The Falls

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Iguazu Falls Misiones Argentina

Thanks for this picture to him

The falls were originally discovered in 1542 by the conquistador Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca (Cowhead), who wrote an autobiographical work called “Shipwrecks.” Cabeza de Vaca sailed over from Spain in order to appropriate the territory of the River Plate after his predecessor Pedro de Mendoza died, but he lost both his way and his ship en route. Stranded on a Brazilian beach, he walked to Asunción in Paraguay and on his travels met some guaraní Indians who took him on a canoe trip to the top of the falls, which he noted with amazement, and then dutifully christened the “Saltos de Santa María” (Saint Mary’s Leaps).

Four hundred years later, the awe-inspiring sight of the vast quantities of water –an average of 5000 cubic metres per second pouring over drops of 90 metres to plunge through the exuberant greenness of the surrounding jungle- prompted Eleanor Roosevelt to say, simply, “Poor Niagara.” The Iguazú Falls are nearly four times the size of Niagara and comparable only to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

Iguazu Falls Misiones Argentina

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The Devil’s Gorge is possibly the most spectacular of the 275 waterfalls that make up the series of cascades lined up across a 4 km-wide horseshoe shape straddling the Iguazú River as it flows down from the Serra do Mar mountain in Paraná, Brazil. This sudden deep drop was caused by a geological fault, possibly the result of a volcanic eruption some 200,000 years earlier, although due to the natural process of erosion, geologists calculate that the actual edge has moved back 23 kilometres from its point of origin and will continue to do so.

Activities at Iguazú Falls

Take your pick! You can enjoy the falls and the rainforest by air, foot, boat, jeep and horse, as well as by full moon and daylight!

There are many ways to enjoy and see the falls: obviously, the first experience has to be from the rocky crags up top, and you should get to both the Argentine and the Brazilian sides as the camera angles are quite different. So make sure you have your Brazilian visa –if necessary– for the border controls. The other key point about the Brazilian side is that you can take a 12 minute helicopter ride from the airport over the falls for some terrific aerial photos. Most of the thriving tour companies you can hire for trips at the airport or in Puerto Iguazú offer the same range and variety of excursions and the prices are very similar. You can also cross over to the Isla San Martín from the Argentine side which lies at the bottom of the falls in the middle of the basin.

Iguazu Falls Misiones Argentina

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For your first view of the falls, drive to the Argentine side of the Iguazú National park at the Visitors’ Center for a leisurely stroll along the lower Circuit, just over a kilometre of paths running along the basin of the Devil’s Gorge that take you by turns under small splashing waterfalls or hopping over rivulets into the heart of the cascades with walkways that are only a few metres from the edge of the main falls. Back at the visitor’s center, take the small ecological train which chugs cheerfully through the rainforest along the upper circuit round to Estación Garganta, under the thick foliage inhabited by languid butterflies and lizards, while the sounds of birds and monkeys fill the air.

At Estación Garganta there is another short pathway rising above the other end of the Devil’s Gorge which leads to a panoramic point with stunning views of the broad upper lip of the falls. Afterwards, drive to the Brazilian side for a walk along the edge of the gorge and the many walkways that lead up and down and out into the water.

After your walk, it’s time to test the waters in a rubber dinghy which takes you right into the mouth of the Devil’s Gorge to be tossed around the edges of the churning cauldron. The return trip rides the (extremely) choppy waves under other falls, through drenching mists and powerful streams.

  • Canopy walking /rappel

  • Iguazu Falls Misiones Argentina

    Thanks for this picture to him

    A complete day out, this includes a ride in a jeep along a jungle track which peters out so you have to get out and walk 5km to Salto Tigre, a waterfall on the Paraná river. You can either rappel down through the water or from the tops of the crags to one side, to avoid getting wet. Then it’s time to cross the water suspended in a rope harness. Back on terra firma, another walk takes you up the banks of the Arroyo del Tigre and then another ride in a jeep to a part of the forest inhabited by giant pudding pipe trees (cañafistula). Up a rope ladder, there is a platform which sways some 30 meters off the ground. This is where you can canopy walk from tree to tree. To round off the expedition, there is the option of an asado, or Argentine traditional bbq in a ranch which lies in the national park.

  • The Falls by moonlight

  • iguazu-falls-moonlightthumbnail.jpgOnce a month, the Iguazú National Park rangers organize a night visit across the upper walkway to see the falls by the light of the full moon. It’s all very different once the sun goes down: the sounds of the jungle are magnified as the animals hunt, feed and go down to the river pools to take water, while the colors are muted into tones of pewter and grey, with glittering silver spray curtains fanning across the air. It makes for a very surreal experience.

  • The Macuco Trail

  • Macuco TrailThis is a great way to discover the magic sights and sounds of the jungle. Travelling in open jeeps means you get a perfect view of the scenery along the trail with guides pointing out examples of flora and fauna, such as orchids, bromelias, palms and trees that are centuries old, as well as myriads of dazzling butterflies, monkeys and other animals that occasionally cross the trail. Some three km down the trail begins the walking hike which leads to the Macuco Falls, 20 metres high, splashing down into a cool pool which is perfect for a dip on a very hot day. The last leg of the trail is the boat trip up-river in inflatable rubber dinghies to the base of the falls of Devil’s Gorge.

  • Guarani Indian villages

  • Iguazu Falls Misiones Argentina

    Thanks for this picture to carf

    In an effort to sustain the ancient rituals and ways of life of the guaraní Indians, who were living in the border lands long before they were considered as such, there is an ecological excursion which crosses the M’boca-I river and crosses deep into the jungle. The final destination is M’byá Guaraní, a guaraní village where you can learn about indigenous hunting techniques, share their food, listen to local music and watch traditional dances. It’s a very illuminating experience.

    If you don’t fancy walking or driving through the rain forest, another alternative is a horse ride.

    Options for navigating the river in style include the Buque Ciudad de Paraná, a large sight-seeing boat which glides along the water, offering you all the sights and sounds of the riverbank flora and fauna in air-conditioned comfort.

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