Iguazu Falls, Brazil – is it the tallest waterfall? no. Most powerful? no. Greatest? yes! 2


Upon arrival at Iguazu Falls I was regaled with a story of a wealthy man who bought a first-class plane ticket to Brazil. A second plane, another first class ticket, brought the man to the falls; a taxi transported him directly to the top of the main cascade. He walked up to the edge, jumped the barricade, and dived in. His body was never found.

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Iguazu Falls, Brazil. Photo credit: Benjamin White

Not the cheeriest of introductions, and the story is quite possibly an urban myth – Niagara probably has similar stories – but in it you see the draw of Iguazu Falls. This is a place with presence, and power, and mystery. It fills people with awe. Draws them to it. Makes them do crazy things.

You can not stand next to Iguazu Falls and not feel stirred.

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Photo credit: Benjamin White

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls are not the tallest falls in the world (that honour goes to Angel Falls in Venezuela at 979 metres – Iguazu is only a fraction of the height at 60 to 82 metres).

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Photo credit: Benjamin White

They aren’t the most powerful falls in terms of volume of water passing over them either (this title is won by Boyoma Falls in the Democratic Republic of Congo with 17,000 metres cubed per second – Iguazu comes in 6th in the world with 1,746 metres cubed per second).

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

The 2,700 metre long waterfall edge. Photo credit: Benjamin White

They don’t have the largest sheet of water either, that honour usually goes to Victoria Falls.

But Iguazu Falls does have one of the widest, if not the widest, waterfall edges in the world, at 2,700 metres in width (Victoria Falls is 1,700 metres in width in comparison).

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Photo credit: Benjamin White

And it is Iguazu’s staggering width, combined with the falls being comprised of 300 or so discrete cascades, which makes Iguazu Falls one of the largest waterfall systems on Earth.

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Photo credit: Benjamin White

Iguazu Falls forms where the Iguazu River – the natural border between the countries of Brazil and Argentina – flows over the edge of the Paraná Plateau.

The best viewpoints are located on the Brazilian side of the falls (all the photos in this post are taken from the Brazilian side), but the Argentine side is also worth visiting if you have the time.

The Devil’s Throat, Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls, Brazil

Photo credit: Amrita Ronnachit

The main falls at Iguazu are called the Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo in Spanish, and Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese).

It is here that you will confirm for yourself that Iguazu Falls are the greatest cascades on Earth.


Practical Information and how to reach Iguazu Falls:

Access to the Brazilian side of the falls (necessary if you want the perfect picture of the Devil’s Throat) is via the town of Foz do Iguaçu. More transport info here.

Access to the Argentine side of the falls is via the town of Puerto Iguazú.

Read more on Iguazu Falls in the UNESCO World Heritage listing.


More on Brazil:

Lopes Mendes Beach, Ihla Grande – former leper colony, now Brazil’s most beautiful beach

Rio de Janeiro – even prettier than Sydney? yep!


My favourite waterfalls:

Semuc Champey, Guatemala – long way to go to see a waterfall. Is it worth the effort?

Jinbar Waterfall, Simien Mountains, Ethiopia – lammergeyers and bullet-less guns

Gullfoss, Iceland – Golden Falls saved thanks to Sigríður Tómasdóttir


More on South America:

Argentina:

Perito Moreno Glacier – 75 metre tall ice wall straight out of Game of Thrones

Cerro Torre, El Chaltén – mile-high spike of vertical, says John Krakauer

Chile:

The Moai Quarry archaeological site, Easter Island – 397 moai on the side of a volcano

Mount Villarrica – hike to top of 2840m volcano, take pic, toboggan down

Peru:

Machu Picchu – Incan citadel that escaped the Spanish conquest

Ancient pyramid in the heart of Lima – Huaca Pucllana

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