The cascading Iguassú Falls in South America are – without a doubt – one of the great natural wonders of the world. Iguassú fits the bill in terms of being top of the list with the other great falls of the world, which include Victoria Falls, Niagara Falls and Angel Falls. Not only are the Iguassú Falls great in volume and width, but they also boast an impressive height, making them a spectacular sight to behold. Iguassú is actually three times wider than Niagara Falls and comprises 275 separate cataracts spanning over 2.7 km wide. A mind-blowing and impressive set of statistics, and a total bragfest from Mother Nature!
The waterfalls border three countries, which are: Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. Accessing the falls from the Brazil and Argentina side is the most accessible way of visiting – and the safest. Brazil and Argentina have airport and transport routes, and the scenic cities on either side of the falls are well-functioning. Although the falls actually lie within Argentine territory, the surrounding countries offer interesting vistas and commanding views of the falls.
Iguassú Falls sits in the heart of a rainforest which has been preserved by both Brazil and Argentina. This inland rainforest is actually one of the last remaining rainforests in South America and has a unique biome with over 450 species of bird, of which includes 4 types of toucan and eagles, herons, and the rare black-fronted piping guan. The park has abundant Cockspur coral trees, the national flower of Argentina. Jaguars, tapirs, Giant otters and other mammals dwell deep within this sub-tropical national park.
The Argentine Park side of the falls was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Shortly after Argentina received this status, the Brazil side of the park gained its World Heritage status. Nearly 30 years later the falls were selected as one of the “New Seven Wonders of Nature”.
So who discovered the remarkable Iguassú Falls in South America? In 1541 the first European discovered the falls and named them the Santa Maria falls. Prior to the colonial era, the local inhabitants (Guarani people) had already given their falls a name; a variant of which is used today. A second European expedition led to a rediscovery of the falls, a period of time that was the birth of tourism to the area.
Don’t skip out on a trip to Iguassu when you head to South America.