Argentina · Iguazu Falls
One of the great natural wonders of the world, the Iguazu Falls (or more accurately Iguazú Falls) are situated near the border of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. It is the Spanish name for this mammoth waterfall. You might also see it referred to as Iguassu Falls or Iguaçu Falls if you favor the portugese name. Moreover, you might also see it referred to as Yguazú Falls, which I believe is native Guaraní. In fact, the meaning of the name (originally Guaraní) is said to roughly translate to “big water”.
Consider a network of 275 different waterfalls spanning an area 3km wide (2km of which is the upper rim of the waterfall) during its normal flow of around 1000 cubic meters per second. It is such a natural wonder that UNESCO designated the falls as a World Heritage Area in 1986. While the ancient Brazilian tribes knew of its thunderous beauty, it was only officially ‘discovered’ in 1541, when the European explorer, the Spanish Conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, came across its awe-inspiring beauty.
In fact, the Iguazu Falls are what divides the river of the same name into its upper and lower portions, a fact that has given rise to several myths and legends as to their origin. This river forms the boundary between Brazil and Argentina, making it a significant part of the political and geographical structure of the continent of South America.
As one of the planet’s most awe-inspiring sights, the Iguazu Falls are simply astounding. A visit is a jaw-dropping, visceral experience, and the power and noise of the cascades – a chain of hundreds of waterfalls nearly 3km in extension – live forever in the memory. An added benefit is the setting: the falls lie split between Brazil and Argentina in a large expanse of national park, much of it rainforest teeming with unique flora and fauna.