Iguazu Falls – the Most Beautiful Waterfall on Earth
Iguazu Falls is one of the three Great Waterfalls, along with Niagara and Victoria. Of the three, Iguazu is perhaps the most beautiful as well as often being the most powerful. Most tourists leave Iguazu with their expectations having been completely surpassed by the majesty of Iguazu. There are 275 separate falls coming over the edge and dropping up to 80m/250ft down to the bottom of the Iguazu canyon. The sheer scale and power of this can never be fully appreciated from photos or videos, only by experiencing Iguazu Falls for yourself!
Tours of Iguazu Falls take you to visit both the national parks, one in Brazil and one in Argentina. The Brazil side boasts the best panoramic views, although seeing all of the 2.7km width of the Rio Iguazu from only one spot is impossible. The river forms the border between Brazil and Argentina here, and the Argentina side has walkways which take you alongside many of the most impressive falls for a very close up view. These walkways include the 1km journey above the river to the most powerful part of the falls – The Devil’s Throat (Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese, Garganta del Diablo in Spanish!). The viewing platform takes you to the very edge and allows you to watch the white water tumbling into the horseshoe canyon below. The effect is mesmeric as the slowly flowing waters above the escarpment turn into pounding sheets and thundering noise which somehow doesn’t seem to scare the vencejos birds which swoop for insects in the blinding sprays.
There are many other trails on the more extensive Argentina side, and with time you can also visit Isla San Martin in the middle of the river, for views from a different angle altogether. Iguazu experiences are not limited to those to be had on foot, with adventure boat rides and helicopter flights to add an exciting extra dimension to your visit. You can also abseil/rapel into the gorge, and take rafting or canoe trips.
Iguazu is not just about the waterfalls, there is also the surrounding Atlantic Rainforest, kept verdant from the spray from the falls. The wildlife of the area can be seen from trails through the jungle, while the Bird Park has many tropical bird and butterfly species free to fly around the huge aviaries, including macaws, parrots, hummingbirds and toucans. Stays in the jungle around the falls can also be arranged.
As well as the natural side, the Iguazu area also has its man-made highlights. Itaipu Dam bridges the Rio Parana which forms the border between Brazil and Paraguay (and also between Paraguay and Argentina downstream from the Parana/Iguazu junction). It was the largest hydroelectric plant on earth until recently. Tours take you to learn the story of Itaipu’s construction and even to see inside the workings of the huge dam wall.
Across the Itaipu Dam lies Paraguay. A quick trip across the bridge from the town of Foz do Iguaçu takes you to Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. The town is known for its tax-free consumer goods, although this tends to be more of interest to visitors from Brazil and Argentina than those from outside this part of South America. Those that have the time and like to have another stamp in the passport might consider a visit as well, but the real interest in Iguazu is certainly the falls...
Iguazu Falls is one of the finest eco-tourism experiences in Brazil, South America or anywhere else. Iguazu means Big Water in the native Tupi-Guarani language. Some visit expecting ‘just a waterfall’, others visit expecting one of the best sights that nature has to offer, all leave Iguazu Falls amazed. Iguazu will leave you wet and wild-eyed with wonder at the most beautiful waterfall in the world.
Suitable Destination For: Anyone who loves nature at its finest.
Best Time to Visit: Any time can be good to visit Iguazu. The hot and humid summer months of January and February see the highest volumes of water, while May and June generally have the clearest skies for the best photos, although because of this there may be less water coming over the falls in the winter months of June, July and August.
Essential Sights & Activities: Both national parks on the Brazil and Argentina sides; Itaipu Dam; the Atlantic Rainforest and all its wildlife