Nature’s Mightiest Show of Sound and Fury
Ironically one of the world’s lesser-known great waterfalls, Iguazú manages nonetheless to steal the thunder of the others. In fact, it is wider than Niagara (proud South Americans call Niagara “a trickle in God’s mind” compared to their greatest cataract). More than 1,700 cubic meters of water per second plunge over 200-foot cliffs here, creating 275 separate falls (as many as 350 during rainy season) in a wide horseshoe that forms northern Argentina’s natural border with Brazil.
The magnificence of the widest waterfall in the world can be viewed from both the Argentine and Brazilian sides. (Helicopter rides are only available from the Brazilian side, with special flights added during the full moon.) Iguazu, the original tribal name – “Big Water” – has outlived the official name bestowed in 1541 by the Portuguese explorer Alvaro Nunez Cabeza de Vaca: Saltos de Santa Maria. A wonderful network of spray-drenched walkways takes travelers through dense tropical jungle and alongside and over the falls for the best close-up experience. More than 80 percent of the falls lie within the Argentine border, including the overwhelming Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat) – the single most impressive cascade. But a frequently departing ferry or bus to the Brazilian side allows visitors to decide for themselves if the view can possibly be any better from there. If you long to fall asleep to the thunder of the falls, the Hotel das Cataratas in Brazil is your choice. If awakening to an awesome panorama from your hotel window is your pleasure, go for the Sheraton Internacional in Argentina.