About Iguazu Falls / Iguassu Falls
Iguazu Falls (or more accurately Iguazú Falls) is the Spanish name for this mammoth waterfall.
You might also see it referred to as Iguassu Falls or Iguaçu Falls if you favor the Portugese name.
Moreover, you might also see it referred to as Yguazú Falls, which I believe is in the native Guaraní language.
In fact, the meaning of the name (originally Guaraní) is said to roughly translate to “big water.”
The photo you see above (as well as in the rest of this page) certainly attests to its grand nature.
But no matter how you spell or say its name, we have to say that it is indeed a crazy waterfall.
How crazy, you might ask?
Consider a network of 275 different waterfalls spanning an area 3km wide (2km of which is the upper rim of the waterfall) during its normal flow of around 1000 cubic meters per second.
It is such a natural wonder that UNESCO designated the falls as a World Heritage Area in 1986.
Yet as a result of its grandeur, Julie and I were so overwhelmed with the raw human emotion of excitement and wonder during our visit that even the implications of these gaudy numbers seem to be dwarfed.
Indeed, it’s one of those waterfalls that you just have to experience for yourself!
Sitting on the Iguazú River, it is shared by Argentina and Brazil as both countries are separated by the river.
Catwalks are built on both sides providing closer (often times mistier and wetter) views of the great waterfall.
Paraguay is also near the falls so this region is often referred to as the Triple Frontier.
Throughout the year, Iguazu Falls can be seen in various states depending on its waterflow as well as how the seasons can affect its surroundings.
We made an attempt to summarize our findings in a separate writeup.
Components of Iguazu Falls
From what we could tell, during normal flow, the Iguazu River consists of two main parts.
These components are the Devil’s Throat section and what I’m calling the Argentina section.
The Devil’s Throat (La Garganta del Diablo) is the narrow horseshoe part of Iguazu Falls with the largest volume of water.
This is the portion of the falls that is split between Argentina and Brazil.
It is also the most recognizable and powerful section of this world attraction.
The Argentina section is the part containing numerous segmented waterfalls as a result of islands (the largest of which is the San Martin Island, or La Isla San Martín) splitting up the river.
And as suggested by the name I made up for this part, all of these islands are on the Argentina side.
Most of these segmented waterfalls and cascades have names.
Just to give you an idea of how many named waterfalls make up this Argentina section, we’ve identified signs identifying:
- Salto San Martín
- Salto Eva
- Salto Adán
- Salto Bossetti (very impressive)
- Salto Dos Hermanas
- Salto Alvar Nuñez
- Salto Guardaparque Bernabé Mendez
- Salto Mbigua
- Salto Chico
- Salto Rivadavía
- Salto Escondido
- Salto Lanusse
I’m quite sure that there are others not even mentioned in the above list!
As far as we were concerned, what made this mega waterfall so special was that it felt like it was in Nature where it belonged.
Indeed, there was a heavy presence of trees and bush, which made it clear to us that we were in a subtropical rainforest where the Nature was more or less allowed to flourish.
We even saw some wildlife such as the banded-tailed coaties (they seemed to have become accustomed to being fed or digging for trash), birds like various species of parrot and toucans, and butterflies of many different colors.
I understand that there are even predatory cats like the Jaguar as well as the Puma and Ocelot though I’d imagine sightings of these majestic lords of the jungle would be pretty rare.
Sure the catwalks and jet boat tours (along with Brazilian helicopters) could take away from the Nature.
However, it was certainly more natural than one of the rival waterfalls like say Niagara Falls, where it could be argued that it resulted in a Frankenstein-like mix of Las Vegas and natural world wonder.
Activities at Iguazu Falls
Still with that being said, there was certainly no shortage of activities to do here besides walking the catwalks and soaking in the overlooks.
Julie and I have engaged in a couple of of these excursions (including a thrilling boat ride).
We’ve discussed our accounts of such excursions in a separate write-up, which you can read about to delve further into the details.
Speaking of catwalks, they afforded us various ways to view and experience Iguazu Falls.
Catwalks at Iguazu Falls
Argentina had most of the catwalks while Brazil’s walks mostly focused on panoramas of the Argentinean side as well as closeups of the thunderous Devil’s Throat.
We spent a good deal of time walking the main catwalk trails, which were called Paseo Superior (the upper catwalks) and Paseo Inferior (the lower catwalks).
We even caught a short train ride that took us to a catwalk to the brink of Devil’s Throat (known as El Paseo de La Garganta del Diablo).
On the last day of our visit, we had some limited time exploring the catwalks and trails on San Martin Island after taking a short boat ride.
Although we were based on the Argentina side during our three day visit, we did give ourselves enough time to spend at least a half-day visiting the Brazil side.
It was here that we got to look across the Iguazu River while also getting a closer and more frontal look at the turbulent and impressive Devil’s Throat.
Perhaps, you may have a preference on which side to spend most of your visit or to stay.
Since Julie and I have been to both sides, we’ve documented our experiences and made an evaluation of the two sides.
Indeed there is much to say about Iguazu Falls.
What we’ve managed to do here merely scratched the surface of the many ways to experience the place.
Heck, if the timing’s right, you could even do special tours of the falls by moonlight (something I wish we could’ve done)!
So check out the photos and videos below as well as the links to our other write-ups and get ready to experience our favorite waterfall in the world!
Iguazu Falls (or Iguassu Falls) resides in the province of Misiones on the Argentina side and the state of Paraná on the Brazil side. To my knowledge, there doesn’t appear to be an official governmental authority directly managing either side of the falls. Instead, each side seems to have delegated management responsibilities to the primary concessioners or local tourism offices on behalf of their respective countries.
So for information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try visiting Iguazu Argentina website or Brazil side of Iguassu Falls website. I don’t think either source are sanctioned by their respective governments as authoritative sources of information, but it should get you started on any further inquiries you may have.
There are many ways of getting to Iguazu Falls.
We’ve composed a write-up of our accounts of how we managed to get to the falls as an international destination.
And at least for foreign visitors like us, we also wrote up a guide detailing the logistics of how we managed to handle some of the less glamorous aspects of enabling a visit to the falls such as Visas, money changing, etc.
As far as the accommodations were concerned, Julie and I actually stayed within the park at the Sheraton Iguazu.
That way, we didn’t have to spend as much valuable time on transport logistics on the Argentina side.
Finally, for a bit of geographical context, the closest town on the Argentina side is Puerto Iguazú (within walking distance or a short shuttle to the falls). It’s roughly a 6.5-hour flight from Buenos Aires.