Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Iguazu Falls, a natural wonder.

Iguazu Falls from Brazil's side.
Are one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, the Iguaçu Falls are situated near the border of Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. Discovered by Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vega in 1541, Iguazu Falls have become one of the most frequented tourist sites.
The area is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Iguazu Falls, Iguazú Falls, Iguassu Falls, or Iguaçu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu River on the border of the Argentina province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná. The falls divide the river into the upper and lower Iguazu. The Iguazu River rises near the city of Curitiba. For most of its course, the river flows through Brazil, however, most of the falls are on the Argentine side. Below its confluence with the San Antonio River, the Iguazu River forms the boundary between Argentina and Brazil. The name "Iguazu" comes from the Guarani or Tupi words "y", meaning "water", and "ûasú ", meaning "big".
Iguazu Falls are located where the Iguazu River tumbles over the edge of the Paraná Plateau, 23 kilometres (14 mi) upriver from the Iguazu's confluence with the Paraná River. Numerous islands along the 2.7-kilometre-long (1.7 mi) edge divide the falls into many separate waterfalls and cataracts, varying between 60 to 82 metres (197 to 269 ft) high. The number of these smaller waterfalls fluctuates from 150 to 300, depending on the water level.
Aerial photo of Iguazu Falls.
Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls from Brazil.
Approximately half of the river's flow falls into a long and narrow chasm called the Devil's Throat. The Devil's Throat is U-shaped, 82 metres high, 150 m wide, and 700 m long. Placenames have been given also to many other smaller falls, such as San Martín Falls, Bossetti Falls, and many others.
The water of the lower Iguazu collects in a canyon that drains into the Paraná River, a short distance downstream from the Itaipu Dam. The junction of the water flows marks the border between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. There are points in the cities of Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, Puerto Iguazú, Argentina, and Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, which have access to the Iguazu River, where the borders of all three nations may be seen, a popular tourist attraction for visitors to the three cities.
Devil's Throat of Iguazu Falls, Argentina.
Iguacu Falls from Argentina side.
Rainbow over the gateway to the Devil's Throat - Iguazu Falls.
The Devil's Throat, Iguazu Falls.
The Iguaçu Falls are an awesome sight as tonnes of water throw themselves over cliffs and the mist rises amongst the jungle. They are taller than Niagara Falls, and twice as wide, for which Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have exclaimed on her first sight of the Falls: "Poor Niagara!"
It is well worth spending a day on each side of the falls, especially if you plan to do any of the boat rides or other activities offered.
Don't just rush past the main viewpoints and leave. It's important to get a good perspective on the park overall to appreciate this awesome sight.
Whilst the majority of the falls are in Argentina, a better overview is had from the Brazilian side.
Both sides of the park are well served with foot trails.
On the Argentine side of the park there's a small train leaving about every half an hour from near the entrance going all the way to the beginning of the trail to the Garganta del Diablo.
On the Brazilian side, there's a bus service connecting the falls with other activities. That service runs from the entrance to the end of the park every 10 minutes in both directions.

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Map of Iguaçu Falls.
Iguazu falls
Iguazu falls
Iguazu falls
Access to the Falls is usually done through one of the three cities in the so-called tri-border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
The city on the Brazilian side is Foz do Iguaçu, big and reasonably safe by Brazilian standards. The town on the Argentine side is called Puerto Iguazu and is small and pretty. Although the falls are between Brazil and Argentina only, Ciudad del Este, the city on the Paraguayan side, is just across the bridge from Brazil. It's a hectic centre for contraband and cheap electronic goods, and some say it's not safe there.

By plane
There are two international airports close to Iguazú Falls: the Argentine Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport (IGR) and the Brazilian Foz do Iguaçu International Airport (IGU). Argentina's airport is 25 kilometres (16 mi) from the city of Iguazu, but is closer to the falls hotels than its Brazilian counterpart. There are bus and taxi services from and to the Airport-Falls. Brazil's airport is between Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, and the falls.

By bus
Buses from all major cities in the country arrive in each of the three towns.

By car
The main car rental companies have offices at the Brazilian Foz do Iguaçu airport. Make sure that you mention at the time of your reservation that you intend to cross into the Argentine side to visit the park. You need a special authorization from the rental car company for that. Insurance bought on the Brazilian rental car is not valid in Argentina. You need to buy a special "carta verde" while still on the Brazilian side. It is sold at lottery stands. A three-day pass costs R$45. If caught without a "carta verde" on the Argentine side you are liable to be charged very heavy fines.
Renting a car gives you a lot of flexibility in exploring both Brazilian and Argentinian side of the cataracts.

By foot
If you stay at either of the two hotels in the park (either on Argentinean or Brazilian side), you are within walking distance of the falls, so no need for taxis, buses etc. Consider this when planning your trip.
Iguassu Falls, Argentina
Iguassu Falls
Iguassu Falls
Iguazu Falls, Brazil Side.
Iguazu Falls, Brazil.
View of Iguazu falls from the river.
The Iguazu falls looking to the Argentinian side.

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