One of the coolest places I have seen in the world is in the jungles of South America, where the Iguazu River serves as a border between Argentina and Brazil. A few miles upstream of the town Puerto Iguazu, the river takes a dramatic plunge off of a series of cliffs, forming one of the largest waterfalls in the world. A great series of waterfalls, actually - over 275 individual drops, most of which can be accessed by boardwalks and trails through the park.
We arrived early in the morning, knowing that the day would get hot quick. We were among the first to get through the gate and onto the train that takes visitors back into the park.
Our first stop was the biggest falls, which is nearly 100 feet taller than Niagara. We walked out across the placid river on a large boardwalk, crossing islands and seeing nothing that indicated that we were nearing the tumultuous roar of a 62,000 cubic feet per second waterfall.
As we came out into an opening, I could hear the rumble, with only a small amount of mist rising up over the river.
The closer we got, the more I could see mist, and I began to see a dip in the river.
It almost looked like a bowl, or a giant drain.
But then the drop came into view. Wow, what a sight! Like nothing else one will ever see in life! So much water, and it seemed to be flowing on all sides. The big drop is in the middle of a crescent shaped curve, with additional water spilling over on a perpendicular facing cliff farther downriver. It made it so that when standing on the main platform one has waterfalls in view for almost 360°.
The mist was so heavy that it soaked us, and my camera lens kept getting drops on it whenever I tried to take pictures from too close. Also, with such a long drop into almost down into what almost looked like a huge hole, you couldn't even see the bottom of the falls for all the mist. This fall is called the Devil's Throat, and it was certainly the most powerful water flow I have ever stood beside.
We then took the train back to another stop downriver to begin one of the loop hikes, which took us around through several waterfalls, looking down on them from above. There are so many falls, each of the stunningly beautiful unto itself.
On the final trail that we took we were below the falls, looking up at them and out across at them, as the water from the Iguazu river falls from the cliffs in many places, over the course of 2.7 km. Seeing a cluster of falls from a distance was perhaps even more beautiful, if less awe-inspiring, than being right at the top of the Devil's Throat.
We also saw some cool wildlife, including monkeys and toucans. The park was very nice, and there were even more waterfalls we could have seen, but the day got hot and the kids got tired. We were able to spend several hours in the park though, and that was enough to see the most impressive views.
If you're ever in southern Brazil or northwestern Argentina, Iguazu falls is a must see!
- Yguazú comes from the native Guaraní language, meaning "big water."
- The highest drop is 269 feet.
- The average flowrate is 62,010 cfs.
- The falls consists of 275 drops
- It is the 4th largest waterfall in the world by width
- It is the 6th largest waterfall in the world by volume