As we wait for the return of cruising, now’s a good time to plan and dream. We all have a personal bucket list of ships and places we want to experience. Imagine sitting in a chair, travel folder (or iPad) in hand, and wistfully letting your imagination take you to exotic destinations. Which one would you choose?
One that’s high on our list is located where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay come together. That’s where you’ll find Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfalls in the world.
Throughout our travel life, Pam and I have loved to visit waterfalls. From the Smoky Mountains and Zion National Park to the Caribbean island of Dominica, if there’s a waterfall close by, we’re there. But Iguazu Falls is truly in a class by itself.
Spanish Conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca first recorded the falls in 1541. And the word “Iguazu” literally means “big water.” Big is right. Instead of one, Iguazu features 275 separate waterfalls along its 1.7-mile width, the tallest of which rises 270 feet. By comparison, Niagara Falls is shorter by 100 feet. In fact, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt is oft-quoted for what she said after seeing Iguazu for the first time: “Poor Niagara!”
The falls can be viewed from either the Brazil or Argentine sides, and there’s a fair amount of debate as to which is better. From what we’ve read, the catwalks and viewing areas are more extensive on the Argentine side, but both offer vistas that range from “awesome” to “jaw dropping.”
Visitors say one of the “must-see” areas is the Devil’s Throat, a canyon which brings the water and mists to a deafening roar. Although closer to the Brazilian side, it is also viewable via catwalks from the Argentine side. If you feel adventurous, there are speed boats that will take you up close, much like the “Maid of the Mist” does at Niagara. That might be one adrenaline rush too many.
Getting to Iguazu takes a lot of planning, regardless of which side you visit. Located in a remote rainforest, it’s a long journey by bus or car, although you can fly there as well. You’ll need to check on what current visas or vaccinations both countries require (at last check, Brazilian tourist visas were running about $200 US).
If you’re in Buenos Aires while on a cruise, you can actually visit Iguazu Falls as a shore excursion. For example, Norwegian offers a full-day trip there starting at $849 a person. It includes round-trip airfare from Buenos Aires and a buffet lunch. Expensive, yes — but for a waterfall lover, the memories would be priceless.
Photo credit: Wikipedia