The mighty Iguazu Falls sit abreast the border of Brazil and Argentina and only a stone’s throw from Paraguay, are the most overwhelmingly magnificent in all of South America. If you have never visited the falls, then you have to experience one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular creations. The falls are astounding. Vast torrents of water thunder over a natural fault into more than 250 cascades.
The Rio Iguazu (I is Guarani for big and guazu is water) rises in the hills of Brazil and wanders inland receiving water from 30 rivers as it crosses the plateau before turning toward the sea, crashing over the falls, and joins the Rio Parana 20km downstream before flowing into the Río de la Plata. From a distance of 10km, the forest looks as if it is on fire and the noise of the roar of the detonating water is constantly in the background. Salto Union, the largest of the falls plunge into ‘Garganta del Diablo’ (Throat of the Devil) so called because the local Indians seeing the spray assumed it was smoke and thought that there can be no smoke without fire and no fire without the devil.
You can experience the falls from either the Brazilian or the Argentinian side or both. On the Brazilian side, the waters turned deep red by the volume of rain; you walk along a manmade pathway across the top of Salto Santa Maria to look up at the power of Salto Floriano and down to the beginning of the gorge. On the Argentinean side, there is an even longer walkway that goes out to the very edge of Salto Union. One of the best viewing areas is along a path known as the Circuito Inferior (lower pathway) along which you view the falls from below. Here, it is possible to experience the power, volume and weight of water spilling off the summit of the falls. A part of the falls is called Dos Hermanas (two sisters) with the noise and anger of the river resembling two women arguing!
The experience is exhilarating and wonderful! Combine Iguazu falls with an itinerary of wild Patagonian Landscapes.
‘At-a-Glance’ Illustrative Itinerary
Day 1: Fly to Buenos Aires, the cultured, elegant and cosmopolitan Argentinian capital famed for its interesting museums and the fascinating port district of La Boca, with its cobbled streets and brightly painted houses.
Day 2: take a guided Buenos Aires city tour as there is so much to see. Don’t miss Teatro Colón, Recoleta, La Boca, a tango show or your own private tango lesson.
Day 3: take a day at leisure in Buenos Aires, to explore at your own pace or seek out the lovely Argentinian leather.
Day 4: Transfer to airport for a flight to the immense Iguazu Falls, set in a tropical rainforest where walkways take you out over numerous falls. Beautiful butterflies and birds abound in the natural wet habitat.
Day 5: take a full day to explore the falls on the Argentinian side and then cross over the border to walk the trails on the Brazilian side for a stunning panoramic view of the waterfalls.
Day 6: fly back to Buenos Aires and onto Bariloche, surrounded by the stunning Andean scenery of Argentina’s Lake District. Dense forests and snow-capped peaks and vast lakes makes this area an ideal visit for any outdoor enthusiasts.
Day 8: Spend the day with an expert guide to take a trip out onto the lake followed by walking in the forests and visiting the most spectacular lookout points. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the side of the lake and just absorb the stunning scenery.
Day 9: Fly to El Calafate, a small town on the southeastern shore of Lago Argentino, where birds congregate, including the Magellanic oyster catcher. We stay for 3 nights.
Day 10: Set off early on a full day excursion to the breathtaking Perito Moreno Glacier, with its 4km frontage and height reaching 70m. Silence reigns, shattered only by the thunderous roar of ice breaking off the glacier, and punctuated by the unearthly groans of creaking ice.
Day 11: Take an excursion to visit the Upsala glacier, travelling by boat up to the northwestern end of Lago Argentino.
Day 12: Fly to Ushuaia, the southernmost town in Argentina, for 2 nights in Tierra del Fuego. The town is located in a glorious setting by the icy waters of the Beagle Channel, at the foot of the towering Andes. Take a boat trip out into the Beagle Channel and follow in the wake of the ships that depart for Antarctica.
Day 13: An early morning start for a full day excursion to Lapataia Bay in the national park. Walk through the park which encompasses a stunning region of forests, lakes, streams, and snow-capped mountains. Beavers' dams cover the area, and, with luck, you may see some at work. Return to Ushuaia.
Day 14: Return to Buenos Aires for international flight home.