Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls as seen from a helicopter

Iguazu Falls,

Misiones, Argentina &

Paraná (state), Brazil.
Coordinates 25°41′43″S 54°26′12″W / 25.69528°S 54.43667°W / -25.69528; -54.43667Coordinates: 25°41′43″S 54°26′12″W / 25.69528°S 54.43667°W / -25.69528; -54.43667
Type Cataract
Total height 60–82 metres (200–269 ft)[1]
Number of drops 275[1]
Longest drop 82 metres (269 ft)[1]
Total width 2.7 kilometres (1.7 mi)[1]
Watercourse Iguazu River
Average flow rate 1,756 m3/s (62,010 cu ft/s)[1]

Iguazu Falls, Iguassu Falls, or Iguaçu Falls (Portuguese: Cataratas do Iguaçu [kataˈɾatɐz du iɡwaˈsu]; Spanish: Cataratas del Iguazú [kataˈɾataz ðel iɣwaˈsu]; Guarani: Chororo Yguasu [ɕoɾoɾo ɨɣʷasu]) are waterfalls of the Iguazu River located on the border of the Brazilian State of Paraná and the Argentine Province of Misiones. The falls divide the river into the upper and lower Iguazu. The Iguazu River originates near the city of Curitiba. It flows through Brazil for most of its course. Below its confluence with the San Antonio River, the Iguazu River forms the boundary between Brazil and Argentina.

Union Fall, Iguazu's largest cataract
Video Clip: Panoramic view of the falls

The name "Iguazu" comes from the Guarani or Tupi words y [ɨ], meaning "water", and ûasú [waˈsu], meaning "big".[2] Legend has it that a god planned to marry a beautiful woman named Naipí, who fled with her mortal lover Tarobá in a canoe. In rage the god sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall.[2] The first European to find the falls was the Spanish Conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541.



The Iguazu Falls.

Iguazu Falls is located where the Iguazu River tumbles over the edge of the Paraná Plateau, 23 kilometres (14 mi) upriver from the Iguazu's confluence with the Paraná River.[1] Numerous islands along the 2.7-kilometre (1.7 mi) long edge divide the falls into about 275 separate waterfalls and cataracts, varying between 60 metres (200 ft) and 82 metres (269 ft) high. About half of the river's flow falls into a long and narrow chasm called the Devil's Throat (Garganta del Diablo in Spanish or Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese).[1] The Devil's Throat is U-shaped, 82-meter-high, 150-meter-wide, and 700-meter-long. The border between Brazil and Argentina runs through the Devil's Throat.[contradiction]

About 900 meters of the 2.7-kilometer length does not have water flowing over it. The edge of the basalt cap recedes by 3 mm (0.1 in) per year. The water of the lower Iguazu collects in a canyon that drains in the Paraná River, a short distance downstream from the Itaipu Dam. The junction of the water flows marks the border between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. There are points in the cities of Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, Puerto Iguazú, Argentina, and Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, which have access to the Iguazu River where the borders of all three countries can be seen, a popular tourist attraction for visitors to the three cities.

Distribution of the Falls between Argentina and Brazil

Iguazu Falls are arranged in a way that seems a reverse J. On the right bank is the Brazilian territory, which has just over 20% of the jumps of these falls, and the left side jumps are Argentines, which make up almost 80% of the falls. To completely and fully appreciate the falls, the recommendation is to visit both the Argentine and Brazilian side, as one side is a panorama of the other, and vice versa. Those who know have said, more or less, that "from Brazil are the falls, and from Argentina is living" [2]. However, one moves between the jumps on the Argentine side, not only for gateways that allow almost touch the water, but also boat tours that allow you to jump up next to the stunning waterfalls, and even, it can delve to the very Devil's Throat, if one starts by boat from Argentina.


Panorama of the falls

There are two international airports close to Iguazú Falls: the Argentine Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport (IGR) and the Brazilian Foz do Iguaçu International Airport (IGU). Argentina's airport is 25 kilometers from the city of Iguazu but closer to the Falls hotels than his Brazilian counterpart, there is bus and taxi service from and to the Airport-Falls. Brazil's airport is between Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil and the falls. LAN Airlines and Aerolíneas Argentinas have direct flights from Buenos Aires to Iguazu International Airport Krause and several Brazilian airlines as TAM Airlines, GOL, Azul, WebJet offer service from the main Brazilian cities to Foz do Iguaçu.


Walkways allow close views of the falls from both Argentina and Brazil.

The falls can be reached from the two main towns on either side of the falls: Puerto Iguazú in the Argentina and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, as well as from Ciudad del Este, Paraguay on the other side of the Paraná river from Foz do Iguaçu. The falls are shared by the Iguazú National Park (Argentina) and Iguaçu National Park (Brazil). The two parks were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1984 and 1987, respectively.[3]

The Brazilian Iguaçu National Park is spectacular as well as pioneering. The first proposal for a Brazilian national park aimed at providing a pristine environment to "future generations", just as "it had been created by God" and endowed with "all possible preservation, from the beautiful to the sublime, from the picturesque to the awesome" and "an unmatched flora" located in the "magnificent Iguaçú waterfalls". These were the words used by Andre Rebouças, an engineer, in his book "Provinces of Paraná, Railways to Mato Grosso and Bolivia", which started up the campaign aimed at preserving the Iguaçu Falls way back in 1876, when Yellowstone, the first national park on the planet, was four years old.

The Argentinian side has the better and wider views of the falls[citation needed]. On the Brazilian side there is a walkway along the canyon with an extension to the lower base of the Devil's Throat and helicopter rides offering aerial views of the falls are available. Argentina has prohibited such helicopter tours because of the environmental impact on the flora and fauna of the falls.[4]. From Foz do Iguaçu airport the park can be reached by taxi or bus to entrance of the park. There is an entrance fee to the park on both sides. Free frequent buses are provided to various points within the park. The town of Foz do Iguaçu is about 20 kilometres (12 mi) away and the airport is in between the park and the town.

The Argentine access across the forest is by a Rainforest Ecological Train very similar to the one in Disney's Animal Kingdom. The train brings visitors to the entrance of Devil's Throat as well as the upper and lower trails where one can admire nature at its best, abundant vegetation, colorful flowers mixing with the deep green and the roar of the falls in the distance. The Paseo Garganta del Diablo is a one-kilometer-long trail with magnificent views that brings the visitor directly over the falls of the Devil's Throat, the highest and deepest of the falls. Other walkways allow access to the elongated stretch of falls across the forest on the Argentine side and to the boats that connect to San Martin island. Also on the Argentinian side there are inflatable boats service that takes visitors right under the falls, providing an extra and intense experience to the vacationer.

The Brazilian transportation system aims at allowing the increase in the number of visitors while reducing the environmental impact through the increase in the average number of passengers per vehicle inside de Park. The new transportation system boasts new 72 passenger panoramic view double deck buses. The upper deck is open, which enables visitors to enjoy added interactivity with the environment and a broad view of the flora and fauna during the trip to the Falls. The buses combustion system is in compliance with the CONAMA (phase IV) and EURO (phase II) emissions and noise requirements. The reduction in the number of vehicles, of noise levels and of speed is enabling tourists to observe increasing numbers of wild animals along the route. Each bus has an exclusive paint scheme, representing some of the most common wild animals found in the Iguaçú National Park. Some of those are: the spotted jaguars, butterflies, raccoons, prego monkeys, coral snakes, toucans, parrots and yellow breasted caimans.

Comparisons to other famous falls

Aerial view, from the Argentine side
Iguazu Falls
Falls and Brazilian tourist complex
Satellite image of the falls

Upon seeing Iguazu, the United States' First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaimed "Poor Niagara!"[2] Iguazu is also often compared with Southern Africa's Victoria Falls which separates Zambia and Zimbabwe. Iguazu is wider, but because it is split into about 275 discrete falls and large islands, Victoria is the largest curtain of water in the world, at over 1,600 m (5,249 ft) wide and over 100 m (328 ft) in height (in low flow Victoria is split into five by islands; in high flow it can be uninterrupted). The only wider falls are extremely large rapid-like falls such as the Boyoma Falls.

With the flooding of the Guaíra Falls in 1982, Iguazu currently has the second greatest average annual flow of any waterfall in the world, after Niagara, with an average rate of 1,746 m3/s (61,660 cu ft). Its maximum recorded flow was 12,800 m3/s (452,000 cu ft/s).[5] By comparison, the average flow of Niagara Falls is 2,400 m3/s (85,000 cu ft), with a maximum recorded flow of 8,300 m3/s (293,000 cu ft/s).[6] The average flow at Victoria Falls is 1,088 m3/s (38,420 cu ft/s), with a maximum recorded flow of 7,100 m3/s (250,000 cu ft/s).[7]

Mist rises between 30 metres (98 ft) and 150 m (492 ft) from Iguazu's Devil's Throat, and over 300 m (984 ft) above Victoria. However, Iguazu affords better views and walkways and its shape allows for spectacular vistas. At one point a person can stand and be surrounded by 260 degrees of waterfalls. The Devil's Throat, in Argentina, has water pouring into it from three sides. Likewise, because Iguazu is split into many relatively small falls, one can view these a portion at a time. Victoria does not allow this, as it is essentially one waterfall that falls into a canyon and is too immense to appreciate at once (except from the air).

Iguazu Falls was short-listed as a candidate to be one of the New7Wonders of Nature by the New Seven Wonders of the World Foundation. As of February 2009 it was ranked fifth in Group F, the category for lakes, rivers, and waterfalls.[8]

2006 drought

During the summer of 2006 a severe drought caused the Iguazu River to become diminished, reducing the amount of water flowing over the falls to 300 cubic metres per second (11,000 cu ft/s) until early December. This was unusual, as dry periods normally last only a few weeks.[9]

Portrayals in film

The falls have been featured in several movies,[10] including:

See also

  • List of waterfalls by flow rate


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Iguazú Falls — or Iguaçu Falls formerly Victoria Falls Cataract on the Iguazú River near the border between Argentina and Brazil. The horseshoe shaped falls were discovered by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541. They are 269 ft (82 m) high and 2.5 mi (4 km)… …   Universalium

  • Iguazu Falls — noun a large waterfall on the border between Argentina and Brazil • Syn: ↑Iguazu, ↑Iguassu, ↑Iguassu Falls, ↑Victoria Falls • Instance Hypernyms: ↑waterfall, ↑falls • Part Holonyms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

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