There are some places on the map that offer unparalleled beauty and showcase the raw majesty of nature. Located on the border of Argentina and Brazil, Iguazu Falls is a location unlike any other. This massive collection of waterfalls is almost three times as wide as Niagara Falls, according to the Western New York Waterfall Survey. And unlike the area around Niagara Falls, which contains casinos, many hotels and other commercial activities, Iguazu is found in a vast, expansive jungle. That being said, a few world-class resorts at the site of the falls make enjoying this wonder easy and comfortable.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recognized Iguazu Falls as a World Heritage Site in 1984, a symbol of what a fantastic and unique location it is. With walking trails and boat tours, which make getting up close and personal to the action easy and carefree, it is a perfect destination for travellers of all types.
Water cascades over Iguazu Falls at a maximum height of 80 metres, and CNN reported that the feature is a collection of 275 different waterfalls, spanning 2.7 kilometer wide. When Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States, first laid eyes on Iguazu she reportedly claimed "Poor Niagara."
Indeed, although Niagara Falls is a wonder in its own right, Iguazu is otherworldly. Rainbows seem to hover in the mist beneath the churning force of the largest falls, while more tranquil cataracts gracefully descend the slopes. As the Iguazu River flows from Brazil south into Argentina, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water plunge into pools below. CNN stated that in the rainy winter months, as much as 13,000 cubic meters of water pour over the falls every second. That's the equivalent of five Olympic sized swimming pools.
Set amid a backdrop of sub-tropical forest, Iguazu really is unlike any other place on earth. Visitors may choose to arrive from Buenos Aires, Argentina in the South or Porto Alegre in Brazil. From there the falls are just a bus ride away. There are also smaller airports that take you much closer to Iguazu.
A trip to Iguazu offers more natural beauty than just waterfalls. The surrounding Iguazu National Park is home to an impressive array of plants and animals. CNN found that there are over 2,000 separate species of plants that live in the forested hills around the falls. There are also 400 types of birds, countless insects and reptiles, as well as many species of mammals.
While walking the trails closest to the falls, it is not uncommon to see a toucan or other famous tropical bird. The fearsome Harpy Eagle is also found in the park. Coatis, a creature that resembles a cross between a raccoon and an opossum, are also found right alongside the falls. Several species of monkeys may also be spotted.
More elusive residents of Iguazu National Park include the tapir, a relative of the horse, anteaters and many types of rodents that are endemic to South America. Travel beyond the trails, and you may spot caimans, a type of crocodilian, prowling the waterways. Likewise, the mighty jaguar quietly roams the forests looking for prey.
Though the falls will be the star of the show during a trip to Iguazu, the numerous species of plants and animals serve to make the region one of the best on the planet for outdoor enthusiasts.
Despite the rugged and majestic appeal of Iguazu Falls, it is great for families, older adults and anyone in between. There are well-established walkways and posted signs that make enjoying the falls and learning more easy and safe. Some are just trails through the forest while others are elevated paths that give you a unique perspective of Iguazu.
There are a few resorts that service visitors to the falls. In this way, visitors can have a relaxed and safe night's sleep. At the same time, the limit on development means the natural allure of Iguazu is neither compromised nor disturbed. During your trip, you can indulge in a wonderful brunch at a world-class restaurant, only to find yourself fully immersed in the South American jungle just a few minutes later. Snap photos of breathtaking waterfalls and head back to the hotel for an afternoon at the spa.