Iguazu Falls, Iguazú Falls, Iguassu Falls or Iguaçu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu River on the border of the Brazilian state of Paraná and the Argentinian province of Misiones. The falls divide the river into the upper and lower Iguazu. The Iguazu River rises near the city of Curitiba. The river flows through Brazil for most of its course, although most of the falls are on the Argentine side. Below its confluence with the San Antonio River, the Iguazu River forms the boundary between Argentina and Brazil.
The name “Iguazu” comes from the Guarani or Tupi words “y”, meaning “water”, and “ûasú “[wa?su], 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 Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541. On November 11 of 2011, Iguazu Falls was announced as one of the seven winners of the New Seven Wonders of Nature by the New Seven Wonders of the World Foundation.
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 kilometres (16 mi) from the city of Iguazu but closer to the Falls hotels than its 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. Several Brazilian airlines, such as TAM Airlines, GOL, Azul, WebJet, offer service from the main Brazilian cities to Foz do Iguaçu.
Access to the Falls
The falls can be reached from the two main towns on either side of the falls: Puerto Iguazú in 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.
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 in 1876, when Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the world, was four years old.
On the Brazilian side, there is a walkway along the canyon with an extension to the lower base of the Devil’s Throat. Helicopter rides offering aerial views of the falls have been available. However, Argentina has prohibited such helicopter tours because of the environmental impact on the flora and fauna of the falls. 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 have been 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. The Paseo Garganta del Diablo is a 1-kilometre-long (0.6 mi) trail 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 have been inflatable boat services that take visitors right under the falls.
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 the park. The new transportation system has 72-passenger, panoramic-view, double-deck buses. The upper deck is open, which enables visitors a broad view of the flora and fauna during the trip to the Falls. The buses’ combustion systems are 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 speed, is enabling tourists to observe increasing numbers of wild animals along the route. Each bus has had an exclusive paint scheme, representing some of the most common wild animals found in the Iguaçú National Park, including the spotted jaguars, butterflies, raccoons, prego monkeys, coral snakes, toucans, parrots and yellow breasted caimans.
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