Straddling the Brazilian and Argentinian border is one of the most spectacular set of waterfalls in the world: the Iguazu Falls. With a name deriving from the indigenous words for “big water”, Iguazu has recently been named one of the modern natural wonders of the world. I had to check it out.
My first sight of the Parque Nacional do Iguaçu was from the aeroplane. My flight from Rio de Janeiro, shortly before arriving at the tiny Foz do Iguaçu airport, circled the falls, probably for the benefit of the passengers. From high up we could see the heavily cascading water, so loud you could almost hear it, and white mist emanating from the green forests, like a steaming hole in the earth.
There were a number of trails along the forest wall, where you can view the scale and panorama of these impressive waterfalls, as well as the local wildlife.
At the end you come to Devil’s Throat, a U-shaped chasm where you can truly appreciate the sheer power and volume of this natural wonder. The falls cascade over cliff, bouncing off the shiny rocks and thrusting into the water below, generating a gauze of cool white mist that seems to cover everything.
There is a walkway, where you can venture out and get a good view of Devil’s Throat head on. Needless to say, you get wet, but on a humid day, it is simply refreshing.
The next day, after crossing the border by bus, I approached the falls from the Argentinian side. Here you can see them up close and personal, and even get inside them. Some of the views here are so beautiful, as the falls interweave with rocks, islands and greenery.
This side of the falls offers an upper and lower trail. The lower trail leads to a boat launch station where you wrap your belongings carefully in a waterproof sack, don your choice of swimwear or waterproof cagoule and prepare for a watery onslaught. After a few photo opportunities, the boat’s driver takes you through the damp mist to the base of the powerful falls. Then travels inside them.
As the white water slaps forcefully onto your head and all over you, you feel like you can no longer make out which way is up and it’s hard to even open your eyes. The second part of the falls we venture into is even more of a shock with the sheer weight of the water on top of us. What an experience. Drenched, exhilarated and happy, we took the rest of the walking trails to dry off.
From the upper trail you see so many astounding sights of this wondrous natural spectacle, from a variety of angles, you almost run out of space on your camera.
Following the first day on the Brazilian side, I was a little concerned I’d feel waterfalled-out with another day at this spot, but far from it. It’s an awe-inspiring place as you appreciate the wildness and power of nature in its element. It is most definitely big water at its best.