Of course we couldn't leave Brazil without seeing one of world's most stunning natural wonders, the Iguazu Falls.
But to get from Cuiaba to Iguaçu it took us a whole day, as we had to first head back to Sao Paolo and then to fly to Foz do Iguaçu. We stayed in the Vivaz Cataratas Resort which was well located for all excursions we had planned.
The Iguaçu Falls, also known as Iguassú, Cataratas del Iguazú in Spanish, Cataratas do Iguaçu in Brazilian/ Portuguese, is a series of cascades located on the Iguaçu River, 23 km above its junction with the Alto Paraná River on the border between Argentina and Brazil. The falls, resembling a 2.7 km wide elongated horseshoe, are divided into around 275 individual waterfalls or cataracts by rocky and wooded islets at the edge of the escarpment. Their height ranges from 64 to 82 meters. But these facts do not in the least depict the sheer power and beauty of the actual scenery.
The indigenous Guarani people gave the name Chororõ Yguasu to the falls, which translates to 'great waters'. According to a legend, the falls were formed due to the anger of a serpent deity who watched over a tribe that once lived near the river. The deity was to be offered a sacrifice of a young girl, but her lover planned to save her by escaping with her down the river. The deity was outraged by their attempt to escape and split the earth beneath their boat, sending them plummeting over the falls into the tumultuous waters of the Devil's Throat, or Garganta del Diablo in Spanish.
The falls were discovered by Spanish explorers in the mid-1500s. In 1934 Argentina established the Iguazú National Park, and Brazil followed in 1939 with the Iguaçu National Park. In 1984, the Argentinian park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in order to protect it for the enjoyment of generations to come, and in 1986 also the Brazilian side.
To be able to make the most of our visit, we hired a private driver and guide. Thus we could customize our itinerary and ensure that we saw everything we wanted to see during our trip.
Our first day began with an early morning pick-up from our hotel, then we headed to the Argentinian side of the falls, and our driver made sure we arrived early to avoid the crowds. On the Argentinian side you get close up to the falls, and from Brazil you get a great panoramic overview so it's the best to do both sides.
We started our tour with a visit to the largest and most impressive of the waterfalls, the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat), and then set off on the walking trails that wind through the jungle and along the top of the falls. From there, we could see the water cascading down into the river below, creating a mist that filled the air. And we were even lucky and saw some rainbows !
One of the easiest ways to see the Devil's Throat is to take the "Jungle Train". This train circulates regularly back and forth between the Central and Garganta (Devil's Throat) stations and the fee is included in your entrance ticket. We decided to skip the queue at the Central Station and walked instead the Verde Trail through the jungle to the Cataratas Station. There are facilities and a snack bar located around the station. The train then takes about 20 minutes to the Garganta station, from where you walk about one kilometer on a metal bridge to the waterfall. The walk is totally flat and accessible for strollers and wheelchairs. Unfortunately there are a lot of visitors who feed the local wildlife and therefore coatis come very close in the hope for food. Please don't do this, they find enough suitable food in the jungle and should keep their natural fear of humans.
Once arrived at the platform above the falls be prepared to get drenched and embrace the power of the falls as you experience them up and close. And be prepared for the incredible noise!
After seeing the Devil's Throat falls we explored further the rest of the park, starting with the Paseo Superior, or Upper Path. From this path we could see falls that can't be seen from the Devil's Throat, giving us a completely different perspective of the falls. The flat one-way boardwalk is right on the edge of the falls, providing an outstanding view and stretches over a length of 1.6 kilometers. Along the way, we could see the waterfalls Dos Hermanas, Ramires, Bossetti, Adan & Eve, Bernabe Mendes, Mbigua and San Martin.
Be prepared for the sun and heat, particularly in the summer months, and don't forget to bring hat, sunglasses, and water to stay cool and hydrated while enjoying this beautiful trail.
Afterwards we took the circular Paseo Inferior, or Lower Path. While you'll see the same set of falls as on the Upper Path, the Lower Path provides a more panoramic perspective, allowing you to take in the vaste dimensions of the falls from a different angle. However, the Lower Path is one of the largest walks, covering around 3.5 kilometres and involving about 100 steps, therefore definitely not recommended for people with mobility problems. At the end of the walk, be prepared to get quite wet around the Bosseti Fall. For those who are up for the challenge, this path provides a unique perspective.
Text and images are my copyrighted intellectual property.
You are required to have prior permission to use, borrow, or display any photograph or text from this site.