Iguazu Falls – Journey to the edge of Argentina and Brazil

One of the world’s most spectacularly beautiful waterfalls is located on the border between Brazil and Argentina. Twice as high as Niagara Falls, Iguazu is a system of multiple falls set within acres of pristine rain forest. Together, the more than 200 individual cascades make for a natural phenomenon that must be experienced in person to be really understood—no single photo could ever do it justice. For that very reason, it draws photographers from all over the world who attempt to capture its magnificence any way they can.
Iguazú Falls are composed of 275 separate cascades, which make it the largest broken waterfall in the world.
Made up of a chain of waterfalls that are fed by the Iguazu River, this powerful phenomenon sits on the border of Argentina and Brazil.
The surrounding subtropical rainforest has over 2,000 species of vascular plants and is home to the typical wildlife of the region: tapirs, giant anteaters, howler monkeys, ocelots, jaguars and caimans.
Natural World Heritage since 1984 and one of the 7 Natural World Wonders since 2011, the Iguazu Falls National Park is a unique natural universe. Full of life, abundant vegetation and more than 250 waterfalls, among them the Devil’s Throat, falling more than 82 meters high; it is the ideal place to connect with nature.
The Iguazu Falls are part of Brazil and Argentina, occupying 2/3 of its extension on the Argentina side.
Most of the falls are on the Argentinian side of the border, and viewing them from that side allows you to get closer to the cascades themselves. Still, there are better panoramic views from the Brazilian side that reveal the full scope of the falls system. If you are lucky enough to be able to spend a few days in the area, plan to do both.
To put in perspective the enormity of this volcanic crack, Iguazu Falls is not only 31 meters (102 feet) taller at the highest points, than the more famous Niagara Falls, but it is also twice as wide!
Those figures do not make Iguazu the biggest waterfall in the world, however, it certainly is one of the wettest, something you appreciate when you visit, as the sound of the water is deafening. A staggering flow rate average of 62,000 cubic feet of water flow over the edge, every single second.
Due to the size, surface area and incredible number of actual cliffs, edges and falls located within the crevasse of Iguazu, there is still a stretch of almost 3,000 feet of the 1.7 mile long falls that doesn’t have any water running over it.
Rivers are often used as dividing lines and borders between territories and nations and the natural curve of the Parana River weaves and bends its way alongside Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil, at a point where you can view all three “frontiers.” The waterfall itself is shared between the nations of Brazil, and Argentina.


The Argentinian side

On the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls, white water rafting boats will take you straight under the heaviest waterfalls for a quick rinse. Imagine these heavy water streams pouring down with you right in the middle – wet but very wild!

Whether you are a fan of flora, or fauna, or neither – guaranteed this one will impress you. 2,000 plant species, about 400 bird species, 80 types of mammals and countless insects and invertebrate species all call the rainforest here home.

The Brazilian side

The waterfalls vary in height between 60m (200 ft) to 82m (269 ft), making Iguazu Falls taller than Niagara Falls and twice as wide. Our first encounter with Iguazu was from the very top of this giant – the Devil’s Throat waterfall.

Stroll down the elevated walkway near the edge of the Devil’s Throat and position yourself right near the edge to feel the full force of this thundering beast.

The Brazilians truly know how to entertain, don’t they? On this side you can take an optional flight above the Iguazu Falls. Spanning over 2.7 kilometers (1.7 mi), they are made of 275 waterfalls or, as they are called here, cataracts. They are arranged in a way that resembles the letter ‘J’. The Brazilian territory has around 20% of the drops, whereas the Argentinian side makes up for almost 80% of the falls. From a helicopter you will see it all.

Heard about the bright yellow toucans? Vibrant Ara parrots? These guys (plus about 500 other species) play in the open, blending with the bright colors of the tropical rainforest. Butterflies in all color combinations – imaginable and unimaginable – are flying around in huge groups and land on your shoulders to chill for a while. It really is an unforgettable experience.

Getting Around: You can catch a ride directly from the Cataratas International Airport via the Four Tourist Travel shuttle for about $1.60 per person, or by a remis—a taxi, essentially—for about $5. From Puerto Iguazu, a public bus runs from the main terminal every 20 minutes and costs $6. From the Brazil side, buses run every 22 minutes from the main terminal of Foz de Iguaçu and cost $1.

Travel Tip: Bring a poncho as you’re likely to get wet from the spray of the falls. And don’t forget to reapply mosquito repellent and sunscreen after—the hot and humid climate will require it.

Things to Do

There is enough to keep a traveler entertained for two full days at Iguazu Falls, so plan your visit accordingly. You won’t want to leave before shopping for handicrafts in Puerto Iguazu markets, walking the jungle trails around the falls, and exploring the surrounding attractions. One necessary stop is the Bela Vista Biological Refuge (Foz do Iguaçu), which hosts two-hour guided tours showcasing its 50 resident animal species (monkeys, anteaters, jaguars, and more). Another is the Jardin de los Picaflores (Puerto Iguazu), a haven for hummingbirds.

  • Visit Iguazu National Park: For a close-up view, walk through the subtropical forest of National Iguaçu Park (covering territory in both countries) to the base of Salto Floriano and take the elevator to the top of the falls, or walk out over the falls at Salto Union. From the Argentina side, you can follow a series of catwalks over the water rushing into Devil’s Gorge. Protective rain suits are provided. There are some areas where it is possible to swim in the spray of the cascades, too.
  • Sightsee by boat: Iguazu Falls are packed with adventurous activities from zip lining to a “Green Train” that goes through the jungle, but perhaps the most exciting is riding in a boat at the base of the falls. Jet boats departing from the Circuito Inferior and Puerto Macuco go right into San Martin—prepare to get drenched.
  • Get an aerial view: If you’d rather marvel at the natural wonder from above instead, consider a helicopter ride. These 10-minute flights showcase the grand splendor of Iguazu Falls and cost between $100 and $150 per person, on average. Most often, you can get picked up directly from your hotel room.

  • Iguazu Falls formed where the Iguazu River plunges over the rim of the Paraná Plateau, which was blasted out by an enormous volcanic eruption more than 130 million years ago.
  • Coming up to the falls, the Iguazu River is over a kilometre wide.
  • Iguazu Falls straddle two countries: Argentina and Brazil
  • Up to 300 separate waterfalls stretched over 2.7 kilometres make up Iguazu Falls
  • About half of the Iguazu River flows through the narrow chasm of the Devil’s Throat that can be accessed from both the Argentine and the Brazilian sides of the falls.

The area of Iguazu Falls, where the countries of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet, is one of the best places in the world to see butterflies – with a large variety, and many of them in large numbers.

Iguazu Falls National Park (both Brasil and Argentina) have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Together with Uruguay Provincial Park in Argentina and Mbaracayu Forest Reserve in Paraguay, the four protected areas constitute one of the most extensive remaining tracts of the endangered Atlantic rainforest home to many of its threatened wildlife species.
The parks are home to over 2000 species of plants, 400 species of birds and possibly as many as 80 mammals, as well as countless butterflies and other invertebrate species.
The forests around Iguazu Falls enjoy constant warm temperatures and high humidity making them a heaven for invertebrates, like the butterflies.





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