Travelling is all about making memories and having experiences you’ll never forget and a trip to the stunning Iguaçu National Park in South-West Brazil, which is home to the impressive Iguaçu Falls, will certainly provide that.
Situated on the Iguaçú River, the Iguaçu Falls, which straddle the Brazilian and Argentine border, is the largest waterfall in the world in terms of size and no trip to that part of the world is complete without taking at look at it from at least one side, if not both if you can squeeze it in!
The park itself came into being in 1939 and is home to over 2,000 species of plant, plus hundreds of indigenous animals. Despite spanning over 1700km², only 0.3% is open to the public, most of which is based around the spectacular falls.
What to do
The national park operates as the main attraction with the monstrous Garganta del Diablo or Devil’s Throat fall its pièce de resistance. The 2,700m wide collection of waterfalls can be negotiated either on foot through hiking or using the bridges and walkways built for visitors, or by hopping on a guided bus tour around the accessible areas of the park. There is an elevator that will take visitors to the top of the falls and offer spectacular views of the park below.
For the more adventurous visitor, you can take a helicopter ride over the surrounding area, taking in a much wider view of the park.
For culture vultures
For those wanting to explore some alternative culture in the region, the nearby city of Foz do Iguaçu is the place to visit. With the city boasting the second largest Chinese population in Brazil after Sao Paulo, the oriental influence in the area is clearly visible, none more so than in Foz do Iguaçu’s Buddhist Temple.
The traditional structure offers a stark contrast to what you would normally associate with Brazil. The grounds are saturated with traditional, ornate stone statues, depicting traditional Buddhist symbology.
Foz do Iguaçu also has the unusual function of bordering both Paraguay and Argentina. The Marco das Tres Fronteiras marks the point where the three countries meet and allows unique views of all three countries at once along the Iguaçu River.
What to eat
Red meat is the basis of local cuisine in Southern Brazil, with much of the cuisine very similar to that eaten in Western Europe. Churrasco, a form of skewered, barbequed meat is a popular local delicacy. Churrasco restaurants or churrascarias have grown more and more popular in Europe and North America, where waiters serve chunks of meat direct at the table.
What to drink
The regional drink, Chimarrão, is made from steeping dried leaves of yerba mate, a local indigenous plant, in hot water. The drink is then drunk through a straw, or bomba, made out of bamboo or metal, usually in a social setting. For those searching for something a little harder, Caipirinha is the national drink. The cocktail made from Cachaça, a liquor distilled from sugar cane, is mixed with limes and then served over ice.
Moment you’ll never forget
The breathtaking beauty of the Iguaçu Falls is much more a natural phenomena than the overly touristic Niagara Falls. Looking down over the falls into the plungepool below, you are hit with a piercing white mist that rises up from the depths. Spread out across the horizon the brilliant green flora marks a pacifying accompaniment to the thunderous walls of white crashing around you. The falls is home to a fascinating collection of fauna that really adds to the magic and wonder of Iguaçu.