Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil

Iguazu Falls

“Poor Niagara!” – Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed as she barely glanced at the Iguazu Falls. This breathtaking natural spectacle is located on the border of Brazil and Argentina.

More than one first lady has been captivated by the elements; tourists from all over the world flock to Iguaçu Falls.

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Video: Iguazu Falls

General Information

The name in the vernacular of the local Guaraní tribe, who have lived on the banks of the Iguazú River for centuries, means “Big Water”. The river flows for 2.7 km and forms a cascade of 270 individual waterfalls on the edge of a 75 m deep fault. This fault is called the Gargantadel Diablo (“Devil’s Mouth”). The local tribes have formed many naive tales, legends and myths about the emergence of the “Big Water”. The most poetic of these is the legend of the chief’s beautiful daughter, young Naipi. Here’s what it sounds like:

On the banks of the Iguazu River lived a beautiful chief’s daughter named Naipi. She fell in love with the bravest warrior in their tribe. But alas, she had already been promised in marriage to the divine serpent M’bon. In despair, Naipi and her warrior got into a canoe and sailed down the river, which was then quiet and peaceful. But suddenly M’boi awoke to find that his bride had escaped. In a rage he plunged as hard as he could into the river. The force of the impact cracked the ground, and the water rushed into a deep hollow. M’boi turned the brave warrior into a cliff to be whipped and whipped forever by the cruel water. And he turned the beautiful Naipi into a palm tree on the shore of the Great Water. When the wind blows in the evening, the palm tree can stretch out its arms-branches to the beloved in longing, but it will never reach him.

Geologists, on the other hand, believe that the fault was the result of tectonic shifts that took place 100,000 years ago. “The Devil’s Mouth” was formed where the bottom of the river failed, leaving a steep precipice from which cascades of water flow these days.

The Iguazu River is about 1320 kilometers long and is formed from the confluence of the Atuba and Iran Rivers near the Brazilian city of Curitiba. For several miles it flows through the Brazilian province of Paraná, where it defines the border between Argentina and Brazil. This means that the waterfalls occupy the territory of both Brazil and Argentina: 800 m of cascades belong to the former and 1,900 m of the latter. And although the closest you can get to the Devil’s Mouth is from the Argentine side, the most favorable view is from the Brazilian side. Until recently, 7,000 cubic meters of water flowed over the edge of the Devil’s Mouth every second. Now, however, a dam has been built upstream in Salto de Caixa, which has reduced the volume of water by two-thirds. Although Iguazu Falls and its surrounding areas were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, they are still under threat.

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Brazil’s Iguaçu National Park is home to many rare and endangered birds and animals and has five types of forests and ecosystems. On the Argentine side, visitors can walk a variety of hiking trails, some of which are laid out literally on the edge of the precipice below the waterfall.

The Facts

  • Location: Iguazu Falls is on the border between Brazil and Argentina.
  • Size: The Fault is 2,700 meters wide, of which 800 meters are in Brazil and 1,900 meters in Argentina.
  • Mass of water: The bluff is 75 meters high. Every second 7,000 cubic meters of water fell from it until recently, when a dam was built upstream, reducing the volume of falling water by two-thirds. Now the amount of water in the river depends on the water level in the resulting Salto de Caixa Reservoir.
  • Discovery: In 1,542 the Spanish navigator Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (1490-1557) was the first European to see the falls.
  • UNESCO World Heritage List: Iguazu Falls and the two national parks on both sides of the river were added to the World Heritage List in 1986.

How to get there

There are regular flights to Foz to Iguazu from Rio de Janeiro as well as other Brazilian cities, and daily flights from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu, or you can take the Friendship Bridge from Ciudad del Este on the Paraguayan side.

Iguazu Falls (Iguazu National Park in Brazil)

Iguaçu Falls (Iguaçu National Park in Brazil)

The Iguazu Falls are one of the new seven natural wonders of the world. The name translates from the language of the Guarani Indians as “Great Water.”

The Iguaçu Falls complex is located on the border of Brazil and Argentina and includes two parks, one on the Brazilian side and one on the Argentine side.

In 2011, Iguaçu Falls was named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in a worldwide competition. Both parks are also on the UNESCO World Heritage List, which only adds to their regalia.

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In terms of views and panoramas, the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls is considered more advantageous, although it is inferior to its Argentine neighbor in terms of territory. Perhaps this is the main difference between the Brazilian and Argentine parks.

Interesting fact about Iguazu Falls in South America: The site was discovered in 1541 by the Spanish conquistador Don Álvaro Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, who went in search of the gold of the legendary Inca Empire at the command of the king. He landed with a detachment on the coast of what is now Brazil, moving westward, crossed the Brazilian highlands and, hearing a distant rumble, came to a waterfall. Thus the ubiquitous Inca footprint was not absent here either.

There is a beautiful legend connected to the waterfalls, according to which God wanted to marry a beautiful girl named Naipu, but she ran away with her lover on a boat. Then the angry God cut the river, creating waterfalls in the way of the lovers. The young man turned into a lonely palm tree and the girl into a rock. The rainbows, so frequent in the waterfalls, pass through the palm tree and the rock, and then it seems as if the lovers are gently embracing each other.

Iguaçu Falls (Iguaçu National Park in Brazil)

The height of Iguazu Falls

The grandiose complex of the most powerful waterfall in the world is formed by 275 cascades in the shape of a horseshoe horse (also a common comparison to the letter J).

Some of the water streams fall from a height of 82 meters, but most of them collapse with a noise from 60-70 meters. If the Iguazu Cascades were a single wall of water, they would be the widest waterfall in the world. However, by far the largest, broadest and tallest at the same time, is the African Victoria Falls.

Iguazu Falls in Brazil

The Brazilian park was founded in 1939 and covers an area of 185 thousand hectares.

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Foz do Iguaçu is considered the starting point for exploring the parks from Brazil, although the parks are so close to each other that many tourists prefer to settle in the Argentine town of Puerto Iguaçu, which has a more developed tourist infrastructure and a greater choice of budget hotels.

On the Brazilian side, there is a heliport at the entrance to the park. A ten-minute flight over the waterfalls costs from $200.

From the central entrance to the beginning of the trail to the waterfalls, you can take buses that run at intervals of about once every ten minutes.

There are several viewpoints in the park, each with a completely different panorama and a different view of the waterfalls. The viewing platforms are conveniently connected by wooden decks and bridges.

A path through the subtropical forest leads from the entrance to the first observation deck, where visitors are greeted by a mesmerizing spectacle – a magnificent ensemble of water cascades rumbling out of the jungle.

The huge amount of water pouring down from above, the untouched beauty of the tropics around, the noise of the cascades, huge birds flying over the waterfalls – all these pictures are able to enthuse even the most hardened skeptics.

Prices in Iguazu National Park in Brazil

  • Ticket for 1 adult – 104 BRL
  • Ticket for 1 child (2 – 11 years) – 14 BRL.

You can buy tickets online on the official website. If you do so the total cost of the ticket for an adult with additional fees will be 104 BRL.

At the ticket office in the park itself on the Brazilian side it is recommended to pay in Brazilian reals, not Argentine pesos, in order to avoid overpayments.

Panoramic view of the waterfalls on the Brazilian side

Iguazu Falls in Argentina

Argentina’s park around the Iguazu Falls was created in 1934. Its area is 67 thousand hectares. About 80% of all the Iguazu Cascades are located in Argentina.

The city and tourist center at Iguazu Falls in Argentina is Puerto Iguazu, Misiones Province. There are regular buses from the city to the viewpoints, and some hotels offer their own shuttle service.

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The cost of visiting Iguazu Falls for an adult is 800 ARS.

Panorama of Iguazu Falls from Argentina

Iguazu Attractions

Thrill seekers can try the Macuco Safari daredevil attraction on the Iguazu River, where adventurous people race right below the waterfalls in colorful rubber boats. One hundred percent adrenaline and a unique opportunity to get soaked under the waterfalls is guaranteed.

Without a doubt, the main attraction of the park is “Devil’s Throat”, the most famous Iguazu Falls, which is shaped like a horseshoe, 82 meters high and 150 meters wide, and runs right in the middle of the border between Argentina and Brazil.

It takes about three hours to see the main viewing points of Iguazu National Park in Brazil. The rest of your free time can be devoted to a pleasant stroll in the Bird Park, which is very close by. Thus, you can combine visits to two parks in one day.

How to get to Iguazu Falls

The route to the waterfalls is basically a drive or flight to Foz do Iguaçu on the Brazilian side or to Puerto Iguaçu on the Argentine side. A third option considered unsafe and therefore not touristy is the Paraguayan town of Ciudad del Este, which is on the opposite side of the bridge from Brazil.

Travel and crossing the border between Brazil and Argentina is very convenient. There are many buses between Foz do Iguaçu, Puerto Iguaçu, and the two parks, and the border crossing scheme is clearly worked out by local officials and the process and does not take long. Therefore, it does not make much difference whether you are based in Brazil’s Foz do Iguaçu or in Argentina’s Puerto Iguaçu. In any case, you can easily visit both parks: no visas to Brazil and Argentina are required for Russians if your stay does not exceed 90 days.

Tours and excursions to Iguazu Falls are conducted from Rio de Janeiro, as well as other cities in Brazil and Argentina.

From Rio de Janeiro to Iguazu

It takes more than 22 hours to get from Rio to Iguaçu by bus. The fare is comparable to or even more expensive than a plane ticket: from 370 BRL. You can see the schedule and prices on the bus ticket search site.

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The direct flight to Foz do Iguaçu airport is only 2 hours and 10 minutes. There are also options with connections. The cheapest tickets cost 280 BRL. On a direct flight from 350 BRL.

From Buenos Aires to Iguazu

You can get from Buenos Aires by plane, a direct flight to Puerto Iguazu takes only 1 hour and 50 minutes. Tickets cost from 1700 ARS. There are usually several flights a day, the destination is quite popular.

Iguaçu Falls (Iguaçu National Park in Brazil)

Flights to Iguazu from other cities

Foz do Iguaçu Airport receives regular flights from São Paulo, Curitiba, Brasilia, Porto Alegre and other cities. Flights are operated by Azul Brazilian Airlines, Tam linhas aereas, Air China, Gol, Korean Air, KLM, South African Airways, Lufthansa and some other Brazilian and major international airlines.

Puerto Iguazú Airport mainly serves planes from Buenos Aires, but there are also regular services to Mendoza, Cordoba.

Buses to Iguazu

Foz do Iguaçu and Puerto Iguaçu are connected to other major cities in Brazil and Argentina by bus service.

Intercity flights from the Brazilian side arrive at the Rodoviária Internacional terminal on Av Costa e Silva, 3-4 km from the center of Foz do Iguaçu. From the Foz do Iguaçu City Terminal Terminal Terminal de Transporte Urbano buses leave every 22 minutes to the entrance of Iguaçu National Park, travel time is 40 minutes and payment is on board. In addition, there are buses that go directly from the Foz do Iguaçu bus station to the Argentine side of the waterfalls. Some hotels in the city offer shuttle service to their guests.

There are buses from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu, but the trip will be very long. Local buses go to the entrance of Argentine Iguazu National Park from 7:00 to 20:50; you can get to the Brazilian side by Cruzero del Norte or public buses, and all tickets must be saved until you return to Puerto Iguazu. On the Argentine side of the park there is a special transport, the eco-train.

In Paraguay, buses take about 6 hours to reach Ciudad del Este from Asuncion. Then you can take buses to Foz do Iguaçu or Puerto Iguaçu.

Airpano.com’s most complete panorama of Iguazu Falls

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