Iguazu Fall is considered by many to be South America's greatest natural sight. Formed by a succession of 275 interlinking falls up to 246 ft (75 m) in high, cascading over a 1,8 mile (3 km) precipice, shared between Brazil and Argentina, the falls are completely surrounded by nature preserves and national parks, containing one of the largest surviving tracts of Atlantic forest in South America. The main tourist attractions and activities go hand-in-hand with the most exuberant scenery provided by nature and mankind. Raft the waters below the falls, hire a powerboat that skim the waters to the very foot of the falls, practice adventure sports such as hiking, trekking and wood canoeing or go visit the Bird Park or the world’s largest hydroelectric works, the Itaipu Dam.
Read More about Iguazu Falls
Where is Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls is the second most visited destination in Brazil after Rio. It’s reached with a two hour flight from Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. Foz do Iguaçu, in Portuguese, is located at the border with Argentina and Paraguay, with the cities of Puerto Iguazu and Ciudad del Este, respectivelly.
History of Iguazu Falls City
Thousands of years before the Europeans discovered the falls, the Tupi-Guarani and Paraguas used it as a holy burial place. In 1541 the Spaniard Don Alvar Nuñes found the falls, he named it Saltos de Santa Maria, but this name didn't stick so the Tupi-Guarani came up with the name Iguacu that Guarani language means "Big Waters".
Getting to Iguazu Falls City
The best way to reach Iguazu is by flying into Foz do Iguaçu International Airport, which is located approximately 10mi from downtown Iguaçu. Rental cars, taxis or buses are available to bring the visitor into the city. For those driving from Brazil or Paraguay, access to the city is via the Tancredo Neves Internatioal Bridge and BR277. Buses from all the major cities in the area including Curitiba, Cuiaba, Campo Grande and Bonito provide transportation to Iguazu Falls City.
Sites Around the Iguazu Area
Most visitors use Iguazu Falls City as a jumping off point for the attractions in the area. The biggest attraction is the spectacular Iguazu Waterfalls. There are also two national parks in the area on either side of the falls created by Brazil and Argentina respectively. The Itaipu Dam is a monumental feat of construction open for daily visits, impressing those who love to see an amazing piece of engineering.
Considered one of the most amazing sights in the world, Iguazu Falls sits on the border of Brazil and Argentina. The waterfalls and its river are considered a World Heritage site due to their tremendous beauty as well as the biodiversity. Iguazu River has a total of 275 falls spread throughout Brazil and Argentina sides.
Touring the Iguazu Falls
Aside from the walk ways and daytime boating trips there are other ways to see the falls. When the moon is full, romantic nighttime tours are offered to the waterfalls. The moon shining off the falls turns them into a silver curtain of water. Visitors also have the option of seeing the falls by helicopter and extending the trip to the surrounding area. The flight includes views of the falls and park as well as the Iguazu Falls city. The helicopter will also fly over the Itaipu Binational Hydroelectric Dam as well as other important landmarks. The Macuco Safari is another fun and adventurous way to explore the falls.
Iguazu National Park in Brazil
Iguazu Park contains 80% of the remaining rainforest in southeastern Brazil. The park is open daily. Visitors have the option of several different tours including a three hour boat trip up the Iguazu River with a white water raft trip back down to the drop off point. There is a 6mi trail called Poço Preto that involves hiking, biking and kayaking. Visitors can also enjoy rappelling down the front of the falls or climbing up steep cliffs within the forest. There is also a canopy tour and a 2 hour hike and float on the Iguazu River above the falls. To explore the falls in an adventurous way the Macuco Safari excursion will give you that.
Iguazu National Park Argentina
Iguazu National Park in Argentina is located in the north of the province of Misiones and it was developed to protect both the falls and the surrounding plant and animal life. There are two trails that offer incredible view of the falls, starting up with the Upper Circuit and finally reaching the Lower Circuit where visitors can get views of the fall from below. From there you can get a free boat to Isla San Martin, where tourists can get a more close-up view of the falls. Garganta do Diabo is the best and the last attraction, at the Garganta the serene river suddenly turns violent, it is a true magnificent experience. To better explore the falls Iguazu Jungle Explorer offers two fun excursions.
Iguazu Itaipu Dam
Itaipu Dam is the world's biggest hydroelectric and it is responsible for more than 90% of the electricity consumed in Paraguay and it provides 22% of Brazil's energy comsumption. Construction of Itaipu Dam began in 1971 and was finished in 1982. Visitors can choose from 4 different tours or a combination of several separate tours. The regular visit begins with a film of the dam’s history followed by a bus trip to the observation deck. Visitors then finish the tour at the top of the Dam.There is an internal and external tour of the power plant as well as the exterior of the dam. The evening visit is quite spectacular as the dam is lit up in combination with a fun sound show.
Furnas Transmission System
The Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam in Iguazu sends power through this Furnas Transmission system to the areas of southeastern and southern Brazil. Visitors can stop in and learn how this system works as well as learn about other endeavors to provide Brazil with power. Reservations must be made in advance to tour the facility.
Activities Around Iguazu
Iguazu Falls City also has several outdoor activities available. Fishing and golfing are two of the favorite sports in the area. There is horseback riding, a fun water park as well as an exciting air tour of the area. You can explore a few hiking trails in the Parque Nacional do Iguacu with a guide provided by the park. Itaipu Dam is the world's biggest hydroelectric and it is open to visitors. The Bird Park is home to 800 plus bird species. More relaxing days can be enjoyed visiting the thermal pools and the local gardens.
Fishing in Iguazu
There is some great fishing just out side of Iguazu Falls City. Guided tours are available on Itaipu Lake and the Parana River. Most tours will provide the fishing gear, bait, food and beverage as well as the fishing boat.
Golfing in Iguazu
Just 6mi from downtown Iguazu Falls City is the Iguazu Golf Club & Resort. The Iguazu National Park surrounds the golf course and it is not unusual to see some of the native animals such as agoutis, monkeys and tapir browsing on the edges of the fairways. The course is 18 holes and is open to the public.
Not far from the Iguazu's city center is an exciting water park to relax and enjoy a hot afternoon soak. The park is part of the Hotel Panorama resort but is open to the public. The park has several fun water slides, a lazy river, water volleyball and different pools for all ages and is open from October to March.
Horseback Riding in Iguazu
Live the life of a true South American gaucho while visiting Iguazu Falls City. This horseback riding facility, Recanto Gaucho, provides tours through Iguazu National Park led by real gauchos. A delicious barbecue or churrasco is also available and diners can watch traditional pampas dancing while eating. Reservations for the horseback tour as well as the barbecue must be made in advance.
Ultralight Aircraft Flights Itaipu Dam
Visitors can take a tour of the Itaipu Lake and the surrounding area in an ultralight aircraft. The flight lasts from 10-20 minutes and does a flyover of Itaipu Dam and Itaipu Lake.
Thermas Cararatas in Iguazu
This swimming spot has pools of warm water to enjoy. The waters come from the natural Guarani Aquifer. The Thermas Cararatas is only open during summer Wednesday through Sunday.
The Local Flora In Iguazu
A Local resident developed a fascination with cacti. She opened the “Recanto dos Cactos” for all visitors to enjoy. Her garden is open daily in the afternoon from 2-6pm and during summer from 2-8pm. Orchids are another popular flower in Iguazu Falls City. The Orquidario da Tribo has orchids from all over the globe. It is open daily from 9am-6pm. Another attraction is the Horto Municipal de Foz do Iguaçu where the local flora can be found and it is open from Monday to Friday 8am-12pm and 2-6pm.
Best Time of Year to Visit Iguazu-Climate
The hottest and most humid months run from December through March with temperatures up to 89F. During winter, June through August, temperatures can get as low as 50F.
Staying in the City of Iguazu
Iguazu Falls City has over 100 hotels for all budgets. The Mabu Thermas & Resort offers all-inclusive (breakfast, lunch and dinner included), and the 4 pools with thermal water at 96F. The Hotel das Cataratas is the only one located inside the Iguazu National Park, surrounded by local flora and the famous Iguazu Falls. For those no frills travelers the Hostel Paulimar Falls Centro has rock bottom prices with dormitory sleeping quarters.
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