Iguazu Falls, Iguassu Falls, or Iguaçu Falls (Portuguese: Cataratas do Iguaçu Spanish Cataratas del Iguazú Guarani: Chororo Yguasu are waterfalls of the Iguazu River located on the border of the Brazilian State of Parana 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.
The name "Iguazu" comes from the Guarani or Tupi words y , meaning "water", and ûasú meaning "big".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. The first European to find the falls was the Spanish Conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza in 1541, after whom one of the falls on the Argentine side is named.
GeographyIguazu 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 Parana River. 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).The Devil's Throat is U-shaped, 82-meter-high, 150-meter-wide, and 700-meter-long. The border between Argentina and Brazil runs through the Devil's Throat. The Argentine side comprises three sections the upper falls, the lower falls, and the Devil's Throat.
Of the many islands the most notable is Isla Grande San Martín, on the Argentine side. Individual falls on the Argentine side include Dos Hermanas ("Two Sisters"), Bozzetti, San Martín, Escondido ("Hidden"), and Rivadavia. Notable falls on the Brazil side include Benjamin Constant, Deodoro, and Floriano.
Two-thirds of the falls are within Argentine territory. 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 Parana 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.
TourismMost visitors reach the falls from the Argentine side through the city of Puerto Iguazu. Brazil and Paraguay require citizens of some countries entering from Argentina to obtain visas, which is time-consuming. For example, North American visitors to Argentina crossing to see the falls from the Brazilian side should obtain one from a home-country Brazilian Consulate prior to departure, but may request a visa in person at the Brazilian consulate in the Argentine city of Puerto Iguazu.
There are two international airports close to Iguassu Falls: the Brazilian Foz do Iguacu International Airport (IGU) and the Argentine Cataratas del Iguazu International Airport (IGR). Both airports are several kilometers from the Iguassu Falls and from the neighboring cities of Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil and Puerto Iguazu, Argentina. LNA Airlines and Aerolineas Argentinas have direct flights from Buenos Aires and several Brazilian airlines as TMA Airlines, GOT, Azul, WebJet offer service from the main Brazilian cities to Foz do Iguaçu.
The falls can be reached from the two main towns on either side of the falls: Foz do Iguacu in the Brazilian and Puerto Iguazu in the Argentine province of Misiones, as well as from Ciudad del Este , Paraguay on the other side of the Parana river from Foz do Iguaçu. The falls are shared by the Iguazu National Park (Argentina) and Iguacu National Park (Brazil). The two parks were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1984 and 1987, respectively.
On the Brazilian side there is a long walkway along the canyon with an extension to the lower base of the Devil's Throat. Helicopter rides offering aerial views of the falls are available only on the Brazilian side; Argentina has prohibited such tours due to their harmful effects on the environment. 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. 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 is facilitated by the Rainforest Ecological Train and various walkways. The train brings visitors directly to the entrance of Devil's Throat as well as
the upper and lower trails. The Paseo Garganta del Diablo is a one-kilometer-long trail that brings the visitor directly over the falls of the Devil's Throat. Other walkways allow access to the elongated stretch of falls on the Argentine side and to the ferry that connects to San Martin island.
Comparisons to other famous falls
Upon seeing Iguazu, the United States' First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaimed "Poor Niagara!” guazu 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 Boyoma.
With the flooding of the Guaira 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).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).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).
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 New 7 Wonders of Nature by the New Seven Woders of the World Foundation. As of February 2009 it was ranked fifth in Group F, the category for lakes, rivers, and waterfalls.