The sound of rushing water, cascading carelessly down steep cliffs, resonates around the national reserve. The water gushes with such potency that you can feel a persistent mist surrounding you, carried by friendly breezes from hundreds of feet away. The inescapable mist insists on accompanying you through the park; and when you throw care to the wind and brave a boardwalk to the cliff’s edge, the delicate mist turns into an incessant splash, leaving you thoroughly drenched. But you don’t care. In this moment, you’re enthralled by the liquid force of nature. In this moment, you’re standing under the South American sun and –literally– soaking in the power and beauty of one of the world’s largest waterfalls.
Bordering Argentina and Brazil, the 300 drops of Iguassu Falls stretch across almost 2 miles –2 miles!– of the Paraná Plateau. 80% of the falls sit on the Argentinian side, which we call Cataratas del Iguazú.
Given Argentina’s reputation for beautiful people, the falls refuse to be outdone. Staying true to the Argentinian temperament, they dramatically pour and roar, surge and splash, basking in the admiration. Even on overcast days.
On such a rainy day (as on many a day here during rainy season, which lasts half the year), the waters run a more noticeable shade of brown – an unfortunate effect of runoff from deforestation and agricultural development. And, as with any rainy environment, we find a warning for…friendly snakes?
It’s a serious warning, and yet I can’t help but be amused by the sign. Perhaps it’s the novelty; perhaps it’s the graphic style. Either way, a snake warning really is friendlier than the threat of falling into la Garganta del Diablo: The Devil’s Throat. Don’t fall in!
Your poncho will do little against the spray, and your umbrella (if you’ve bothered to bring one), will flip upside down with the frequent gusts of wind. Yet, you’ll enjoy the thrill of it all. Much of the Argentine park takes you so close to the rushing waters that it’s difficult to stay dry.
When your feet are weary from walking every inch of the paths, you might be pleasantly surprised by a blindly booked accommodation in Puerto Iguazú. Particularly when the view from your balcony overlooks the rainforest….
With colors so lush, you might blink twice at the unedited, unfiltered colors. Yup, we’re talking #NoFilter.
At the tip of Puerto Iguazú, we find Tres Fronteras – the three frontiers of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Here, calmer waters converge, lazily ebbing and flowing across the boundaries of neighboring countries.
When you’re ready to cross the border, the Argentine Puente de la Fraternidad or Brazilian Ponte da Fraternidade (Fraternity Bridge…or, if you prefer the official name, the Tancredo Neves Bridge) connects the two countries and the two sides of the falls. When the barrier colors change, you know you’ve crossed the border between Brazil and Argentina.
You know how much I like UNESCO World Heritage sites, so we also have to see the Brazilian side of the falls. Today, the sun has graced us with its presence, accenting the sky with cumulus clouds.
The striking Cataratas do Iguaçu, taller and wider than Niagara Falls, derives its name from the local Guarani language and translates into “Big Water.” Although erosion and runoff have tainted the once-clear waters, the sprawling vista still makes quite an impact.
After the rain, there are rainbows.
Which side do I like more? Iguazú? Iguaçu? It’s hard to say. One side is bigger, seemingly more adventurous, putting you right up against wild flora, water splashing every which way. The other side brings you just near enough to admire from a distance, like an experienced coquette, allowing you wider panoramas of a visual smorgasbord. So. Iguassu, as a whole. That’s what I like most.
Wishing you a weekend of awe-inspiring wonder,