IGUASSU FALLS (Or Iguacu or Iguacu…depending on the country).

One of the world’s great natural wonders is located on the borders of Argentina and Brazil, near Paraguay. Travelers from the world over are attracted to the mammoth falls, which are 50 feet higher than Niagara.

Three waterfalls in the world surpass the rest: Niagara, Victoria, and Iguassu. While the argument as to which of the three is the most spectacular may never end, one thing is certain: Iguassu is unsurpassed. The tropical rain forest provides the ideal setting for the torrents of water that fall and crash with a thunderous noise onto the rocks below, sending spray shooting back into the air to make beautiful rainbows. The Rio Iguassu, a tributary of the Parana, widens to a distance of two miles just above the precipice over which the river drops almost 200 feet, to create Iguassu Falls. Since the lip of the precipice is uneven, the water doesn’t fall in one great curtain, but rather in dozens of cataracts, interspersed with jungle greenery. The most spectacular cataract is GARGANTA DO DIABO, or Devil’s Throat.

The falls were discovered by conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541. Its name comes from the Guarani Indian expression for “big water”.

THE ARGENTINE SIDE: A long system of concrete catwalks, built in 1965, winds along the edge of the Rio Parana and skirts the falls, providing a safe perch from which to view the giant cataracts tumbling at your feet. A two-hour walk will take you past all the falls visible on the Argentine side as well as through the tropical jungle. The cataract called Devil’s Throat is the most magnificent. There is also a ferry ride from PUERTO IGUAZU on the Argentine side to FOZ DO IGUACU on the Brazilian side.

THE BRAZILIAN SIDE: The best panoramic view of the falls is immediately in front of the Hotel das Cataratas in the national park. The well-manicured path and steps down to the falls start directly in front of the hotel. The steps lead to the very edge of the river, and at one point a catwalk goes right out over the river. WEAR A RAINCOAT OR RENT ONE FROM A VENDOR. The path continues to the head of the falls, where an elevator takes you to the top. From here, it is a short walk upstream to the small boats that will take you on the river for an even closer look.

While any time is a good time to go to Iguassu, the months of August to November are best because you can climb around the falls more easily. The Falls are served by two airports. The larger of the two is the International airport on the Brazilian side. The other airport is on the Argentine side.

In addition to taking RAIN GEAR, take along Suntan Lotion, and perhaps a bottle of water.

PARAGUAY: Most visitors to Iguassu take a little side trip to the border with Paraguay. It’s like any border town…full of vendors out to make a buck. Very colorful!

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