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Iguazu Falls is undoubtedly the most visited place in Misiones and one of the most imposing natural attractions in Argentina and Brazil.
Together with Nahuel Huapi National Park in Patagonia, it is one of the most frequented tourist sites.
In guarani language, the term "Iguazú" means "great waters". It was discovered in 1541 by Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and established in 1984 as Natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Situated in Iguazú National Park, some 20 km. from Puerto Iguazú in the north of the province, these falls are shared by Brazil and Argentina.
Iguazú river is born in Paraná state in Brazil, and after crossing 1,200 km. on a plateau where it receives several affluents, it reaches a fault forming a crack in the interleaved layers of sandstone and basalt where the river runs.
This river runs through a smooth geography until it reaches a series of faults, and suddenly an 80 m. canyon in the Devil's Throat where the water produces a thundering sound and then drains into the Parana river.
A legend says that a big snake called "Boi" lived in the river. To calm its ferocity, aborigines sacrificed a woman every year as an offering. But once a brave guarani aborigin kidnapped the woman and saved her from the traditional rite escaping through the river. Boi burst in anger, bent its body and split the river forming the cataracts separating the man and the woman. There are more than 270 falls in an area where cliffs and islets are scattered in a half moon.
From the visitors center you can walk around trails or in a picturesque train.
There are two basic circuits: an upper path and a lower path.
The lower path leads to the base of the falls, where the spray moistens visitors. It is a unique experience, worth daring the adventure. In this circuit you may also take a boat to Isla San Martín.
From the upper path you have panoramic views from the footbridge in an unforgettable experience. Apart from waterfalls, the jungle offers a series of alternatives in a dump but slightly fresher environment with a wide variety of animals and plants. Almost 500 species of wild fowl, 80 species of mammals and an immense variety of reptiles, fish, insects and butterflies live in this ecosystem.
Only some meters from the Research Center is Macuco Trail, a 3 km. walking path through the dense jungle with different degrees of difficulty. It is a 2 hour walk to Salto Arrechea. A private operator offers a more daring alternative. Leaving in a 4x4 vehicle we drive 8 km. through the jungle to the coast of the inferior Iguazu river.
Some semi-rigid rafts with powerful engines will be waiting for us to go upstream and into the mist veil formed by the cascades.
Another option is to take a rowing boat in the upper Iguazú river to watch the animals and plants in this delta, and maybe see some water tortoises or yacares sunbathing on the coast.
Iguazú is a singular environment that inspired the writer Horacio Quiroga in his "Tales of the Jungle".

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Additional Photos by Coskun Tezic (Tezic) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1828 W: 7 N: 3377] (17865)
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