Celebrating The Wonder That Is Iguassu!

A distant murmur reminds us of the purpose of our visit long before we catch our first glimpse of the cataracts from the dining room of the Sheraton hotel within the Argentine National Park. It gets louder as we clamber onto the jungle train, a short distance from the hotel, that takes us to long, creaky, metal catwalks spanning the Iguazu river and cutting through dense jungle.

View from dining room - Sheraton, Iguazu National Park
View from dining room – Sheraton, Iguazu National Park
Ecological Jungle Train - Iguazu National Park, Argentina
Ecological Jungle Train – Iguazu National Park, Argentina

Midway through, we spot a Caiman on a rock in the middle of the river. An excited group of school kids spoil his reverie – and ours – and he slinks off into the water looking for a more peaceful perch.

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The loud murmur is now a deafening roar as we turn a corner onto the viewing platforms and then…..

WOW!!!

We stare dumbstruck at the sheer drama of the whirling cascades spilling over the precipice, and into this deep, dark chasm!

This is the Garganta del Diablo – the Devils Throat! Awe inspiring, overwhelming, humbling.

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Devil’s Throat – Iguazu National Park, Argentina
Devil's Throat, Iguazu National Park
Devil’s Throat, Iguazu National Park

Iguazú‘ in Spanish – as also ‘Iguacu‘ in Portuguese – are corruptions of the Guarani words for ‘Mighty Water’ and the Cataratas del Iguazu*, straddling the border between Argentina and Brazil, are mighty without a doubt! Legend has it that the Serpent God Mboi demanded the sacrifice of a beautiful Guarani princess named Naipí, who escaped with her lover Tarobá in a canoe. Enraged, Mboi sliced the earth creating the waterfalls, to plunge the lovers to their doom. Mboi then turned Tarobá into a palm tree, that we can see from the upper circuit, and the long hair of the beautiful Naipí into the falls!!

At the lip of one of the larger falls – Iguazu National Park, Argentina
At the lip of one of the larger falls – Iguazu National Park, Argentina

We decide to do the upper circuit, the Passeo Superior, while there is still enough light and the park is being emptied of tourists returning to town. Meandering metal walkways take us through lush tropical forest to viewing platforms at the lip of some of the larger falls, hurtling into vertiginous depths that are obscured by the mist!  Butterflies, Coatis and brilliant plumed birds keep us company while I warily check the undergrowth for snakes.

And another - Iguazu National Park, Argentina
And another – Iguazu National Park, Argentina
View of lower cicuit walkways from the top - Iguazu National Park, Argentina
View of lower cicuit walkways from the top – Iguazu National Park, Argentina

Early next morning on the lower circuit (Passeo inferior) we get impressive eye level perspectives – of the more than 275 falls arrayed along the cliff face over 2700 meters – from various viewpoints along the trail.

View of lower cicuit walkways from the top - Iguazu National Park, Argentina
View of lower cicuit walkways from the top – Iguazu National Park, Argentina
Lower Circuit - Iguazu National Park, Argentina
Lower Circuit – Iguazu National Park, Argentina
Twin Sisters - Iguazu National Park, Argentina
Twin Sisters – Iguazu National Park, Argentina

The highlight being the lowest gangplank which is cantilevered out under the sheer drop of one of the largest cascades. I am not a religious person and avoid religious places if I can. But standing as far out as I dare, and looking up at the magnificent fury of that massive curtain of water, is the closest I have come to experiencing GOD! A heart-stopping moment of fear, awe and intense joy!!

Under the falls!! - Iguazu National Park, Argentina
Under the falls!! – Iguazu National Park, Argentina

In the afternoon, we cross the border to Brazil and spend a lazy evening with the gorgeous birds at Parque des Aves, and halt overnight in a hotel right outside the Brazilian National Park. We walk across very early next morning to view the panorama of the cascades from across the river.

Double cataracts - Iguacu National Park, Brazil
Double cataracts – Iguacu National Park, Brazil
Panoramic View - Iguacu National Park, Brazil
Panoramic View – Iguacu National Park, Brazil

The morning light bounces off the misty spray and straddles the banks with iridescent bands of colour. The walkways are generally shorter here, but there is one that strikes out almost to the middle of the river, directly in front of the Garganta del Diablo, drenching us in voluminous plumes of mist as we gasp in wonder one final time.

Walkway across the river - Iguacu National Park, Brazil
Walkway across the river – Iguacu National Park, Brazil
View towards Devil's throat - Iguacu National Park, Brazil
View towards Devil’s throat – Iguacu National Park, Brazil
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Iguacu falls from the walkway near the coffee shop – Iguacu National Park, Brazil

*Last week Argentina and Brazil held joint celebrations to mark the official naming of the Iguassu Falls as one of the new 7 natural wonders of the world! 

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

115 thoughts on “Celebrating The Wonder That Is Iguassu!

  1. Amazing story, Madhu! I never knew one can walk BEHIND the falls, must be an extraordinary experience! I wonder how it compares to Niagra Falls (Canada side) …

    1. No comparision! Eleanor Roosevelt is supposed to have said “Poor Niagara” when she stood in front of these falls 🙂

      1. Hahaha … that’s funny! Good to know! I guess since seeing Niagra Falls (Canada side), I haven’t been really been too impressed with many other waterfalls around the world! I will need to come to Iguassu to see for myself! Thanks! =D

        1. Victoria falls is the largest, (and Angel falls the highest) but by all accounts Iguassu is considered the most spectacular because of its 260 degree views. You will be impressed for sure 🙂

  2. Madhu, I can only imagine what it must have felt like to be standing there and seeing those waterfalls in person! I love your photos and the vivid descriptions, what a privilege it was to experience Iguassu from both Brazil and Argentina!

    1. Thank you James. We skipped the boat ride under the falls which is supposed to be thrilling as well. Helicopter rides are banned in Argentina because of ecological damage to the rain forest, but that does not seem to deter Brazil or the tourists who insist on doing it.

  3. These photos are absolutely amazing. We have Niragra Falls (Which are beautiful)but nothing like this. I love the mass greatness of them, the twin falls, The walkway that takes you so near. Thank you for sharing again.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

  4. Wow Madhu these photos are absolutely amazing and you’re brave getting that close. I’m not afraid of heights at all but heights with water and wooden walkways may be a bit different!

    1. They are metal actually. But still a bit scary, especially since they are wet and slippery! I chickened out of going under the falls in a boat though 🙂

  5. I had no idea! Our German friends made a special trip when they were in Brazil to see the falls, but all I had for images was Niagara Falls. This is on a TREMENDOUS scale, and is —- as you say — truly awesome.
    Thanks so much for sharing this wonder with the rest of us.

  6. Hi,
    Wow, that is just amazing, the force of the water, this is truly the true force of nature at it’s best. What spectacular views you had and the walkway looks very strong and sturdy, and a good width as well, you don’t often see that in National Parks.

    Fantastic photos, you have captured the falls beautifully, I would love to go and see this.

  7. I’m seriously envious of you this morning:) My only consolation is that I have now seen more, or better photographs than I have ever seen before, and can construct, in my mind, a little of the geography of the falls (which before were just a mass of roaring water). Wonderful post, Madhu – and fantastic pictures. 🙂

  8. How fantastic! I’d have loved to have visited the Iguassu Falls when I travelled to Argentina, but alas didn’t have the time or funds to get there – (after spending a month in Patagonia!) I’m glad you have shared these brilliant photos – makes me want to go there more so 🙂

    1. Wow! A month in Patagonia! We never got there. There is so much to see in South America, it is hard to prioritise. I am definitely going back when we recoup from last years trip 🙂

  9. Great photos, Madhu. It was pouring buckets when we were in Iguazu last summer. It looks like you got some lovely rainbow weather! Loved to hear your perceptions. It was awesome. Made Niagra Falls look like a wading pool.

    1. Thanks Naomi. A pity about the rain!
      Haven’t been to Niagara myself but the comparision is apparently inevitable 🙂

  10. I am wide-eye looking at your pictures, Madhu. These are truly magnificent sights. You did well capturing them. I love how there are plenty of gaps like series of waterfalls and not just one whole line. Oh Madhu, thanks for taking us to different places.

  11. Wonderful post! These falls are incredible – I especially like the shot of the “Devil’s Throat!” You did a great job of showing the varied faces of the falls – thanks for sharing this visit!

  12. I love travelling to all these places through your blog! I put Cappadocia into my novel, which I discovered from your blog. Have you been to Ajanta? I would love to see your pics if you have visited, the caves are so amazing ( had to add that as a location in my novel too- my Dad is Indian!)

    1. Thank you Khaula. Glad to have you back!
      No, I havn’e been to the Ajanta & Ellora caves yet!! In a hurry to do the farthest destinations before we get too old for those transcontinental flights 🙂

  13. I can’t decide which view I like the best, upper circuit, lower circuit, across the river…it looks like you did a great job of covering all angles of the falls. Such beautiful photos. I can almost feel the mist and spray. Devil’s Throat is an interesting name…

  14. What a wonderful place! It’s amazing to see the Devils Throat from above. It looked like sucking everything nearby!

  15. Oh, wow! A vision beyond words. The Devil’s Throat is both beautiful and scary. A mixture of fun, fear and excitement. Wonderful images. thanks for sharing a unforgettable encounter at Iguazu National Park. Stunning.

  16. Holy crap this post absolutely rocks! I love the pictures, and my jealousy increased with each paragraph! 🙂 My wife is from Rio so I have no excuse for not getting to Iguacu some day, after reading this I hope it’s sooner rather than later!

  17. Thanks for letting me camp out in your blog for a little while. I had a great time and tried to leave my campsite as clean as when I arrived. I’ll be back!

  18. Hi,Wow, that is just amazing, the force of the water, this is truly the true force of naurte at it’s best. What spectacular views you had and the walkway looks very strong and sturdy, and a good width as well, you don’t often see that in National Parks.Fantastic photos, you have captured the falls beautifully, I would love to go and see this.

  19. Gorgeous photos! I do wish we could have seen the falls from the Argentinean side too. Spectacular… and as you said, very humbling.

  20. Some really impressive photos here – I had exactly the same “Wow!” feelings the first time I visited Iguazu. The amazing thing for me is that (having been back a couple of times since) it’s still just as impressive when you return. Not many waterfalls you can say that about. Just to let you know, by the way, your ‘Cataratas del Iguazu’ link near the top of the page doesn’t work any more – at least, not if you don’t speak Spanish!

  21. Thanks for sharing these. When I was visiting Brazil for a convention they had a planned trip to view those places of wonder but I had to cancel out for business reasons. Now you have been kind enough to take me there.

  22. This is spectacular .. and your personal touch brings forth more its magnificence. Thank you for directing me to your trip.

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