Iguazú National Park is situated in the Misiones Province in Argentina. It achieved UNESCO World Heritage status in the 1980s, as did its neighbour, Iguaçu National Park in Brazil. These two national parks share something very special – the magnificent Iguazú Falls.
The history of Iguazú National Park
The beautiful waterfalls at Iguazú National Park were first recorded in 1542 by the Spanish explorer, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, who spotted them while on a voyage from the Atlantic Ocean to Asunción in Paraguay.
Years later, the lands passed to a man called Gregorio Lezama, who believed they held little value and sold them at public auction in 1888 to Martín Errecaborde and Company. The land was later developed with the addition of hotels and roads to attract visitors.
In 1934, the site was declared a national park, before becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. The park covers a massive 67,720 hectares within the Paranaense Forest ecoregion, on the tri-state border of three countries: Argentina; Brazil, and Paraguay.
According to legend, the waterfalls were created when a deity sliced the river in anger, after his betrothed, a beautiful woman called Naipi fled with her mortal lover in a canoe. The two lovers fell to their eternal fate between the waterfalls.
The scientific explanation of how Iguazú Falls became one of the most incredible natural sights in the world, is that they are the result of a volcanic eruption, which left a huge crack in the earth’s crust.
Across a width of around 1.7 miles wide (almost three times as wide as Niagara Falls), the Iguazú river cascades over rocky ledges into a magnificent plunge pool 80 metres below. The spray from the waterfalls generates mist as high as 490 feet at times, which is adorned with rainbows when the sun is shining.
There are a staggering 275 waterfalls in total, with 80% of them lying in Argentina and the remaining 20% in Brazil. Called Iguazú after the native Guarani term meaning “Great Water”, the river constitutes the border between Argentina and Brazil, before joining the Parana River, the 14th longest river in the world.
Around the waterfalls, you’ll see lush subtropical rainforests and an array of plants and wildlife. Around 400 species of birds inhabit Iguazú Falls, as well as many butterflies, reptiles, wildcats, and coatis.
Things to do at Iguazú waterfalls
There are several viewing platforms where you can see for yourself just how powerful and spectacular these waterfalls are. One of the most impressive sections to visit is The Devil’s Throat Canyon, the tallest part of the falls.
If you want to get a bird’s eye view of Iguazú Falls, there are helicopter sightseeing rides available too. Adrenaline seekers who don’t mind getting thoroughly soaked can take a trip into the heart of the waterfalls and ride the rapids via a speedboat safari! If you’re not keen on getting wet, it’s worth noting that the Brazilian side of the falls is calmer and drier than the Argentinian side.
A bucket list experience
Coming face to face with the mighty Iguazú Falls is an encounter you won’t forget in a hurry. Did you know that we offer a 4-day excursion to Iguazú Falls as an extension of our Amazing Argentina Escorted Tour?