A TRIP TO IGUAZU FALLS
IGUAZU NATIONAL PARK
Straddling the border between Brazil and Argentina is one of the natural world’s true wonders.
No trip to South America, let alone Argentina, is complete without a visit to the marvelous Iguazu Falls. Unlike other famous waterfalls, which often have just one drop, Iguazu is breathtaking in its expanse, with 275 separate drops along a 1.7 mile stretch of the Iguazu River. At 500 feet in width and almost half a mile in length, Devil’s Throat, or La Garganta del Diablo in Spanish, is the largest single cataract in the world and stands a staggering 270 feet high.
The name Iguazu is derived from the indigenous Guaraní words for “big” and ”water”, and that effectively sums up the impression visitors are left with having spent a day marveling at one of the world’s most impressive natural sites. Platforms located inside the Iguazu National Park on the Argentine side of the border allow undisturbed views of the falls, where you can appreciate the full force of nature as up to 400,000 gallons of water a second pour into the river below.
The falls were first seen by European eyes in 1541 when Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was drawn to the site by the noise of the gushing water, which can be heard from a distance of several kilometers. Guaraní legend dictates that the natural wonder was created by a vengeful God who had intended to marry a local girl named Naipí, who evaded the deity’s attentions and fled down the river in a canoe with her mortal lover Tarobá. Stricken, the god sliced the river in two in a blind rage, sending the lovers cascading to certain death and creating the magnificent falls in the process.
There are national parks affording spectacular views of the waterfalls on either side of the Argentine-Brazilian border, with the entrance to the Argentine park situated just 11 miles from the town of Puerto Iguazu. Once inside the park, visitors can enjoy spectacular views of the waterfalls from numerous distinct vantage points, some of which are served by the ‘Ecological Train of the Forest’; a singletrack railway system that ferries visitors from one point to another. There are also trails for those that prefer to walk through the jungle and take in the flora and fauna.
In addition to the spectacular waterfalls which are of course the star attraction, the park is also a designated wildlife reserve, and several ecological trails covering several miles of terrain offer a chance to immerse yourself in nature. The park is home to a diverse and colorful selection of wildlife, with over 450 species of birds, 80 different mammal species and innumerable varieties of insects and reptiles.
Aside from being the home of Iguazu Falls, the ‘three borders region’, as the area where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay converge is known, is also home to the imposing Itaipu Dam. Straddling the Paraná River between Brazil and Paraguay and jointly administered by the two nations’ governments, the dam is the largest operating hydroelectric facility in terms of annual generating capacity in the world. Itaipu generates around 90% of the electricity consumed by Paraguay and just under 20% of that used in Brazil and was completed in 1984.
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Concesionario Area Cataratas del Parque Nacional Iguazu, N3370XAJ