, snakes, pumas, jacarés(alligators), live there.

    Entrance fee:
    about 4 dollars for Brazilian, 6 dollars for Mercosur citizens, and 7 dollars for other nation citizens.

    Timetable:
    From April 1st to Spetember 30th:
    Monday: from 1:00 to 5:00 PM
    Tuesday to Sunday: from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM

    From October 1st to March 31st:
    Monday: from 3:00 to 6:00 PM
    Tuesday to Sunday: from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM

    El Parque Nacional do Iguaçu tiene una superficie de 185.000 hectáreas; fue declarado Patrimonio Natural de la Humanidad en 1986. El río Iguazú lo atraviesa, y las imponentes cataratas, compartidas con Argentina, son su principal atracción. (Hay un Parque Nacional argentino situado en la orilla opuesta del río).
    Una jungla subtropical ocupa la mayor parte del área; todo tipo de plantas, coloridas aves y mariposas, serpientes, pumas, yacarés, viven allí.

    Costo de la entrada:
    alrededor de 4 dólares para los brasileños, 6 dólares para ciudadanos del Mercosur, y 7 dólares para ciudadanos de otras nacionalidades

    Horarios:
    Del 1 de abril al 30 de Septiembre:
    Lunes: de 13:00 a 17:00
    Martes a domingo: de 8:00 a 17:00

    Del 1 de octubre al 31 de marzo:
    Lunes: de 13:00 a 18:00
    Martes a domingo: de 8:00 a 18:00

    Iguassu Falls

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    The legend

    by andal13 Written Apr 17, 2004

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    When the world was ruled by M'Boy, the snake-god, the caigangues used to live by Iguassu river. Igobi, the chieftain, had a daughter called Naipi, who was so beautiful that the waters of the river stopped each time she reflected. Because her beauty, Naipi was consecrated to god M'Boy, and she began to live to his cult. Meanwhile, a young warrior called Tarobá, saw Naipi and fell in love with her. The celebration day, Tarobá run away with Naipi in a canoe; when M'Boy realized, he got angry and penetrated the land, and made a huge cleft, where a big waterfall was made. The waters wrapped the canoe and the runaway lovers, who fell down and disappeared. Naipi became a rock in the middle of the waterfall, where is fustigated by the turbulent waters; Tarobá became a palm tree at the edge of the abyss. Beneath that palm tree, there is a cave, under the Devil's Throat, where the revengeful monster watches his victims forever.

    Cuando el mundo era gobernado por M'Boy, el dios serpiente, los indios caigangues, habitaban las márgenes del Río Iguazú. Igobi, el jefe de esa tribu, tenía una hija que se llamaba Naipi, tan bella que las aguas del río paraban cuando se miraba en ellas. Por su belleza, Naipi fue consagrada al dios M'Boy, y pasó a vivir para su culto. Existía entre los caigangues, un joven guerrero llamado Tarobá, quien al ver a Naipi se enamoró de ella. El día de la consagración, Tarobá se escapó con Naipi en una canoa; cuando M'Boy se dio cuenta, se puso furioso y penetró en las entrañas de la tierra, produciendo una gran fisura, donde se formó una gigantesca catarata. Envueltos por las aguas, la canoa y los fugitivos cayeron desde una gran altura y desaparecieron. Naipi fue transformada en una de las rocas centrales de las cataratas, perpetuamente fustigada por las aguas revueltas; Tarobá fue convertido en una palmera plantada al borde del abismo. Debajo de esa palmera, se encuentra la entrada de una gruta bajo la Garganta del Diablo, donde el monstruo vengativo eternamente vigila a sus víctimas.

    Iguassu Falls

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    The rainbow

    by andal13 Written Apr 17, 2004

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    Iguaçu means "big water" in Guarani; there are numerous waterfalls, from 150 to 300 (it deppends the water amount); most of them belong to the Argentinian side. The amazing volume of falling water creates a constant mist, so several rainbows appear and disappear continuously... Take your time and look for your rainbow...

    Iguazú significa "agua grande" en guaraní; hay numerosos saltos de agua, entre 150 y 300 (dependiendo de la cantidad de agua); la mayoría de ellos pertenecen al lado argentino. El asombroso volumen de agua que cae crea una beblina constante, por lo que varios arcoiris aparecen y desaparecen continuamente... Toma tu tiempo y encuentra to arcoiris...

    Rainbow

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    The baptism

    by andal13 Written Apr 17, 2004

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    A traditional ritual is to be "christened" by the waterfalls; if you want to feel the soft caress of the water, you can sail the river in a dinghy, and face the falls!!!

    Un ritual tradicional es ser "bautizado" por las cataratas; si quieres sentir la suave caricia del agua, puedes navegar río arriba en un bote, y enfrentar los saltos de agua!!!

    Sailing

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