Iguaçu National Park

Iguaçu National Park

Iguazu National Park photo

Located in Brazil’s Atlantic Parana Forests ecological region is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Iguaçu National Park. Its main attraction is the stunning waterfall of the same name. It is so large that some of it is even located on Argentine territory. Colorful wildlife has become home to a huge variety of birds and butterflies. Among them there are endangered and rare species of birds. This is why Iguazu is under UNESCO protection. Near the Park, tourists can see the remains of the Jesuit mission. The Church of San Ignacio Mini, which was built in the “Baroque Guarana” style, attracts admiring glances.

The origin of the name of the Park. Local Infrastructure.

Literally, the name of the Park translates to “Big Water.” It was so named because there are more than 270 waterfalls in Iguazu! Tourists explore the expanse right in their bathing suits, because there’s nowhere to hide from the splashing waterfalls. For the sake of comfortable observation of natural phenomena local residents have built a sufficient number of crossings, bridges and observation decks. It is even possible to descend from the height of the waterfalls to their base by boat or jeep.

A short walk on the river expanse in an open boat is a lot of fun. After all, travelers will get very close to the waterfall cascades. And the most courageous even “break into” the numerous streams of the waterfall. Photographs taken at this location will fully convey all the grandeur and stunning beauty of the waterfall. The water walk lasts only 1.5-2.0 hours.

Not only walking tours, but also automobile tours can be taken through the Park. Park infrastructure provides an opportunity to see the waterfall in all its glory, even from a helicopter. Fans of extreme sensations are invited to sail down the river on inflatable boats. Park staff have attached ropes for jumping and stretched platforms between the trees. This makes it possible to climb the trees with a safety net. Above the waterfall area, comfortable stations have been built for water sports.

Since the park area receives a large number of travelers from all over the world every day, a couple of hotels, restaurants and bars had to be built near the waterfalls. And even an airfield. Today, the village already has about 6,000 residents who cater to travelers.

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Iguazu Park

The same name is also given to the local river, which originates on the Atlantic coast and runs along the entire coast. Therefore, it is also called the natural water frontier between Argentina and Brazil. The waters of the Iguazu River plunge down a natural reddish plateau and from a height of 60 meters fly in a stunning waterfall. And from the crescent-shaped plateau, which is located at a height of 2.7 km, the water mass falls directly into the formed canyon. Lush vegetation and a large number of rocks distribute the river into 275 streams. The highest point of the river water drop reaches 82 m. This place is known as

“Devil’s Throat”.

A permanent rainbow completes the breathtaking spectacle of the waterfall. Day after day it shimmers in different colors over the sparkling water dust, decorating the tops of the lush vegetation.

Next door to the famed waterfalls is a small island with trees and rocks and a beach area. Those who wish can sunbathe and swim there. Although it is possible to admire the waterfall from the Brazilian side as well as from the Argentine territory, it is the Brazilian side that offers an incredible panoramic view.

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The Legend of Iguazu Falls

Every attraction has its own legend. This waterfall has one too.

The god of the surrounding forests fell in love with a local beauty and decided to take her as his wife. But she ran away with her lover in a canoe down the river. God, greatly enraged, did not hesitate long and cut through the water surface. The couple in love did not escape and crashed. They fell into the resulting abyss. In the blink of an eye, the beautiful woman became an impregnable rock, while the young man became a sturdy tree.

Flora and Fauna in Iguaçu National Park

Flora and Fauna of Iguazu National Park

Since there is more than enough moisture here. It allows the forest to grow on several levels. It surprises with its lush flora and colorfulness. Very often the nature of the park is even compared to the Amazon tropics. The flora is represented by ironwood trees-quebracho, aspidosperms, cabbage palms, etc. They are home to tapirs, monkeys, hummingbirds and rare butterflies of indescribable colors the size of a tea saucer. Most often they can be found near puddles. That’s where they extract minerals from water. Also growing in the Park are the mugwort, phebe, holly, orchid, palo-rosa, bromeliad, cedrela, and araucaria. Florists will have no problem naming all varieties of the many vascular plants, showing trees that belong to the burrzer family.

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In order to preserve in its original form all the power and colorfulness of waterfalls and endangered species of fauna and flora, it was decided to organize protected areas in the Park. On the Brazilian side 180,000 hectares were allocated. This is how one of the largest nature reserves in the world appeared. On the Argentine side the protected area covers 55,000 hectares.

Exotic bird park

In the protected area of Iguazu, the Bird Park occupies 4 hectares of pristine subtropical forest. In the bird sanctuary, travelers can see birds in their natural habitat. Not only can they be viewed, but they can even be fed. The reserve shelters more than 500 different species of birds from different continents. So in the air you can see not only hummingbirds and toucans, but also American swifts and parrots, wine-breasted amazons, Brazilian mergansers, South American harpies and bronze-winged penelope. Although this part of the Park is reserved for birds. This does not impede the peaceful existence of turtles, crocodiles, 40 types of reptiles (the broad-winged caiman, Paraguayan caiman, coral aspirate, etc.), howler monkeys and capuchins, and 70 types of mammals. The park is home to calibar, jaguar, cougar, Brazilian otter, ocelot, giant anteater, plains tapir and mazama deer, jaguarunda cat, water opossum and bush dog. The exotic bird park is home to a troop of bats. The most frequent sighting is of the common vampire.

Iguaçu Birds Park.

Makuku Safari.

To the formed canyon of Iguazu you can drive comfortably in jeeps through the forest thickets. This excursion has the official name Makuku Safari.

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Helicopter tour over the main attraction of Iguazu Park.

Travelers can take advantage of a short or long walk in a helicopter stall.

The short helicopter tour takes place directly over the waterfalls themselves. Tourists will be shown both parts of the falls (Brazilian and Argentine) and Devil’s Throat. The helicopter will travel at low altitude and low speed. Therefore, the natural phenomenon will unfold in all its raging beauty.

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The half hour tour by helicopter is designed to show tourists the hydroelectric power station with the dam, which gives the largest power in the world. The flight itself is also fascinating because travelers will fly over three nations at once: Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Because their common border is just where the Iguazu and Parana rivers meet. As travelers head from Paraguay to the waterfall, they will see the famed Bridge of Friendship.

Classic Excursion

The usual classic tour begins with a short walk from the main entrance to Iguazu Park . You’ll just be able to take a photo. And then board the narrow gauge train at the train station. Tourists will ride in a wagon for 15 minutes and end up near the waterfalls. If you give 20 minutes, then this time is enough to overcome 1200 meters of suspension bridges. And then you will be able to see with their own eyes the famous “Devil’s Throat”. Then the guide will lead the group to the train to go to the central camp. From this point, travelers will transfer to jeeps and head straight through the jungle to a natural canyon. There at the small jetty they will be waited for by boat. Tourists on it will go on a fascinating journey through the turbulent waters of the river. In an hour the boat will maneuver quietly at the foot of the waterfalls.

The cultural heritage of Iguazu National Park

The first signs of human presence in this area date back to the prehistoric era. After examination, it was found that the shards of vessels found are close to 10,000 years old. At that time, the area was inhabited by Indian tribes, who existed through fishing, gathering and hunting. And in 1000 B.C. the area was visited by the northern Guaranís and displaced the local natives. Unlike the Indians, the northerners already knew how to grow vegetables.

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As for the first tourist expedition to the famous waterfalls. That it was organized at the end of the 19th century. In order to achieve success, Victoria Aguirre, a participant of the expedition, with her own funds organized the construction of the road from the local port directly to the waterfalls. In doing so, she greatly facilitated the way for other groups of tourists, for which she received gratitude.

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What can I see in the park?

Just 50 meters from the entrance to the National Park, travelers can find the Ivira Reta Visitor Center, which means “Land of Trees”. The center’s staff will tell guests that the territory of Iguazu Park, whose photos adorn the walls of the “Ivira Reta”, protects not only the unique waterfalls, but also the animal and plant world. Tourists will hear a brief history about the area and the first settlers. From the fascinating stories, travelers will learn that environmentalists and European colonists are still working for the good of the Park. After a brief narrative introduction, guests will be led to a miniature eco-train that will take them to the waterfalls.

If you take the tour along the lower track, you will have an opportunity to take pictures of the waterfalls from the front and from above. From further away, you can get impressive shots of Devil’s Throat and other waterfalls in Brazil. Whoever wants to, will be able to get under the jets of Bosetti Falls. The upper trail runs along the entire line of waterfalls. It reveals a magical panorama of a phenomenal attraction.

What to see in the park

At close range, you can admire “Devil’s Throat” from the wide balcony directly above the gorge itself.

It certainly does not hurt to make time to visit the island of San Martin . There all wishing to be transferred by boat. It is difficult enough to climb to the top. But the effort is worth it. The reward is an impressive view of the Three Musketeers waterfall.

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As for the Makuko Trail, which jeeps will take guests to the waterfalls, it is designed to allow tourists to view the delights of wild vegetation up close during the trip. If you are lucky, you may also meet some animals and take pictures of butterflies and birds.

Creating a Dam

Not far from the mountain gorges and swampy surroundings, which are home to a mammal of the feline family Ocelot, in 1982 a stunning hydraulic procedure was carried out on the mighty waters of the Parana. In 7 minutes, 12 massive gates were lowered to the bottom of the river, which are closed by a hydraulic mechanism. For two weeks the water rose to a level of 100 meters, as its streams were stopped by a wall of concrete. It was then released through an equipped channel. To build the giant concrete dam, it was necessary to break through the rocks. Then it was possible to divert the riverbed 2 km to the side and start building the dam.

When everything was ready, the water was launched. The dam became the basis of an artificial lake with an area of 1,340 square kilometers. Preliminarily, all valuable archaeological monuments were removed from this area. Many animal species, which had previously inhabited the mentioned territory, adapted to the “new” home. About 20 million trees were planted along the perimeter of the artificial reservoir.

As you can see, Brazil impresses not only with its urban attractions. Its parks and waterfalls deserve no less admiration from travelers from all over the world.

Iguazu National Park, video:

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