Published on July 23rd, 2011 | by Mark Chesnut
Iguazu Falls: A Beginner’s Guide to South America’s Majestic Wonder
BY SEBASTIAN CHIRINO
WHERE IT IS: The Iguazu Falls are located on the border of the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná, in Iguazú National Park, around 12 miles/20 km from Argentina’s Puerto Iguazu. Shared by Argentina and Brazil, Iguazu Falls welcomes tourists from around the world — they’re called Cataratas del Iguazú in Spanish, Cataratas do Iguaçu in Portuguese and Chororo Yguasu in Guarani; in this indigenous language, the term means “great waters.” The falls were discovered in 1541 and are a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.
WHY GO: This natural wonder is formed by the Iguazu River, and it is said to have more than 270 falls with heights of more than 70 METERS. Magnificent natural beauty in the middle of the jungle, the Iguazu Falls are stunning and can leave any visitor speechless when facing such splendor. The Iguazu river is born in in Brazil, and after running on a plateau for approximately 745 miles/1200 km, the falls are naturally formed by a deep natural fault. Certainly, this is the most striking sight, formed by a wide semi-circle with cascades. The thunderous roar of the water cascading down into an abyss is overwhelming, powerful and appalling at the same time. The noise is so massive that it can be heard miles away.
HOW TO SEE IT: Catwalks give visitors the chance to have a close view of the waterfalls. Be ready to see rainbows produced by the falls in a wet and misty ambience.
There is an area of the falls known as La Garganta del Diablo, which translates as “the Devil’s Throat.” This part can be described as is deep pot where several branches of the Iguazu river join, causing a ferocious waterfall. A balcony set up at the border allows tourists to take pictures of this stunning view. Daring tourists can also have a different experience of the Devil’s Throat by taking a boat right to the base of the falls, below the massive and powerful cascades.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE: Apart from the Falls, The Iguazu National Park offers incredible vegetation made up of foliage, exotic orchids, begonias wild flowers and wildlife which makes it a remarkable ecosystem. The park boasts a wide range of flora and fauna, mostly subtropical. The wildlife in the region includes raccoons, tapirs, coatis, tamanduas. Some endangered animals inhabit here, including ocelots, jaguars, tigers and primates. The area is also abundant with bird species, so if you enjoy bird watching, bear in mind that half of Argentina’s bird species can be found here. Toucans are common sights near the bridge where you can walk to have a close sight to the falls.
ARGENTINA OR BRAZIL? Without a doubt, Iguazu Falls — whether viewed from the Argentinian or Brazilian side — offers exceptional natural scenery. Tourists usually visit both sides of the park, because the sights are amazing and the experience is completely different on each side.
HOW TO GET THERE: When looking for long-distance flights, it is advisable to either book well in advance if you know your dates or try booking last-minute flights to grab yourself a good deal.
Travelers from Europe can find flights to Iguazu Falls via Buenos Aires with British Airways and Iberia. From North America, carriers including American, Continental, Delta, Aeromexico and LAN fly nonstop to Buenos Aires for connections to Misiones.
Born in Argentina, Sebastian Chirino is a travel blogger at Cheapflights.co.uk, based in the United Kingdom. Find more flight info here.