One of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World, the Iguazú Falls are the most visited natural attraction in Misiones and one of the most impressive on the planet. On your trip to Puerto Iguazú, the Falls are the unmissable visit!
The Iguazú Falls are located within the National Park of the same name, about 20 kilometers from the city of Puerto Iguazú, north of the province of Misiones, Argentina. The river that forms them, also called Iguazú, is born in the state of Paraná, in Brazil, and after traveling some 1,200 kilometers through a plateau, absorbing the flow of the tributaries that it encounters on its way, it reaches a point where a geological fault forms a crack in the plain. As if a giant shovel had sunk into the earth separating its sides.
Except that in this cut, it coincides with the passage of a river.
A river that has been crossing calm geography, without too many shocks, that little by little finds a series of jumps in its transit. And suddenly, about 80 meters of unevenness become a violent sensation of vertigo: the Devil’s Throat, the main waterfall of the Falls, combined with a constant deafening thunder that plunges into the depths, and then meekly, flows a few kilometers on the Paraná River.
In the Guaraní language, the term Iguazú translates as Big Waters. They were discovered by European explorers in the year 1541, by the advanced Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. In 1984, UNESCO declared them a natural heritage of humanity and in 2011 an international contest nominated the Iguazú Falls as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.
One of the various legends tells of the existence of a giant snake, “Boi”, which lived inside the river. To placate its ferocity, the aborigines sacrificed a lady once a year, throwing her into the waters as an offering to the beast. On one of those occasions, a brave Guarani kidnapped the chosen maiden, to save her from her traditional rite, escaping with her by canoe down the river.
Upon learning of the audacity, Boi went into a rage, and hunching her back he parted the course of the river, thus creating the falls and thus separating both indigenous people.
Walking the catwalks
The visitor will find more than 270 jumps along the cliffs and islets, distributed in the crescent that forms this geographical accident.
From the Visitor Center, the trails can be explored on foot or you can opt for a picturesque little gas-fired train. You can see the Iguazú Falls through two circuits: one lower and one upper.
Through the Lower Circuit, you reach the base of the falls, and the force of the water transformed into dew or steam ends up wetting the attendees. But the experience is unique and it is worth daring to adventure. Also from this circuit, you can take a boat to San Martin Island.
In the Upper Circuit, the walk is more sedentary. Panoramic views from the walkways and viewpoints make your stay an unforgettable experience.
Throughout our visit we will be able to visit the following falls: Floriano Falls, Deodoro Falls, Benjamín Constant Falls, Union Falls, Escondido Falls, Miter Falls, Belgrano Falls, Rivadavia Falls, Three Musketeers Falls, Two Musketeers Falls, San Martín Falls, Adán y Eva, Salto Bozzetti, Salto Ramirez, Salto Chico, Salto Dos Hermanos and Salto Alvar Nuñez among others.
Within the route, leaving the Cataratas station, we reach the footbridge that crosses the upper river. After walking through it, we arrived at the edge of the balcony of the Devil’s Throat, the largest waterfall of all. The sensation of grandeur is incomparable, and no matter how many millions of photographs we take of this corner, we will never be able to express what we experienced in this place with images. The flow is so great and its density so vertiginous, that one feels vulnerable in front of this particular scenario.
Within the attractions of the Iguazú National Park, and for those who enjoy adventure tourism, you can access a series of slightly more active tours.
Beyond the jumps and waterfalls already mentioned, the jungle that contains the Iguazú Falls offers several alternatives. A wetter and slightly cooler environment makes it conducive to the development and growth of a wide variety of flora and fauna. The natural balance means that there is a high amount of food, and consequently, the fauna is also very varied. Almost 500 species of birds, around 80 mammals, a wide variety of reptiles, fish, insects, and butterflies inhabit this ecosystem.
A few meters from the research center is the Sendero MACUCO, a pedestrian path that crosses the thick jungle, about 3 kilometers long with varying degrees of difficulty. The walk can be done in particular and demand about 2 hours. At the end of the trail, we will find the Arrechea waterfall.
A private lender offers a slightly bolder alternative. Leaving in an open 4×4 mobile, we will travel about 8 kilometers into the jungle, to reach the banks of the lower river.
Semi-rigid rubber boats with powerful outboard motors will be waiting for us to go up the river. Avoiding the rapids we will arrive at the foot of the falls and in this way, we will make our baptism in the Iguazú Falls. The bow of this semi-rigid will approach to the point of almost getting inside the curtain of the waterfalls.
You can also board a rowing boat in the upper Iguazú, which will allow us to observe more closely the flora and fauna that make up this delta. With a bit of luck, we can see water turtles and alligators sunning themselves on the coast.
In short, Iguazú is a very particular environment. Not in vain Horacio Quiroga was inspired by these Argentine corners to write his “Cuentos de la Selva”.