Question: What is better than a big waterfall?
Answer: A series of big waterfalls on three levels!
Enter Iguazu Falls. (Also known as Iguacu, Iguassu, Iguaçu) This behemoth of a cascade holds its place among the well-known Niagara Falls bordering New York and Canada and Victoria Falls in the heart of Zimbabwe, Africa.
If you look at Google maps, not only does it show that the falls is located in southern Brazil, bordering Argentina, it also titles Iguazu Falls as an “immense, scenic set of waterfalls.” In this case, Google got it right. It is immense…and scenic.
We opt to visit fewer places in a country for longer durations. It gives us the chance to get to know a particular city, region, or destination a little bit better. The flip side is that we don’t get the chance to experience all that a country has to offer. In Brazil, we knew we wanted to experience Rio De Janeiro, visit our friends in Sao Paulo, and then, we had a giant list of amazing places we wanted to explore…and we had to choose just one.
Heading to the Falls
Since we knew we would get to look for Amazon Basin caimans and capybaras in the rainforest of Peru (deepest darkest Peru), and since our next destination was Santiago, Chile, it seemed like a logical choice for us to fly to Iguazu Falls and take in this new natural wonder of the world. Logic aside, I’m a sucker for waterfalls. We arrived in the evening, got checked-in to our accommodations, and woke up the next morning for the short bus ride to the falls.
We stopped just short of the falls and saw this bird…
…before walking through the entrance of the Iguazu Falls National Park.
An efficient ticket purchase and pleasant double-decker bus ride into the park later, we arrived at the bottom of Iguazu Falls.
Making Furry Friends and Taking in the View
Take in the pink mansion and say hello (but don’t feed) to the furry and friendly coati before heading down the green-lined path.
And wow! Every few yards, another incredible view of the falls opens up. If you are feeling adventurous, join one of the boat tours that motors directly into the basin of the falls. Warning, you will get wet.
Continue walking and you soon realize the immensity (thank you, Google) and the intricacy of the network of waterfalls. The path of the water changes throughout the year depending on the water table so multiple visits in different seasons will yield visual variance.
Entering the Dragon’s Throat!
Keep heading up the path to the second level, the base of the Dragon’s Throat! I can’t begin to tell you what it feels like to be standing that close to so much natural power. I did manage to make a compilation of short video clips to give you an idea.
Second warning: if you walk the boardwalk into the Dragon’s Throat, you and your camera, and your bag, and everything in your proximity will get wet, drenched, soaked, et. al. Vendors have hooded, plastic ponchos for sale which will help reduce the degree of dampness you incur, but, the water comes, without advanced notice, from every direction so you are bound to bring back a bit of the waterfall with you. Cheap traveler tip: If you’re feeling lucky, look for the garbage cans at the entrance to the Dragon’s Throat and help yourself to a used poncho.
If you have a waterproof camera, plunge into the vortex of spray without fear of camera damage. If not, well, shoot at your your own risk.
The Devil’s Throat is awe-inspiring! On average, 61,660 cubic feet of water per second flows past Iguazu Falls. It is no wonder that this UNESCO world heritage site brings upwards of 7 million visitors per year to both the Brazilian and the Argentinian sides of the falls.
Movin’ on Up
Once we were completely soaked from the Dragon’s Throat, we made our way to the elevator that took us to the top of the third and final level of the falls. From this lookout point, Argentina’s boardwalk at the top of the Dragon’s Throats can be seen, as well as the source of the falls, the Rio Iguazu.
Looking down into the mist of Iguazu Falls is mesmerizing. The power and force of the water reminded us just how amazing and beautiful the world can be. If you’re ever in Brazil (or Argentina, we highly recommend that you make Iguazu Falls a priority.
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